SUMMARY: A spin-off of Once Upon a Time is based on Alice in Wonderland, but rather than retelling the story, it is cantered around a twist of its own. In Victorian England, nobody believe young Alice’s stories of her adventures in Wonderland. As she finds herself on the brink of a precarious decision with irreparable consequences, White Rabbit and Knave of hearts save her from a terrible fate and bring her back to Wonderland, where Alice sets on a new series of adventures, saving her friends, herself, and Wonderland itself.
Firstly, let me admit that I haven’t read Alice in Wonderland yet (I still might in the future, though) – growing in a non-English speaking country, we read other, Slovene authors, as children.
This is one of the reasons, that although I have seen one or two film adaptations, and I have been watching Once Upon a Time (OUAT) since the beginning (although I only reviewed season 1) I have only caught up with Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (OUATIW) now, but I absolutely loved it, even more so that OUAT.
Here are the reasons why:
- Alice. She is a wonderful heroine, a “strong female character” written as she should be: yes, she kicks ass, but she is not invulnerable, not masculinised as many so-called strong female characters are; she saves others but needs saving herself, too, she accepts help when needed, she makes mistakes, and she breaks when everything is too much. But in the end, she comes out stronger and victorious. She is good hearted and selfless, but I loved that she fights for her own happiness, contrary to the cliché of a heroine only putting others’ happiness before hers.
- Knave of Hearts. What a splendid male sidekick! Sassy and snarky (though, Alice is all that herself as well), and not always quite willing or capable to do what’s right, but the goodness inside him gets the better of him.
- No love triangles drama. Almost no love drama, period. Far from the usual norm of contemporary television which focuses on romance, in OUATIW, love is in the centre of the story but is also just a part of it at the same time.
- The villain(s). I loved the parallels the show draws of how differently life can take people who start with things in common: one may earn the error of their ways and try to do better while the other does not do so and suffers the consequences.
- And all other characters and subplots. There is just so much good I cannot possibly mention everything.
- Despite the fact that the show wasn’t renewed for a second season, the story is perfectly wrapped up in 13 episodes of its first and only season and everything is nicely tied up. No cliff-hangers or loose ends.
- The fluff-tastic, but not corny, ending.
Finally, OUATIW does slightly overlap with its parent series (OUAT), but the references make sense even if you haven’t been watching OUAT.
Hence, there is no reason not to watch Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.
RECOMMENDATION: I think OUAT and Alice in Wonderland fans as well as fantasy lovers in general will tremendously enjoy this series.