Hey, at least it’s not called “Pilot.”
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC). Since I’m lukewarm about Once Upon a Time, I wasn’t particularly interested in this show. However, its preview is intriguing. It appears to have beautiful special effects (something the original Once Upon.. lacks), and the story is unexpected, making me want to see more.
Were my expectations met? That would a resounding No. The special effects were not beautiful, they were horrendous. Perhaps that’s the look the franchise is going for, since it is fantasy. But I don’t think so.
The premise is a nice twist on the story. Grown-up Alice is in a mental institution because her father refuses to believe her stories about Wonderland. She escapes with the Knave of Hearts just before the evil psychiatric doctors perform a lobotomy.
But here’s the kicker: Alice is in Victorian-era England and the Knave of Hearts comes by way of present day Storybrooke, Maine. It’s very confusing. Show co-creator Adam Horowitz explained it as ““It’s not historical Victorian England; it’s fictional Victorian England.” Huh??
I was hoping Alice would flit between the asylum and Wonderland. That’s the idea that piqued my interest. But it appears she’ll be staying in Wonderland for a while. Alice and the Knave (I think his name is Will) are looking for Alice’s Long Lost True Love, Cyrus the genie. Alice had thought he was dead, but there are rumors he’s alive.
And here’s another disappointing development, or lack thereif. We don’t see the bond between Alice and Cyrus build. It’s just there instantly. Perhaps the creators with build on it in flashbacks so that it feels less contrived, but I’m not holding my breath.
But the Very Worst Thing about the show isn’t the terrible CGI. It’s the Red Queen. At first I distracted by her over-collagenated lips, which cause her upper lip to extend to her nostrils. But the actress is so bad, I was hoping villain #2, Jafar (whose from another Disney creation—Aladdin?) would kill her off. But it was not to be.
Alice herself is pretty kick-ass. She fought off most of the asylum guards and doctors to escape, and put up a great fight with a really bad CGI Cheshire Cat. But I’m not sure she’ll be able to fight her way out of the dreaded 8:00 p.m. Thursday time slot ABC stuck her in. It’s the time slot that kills shows, and Wonderland may not be powerful enough to make it beyond the first 13 episodes.