Forget the twister that whisked Judy Garland away from Kansas — Emerald City, NBC’s gritty spin on The Wizard of Oz, has had to endure an even rougher ride to get to the small screen: The network first ordered the series in 2014, killed it that same year, then revived it eight months later under new showrunners. And though there’s been no shortage of shows based on the classic source material — including NBC’s own live production of The Wiz in December — this ten-episode series, which derives plotlines from all 14 of L. Frank Baum’s Oz-based books, will upend the titular city the most, according to producers.
Some of the adult context in NBC’s Emerald City will include Dorothy struggling to reconcile with her mother, who abandoned her as a child; the Wizard (D’Onofrio) and the Wicked Witch of the East contending with a looming war between kingdoms and belief systems; and Lucas (the Scarecrow, played by
Oliver Jackson Cohen) suffering painful trauma that causes him to lose his memory. Even Toto gets a makeover: He’s now a trained K9 police dog.
sought to make the land in Emerald City appear fantastical through practical means by filming in far-flung locations, including Spain’s El Torcal nature reserve, where they planted yellow poppies on a historic Roman path to create the Yellow Brick Road, and Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes National Park, where frozen waterfalls provided enchanting backdrops. “You can’t digitally re-create these environments,” EP David Schulner says. “They’re filled with magic.”