Initial Thoughts: Once Upon a Time in Wonderland

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland is only one week out the gate and TV by the Numbers already has it on the cancellation bubble! If you like Once Upon a Time, you will like this show (I actually think this one is better.) The question is, how many hours of fantasy, fairy tale drama TV can a person watch? Sunday night feels like the right night to watch something Disney-ish (because, as I have mentioned before, The Wonderful World of Disney used to be on Sunday nights.)  Thursday night is more like a Vampire Diaries, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal kind of night (in my TV world.)  People are getting ready for the weekend and want to watch drama and scandal and pretend their weekend will be full of the same. (None of this applies to me of course, because I record everything and watch it when I feel like it, but apparently, lots of people still watch things real time!)

That being said, I liked it. The story is told by bouncing around from present day to past (different times in the past, even) so you have to stay on your toes to follow the story. I like some intellectual challenge in my TV. What is the story? Let me tell you..(spoiler alert)

The whole things starts AFTER Alice’s adventures in Wonderland. When she returned from Wonderland, she had apparently been gone for a long time (not just like a nap) so everyone thought she was dead. No one believed her story so they institutionalized her. At some point (we don’t know the details exactly), as a young woman Alice escaped and went back to Wonderland to get proof that it exists. On this return journey, she fell in love with a genie. The genie was supposedly killed by the evil Red Queen (we don’t really know why) and Alice was devastated. When she returned to the “real world” from Wonderland, she was despondent. She told her doctors she did make it all up and then she agreed to electroshock therapy to forget everything (we are now in the present day that is not really the present day, because they still do electroshock therapy. Its a vague time period.)

BUT..before she goes in for the procedure, the Knave of Hearts and the White Rabbit (remember that people and animals can travel between worlds) tell her that her genie love (Cyrus) is alive and that she should go back to Wonderland to find him. BUT..when she gets there, we learn that the evil Red Queen made up the whole story of Cyrus being alive to get her back to Wonderland. BUT…then we learn that Cyrus really IS still alive and being held prisoner by the evil genie Jafar (we don’t know why) who is working with the Red Queen (at the moment. He also wants to kill her.)

So there you have it. Many mysteries to unravel and a romantic quest to find lost love in a fantasy land where there are lots of mushrooms and things can grow big and be made small. The dialog is actually smart and witty and the visuals are appealing. And Alice kicks ass, literally, with swords and karate moves.

Watching this show made me give some thought to what is is about Alice in Wonderland that appealed to me as a small child. I think it was because Alice was brave and curious and spoke her mind. She made her way, on her own, through this strange land and she wasn’t scared, she just rolled with it. She was nice to those who were nice to her but didn’t put up with any shit. She did get upset once and cry a river of tears, but she pulled herself together and got out of her predicament. No one came to save her, she just figured it out. She was smart.

Maybe Alice was my first feminist heroine!

Fall TV Watchlist

Just under the wire (maybe a tiny bit late), here is what I will be checking out this fall on TV. I am not super excited about any of the new stuff but I like to check it out before I rule it out. I have actually already ruled out many of the new shows. Here is what’s left, in order of interest…

Brooklyn Nine-Nine  (previewed last Tuesday on Fox) – I already watched the first episode and it was really funny, in a very silly way. Stay tuned for a mini review. (EW and TV Guide top pick)

Masters of Sex (Sun 9/29 10pm Showtime) Inspired by Masters & Johnson’s research into human sexuality it is described as Mad Men with gratuitous nudity. Sounds great! (EW and TV Guide top pick)

Hostages (Mon 9/23 10pm CBS) – A serialized white knuckle conspiracy thriller mixed with a complicated family saga starring Tony Colette and Dylan McDermott.  It is only 15 episodes, not a huge commitment, based on an Israeli drama (like In Treatment!) The main reason to check it out is that its exec producer says it is like Downton Abbey meets 24. I have to find out what that could possibly mean. (TV Guide top pick)

The Blacklist  (Mon 9/23 10pm NBC) – International man of secrets (the always creepy James Spader) inexplicably surrenders to the FBI to bust the underworld but will only work with a rookie cop and we don’t know why. Described as an unoriginal, but very entertaining Alias meets Silence of the Lambs (EW and TV Guide top pick)

Retro Fall TV Preview CoverAlmost Human (Mon 11/4 Fox 8pm) – This is our new Fringe (from JJ Abrams)! Cops work with robo-partners to solve crimes. The two leads apparently have great buddy-cop chemistry and the show offers fresh takes on sci-fi archetypes (and there is a mysterious box!) (EW top pick)

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (Thu 10/10 10pm ABC) – This is a spin off of Once Upon a Time based on Alice in Wonderland (had you figured that out?). Alice was my fav growing up so I watch all things Alice. I also really like Once Upon a Time. Apparently, I dig fairy tale based fantasies. (nobodies top pick except mine!)

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Thu 9/24 8pm ABC) – This is not a show I would normally watch, ever (I have not even see the Avenger’s movie), but it was co-created by Joss Whedon who created Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I loved. He also created Firefly which I think I would have loved if I had watched it. It is a “smarter superhero drama” with a covert government force that protects mortals from mutants. It sounds like there are a lot of super hero/comic book jokes that will go right over my head, but if you are in to that stuff, this might be TV gold. (EW and TV Guide top pick)

The Crazy Ones (Thu 9/26 9pm CBS)I don’t have a good feeling about this one, but it is created by David E Kelly with Robin Williams (needs no explanation but I will take this opportunity to give a shout out to Good Will Hunting, one of my favorite movies ever) and Sarah Michelle Gellar (the actual Buffy!) What will happen? Well, a kooky genius will run an advertising agency with his levelheaded daughter Sydney. See why I’m not that excited? (TV Guide top pick)

Hello Ladies (Sun 9/29 HBO) – A geeky guy and his friends try to date in L.A. This is not really my thing but EW says it is really funny so I wanted to tell you about it (and I would feel guilty if you missed it and it was awesome!) (EW Top Pick)

If I had more time, I would check out Super Fun Night (created by Conan O’Biran and the hilarious Rebel Wilson of Bridesmaids and Almost Perfect fame) and The Originals (a spin off of The Vampire Diaries that I also don’t have time for but kind of miss!) and maybe even Sean Saves the World (because I like Sean Hayes from Will and Grace.) But there is no time.

If you want to know when returning stuff is returning, check out my TV List or TV Guide’s awesome Fall TV Premiere Calendar.

Let the fall TV watching begin!

Disclaimer: Almost everything I have written here is blatant plagiarism from Entertainment Weekly. Thanks EW!