I may not be a Once Upon a Time fan, but I decided to give Once Upon a Time in Wonderland a whirl. So has the franchise won me over? Eh. I’ll get back to you on that. For now, here are the particulars of ABC’s Once Upon a Time in Wonderland premiere.
What I liked:
- Michael Socha as the Knave of Hearts. The only other role I’ve seen Socha play is that of shy werewolf Tom in the BBC’s Being Human (read my review of that here), but I loved him then and I love him now. He’s a funny and charming reformed bad boy in a leather jacket. What’s not to love?
- Much of the Wonderland scenery. A marshmallow lake, a boiling red sea, a chessboard castle—there are lots of fun things to look at.
- The Cheshire Cat. He’s a freaking tiger. Like, a tiger the size of a horse. And scary. But in a pretty cool way.
- Naveen Andrews as Jafar. He was one of my favorites on Lost, and I’ve missed him dearly since it ended. Seriously, where has he been keeping himself? Anyway, I’m glad he’s back, and I think he’ll be a great villain.
- Alice can throw some punches! This girl takes care of business more than once in the premiere. I hope she remains so wonderfully feisty.
What I didn’t like:
- When is this set? Because I’m confused. Alice seems to be in early 1900s or mid-to late-1800s England, but the Knave shows up in what I believe is present day America. Um can we get a little explanation?
- It’s overdramatic. This is the problem I had with the pilot of Once Upon a Time—the script and the performances were often so over the top that I couldn’t get into it. Wonderland seems significantly toned down in comparison, but there were still moments when I winced.
- Everything about the White Rabbit. The animation doesn’t look great (especially next to the actors), the voice doesn’t seem to fit (sorry, John Lithgow), and his role in the story so far is…unsatisfactory. I dunno. Maybe he’ll grow on me.
- Alice’s backstory seems rushed. I realize if they’re going to juxtapose it with her time in the asylum, the story has to be a little rushed, but I wanted to know more about her adventures with her genie boyfriend, Cyrus. Speaking of…
- Cyrus and Alice. I like the idea of these two together, but I don’t buy it yet. Their love story is hurried and cheesy. I’m hoping that future episodes will go back and explore more of their history.
The Potential: I might not give up on this one yet. The story is fairly interesting, the visuals can be cool, and I like several of the actors. But for me to really enjoy it, I need to believe in Cyrus and Alice as a couple, and I need to see more of their story. Also, the cheesy, overdramatic stuff needs to be taken down a few notches. If you’re a Once Upon a Time fan, I’m sure you’ll dig Wonderland. Other fantasy lovers may enjoy it, too, but just be aware that it can be silly sometimes. We’ll just have to see where the rabbit hole takes this show…
My Grade: B