Once Upon A Time In Wonderland – First Review

Tonight was the premier of the new series spinoff of the already hit Once Upon A Time.  This series takes the classic Alice in Wonderland tale and gives it the OUAT treatment.  A lot is taken from the book, the cartoon movie, and still other sources.  But, all of it is not quite what one would remember.

This limited run series (at least so far) takes place after Alice has been to Wonderland a couple of times.  In our realm, she’s seen as crazy and ends up at a psychiatric ward almost undergoing a treatment.  The Knave of Hearts comes just in time, along with the White Rabbit who claims to have found Alice’s love, Cyrus.  Cyrus is a genie, which introduces a new realm: Agrabah.  Both realms begin to entwine as the Red Queen is in cahoots with Jafar, who is after Cyrus’ wishes.  Alice is the key to these wishes, and so the two villains are seeking after the heroine in Wonderland.

Before tonight, I got to view the first half of the episode at the D23 Expo.  After watching I was already intrigued and captivated.  Tonight was a full episode, taking that first half and then exploring more of Wonderland.  What I like is the love story that is being unfolded in this spinoff.  It reminds me of the Princess Bride, to use another pop culture reference.  It’s that adventurous, but destined romance between the hero and heroine that is captivating.  Though Jafar seems too cliche in his motivation, the Red Queen is still a mystery.  I think it’s her character that will keep things rolling for the villainy side.

Production wise, I like the music a lot!  It has touches of something from Agrabah with some Pirates of the Caribbean influence.  It also has undertone of the original OUAT series themes in it.  This music helps make the series feel fresh while paying homage to the original.  As far as effects go, it is still the routine green screen sets of OUAT, but with more digital characters.  I remember seeing the White Rabbit at the Expo and being a little disappointed in his rendering and animation.  It seems like they polished him up well for the series.  The Cheshire Cat was also a great example of digital effects for the series.  Some of the settings are that weird looking digital renderings from the original, but others seem better than what is being done in regular Once.

I’m still looking forward to the rest of the series, no matter how many episodes it lasts.  But, I do hope that it does have a definite end, which is what the creators/writers have intended.  I wouldn’t mind another series that explores Agrabah after this one.  But, the reveal at the end of the episode felt too soon, but maybe ok for a limited series.  I wish they kept the element of surprise a lot more in for the storyline.  Still, though, it will be quite an enjoyable series and will have a lot of characters to explore as time goes on.  I already liked the take on Cheshire Cat and can’t wait until I see the spin on other classic characters.

If you’re a purist for original stories, this would not be a series for you.  If you’re ok with new spins on classic tales, ones that even still pay tribute to the original, then this will be a great series.  Alice’s character is captivating and lovely.  As much as I like OUAT, I do think Alice is a refreshing character for this type of world.

And with that, a bid you, have a marvelous day!