Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Finale.

Once upon a time there was a spinoff that ABC hoped would make them boatloads of money, just like the original franchise. But the show’s poor acting, awful special effects and dull plots doomed it to a quick pink slip. The writers had once last chance to say goodbye. And here’s how they did it…

In the last episode, we were blissfully rid of the Red Queen who was killed and left in a glass coffin like Lenin, her lips stuck in permanent duck face after rigor mortis set in. But, of course, she doesn’t stay dead for long. Jafar brings her back to life to serve as his new queen … because he loved her all along? No, that can’t be right. And yet that seems to be the implication. Moving on…

Our band of heroes sets off to find a way to bring down Jafar. Cyrus and his mother head first to the reflecting pool where zombie Lisa Bonet lives:


On the way there, Cyrus’ mother turns out to be the Jim Jones of sorceresses when she compels an army of enemy soldiers to kill themselves. Strange move, considering she’s one of our heroes.  Continue reading


Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Episodes ten and eleven.

"Will. Have you noticed how my lips wax and wane like the phases of the moon? How is that possible?"

“Will. Have you noticed how my lips wax and wane like the phases of the moon? How is that possible?”

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland recently left us with something of a cliffhanger: We met the Jabberwocky and she looked like a member of a Poison tribute band after a particularly rough night — but what makes her so terrifying? What makes her the most-feared monster in Wonderland?

It’s obviously not the way she speaks. She doesn’t talk like the Jabberwocky at all. She speaks regular English. Perhaps it’s the method by which she murders — by sticking her giant press-on nails into her victim’s ears which, aptly enough, is a visual metaphor for this show.

Admittedly, it’s fun in a masochistic sort of way to watch her go toe-to-toe with the Red Queen, one woman trying to out-ham the other. With the introduction of the Jabberwocky, I thought the Red Queen might finally become the second-worst character on TV. But, like any good foil, the Jabberwocky only serves to amplify the stupidity of the Red Queen.

I think the Red Queen used to have powers. In fact, we’re shown a flashback where she learns how to use magic. She can light fires with her mind! And yet none of those skills are brought to bear when she’s tortured for information by the Jabberwocky.  Continue reading

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Episode nine.

"Oh god no. We're still on the air?!"

“Oh god no. We’re still on the air?!”

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland took a big risk reuniting Alice and her long-lost love Cyrus in episode eight of the first season. Perhaps they worried viewers were tired of her quest to find someone she’d barely shared the screen with.

They were wrong. This is worse. So much worse.

Now that they’re in the same room, it’s apparent that Alice and Cyrus have no chemistry. Each time they kiss, you’re expecting to hear raw, sandpapery sounds. As for the journey now, they’ve teamed up with Queen Big Lips to find the Knave who — plot twist! — has turned into a genie.

It’s a transference of problems. The plot’s exactly the same: Jafar needs a genie, someone who loves the genie is trying to save him, friends help find the genie. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a plot twist that gave us the exact same plot as before. So I suppose that’s an accomplishment.

Continue reading

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Episode eight.

And then Whoopi rabbit tore Alice apart with her sharp rabbit teeth the end.

And then Whoopi rabbit tore Alice apart with her sharp rabbit teeth the end.

I’ve been making fun of John Lithgow’s unfortunate CGI White Rabbit for quite some time now. I’d like to apologize to him for now I have truly looked into the eyes of Satan: the White Rabbit’s wife, Whoopi Goldberg.

Maybe the writers/animators of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland did this on purpose to make the White Rabbit more likable by comparison. But this is hell. It’s hell. I’ll be the first to say that America isn’t ready for an interracial rabbit couple because GAH THIS IS HELL.

As if to cheer us up from nightmare-inducing terror of Whoopi Goldberg as a CGI bunny, the show finally caves in and gives us what we want: the Cyrus-Alice reunion. They’re back together, yay! Seems like it should be pretty easy from here. Magic yourself to Storybrooke, join up with parent show Once Upon a Time, cancel this disaster and pretend like it never happened. Boom, solved your problem, ABC. Continue reading

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Episode six and seven.

"Maybe if we do this, we won't be able to hear how stupid the lines are!"

“Maybe if we do this, we won’t be able to hear how stupid the lines are!”

The most magical thing about being fantasy writer is that there are no limits to your imagination. Rowling created a world of wizards; Lovecraft invented modern horror; Le Guin sent us on incredible journeys to space.

And the writers of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland wrote a genie who has the power of invisibility but goes tottering along a mountainside in full view of his trackers after escaping from prison.

The decisions of each character in our weary cast are equally nonsensical as the show trudges toward the mid-way point. There’s the Red Queen, who chooses to manually track the genie’s escape like a hunter reading scats. Her alternative? She can point to a footprint and it lights up all the other footprints for her. But she only uses that at the very end of her hunt… because she believes in fairness?

Then we’ve got Alice’s father, who manages to be both bland and offensive at the same time. In flashbacks to Alice’s pre-mental ward days, we see her at home with her father and step-mother. Her father repeatedly asks her how long she intends to live with them. In fairness to poor Alice, the girl just reappeared after YEARS of being missing. She’s not a 31-year-old delivering pizzas and living in her mom’s basement. I think we can give her a little time to readjust.

