The occasional clever nods to the source material, however, don’t compensate for the ungainly writing, ho-hum characters and uneven performances, albeit under an assortment of fabulously garish outfits. Indeed, as constructed the story is so dispersed and fragmented that it’s almost impossible to follow — or more accurately, to muster enough energy to try.
The major networks take so few creative risks along these lines that one hates to dissuade them from acting on such ambitions. But high marks for effort and looking beyond the traditional black-and-white development palette are no substitute for magic.
“Only a witch can kill a witch,” someone explains to Dorothy early on, a rule that produces one of “Emerald City’s” few genuinely surprising moments.
With the show scheduled on Fridays — a night where the networks often struggle to attract viewers — “Emerald City’s” cause of death probably won’t be anything so exotic. A simple lack of interest and indifference will likely do.
“Emerald City” premieres January 6 at 9 p.m. on NBC.