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Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, on ABC
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As the title suggests, this is a spin-off of Once Upon a Time (it premiered during the third season of that show). On that show, we see new takes on various fairy tales and other fantasy stories. The main characters all come from "The Enchanted Forest," though most of the story takes place in our own world. On occasion, however, we see other fantastic realms or characters from those realms. One of those realms is Wonderland, but for the most part, the characters we see in this new series will be ones who haven't yet appeared on the earlier series. (Also as in the other show, this is a reimagining of old stories that have previously been adapted by Disney, most obviously in this case the 1951 animated film Alice in Wonderland. Although it might be more apt to compare the show to the 2010 live-action film, but I'm not sure, since I haven't seen that yet. But of course the show is not directly related to either movie.) "Wonderland" lasted for a single 13-episode season, which I think was the proper length. I liked it reasonably well, but though it grew on me as the story progressed, particularly in the second half of the season, I never felt that it would have worked well for more than one season. As it was, there was a satisfying conclusion to the story.

It begins with a young girl, Alice, returning home after her first adventure in Wonderland. Her home is Victorian England, but apparently it's not our world's actual historical England, but someplace out of time. Or whatever. Though at least it's enough like our world that no one believes Alice when she talks about Wonderland. Anyway, the story quickly flashes forward to Alice as a young woman. She's apparently gone back to Wonderland numerous times over the years, hoping to bring back proof of that world's existence, so that her father will finally believe her. However, for about a year now, she's been locked up in Bethlem Asylum. Now the doctors have a new treatment that they say will erase her memories of Wonderland, and that's something Alice wants. Like "Once Upon a Time," this show has flashbacks, and in the premiere, we see that on her last visit to Wonderland, she met a genie named Cyrus, with whom she had lots of adventures, and fell in love. However, the evil Red Queen finally killed Cyrus, after which Alice returned home and became understandably despondent.

But then, on the morning that Alice is supposed to undergo her surgery, the Knave of Hearts and the White Rabbit show up at the asylum and take her back to Wonderland. She doesn't want to go, at first, but the Knave (aka Will) tells her that Cyrus is alive. So she's determined to find him. Meanwhile, we learn that the White Rabbit is being forced to work for the Red Queen, who wanted Alice to return. And we learn that the Queen is working with Jafar, a sorcerer from Agrabah, who has his own plans for Alice. He's holding Cyrus captive, but he needs Alice to make her three wishes from Cyrus, so that he can gain control of Cyrus himself. Ultimately, he requires Cyrus (plus two other genies, and one other sorcerer) in order to cast a spell that would change the laws of magic (i.e., no bringing people back from the dead, no making people fall in love, no changing the past). And in the second half of the season, Jafar gets some help from a woman called the Jabberwocky (who is nothing at all like any interpretation of the Jabberwocky that I've ever heard of).

Throughout the season, we learn some surprising things about many of the characters. And half way through the season, Alice and Cyrus are reunited, but that leads to a totally unexpected twist in the story, which I don't want to spoil. That's all I'll say about the plot, except that the good guys win in the end, of course. And Jafar is played by Naveen Andrews (Sayid on Lost). The White Rabbit is CGI, and voiced by John Lithgow; his wife is voiced by Whoopi Goldberg. The Caterpillar is voiced by Iggy Pop. And there's a sorceress named Amara (played by Zuleikha Robinson). And... generally speaking, I believe I was unfamiliar with any other actors on the show, but I'd be happy to see any of them in other things, someday....

Will would later join the cast of the original "Once Upon a Time," in that show's fourth season.

fantasy index

movies and shows inspired by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass

movies: Alice in Wonderland (1951) * Alice in Wonderland (2010)
TV movies & miniseries: Alice in Wonderland (1985) * Alice Through the Looking Glass (1998) * Alice in Wonderland (1999) * Alice (2009)
TV shows: Adventures in Wonderland * Once Upon a Time in Wonderland