With the success of Once Upon a Time doubtlessly on their mind, ABC has embraced a bold and ambitious strategy during pilot season, ordering initial look-ins on shows that center on Iron Man and Captain America's support staff (S.H.I.E.L.D.), frontier adventure/a theme park ride (Big Thunder), and a soapy look at the mythology of Frankenstein and Dracula (Gothica).
Superheroes, cowboys, and monsters. What's missing over on ABC's development slate? Apparently fairytales, but the network is looking to remedy that while simultaneously growing Once Upon a Time's brand in an effort to catch lightning in a bottle twice.
According to Deadline, the new show, if picked up, would live on a short order of 13 episodes and it would center on Alice, of Alice in Wonderland fame. The report also indicates that several new characters will also show up.
According to a casting breakdown released last week, they are Amahl, described as exotic, soulful and optimistic; and The Knave, a sardonic adventurer, a man of action, a loner and a heart-breaker. The spinoff takes place in a post-curse world, though, like on Once, there will be flashbacks, so we could potentially see familiar faces,
Once Upon a Time consulting producer and Husbands Web-series co-creator Jane Espenson is expected to work on the pilot with former Zero Hour and Prison Break producer Zack Estrin and Once Upon a Time executive producers Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz.
We reached out to Jane Espenson, who had this to say about the possible Once spinoff:
"I'm thrilled to be involved! Eddy and Adam are inspiring, and I am eager to work with them on any project they have going."
This is not the first time that spinoff rumors have popped up in reference to Once Upon a Time. Previously, speculation had centered on Sebastian Stan and his Mad Hatter character, but several reports have indicated that the Captain America: The Winter Soldier star is not presently available to return to the role, due to his busy schedule.
This is also not the first time that ABC has been connected to an Alice in Wonderland-centric show. Previously, the network had been linked to Anthony Zuiker's Wonderland project that was to be written by former Buffy the Vampire Slayer film reboot writer Whit Anderson, before reportedly moving on due to economic concerns. That project is now at NBC.
Could this project have to worry about some of those same concerns? Possibly, but they could always save some money in the casting process, and with pilot season well under way, the available talent pool is likely a little thin, so going with few fresh faces may be both frugal and a necessity.
Regardless, like Once, this show will live and die on the power of it's stories, and with a lot of familiar talent working behind the scenes and Once Upon a Time's aptitude for solid ratings (though not as solid as they once were), this could be a pretty easy decision for ABC.
Once Upon a Time airs Sundays @ 8PM on ABC