Once Upon a Time in Wonderland Season 1 Episode 1 – TV Review
You’re gonna have to bear with me, here, because I’m pretty weak on my Lewis Carroll knowledge.
But I do have access to Wikipedia, so there’s that.
TL;DR Surprisingly not as wanked out as I expected, Wonderland looks to be a decent companion to Once Upon a Time. The British accents help sell it much more than its parent show, and Sophie Lowe is an excellent lead. Alice is on the hunt for her genie lovah, who is being held prisoner by the Red Queen and an unlikely co-conspirator.
It’s Jafar. From Aladdin. That Disney catalogue just pays for itself.
The plot starts off with Alice on her way to the lobotomy chair in an asylum. She’s finally ready to put Wonderland behind her because she thinks Cyrus, her genie fiancé, is dead. The Knave of Hearts is brought in by the White Rabbit to rescue her and return her to Wonderland so they can look for Cyrus, who is apparently alive. Their search proves fruitless, but Alice holds hope. It’s fruitless because, unbeknownst to them, the White Rabbit is working for the Red Queen, who herself is partnered with an aggressive Jafar. Jafar has lured Alice back to Wonderland so he can get his hands on the 3 wishes in her possession, a gift from Cyrus. I assume the Red Queen is just into the plan because she’s a bitch.
Oh my god, another fabulously dressed, bitchy queen. I’m in heaven. And she’s a totty Brit, too.
My only major concern for this series is an overabundance of CGI bullshit. That’s exactly what the Tim Burton queef of an adaptation did oh so very wrong (along with a lot of other things). And this show ain’t got the budget to at least make it look half-good.
The CGI in this episode isn’t bad, per se. It’s certainly a step ahead of Once Upon a Time’s first season. But I just don’t want to see the characters constantly floating around on an obvious green screen.
Even if it isn’t cheap, it looks like it is.
Why I hate this episode:
I wasn’t too keen on the relationship between Jafar and the Red Queen. She is quickly reduced from a powerful badass (like Queengina) to an under-thumb lackey, who Jafar is pretty much ready to kill. Maybe I’m being greedy in my desire for another brilliant evil queen (like Queengina), but that scene was very disappointing.
And it sucks that the only reason Alice wants to live is because of a man. I know love is strong and all that, but she was willing to lobotomise herself because she thought he was dead. Respect yourself, woman.
I can see the love triangle with Alice/Cyrus/Knave coming from a mile away. Quote me on that (unless I’m wrong. Then don’t).
The timeline up to Alice’s arrival in the asylum is a bit weird. When she initially returns from Wonderland as a little girl, she overhears her father’s disbelief. So as a little girl, she resolves to present him with proof. This apparently took her a very long time, because in the flashback where we see her gathering proof, she’s an adult. Get the lead out, bitch.
Also, the asylum seems pretty archaic. We see Knave in Storybrooke prior to going to Alice’s rescue, which would suggest that Alice would have to be in there from, at the earliest, the 1980s. Did dungeon-esque asylums still exist in London in the 80s? I wouldn’t put it past Maggie Thatcher.
Unless time travel is in play. Which is not encouraging.
But it’s not all bad:
Still cute, though. And Knave is a bit limey, so he’s got this ugly-hot thing going on. It’ll do for now.
My favourite character is the Red Queen, natch. She dresses very well (thought not as stripperriffically as the trailer. A shame), and her accent is to die for. And she seems to have magic powers (enough to fling a grown man/genie off a cliff), so she might be able to get stuff done.
However, I don’t hate Alice. She’s started off on a way better foot than ol’ hypocritical, child-snatching Emma. Apart from her dependence on her man, she’s strong, brave, and competent. Sophie Lowe owns it. Mia Sulk-ikowska, this is how it’s done.
I’m on board for the Aladdin crossover stuff. It might add some spice. I was worried that specifically putting the “in Wonderland” in the title would constrain us to simply Wonderland characters, but now I have hope for more.
Jefferson isn’t there, so the timeline should be matching up somewhere with Once Upon a Time.
In the brief Storybrooke scene, we see Cinderella and Grumpy. Fanservice is obligatory for Disney.
I thought the marshmallow swamp stuff was pretty cool. Bonus points for Alice using dragonfly fire breath to toast her and Knave a path out.
Jafar is Sayid from Lost.
John Lithgow voices the White Rabbit.
The Cheshire Cat is a bit starve-crazy and tries to eat Alice. Knave defeats it by force-feeding it some shrinking mushroom, which reduces it down to a pretty kitten. Aww.
Best line goes to the Red Queen, mainly for her accent. She’s just gotten Jafar to back off from killing her, and knows it’s important to assert her power: “You’re not in Agrabah anymore, darling.” So British. So chic.
Oh, and apart from the almost-killing-her bit, I think Jafar and the Red Queen could make some great Rumple/Queenie-esque vitriolic best buds. He just doesn’t know how much he wants her yet.