Alas, no. Continue reading

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Episodes four and five.

Here’s a bad sign: The most enlightening thing we learn in the latest episodes of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland is that Jafar got his hair relaxed in between episodes. I sort of miss Indian Lionel Richie. Now he’s going for the George Clooney circa 1990.

Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 8.54.54 PM

The fourth and fifth episodes delve into the backstories of our two villains, Jafar and the Red Queen. This is where its parent show, Once Upon a Time, excels. Regina is a great villain because, despite all her evil doings, her deepest desire is to love and keep safe her adopted son. She is nuanced and sympathetic.

Jafar and the Red Queen lack all such complexity. The most well-rounded thing about the Red Queen are her lips, BOOM had to make that joke. Continue reading

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Episode three.

A few quick hits from a relatively uneventful episode of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland:

  • When Alice and the Knave show up at the Caterpillar’s mushroom, they step inside to reveal a giant living space. “It’s a lot bigger than it looks on the outside,” says Alice who will shortly be served papers by the Doctor Who lawyers.
  • The Knave and Alice spend the entire episode looking for a “forget me knot” which has unfortunate resonances for anyone who has watched Arrested Development. Continue reading

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Episode two.

I’m convinced that a porn writer has been tasked with writing the Red Queen’s scenes in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. It’s the only explanation.

The pilot could be written off as a bad mistake. Maybe after filming it, Emma Rigby looked in the mirror and thought, “I’m doing this all wrong. Why am I crying after every interaction with Jafar? That’s silly. Also, god, these duck lips have gotten out of control. Time to rein that in.”

Alas, episode two finds her fully committed to an acting choice I can only describe as “confused ex-porn star keeps thinking every scene is the one right before the fisting.”


Surely that is the reason why we have a scene where a man with a red lightning bolt painted on his face  pumices the Red Queen’s feet as she shouts, “Harder, harder, harder!” at him. Is this some sort of weird backstage outtake from the Ziggy Stardust tour? David Bowie would never stand for this!

When Jafar shows up, freshly pumiced Red Queen purrs, “I have needs. I need to make sure you can satisfy them.” Continue reading

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. The pilot.

Grown-up Alice’s first challenge in Wonderland is to escape a lake made of marshmallows, which she does by using a tiny dragon to roast the lake into s’mores.

Hmm, Alice’s psychiatrist is totally right. It DOES sound insane when you say it out loud.

As I watched the first episode of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, I found myself wondering if I’ve ever seen a worse pilot. It’s amazing in the way that catastrophic floods or mine cave-ins are amazing. All you can do is stand back and wonder: How did this happen?

The short answer is that ABC’s Disney princess fanfiction Once Upon a Time is doing pretty well. And as there are a handful of beloved Disney characters who haven’t been bastardized by that program, why not give them their own spinoff?

We’ve got the usual crew from Alice in Wonderland, although Alice is about 20 years old and engaged to the genie from Aladdin (work past it), and for some reason our villain is Jafar. Who is played by Indian Lionel Richie:

Hello, is it me you're looking for?

Hello, is it me you’re looking for?

Continue reading

Previewing ABC’s fall lineup: Once Upon a Time in Wonderland

While I was watching the trailer for Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, I noticed “TOP 10 BEST CAT VIDEOS OF ALL TIME” in the queue.

‘Man, I wonder what they are,’ I thought. ‘I bet I’ve seen all of them. Wow, it’s got over three million views. It must be really cute. Oh great, the male love interest just said: ‘When you really love someone, you don’t need proof.’ Preteen girls are going to put that on photosets and think it’s profound… I hope Maru made the list of best cat videos. Jesus, how long till this horrible trailer is over?!’

Anticipation is the wrong word for Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. It’s more like trepidation. They couldn’t even make the three-minute spot interesting. It’s not that hard. The trailer for The Phantom Menace fooled us into thinking it would be a worthy addition to the franchise, for god’s sake.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland — a silly name that I’m sure fans are already abbreviating to OUTW, which sounds like a  lesbian special interest magazine — stars an older, milquetoast version of Alice. She’s got Bella syndrome: She’s not that pretty, not that interesting and not that dynamic. But she’s a blank slate for hormonal teenage girls to project themselves onto. That’s fine, but it sure isn’t good.

Bland Alice and the sexy genie she finds in a bottle (uh … not canon) adventure together in the world’s cheapest CGI landscape. It’s as if the hookah-smoking caterpillar upgraded to harder stuff, put on some house music and gave an animation software program a 14-day free trial. The floating islands in the sky look great, Caterpillar. Really makes you feel like you’re in a video game in 1998.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Maru came in fifth in the 10 best cat videos of all time. Which, if you ask me, is a load of crap.


1/2 star out of 5 — If Alice goes through with the lobotomy, it’s going to be difficult to discern a difference in her speech or behavior.


OFF — Not only does it look awful, it’s in the ABC deathslot: Thursdays at 8 pm. But the fanfiction will live on forever.