• Emerald City: Game of Thrones Meets Network TV

    by  • January 10, 2017 • Broadcast Decency, NBC, Sex, Violence • 14 Comments

    NBC’s new fantasy drama is no Wizard of Oz.

    The common trend in network television in response to the “TV renaissance” has been an increasingly desperate bid to measure up against what’s available on cable. This takes the form of shows like Hannibal and American Crime, whose entire concepts are built around pushing the envelope concerning what’s allowed on network TV — almost as if to wave and say, “Broadcast networks can do gritty too!” Hannibal featured cannibalism, grotesque torture, and operatic sadism; American Crime teenage rape, drug use, and brutally honest story-telling.

    Emerald City, NBC’s newest addition, is a clear example of this trend. A gritty reboot of the classic 1939 film, the story follows Dorothy after she’s transported from her quaint Kansas town and into a world of brutal witchcraft, cruelty, and sex. There’s a lot of court intrigue, servants announcing titles loftily upon introducing their leaders, and a menagerie of mysterious magical means for delivering pain…very similar to HBO’s Game of Thrones (though at least during Emerald City’s sex scenes, people keep most of their clothes on.) It’s cliché to say, but too fun not to – “Toto, we’re not in family territory anymore.”

    From an artistic perspective, there’s nothing inherently wrong with remaking something with an edge, provided it’s advertised  and rated properly, and delivered via an appropriate channel, which in this case would clearly be a cable network. Giving old favorites the “gritty reboot” treatment has been a trend in movies for a while now, like it or not.  And one could easily point out that the networks themselves have even begun mining the R-rated movies of yesteryear (Lethal Weapon, Training Day) to add to their slates, so why not The Wizard of Oz?  Who really cares if the show’s version of the Scarecrow is found hung on a cross by barbed wire, and later beats a woman nearly to death with a metal instrument right after stabbing her? I mean, why not? Stop complaining. What makes Emerald City so bad?

    The gripe lies partly in what’s being adapted, but also in how it’s being distributed and advertised. The original movie has stood the test of time as a perennial family favorite, and most adaptations have tried to remain close to that spirit. In fact, if it weren’t for the family-friendly success of The Wizard of Oz, Emerald City would never have been made in the first place. Remaking a family favorite in such a gritty fashion, and to do so while attempting to cull the marketing bump any Wizard of Oz remake inevitably receives (which inevitably means appealing on some level to kids), is a shameless ploy to boost numbers on the back of an audience that won’t be getting what they’ve come to expect. Come for the family fun — stay for the soft-core Game of Thrones.

    This plays into the larger issue with broadcast TV’s strategy in general, which seems to hold true across all four networks – they want so badly to be like cable, and they’re just not. Attempting to play cable’s game is a fool’s errand for them, considering that however far they can push the envelope, there is an envelope for them that just doesn’t exist for FX or USA in the same way. Broadcast TV has different limitations, and a very different audience, than the “edgy” cable networks. Time and again, the networks take swings with these shows that maybe would work on cable, but that can’t work as well on their broadcast TV. It’s a disservice to their bottom line, to the creators of their shows and, most of all, to their audience.

    Emerald City airs Fridays at 9:00 p.m. ET on NBC.




    Brady Nelson is an Entertainment Analyst for the Parent’s Television Council. He’s a graduate of Emerson College, with a degree in Film and Writing Literature Publishing.

    14 Responses to Emerald City: Game of Thrones Meets Network TV

    1. April 24, 2017 at 8:39 pm

      I agree. It really gets into my nerve. I just want films for fun.

    2. APK
      April 3, 2017 at 11:21 am

      wow, awesome post.Much thanks again.

    3. sara
      January 23, 2017 at 8:46 am

      stop desecrating classic stories & franchises!

      you can make them appeal to older people without throwing in unneccessary sex & violence

    4. Eileen Karl
      January 17, 2017 at 8:58 am

      We dont want your Wizard of Oz show anytime, anywhere. No than ks.

    5. Frank Sigwart
      January 16, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      I agree completely. The networks simply don’t have the guts or brains to come up with wholesome shows that are also entertaining.

    6. Ann
      January 15, 2017 at 3:17 pm

      Taking a wonderful story like the Wizard of Oz and twisting it into filth should be criminal. I will make it a point to buy nothing from any of the advertisers and will urge friends and family to do the same.

    7. Danielle
      January 15, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      So sad and disgusting.

    8. judy
      January 15, 2017 at 9:41 am


      • January 19, 2017 at 7:19 pm

        I agree. It really gets into my nerve. I just want films for fun.

    9. M.K. O'Kain
      January 15, 2017 at 9:16 am

      It is disgusting to lure young viewers and uninformed parents to watching something seemingly tied to a family favorite and kid appropriate famous movie. For shame!

      • October 29, 2017 at 1:34 am

        Taking a wonderful story like the Wizard of Oz and twisting it into filth should be criminal

    10. Maureen Buck
      January 15, 2017 at 5:27 am

      Why the need to make Everything edgy ugly and perverse?
      When will we finally hit rock bottom? I pray that as a society
      We will challenge this decent into darkness, and come back
      to appreciating good, decent and all the beautiful simple joys
      God has given us.

    11. Carol
      January 14, 2017 at 2:09 pm

      there will be adults & children who will think it will be like the book and movie and will be very surprised. by the content. Even worse if parents or grandparents are putting it on for children based on there memories.

    12. January 14, 2017 at 9:17 am

      Well written…to be honest, the PTC needs more of this pointed (as opposed to sharp) observational content to attract, motivate and retain a base.And “nearly to death with a metal instrument right after stabbing her? I mean, why not?”, just lands the punch square on the nose. Knock out.

      Good stuff

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