Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
Aired on: ABC
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I fell in love with the show Once Upon a Time even before it aired in 2011. The show presented us with new spins on old fairytale favorites and a promising backstory that tied them all together. This Fall, ABC has announced a new spinoff series, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. I worried that this new spinoff may takes something away from the original series, but one can never be sure and so, I found myself seated in front of the television Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 8pm EST to find out.
The show takes us back to Victorian England to a time when Alice is just a child. Having returned from her adventures in Wonderland, she has no idea just how long she has been missing. Her father is quite happy to see her, but those around him feel that his daughter may be slightly mad. As a teenager (Sophie Lowe), she returns to Wonderland to gain proof of its existence and while there, rescues and falls in love with Cyrus (Peter Gadiot), a genie.
As the two make their own adventures in Wonderland, others are plotting their demise. The Red Queen (Emma Rigby) allies herself with the evil sorcerer Jafar (Naveen Andrews) and together, they devise a plan to capture Cyrus and force Alice to turn over a very precious gift he has given her…three wishes. Unfortunately, shortly after what Alice believes is Cyrus’ demise, she somehow makes it back to Victorian England, slipping through the Red Queen’s fingers.
And right into a trap of another kind. Locked up in a sanitarium and believed to be suffering from delusional fantasies, Alice finds herself signing off on a procedure that will end her years of suffering at Cyrus’ loss. She will allow Dr. Lydgate (Jonny Coyne) to perform a lobotomy.
Meanwhile, back in Storybrook, Will (Michael Socha), otherwise known as the Knave of Hearts, is approached by the White Rabbit (John Lithgow) who tells him that Cyrus is alive and Alice is in grave danger. Against his better judgment, he joins the White Rabbit, traveling to London to rescue Alice. Together, they return to Wonderland and the fate that awaits them as they search for Alice’s beloved Cyrus.
This is not your everyday tale of Alice and Wonderland. In fact, it’s quite different. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was always somewhat of a dark tale but it seems that the creators of Once Upon a Time had a much darker tale in mind when creating their version of the story. As usual, they have combined tales here, bringing together the story of Alice in Wonderland and Aladdin. The two tales are from very different times, countries and cultures and yet somehow they work together well.
Alice is not just some feisty young kid, but a tough woman who knows her way around a battlefield and is hell to pay with a sword. I loved the fact that they had placed her in a psychiatric institution - if someone came up to you and told you they had just been down a rabbit hole to a world where eating a mushroom could make you smaller and drinking a drink could make you large and where giant caterpillars and disappearing cats were the norm, you’d probably think that person in desperate need of psychiatric help. Oh, and speaking of giant caterpillars, Caterpillar (Iggy Pop) does make an appearance, as does a very different Cheshire Cat (Keith David) than the one you will remember from the fairytale.
Do I like this spinoff of Once Upon a Time? Well, I have to say that I did find myself unable to take my eyes from the screen. Now, that could have been due to some enchantment spell, but I think it has more to do with wanting to know what the creators of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland had in mind for their main characters. Things appear to be interesting enough and I love that Alice is a badass, but is this a show that has the ability to charm the pants off viewers and keep them coming back for more the way they did with Once Upon a Time? Only time will tell and that’s why I will once again be sitting in front of the television next Thursday at 8pm EST to find out just what adventures await our friends in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.