‘Once Upon a Time in Wonderland’ Series Premiere Review – Alice Returns Home

Published 2 years ago by

once upon a time wonderland premiere Once Upon a Time in Wonderland Series Premiere Review   Alice Returns Home

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s 1865 classic novel gets a makeover with ABC’s exciting new series, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Creators/executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitis (Lost) demonstrate how a spin-off can be an excellent way to build upon a universe that millions of fans are already captivated by and not just another cash-cow for the studio.

The key word here is “new.” Yes, Wonderland is a series loosely tied to ABC’s Once Upon a Time; however, the unique characters and the world they inhabit give this classic tale new life. If this is your first journey into the realm of Once Upon a Time, then fear not, for the writers do a superb job at explaining the story without too many “wink-winks” at the audience.

once upon a time wonderland premiere nave Once Upon a Time in Wonderland Series Premiere Review   Alice Returns Home

Alice, played by the fearless young Sophie Lowe, could become one of the best new heroines on television. The writers deserve credit, but it’s Lowe’s multilayered performance that steals the show. The young adventurer has had a tough life, as we see her recently returned to our world from Wonderland, with tales of talking cats and hookah-smoking caterpillars. These outlandish stories put her in Bethlem Asylum, where Alice tries to forget her lost love, Cyrus (Peter Gadiot). The look of confusion on her face as the Knave of Hearts (Michael Socha) attempts a rescue proves that Lowe was a brilliant casting choice, as the Once Upon a Time franchise continues to produce some of the fiercest female characters in the business.

An impressive supporting cast brings even more vitality to Wonderland, with comedic icon John Lithgow leading the way as the voice of The White Rabbit. A good antagonist can make or break a show; fortunately, the inclusion of Lost veteran Naveen Andrews as Jafar was another solid casting choice. The spellbindingly gorgeous Emma Rigby’s take on The Red Queen commands respect each time she enters a scene, and will most likely fulfill “the girl we love to hate” role. Wonderland’s strength goes beyond its choice of actors though, and continues with an engaging story as well.

once upon a time wonderland premiere alice Once Upon a Time in Wonderland Series Premiere Review   Alice Returns Home

Dodgson may have been in a drug-induced state while writing his classic tale, yet the hour-long ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ premiere never felt hazy or disorienting. The Knave says that “Nothing is impossible in Wonderland,” and he’s more right than he realizes. In typical Once Upon a Time fashion, fairy tales are either combined or modified slightly in order to keep the viewer guessing. Watching Jafar and the Red Queen quarrel over their villainous plot was a moment of pure delight. It seems that the magical realm of Agrabah has come to the queen’s domain in search of Cyrus and the three wishes he possesses. Will there be an appearance by Aladdin in upcoming episodes?

With the White Rabbit on the queen’s payroll, what adventures will await our travelers as they search for Cyrus? At the end of the episode, as the camera pulls back to reveal just how long our heroes must venture, its difficult not to think of The Lord of the Rings and its epic quest. Again, Wonderland stands on its own as a new and thrilling fantasy world to explore. Hopefully, we’ll get more back-story into Knave, Alice, and the rest of Wonderland’s inhabitants as the season moves forward. Do Alice’s adventures entice you to stay for the journey, or are Sunday’s Once Upon a Time stories enough fairy tale goodness for one week?

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland returns next Thursday @8pm on ABC

Follow David Griffin on Twitter @griffinde
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  1. Could have been a good show,but since its on ABC’s …i doubt it will !
    It just feels not right and often very cheap and unimaginative !

    But I guess as all shows on ABC it will find its audience !
    Lets hope a Star Wars Live TV show gets never made with this quality shown here ! What ever people say about Lukas,I am sure they would have made a great mature show,that would stand on its own ! Sad !


    • What are you talking about? The mother show “Once Upon A Time” is IMO the second-best fantasy series ever made, only falling short of Game of Thrones, but that is a different beast. I watched both seasons of OUAT in two days each on BD and can’t wait for the next one and this spin-off! Highly addictive…

  2. Love the show except the white rabbit is not white and his glasses and eyes in relationship to his glasses are jarring and pull you out of the show.

  3. the only reason i watched this show was because of naveen andrews. but i really enjoyed this show. it was good without being too silly or c ampy. it pulled off a hard thing…be a spin off and not be bad. bu man, did jafar own the episode in my opinion. before you saw his face, his voice and the tone of it set the bar high of what i will be expecting from andrews as jafar. also, i love how he is rocking the SOUL GLOW glow look, haha

  4. I wonder if they are going to keep Sebastian Stan as the Mad Hatter in this series?

    • Sebastian Stan will remain the Mad Hatter – which is why the Hatter is not home. Horowitz and Katsis couldn’t recast him – they love Sebastian Stan and are working around his Captain America Schedule to make sure he remains the hatter in both series. Just means he will take a while to enter the show. But I am excited to see Sebastian Stan back in both shows! Anyways read it in an interview as I knew they were toying with the idea of recasting at one point.

      I enjoyed the show – most captivated by the love story lol, but I think overall it will turn out great. I love Once Upon a Time, that show started a little slow as well but picked up fast so I look forward to what Wonderland has to bring. As for the Cheshire Cat I didn’t compare it to Miyazaki, I compared it to the computer game where Wonderland was evil after Alice went to a mental institute following the death of her family in a house fire. Makes sense to me. Hope there is more dark in the story. Guess there will have to be if they plan on making Alice use up her wishes so Jafar can re-enslave the Genie.

