Thursday, October 10, 2013

(Spoilers) Once Upon a Time in Wonderland Series Premiere Review-ish

***SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers may be found in the post below about VARIOUS ITEMS. And I'm going to add in a bit of filler text here to limit how much of the main article gets shown in a preview. That should take care of most of it. Hopefully. And away we go. SPOILER WARNING. ***

Big fan of Once Upon a Time, so this spin-off was a big deal!

The show starts with Alice as a child returning home from a trip to Wonderland. She's been gone for a while and her father doesn't believe her story, so she sets out to find proof back in Wonderland.

In the present, she's in an asylum before a board of doctors discussing her condition. Through flashbacks, it is revealed that she indeed went back for proof. While running from guards, she meets Cyrus the genie. They travel, fall in love, and are one day confronted by the Red Queen where Cyrus is pushed off a cliff. Alice assumes that he's dead, returns home distraught, and is put in an asylum.

The day after her board meeting and just before a medical procedure (lobotomy?), the Knave of Hearts tells her that Cyrus is alive. She breaks out of the Asylum and goes back to Wonderland with the White Rabbit's help with the Knave to find Cyrus. At the end, it is revealed that the Red Queen is working for Jafar who is keeping Cyrus prisoner.

Love the opening scene with Alice running home after coming back from Wonderland. It's a nice visual shot with little to no CGI. It was also nice to see what looked like Cinderella (?) back in Storybrooke with Lee Arenberg. The Mad Hatter's home is also featured in the premiere, just not the Mad Hatter himself -- the actor's really busy last I heard.

I only heard about this spin-off back during the spring after the trailer came out when the networks announced their fall schedules. At first, I was a bit skeptical because Once Upon a Time isn't that mature of a show with it just starting its third season about two weeks ago. Like, really, already trying to milk this franchise? That skepticism went away after watching the trailer on repeat throughout the summer.

Speaking of the trailer, it's obvious after watching the premiere that the majority of its footage comes from the pilot episode. A lot of scenes appear identical with maybe some CGI added for the pilot. However, one major difference is the outfit the Red Queen now wears. Her original outfit was, shall we say, "distracting". It is now much more conservative and it probably required a complete reshoot of her scenes. Must have been some pretty negative backlash?

As for the show itself, I am impressed. The CGI isn't the highest-quality, but being a fan of the original Once Upon a Time, I knew what to expect well before watching the spin-off -- Wonderland is actually featured in a few episodes from earlier seasons. Story and writing-wise, it's interesting to see the merging of characters from Alice in Wonderland and Aladdin. Hurray for the Disney corporation.

There are two villains so far in this series: the Red Queen and Jafar. The former works for the latter. I'm curious to see how this develops because one of the staples of Lost and Once Upon a Time characters is that even the "bad guys" have redeeming qualities (e.g. the Queen, Rumpelstiltskin, Ben).

I'm also impressed that they managed to make the Alice and Cyrus relationship actually work in so little time. They meet, they travel, and get engaged within a span of maybe 10 to 20 minutes, yet it doesn't feel contrived. Sometimes in shows, I find myself calling bull**** on some forced relationship even after multiple episodes are used to develop the relationship. This isn't a problem here and it feels effective in explaining Alice's story and motivations.

Off to a good start!

TV: Week of September 29, 2013 Round-up
Sleepy Hollow: Fall 2013 TV S1E1 Pilot Impressions
Sleepy Hollow: S1E2 "Blood Moon" Impressions
Sleepy Hollow: S1E3 "For The Triumph of Evil" Impressions
Hell on Wheels: S3E3 "Range War" Impressions

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