Two years ago we started a journey that was centralised around the one main goal of breaking the Evil Queen’s curse. Now that that story has evolved and developed into something more complex, we start a new one, a fruition of that growing and evolving world. Wonderland’s opening episode isn’t as streamlined as its parent series’ phenomenal debut, but it boasts the same appeal and kookiness that drew me in back then.
Of course, those looking for something a bit grimmer than Once Upon a Time will probably be a bit disappointed. There were a number of hints at the show crossing over into a more deadly and disturbing world - with Alice’s time in the asylum and her proposed “procedure”- but those opportunities were forgone in favour of something a bit more fantasised and camp.
That’s not to say that this show is all about mallow ponds and talking cats. The central plot revolving around Alice’s lost love Cyrus bears all the same angst and lovelorn tendencies that we grew accustomed to during Once’s opening stretch. So far, I’m not all that taken in by it, since his and Alice’s shared screen time was limited, but the chemistry was definitely there.
There was an altogether different chemistry between Alice and her second male companion, the Knave, who is by far the show’s strongest character, and the main source of the show’s wit and charm. I’m actually all for him being the show’s big male lead. Where the producers decide to take his character will be important in keeping viewers invested in all of the absurdity and wacky CGI, too, considering how self aware his dialogue is.
Though Sophie Lowe is likable and relatable and John Lithgow was a fun choice for the rabbit, the rest of the cast don’t jump out of the screen. The Red Queen is weaker than I would have liked her to be, which is unfortunate considering how much attention Regina commands in Once. As for Jafar, Naveen Andrews was fairly wooden and standard, giving us next to nothing to work with alongside someone as bright and over the top as Robert Carlyle.
One of the most common fears of this series is that there won’t be much to fuel things week-to-week, but there was enough sly references to past indiscretions being thrown around to negate that worry for me. Personally, I think the show needs to work overtime justifying its existence outside of Once’s umbrella, but aside from the understandable side effect of having to fluff out an already completed 20 minute pilot, I’m perfectly happy to stick around Wonderland indefinitely.
I liked the Storybrooke cameos, but I’m a little confused by this show’s timeline. Alice was alive in Victorian times, yet the Knave was around in modern day Storybrooke?
I like how British the cast is.
He Said, She Said
White Rabbit: “You’re late. What a surprise.”
Alice: “To you, everybody’s late.”
Alice: “Careful Knave, we’ve landed in the mallow marsh.”
Knave: “Of course we did. Because a pond made out of dessert topping makes perfect sense.”
Alice: “When you really love someone, you don’t need proof. You can feel it.”
Also posted at Doux Reviews.