  5. I loved it, but there was too much CGI…I noticed at the end when they were walking down the yellow brick road, they didn’t look real. Some was good, but I want to feel more grounded maybe? But I am a OUAT fan , and I am looking fwd to loving this as well, can’t wait!

    • On top of that, I’m pretty sure I saw a green screen halo around Cyrus in one of the quicker shots of him in the cage. I get that they’re on a tv show budget, but wow some of those effects were jarringly bad.

  6. Dogeson never took drugs, the fun thing about Alice is that’s pure wild real imagantion there. Something thats been missing for a long time.

    • UH,Lewis Carroll created and wrote Alice in wonderland. not Dogeson

  7. I watched the pilot after having seen commercials that made the show look promising, unfortunately, the show fell flat for me. The horrible acting, the incessant fawning ‘I can’t live without him!’ attitude of Alice killed the experience for me. Why can’t we have a strong, smart, imaginative woman without a man being the focus of the plot/driving force for the character? Alice comes off as weak and boring.

    I will give the show credit for its scenery, while made-for-tv, it sparked my imagination but that will not be enough for me to continue watching the series.

    • I watched this a couple days after it debuted…I have to say I agree with what Sharker says plus for me,

      I felt the show was very confusing. Was it supposed to be set present day or not? If it was, how did London suddenly look Victorian including characters clothing except the Knave’s? Poor choice of casting as none of them apparenly can act, especially the Queen. Her gawd awful looks, in particular those fake lips were distracting and her acting was terrible. Choice of Alice was equally bad though at least she looked normal. The special effects were terrible, many times the show looked like an 80s video game, very cheese which is sad considering how well they do them on Once Upon A Time.

      I’m going to give this a few more episodes before I quit (since I love Once Upon A Time) but the pilot IMO was a FAIL.

      • Can NOT stand looking at the red queens lips. Will probably keep me from watching this show. So fake and obnoxious looking, absolutely horrible. Very difficult to look at. No part of her face moves when she talks except the obnoxious lips, the rest of her face is stiff as stone.

  8. I had the pleasure of seeing the first half of the premiere at Fan Expo Toronto which was a great experience. I liked how they put Alice in an asylum because it’s a completely believable storyline that after coming back from Wonderland and talking about all that she has seen, she was put in a mental institute for it (a book called Splintered by A. G. Howard does something similar). So I really love Alice (played by Sophie Low) in this adaptation. She is probably the best heroine so far that I have seen in the Once Upon a Time universe. She’s not afraid of standing up for herself, she’s not afraid to believe, and she kicks some serious butt. I think it’s pretty obvious the sort of character the Knave of Hearts (played by Michael Socha) is and I can’t wait to see how he plays out in the story. The Red Queen, who is often confused with the Queen of Hearts (played by Emma Rigby) is pretty enough but she isn’t very intimidating yet. Also, once again another Lost star makes an appearance Jafar (played by Naveen Andrews).

    Things I didn’t like: I really wished that kept to the Alice in Wonderland universe and then broke off into other fairy tales (Aladdin) but sadly they didn’t. I didn’t like what they did to the character of Cheshire. They should have either made him so feral that he no longer talked at all (forgot his old self completely) or made him insane. Also, I wasn’t a fan of the large volume of CGI, it takes away from the story and the believability (I like the idea that the Once Upon a Time universe makes fairy tale stories plausible).

  9. Are they ever going to explain how a seemingly 120 pound Alice was able to beat up 6 orderlies?

  10. This show would fail without CGI, the acting sucks, it doesn’t even feel like its wonderland, its like this mixed wonderland with oz and added fairies from Neverland to it, the love plot is going to kill the series for guys or others who like good plots

  11. I think it’s ok. It’s not as good as Once Upon a Time. I’m very upset they are shoving this “epic” storyline down our throats. Let us decide if we think it’s epic or not. At least in OUAT it’s snow white and prince charming, it’s in fairy tale books. We all know that story so their undying love is more realistic and more epic. But Alice and the Genie??? Seriously?! I don’t buy it. I think she has so much more chemistry with the knave of hearts. I refuse to believe that is not a possible option because of her “epic” love for the genie. PLEASE! UGH! I’m thinking of not watching it anymore. Unless something blossoms between the knave and alice I see it brewing… you can sense it… I hope they think of going in that direction. :D

  12. I watched the 4 episodes of OUAT in Wonderland, after having seen all OUaT 2 days ago and I was craving to find other series as good as it, but sincerely this one did not full-fill my wish. It is not intriguing, the plot is poor and I don’t even like the acting. The queen is so fake, can’t even compare to Regina, or any other actor in OUaT. Anyway, hope they get any better ‘cuz this far it isn’t promising.

  13. Sorry, but I’m only tolerating this show while waiting for Grey’s to come on at 9pm and there’s nothing else on. The acting is terrible. The effects are cheap. The story is boring and strays too far from Lewis Carroll (real surname: Dodgson, for those who didn’t know that). I’m madly in love with OUAT, but I Wonder how this Wonderland got a greenlight with all the green screen nonsense. The gal playing Alice is a terrible actor. The guy with the weird eyebrows and big ears is almost as bad an actor as the kid playing Peter Pan on OUAT. They both overact with their eyebrows. Botox is in order if they can’t control it. I’m not surprised that this dreck came from ABC, given their soap opera-like shows.

  14. “UH,Lewis Carroll created and wrote Alice in wonderland. not Dogeson”

    Lewis Carroll was the pen name of Charles Dodgson, which he came up with by translating his name to Latin and putting the surname first.

    The more you know…