Since HBO’s juggernaut hit series debuted in 2011, numerous “[X], but like Game of Thrones” concepts have been tossed around by TV creators on the regular. Few of them have been made so far, but NBC’s upcoming Tarsem Singh-directed drama Emerald City is gunning for the label. A dark new take on the Land of Oz fantasy setting created by L. Frank Baum that began with his The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, the show stars Vincent D’Onofrio as the Wizard and Adria Arjona as an older version of Dorothy Gale. Emerald City sees Dorothy transported by tornado along with a K9 police dog into a mystical land of competing realms, lethal warriors, dark magic and a bloody battle for supremacy. A new trailer laying things out hit Facebook earlier today, and you can watch it above.
In per-usual Tarsem extravagance, the series was shot across three European countries and presents a completely reimagined Land of Oz that feels straight up Westerosi in character. The Wicked Witch of the West coming off like Cersei Lannister? I’m kind of into it. But… turns out the Scarecrow was crucified and also, he and Dorothy fall in love? I’m always interested in seeing what a visual genius like Tarsem will end up creating – even his misfires are spectacular to watch. And the Land of Oz has a very rich mythology that is long-overdue for exploitation by the right storytellers. But to be honest, gritty and dark – but network TV not cable – are not the concepts I’d default to first and this looks like a strong risk of veering off into self-parody territory pretty easily.
Then again, comic writer Bill Willingham did some fun and very dark things with the setting in his dearly-departed Vertigo/DC series Fables, and it’s important to point out that the novels are far less cute and whimsical than the 1939 classic musical The Wizard of Oz. And perhaps they aged up Dorothy because all of the young actors who prove a show could easily be carried by a character in her early teens are already on Game of Thrones. Either way, we’ll all find out if it works here when the series debuts January 7 on the peacock network. Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Gerran Howell, Isabel Lucas, Stefanie Martini and Ana Ularu costar.