There’s never too long before a Wizard of Oz adaptation comes to fruition. Scheduled for an April 2016 release, NBC has begun production on Emerald City, a ten episode mini series. While very little details are known regarding the synopsis, it has been confirmed that the Wizard (recently cast Daredevil villain Vincent D’Onfrio) will rule Oz with an iron (emerald?) fist, outlawing all magic of any kind. Dorothy, played by the up and coming television actress Adria Arjona, will be much older than the book depicted child, which leads audiences to assume she will take a more active hero role in the story. Tarsem Singh (known for directing spectacles such as Mirror, Mirror) is set to direct all ten episodes.
For those of you that don’t already know, I’m an avid Wizard of Oz fan. It’s been my favorite movie since childhood. You know those hanging monkey toys that were popular for awhile? Yeah, I totally made wings for them. I digress.
I’m going into this being cautiously optimistic. It’s difficult for me to always be excited about new Oz when I’ve been burned by Oz before. The adaptations don’t always capture the magic and danger that Oz brings. They want to make them sexy, futuristic, bloody, cyborg, steampunk, drug addled, etc. When those adaptations are released, they are marketed as an Oz we’ve never seen before, when that’s never what an Oz fan has wanted.
Personally, I love when they tell new stories. Expansions on such a beautiful fantasy world bring new life into the fold, and while they’re not always innovative stories, they at least have my respect. So while I’m not looking forward to an Oz story I’ve already seen a million times, I’m intrigued by the Wizard as a villain (or at least a bully) angle, since that is how I’ve always seem him. I also have a lot of faith in Singh as a director. He’s often panned as one of the worst in the business, but, truthfully, I enjoy the sense of whimsy he brings to all of his work. If there’s one thing Oz should always be, it’s whimsical.
Do you want some Oz recommendations to prepare for the new show? Here’s a small list of my favorite Oz adaptations:
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
Arguably the most successful and famous continuation of the Oz legacy is the 1995 novel written by Gregory Maguire. A tale of Elphaba, the notorious Wicked Witch, this story predates the time of Dorothy and gives Oz a more realistic look as a country while focusing on a character that helped create the villain trope that we know today. The introduction of politics and religion into a world filled with magic was so exceptional it spawned 3 sequels and a hit show on Broadway that is seeing its 13th year in production. Read the book, see the play, watch the movie again, hate Glinda.
Marvel’s Wizard of Oz comic books
These are what I consider to be the most faithful adaptations of the books. They are almost word for word taken from Baum’s first six canonical stories. Begun during Marvel’s period od adapting classic novels in the late 2000’s, write Eric Shanower and artist Skottie Young’s take on the stories were so well received that the Oz comics were the only ones to continue while all the other classics had been canceled. They truly capture some of the most difficult aspects of Oz (like how to make it frightening as well as magical) without losing its appeal to children or adults.
I know there are a ton more adaptations out there, and most of them I have seen. They all have a lot of great qualities to them, but these two are the only ones I feel really continue the legacy of what Oz is and what it means. What are your favorite Oz adaptations? Are you looking forward to the new series? Do you want to hear the reasons why I dislike so many other Oz…things?