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Land of Oz coming to the small screen

According to Variety, Legendary Entertainment is in development of a TV show set in the Land of Oz. So it seems one of the most beloved film properties of all time is making its way to the small screen.

This Oz tale will be written and produced by Ed Ricourt writer of Now You See Me. He also is known for work on Jessica Jones and the upcoming Twilight Zone reboot. (I will write more about this soon.) Dmitri M. Johnson and Stephan Bugaj of dj2 Entertainment are set to executive produce the series. Legendary is reportedly nearing a deal for a director to bring on board the project.

The official description goes as follows: “When the return of a long-exiled Witch brings fear, division, and war to Oz, the only hope is a servant girl who may become the most powerful and dangerous woman in the land.” In this description the servant girl is not named, although there are a few characters from later Oz books that it could be referring to.

I love the books and the imagination of L.Frank Baum, always have but in the past I have been disappointed in some of the adaptations of these classic stories. So with this news I though I would explore the journey of Oz on the big screen and on TV. L. Franks Baum’s classic novel (published in 1900) chronicling the tale of Dorothy Gale and her adventure in the Land of Oz has been adapted by Hollywood and television production companies before  some with great success and others with huge disappointment. Apparently this new series will deal with many characters not explored or very seldom explored in movie and television.

Many people aren’t even aware that L. Frank Baum wrote fourteen novels set in the land of Oz. Starting with the most well known in 1900, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which was meant to be a single tale not a series. But after the novel received such an amazing response from the public he decided to write thirteen more books about the Land of Oz.

The original sequel series, which had some really unique and imaginative character and ideas has never found a successful adaptation, in my opinion. So let’s look at the history of the adaptations of this classic series in movies and tv, shall we?

Hollywood and TV have had a love for the Land of Oz since the beginning. With the first filmed Oz production being a multi media presentation given by L. Frank Baum himself in 1908, just 8 years after the publication of the original book. This presentation featured a short movie starring silent film actress Romola Remus. Btw, she had one really cool name.

Between 1908- 1933, Six more films based on were made based on the characters from L. Frank Baum.

Then in 1939 the most successful and recognized adaptation found its way to theaters and into the fandom/sometimes obsession of generations! The Wizard of Oz, a musical from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM Studios) that was directed by Victor Fleming. This adaptation starred Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale. Dorothy in her musical quest in search of the Wizard along side traveling companions the Scarecrow, the a Tin Man and the Lion has enthralled audiences for almost 80 years now! Talk about staying power of a good movie. This film was known for its use of Technicolor, musical score and great iconic characters. (My favorite growing up was Glinda portrayed by Billie Burke but as an adult I love The Wicked Witch of the West portrayed by  Margaret Hamilton, who was brilliant in the roles!) It has become a staple of American popular culture. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, but lost to Gone with the Wind, also directed by Victor Fleming. (Tough competition!) It did win in two other categories:  Best Original Song for “Over the Rainbow” and Best Original Score by Herbert Stothart.

After the success of the 1039 adaptation many tried to recreate this popularity by retaking this tale without much success. Over 10 films were made between 1969 – 2012. A couple memorable ones from that time period were The Whiz in 1978, starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson and Return to Oz in 1985. Return to Oz saw Disney try to capture the magic with not much success.

Disney would try its hand again in 2013 with Oz the Great and Powerful directed by Sam Raimi which starred James Franco and Mila Kunis. This movie made 493.3 million USD at box office.

Oz has had also been adapted for TV but mostly in form of cartoons, short skits and such on shows like Shirley Temple Theater to SNL.

In 2007, Sci-Fi Channel a mini series a futuristic reinterpretation of the the Land of Oz after Dorothy left. Starring Zooey Deschanel as DG a descendant of Dorothy herself. It also starred Richard Dreyfus, Alan Cummings, Neal McDough and Katherine Robertson. I actually enjoyed this reimagined form of Oz with its science fiction and more adult themed take on the fantasy of Oz!

So this new series is suppose to bring to life many characters that have never been seen on either the big screen or the small. The original 13 sequel books, which had some very wild and imaginative ideas and beautiful illustrations and characters, that I feel have never been adapted properly or at all for that matter. Most post-1939 Wizard of Oz adaptations picking and choosing parts from the books. Let’s hope fans will get to see more of the wonderful creativity of L. Frank Baum and his land of Oz with this new series.

Also it is to be noted that With Wicked is scheduled to be coming to movie theaters in 2021. So it seems we are in for a bit of an Oz revival. Hopefully fans of the original books will see some of their favorite elements and characters from the classic novels adapted for the very first time.

This geek girl is a little wary of these as so many in the past have failed to capture the joy and childhood fantasy of these books. Books which I loved to read as a child and read to my children as they grew up.

Are you excited about a whole new telling of this classic?

Thanks again for reading this piece of GeekyGirlNess.

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