Wonderland will be told in a 13-episode anthology format, à laAmerican Horror Story (Side note: we also picked up some American Horror Story vibes in the creepy mental hospital scenes from the Wonderland trailer.) We think this can be a much stronger storytelling format than the 22-episode seasons with an indefinite end date. Though the longer season can allow for more in-depth character study and building of suspense, it can also lead to disorganization and inconsistent narrative flow — both problems in OUAT.
One (maybe two) world(s)
Though there is mention of Alice’s adventures in many worlds, we got the sense that her cross-realm adventures are mostly in the past. The presentation seemed to focus on Wonderland and, perhaps, our world. Right now in OUAT, we have three settings that have narrative stake: Storybrooke, The Enchanted Forest, and now Neverland. We’re not saying a balance can’t be maintained, but it is going to be difficult. Wonderland won’t have that problem.
To be fair, it’s hard to compare what we’ve seen in a 3.5-minute promo to two seasons of OUAT, but we are already excited about the visuals Wonderland has created. The floating islands seen in the distance as Alice and Cyrus are attacked on the cliff are magical. And The White Rabbit seems to be a fully-formed character. The special effects on OUAT are great at some points, but they can also be laughable (creepy wooden August, anyone?). We hope Wonderland manages to keep up the quality and creativity of the visuals we saw in the trailer.
As much as we enjoy OUAT’s shtick of melding the world of fairy tales with our own world, it can take some of the magic out of the narrative. This has its purposes (and we love our OUAT), but we’re looking forward to a show that will be more of a straight-up escapist fantasy. The “real world” of Wonderland is Victorian England, a setting almost as distant to us as Wonderland itself. Though there are examples of fantasy on television right now (Game of Thrones, anyone?), there are few escapist adventures telling unironic tales of love conquering all. Those stories rarely seem to make it off the movie screen. We’re looking forward to seeing one on television.
The aspect of this show that makes us the most excited is the fact that it seems to be focused on just one character: Alice. By using Alice as the main, badass focal character, Wonderland will be more likely to stay on point — to tell the story of this fierce girl who wants to save her true love without wandering off into purposeless sub-plots. This narrow focus wouldn’t work with just any character, but Alice seems truly interesting. Just from this trailer, we want to get to know this young woman who can fight her way out of a mental hospital and escape the clutches of the Red Queen.
Do you think Wonderland will be better than OUAT? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland premieres on ABC Thursdays this fall.