Let me begin by saying I have been a fan of the 1939 Wizard of Oz all my life. It’s the only musical I adore, and a story I never get too old to enjoy. Just a few weeks ago I introduced the film to my nephew, who is five. He was silent and still during the entire film, with the exception of noting quietly to himself, as Toto escaped the basket on the back of the bike, that “He’s going home to his girl!” At the end, I asked him what he thought and he said, with all the solemnity and seriousness that a five year old can summon, “That was pretty good!
When the Wicked series by Gregory Maguire came out, I was, at first, because of the different view and takes on events that had only ever been one dimensional in my mind, unsure if I liked it, but he made me fall in love with Elphaba, and in doing so, opened up an entire vista of Oz that I had willfully been blinded to with the childish version of what could and should be three dimensional characters. Maguire pulled back the curtain, at least for me, and in doing so opened me up to asking WHY? and WHAT IF?
Even so, I came into this version of the Emerald City with cries of gloom and doom in my ears from other naysayers. I had extremely low expectations, and so found myself pleasantly surprised, mostly.
I see a lot of potential with the series, and any series, award winning or otherwise cannot be judged on it’s first season. Season 1 is mostly character development and exposition. It’s usually season 2 where things come together, and the cast starts to fit neatly into their second skins.
I love the Scarecrow, and being a die-hard acolyte of the Tin Man, that’s saying something. The visual imagery of a man crucified forever changed my perception of this iconic character and after forty odd years gave me something new to consider regarding this story that I thought I knew so well. Making me think or rethink my views is the way to my heart, and they had me when she pulled him down off the cross. And the moment when she shows him the magic of her world, via Bill Withers, Ain’t No Sunshine, was hands down the coolest thing I’ve seen on a show so far in 2017.
I love the police dog Toto, though I hope they give him something better to do than frighten mad kings, soon.
I love that Dorothy and so many of the characters can be ethnically different and it takes nothing away from the story. In fact it adds a reality and a richness that it needs to breathe and live on for generations to come.
I love the magic vs. science debate that is sometimes hidden and sometimes out in the open screaming at us.
I love the rivalry between the Cardinal Witches, North and East, and the ramifications of that to them as women as well as witches. I can see myself in either place, and in that find the seeds of deep characters driven by situations we have yet to comprehend.
I like the twist on who The Scarecrow really is, and can’t wait to see where that goes.
I fucking love the Ruby Gauntlets! 1000% better than shiny slippers. I also fucking love what Dorothy did to North with them. Awesome moment in the series! Possibly my favorite of all, at least so far.
There are also some things I could do without. Things that I didn’t need other fans or show runners to tell me, but find curious none the less.
I despise our culture’s tendency to want more of something we like until we glut ourselves on it. “If you like this, we think you’ll love this!” and you wind up with 50 Shades of lukewarm copy cat, that never touches the original, but is being sold to us as the same bill of goods. EC had been compared to Game of Thrones, and I saw that myself in the subtle nooks and crannies of mainstream wholesome network programming. I think one of my eyes is still rolled back into my head, but no worries, it will come back, eventually.
I don’t like Game of Thrones, and so if there is anything I don’t like about EC, it is that they are trying to emulate GoT even just a little, and in doing so picked up most of the truly horrible things about that show.
I don’t like the portrayal of feminine power in EC, summed up best by Ozma when she looks at North and West and says so succinctly, “So, as a girl my only choices are to be a nun or a whore?” I feel the writer is poking fun at us with that line, because if they so clearly see how they have structured this world, why then, did they do it?
I don’t like the portrayal of the Wizard, who in all versions/remakes, is consistently a He-Man Woman Hater, in either a direct or passive aggressive way, and yet is also supposed to be book brilliant and has his asshole lined with four leaf clovers. Meaning, a really lucky socially inept male, with no game. AND YET STILL, this incompetent hack of a human being manages to consistently upset an untold lengthy history of feminine magical hierarchy? This pain point is not eased by the fact that he last defeated the Beast Forever using a magic woman, and no one seems to know about that. Perhaps this is intended as metaphor regarding power, and how blind and complacent you can become when everything is going your way for millennia. I don’t know, what I do know is that a character this shallow and one dimensional is a WASTE of Vincent D’Onofrio’s incredible acting talents, and a trope of male dominance (reason/science) over the feminine (hysteria/magic) that has gotten so old and tired I can’t figure out why you would call a show that maintains the same sentiments as it did over a hundred years ago, a reboot, let alone a gritty one.
Or is it gritty now because the women KNOW they are being oppressed just because they are women, and should therefore be subordinate? Is the grit from the grinding of their fully aware souls under the yoke of male oppression?
A true re-boot would cast men as The Cardinals, a Sorceress in the Emerald City, a boy getting sucked into Oz…this sounds a lot like that horrible movie with James Franco…where we learned that a witch is only evil after a man betrays her. Yeesh.
I need a clean reboot. But that’s a battle for another day.
At the end of this one, stop moaning about how it’s different, and embrace it. There are a few breaths of life in this series, that aren’t stamped out by GoT Light (the Sweet-n-Low version of Game of Thrones), and since little has been done since 1939 to feed the need for Oz stories that resonate, take it as it comes, and embrace the Ruby Gauntlets. They truly are kick ass.
I mainlined this show on HULU. It’s worth checking out.
Emerald City Season 1- ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I hope we get a Season 2.