In the television world it's development season, which means that there's been a lot of chatter about a lot of projects, most of which are never going to make it to air. This year, we have all the usual suspects - remakes, adaptations of movies and books, spinoffs, and big star-driven vehicles. However, there's one particular piece of source material that it seems like everyone is jumping on: "The Wizard of Oz." According to Deadline
, there are currently no less than five potential "Oz" adaptations in the works, none of them remotely similar to the original L.Frank Baum novel or the MGM theatrical musical. Instead, they're "reimaginings" and "revisionist" versions, intended to play on the audience's familiarity with a children's story that has become as universal as most fairy tales. However, looking at how each project is trying to tackle "Oz" provides some interesting insights on the creative process and the current trends in television. Emerald City
- An NBC drama described as a dark take on the "Oz" story similar to "Game Of Thrones," without the HBO content, of course. It's being put together by Matt Arnold, the showrunner of the recent "Siberia," for Universal Television. I'm the most interested in this one, because it's been suggested that it will actually look beyond the original "Wonderful Wizard of Oz," to some of the material in the other thirteen "Oz" books that L. Frank Baum wrote in the "Oz" series. One of the few real successes for NBC lately has been its steady Friday night performer "Grimm," but they've had mixed results with other genre properties like "Hannibal" and "Dracula." "Emerald City" is pretty amorphous at the moment - we don't know when it's set, if there will be many fantasy elements, or if it's going to be a limited series or a proper serial. Invoking "Game of Thrones" suggests some ambitions, but then again, all the new fantasy dramas are invoking "Game of Thrones." Dorothy
- A CBS medical drama from the executive producers of "Elementary." This looks to be the farthest removed from the original story, with modern day characters loosely inspired by the "Oz" characters, and incorporating a few similar themes. Despite the possibility of retaining a few fantasy flourishes, I suspect that "Dorothy" is going to end up looking an awful lot like "Grey's Anatomy" or "Private Practice," except all the doctors have punny names. Our heroine will surely be stuck trying to choose between potential beaus who lack in smarts, heart, and courage, respectively. There's nothing wrong with sticking to a formula - procedurals may be unglamorous, but they get ratings, and medical soaps are tried and true performers. However, of all the "Oz" projects in the works, it's the most obviously a gimmick here. Sherlock was a detective, so a mystery series makes sense. Where's the connection between the "Wizard of Oz" and doctors in love triangles? Dorothy Must Die
- The CW is adapting Danielle Paige's young adult novel that turns the original "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" on its head. In this semi-sequel, Dorothy and her friends have become power-hungry villains that our young heroine must defeat in order to save The Land of Oz. The Wicked Witch of the West? Not so wicked, as it turns out. Tim Kring and several "Heroes" vets are involved in the development of this one. I'm rooting for it because while it's giving us mostly evil versions of all our favorite "Oz" characters, at least we know this one is going to be a straight action fantasy series that actually takes place in the Land of Oz. The CW is also much friendlier to genre projects than most, and this sounds like exactly the kind of story that would appeal to their younger-skewing audience. I'm worried about CW's notorious penchant for teen soapiness invading the works, but for now I'm focusing on the positive. Evil power-mad Dorothy takes over Oz. Neat. Red Brick Road
- Artist Rob Prior and writer Timm Schlattman of "Dexter" fame are bringing their revisionist "Oz" concept to Warner Horizon and Lifetime, drawing more iffy comparisons to "Game of Thrones." This time Dorothy is headed down the red brick road that we glimpsed in the "Wizard of Oz" movie instead of the yellow one, which promises to take her to darker and more forbidding places. As a fan of the original Oz books, I have to point out that the red brick road actually leads to Quadling Country and likely Glinda the Good's place, but where would the fun be in that? There's some interesting concept art for "Red Brick Road" floating around the internet featuring a redheaded Dorothy wielding a sword, and high fantasy versions of the Tin Man and the Wicked Witch. Frankly, the part I'm the most skeptical about is Lifetime's involvement. I know they've embraced high concept shows recently, but I haven't seen them do anything this high concept. Warriors of Oz
- "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" director Timur Bekmambetov has this set up as a miniseries over at Syfy. "Warriors" will introduce us to a new version of the "Wizard of Oz" story, where our hero travels through a post-apocalyptic version of the Land of Oz with three companions named - and I'm not kidding here - Brainless, Heartless, and Coward, on his quest to defeat the evil Wizard. Yep, this one has a male lead, and seems oddly male-centric. It's too early to say anything more than that for now, but this is certainly shaping up to be the least interesting of the five "Oz" projects so far. Bekmambetov's films tend to be flashy, but fairly shallow action flicks, and I expect this to be more of the same. This isn't the first time Syfy has delved into the "Oz" universe. They were also responsible for the last attempt at an edgy "Oz" miniseries, "Tin Man," in 2007.