"Once Upon a Time" officially became a franchise on Thursday night when the ABC hit spawned "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland." This spinoff is a love story merging the worlds of "Alice in Wonderland" and "Aladdin." The pilot seemed to pick up right at the end of Alice's original story, with the little girl emerging from the ground and immediately being thought crazy for her wild tales.
An older Alice wound up in an insane asylum, facing a drastic new treatment that would rid her of these fantasies. Only they weren't fantasies. In a flashback sequence, a now-grown Alice was shown finding her way back to Wonderland. There she met and fell in love with Cyrus, the genie in the lamp.
The Knave of Hearts and the White Rabbit tracked her down in the asylum to free her. She wasn't interested in going until they told her that Cyrus was alive. Alice had watched the Red Queen push him off of a precipice and thought him gone. And so she helped facilitate her escape and made her way back to Wonderland, where she vowed to stay until she was reunited with her lost love.
“When you really love someone, you don’t need proof. You can feel it. He’s here," she insisted. "I’m going to find him."
HitFix's Liane Bonin Starr was sold on the new show right away. "If you've been reluctant to jump into ‘Once Upon A Time’ because there are too many characters, or because you've missed the first season, or if you just don't like whatever character has emerged as a focus this week (though it could easily change next week), this might be just the show for you," she noted. "Even though it's a spinoff of ‘Once Upon A Time,’ think of it as the gateway drug. Drink me!”
As Entertainment Weekly's Hillary Busis pointed out, "Wonderland" is a self-contained story, so it's not such a big commitment. The story will be wrapped up by the end of this season's order, which co-creator Adam Horowitz says is "not meant to be a 22-episode season." If successful, it could return for another year in Wonderland to tell a completely new story.
Go down the rabbit hole with Alice every Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET on ABC's "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland."
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