Fall TV Scoop: ABC Travels to Wonderland With Once Upon a Time Spin-Off

SOPHIE LOWEABC is officially heading down the rabbit hole with Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, a spin-off of its popular sophomore drama.

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The set-up for the offshoot, which has been envisioned as a limited-run standalone series to bridge the original show’s winter hiatus: In Victorian England, the young and beautiful Alice (played by Sophie Lowe, Beautiful Kate) tells a tale of a strange new land that exists on the other side of a rabbit hole. An invisible cat, a hookah smoking caterpillar and playing cards that talk are just some of the fantastic things she’s seen during this impossible adventure. Surely this girl must be insane and her doctors aim to cure her with a treatment that will make her forget everything. Alice seems ready to put it all behind her — especially the painful memory of the genie she fell in love with and lost forever, the handsome and mysterious Cyrus (Peter Gadiot, The Forbidden Girl) — but deep down she knows this world is real and just in the nick of time, the sardonic Knave of Hearts (Michael Socha, Being Human) and the irrepressible White Rabbit (voiced by John Lithgow, Third Rock From The Sun) save her from a doomed fate. Emma Rigby (Hollyoaks) plays the Red Queen.

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Once cocreators Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz penned the pilot and will executive-produce with Steve Perlman and Zack Estrin.

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54 Comments
  1. Mike says:

    Now just announce Barbara Hershey and maybe Lana Parilla will appear in flashbacks and I’ll be sold.

    • Cory Myers says:

      Maybe, just maybe we’ll get lucky and Cora will appear at the end and kill the original Queen of Hearts and take her place!

      • Davey Elmer says:

        Cora IS the ‘original Queen of Hearts’; Matt Webb Mitovich has had a long week and erroneously listed Emma Rigby’s Red Queen as the QoH.

        • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

          Let’s all just breathe; the official info does list Emma as “Queen of Hearts.” We shall see.

          • Davey Elmer says:

            Can you get to the bottom of this for us? I’m seriously confused now.

          • Susi says:

            In the original story there’s a Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts. I googled it when they confirmed Emma Rigby (who I really rated in Hollyoaks) was in it. Might explain things?

          • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

            I’m supposed to see Adam and Eddy this week. Stay tuned.

    • Loki says:

      Lana Parrilla plays the Cheshire Cat. They’re just going to cgi her face in at random times (for ratings).

    • A fan says:

      100% agree :) we need more Cora and Regina.

    • Erin says:

      I know they said he was busy, but I’m really not sure how I feel about an Alice in Wonderland story without Sebastian Stan as the Mad Hatter. I loved his character and was disappointed they didn’t do more with him.

  2. CraigM says:

    Waaaaiit a minute. Michael Socha? As in Tom from Being Human (UK)? Now I need to see this.

  3. Limited run? Now I’m sold. It didn’t quite appeal to me, but since it won’t be around forever, I may watch it for the sake of it :)

    • Davey Elmer says:

      In this context, ‘limited-run’ more than likely just means 13-episode seasons structured like American Horror Story, as it’s been confirmed that if the show is received well, the possibility is there for multiple seasons. IOW, the series isn’t a ‘one-and-done’ scenario.

  4. Davey Elmer says:

    Rigby’s character should be The Red Queen, not the Queen of Hearts. Also, what happened to Paul Reubens voicing the White Rabbit?

  5. Davey Elmer says:

    Also, what happened to Espenson helping produce/run the writer’s room?

    • rowan77 says:

      It was my understanding she was only working on the pilot presentation and then she was to go back to Once Upon A Time. Perhaps she’s getting co-exec status on OUAT next season?

  6. Teag says:

    13 episodes a year I assume?

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      Nothing has been announced.

    • wordsmith says:

      But it was hinted that the original intent was for it to be a 13-and-done anthology series a la American Horror Story, where each season is a standalone with a new setting and theme.

  7. TVDIVA says:

    I like the idea of this spin-off bridging the gap during the hiatus. Sounds like a great plan. An even better plan would be to have Barbara Hershey and the Mad Hatter show up from time to time.

    • Davey Elmer says:

      Adam and Eddy have gone on record stating that they want Hershey involved; Seb’s involvement is going to be trickier to navigate given his uber-busy schedule right now, but they definitely want to get him involved if at all possible.

  8. MaryAnn says:

    My only concern that this will lead to an overdose of the “Once Upon a Time” universe, since this takes place in the same universe, just in a different land.

    • Zachary Flye says:

      I get your concern and normally I’d be thinking the same, but I like this as I think it will help the creators use these characters without adding to and diluting the original series, leaving fans like me happy to see these new characters without diluting the main characters of the original series.

  9. Matt says:

    If Adam and Eddie had been focused on Once, perhaps it wouldn’d have lost half its audience in one season.

  10. Drew says:

    Season 2 of Once Upon a Time has not been all that great (I think it was a mistake to bring magic to Storybrooke) but this could be interesting.

  11. GK says:

    If this show isn’t as PG as OUAT, I’ll watch it.

  12. rush86 says:

    this is all well and all, but how are they gonna bring alice to life without the mad hatter, will sebastian making an apprearence or are they recasting??

    • Davey Elmer says:

      Adam and Eddy want Stan involved if his schedule permits him to be, but his involvement isn’t mandatory because of the way they set up his character on Once. We know from “Hat Trick” that he’d been to Wonderland before, but wasn’t trapped there – and didn’t become the Mad Hatter- until Regina was in the process of getting things ready to cast the Dark Curse, and since Once: Wonderland (my personal shorthand title for the series) is going to be set primarily in the present (post-Curse) with flashbacks to Victorian England and pre-Curse Wonderland, they’ve given themselves some creative leeway to incorporate Jefferson if Stan’s schedule lets them but without making his character’s appearance a make-or-break issue.

  13. Josh says:

    This and Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D are must sees for me this fall

  14. Boiler says:

    Given the bloodbath at ABC missed this. Who knows how good the show will be but its about time a network came up with an idea to try and eliminate reruns

  15. Lucy says:

    I am really looking forward to this. The cast fits nicely together. They are all British actors and it makes sense as it is set in Victorian England (with the exception of John Lithgow) Alice (Sophie Lowe) and Cyrus (Peter Gadiot) make a nice couple. I can’t wait!

  16. K. says:

    I wasn’t to sure of this at first but now I’m excited, it sounds really good… Can’t wait!!! Though I was wondering about her being in love with a genie, I never heard of genie being in Wonderland???

    • Davey Elmer says:

      It’s called ‘creative license’, which is what this show has been predicated on since Day 1.

  17. Nat says:

    I’m mostly glad this means OUAT will have a more stable schedule next season.
    I’ll definitely give it a shot, but I’m also hoping they can get Barbara Hershey and Lana Parrilla as guest stars. Especially Barbara Hershey as the Queen of Hearts.

  18. murley says:

    The premise reminds me a little of ‘return to oz’. hope this is a little dark and creepy just like that was.

  19. Tee says:

    Very much looking forward to this, but really hoping to see Barbara Hershey at the very least.

  20. J says:

    What happened to Jane Espenson show-running it?

  21. Tanilia says:

    Why would they make a spinoff about Wonderland and not have Cora at the Red Queen??? Makes no sense!

    • Davey Elmer says:

      Because Cora ISN’T the Red Queen; she’s the Queen of Hearts (who is NOT the same character as the Red Queen). As to why Rigby – who was initially listed as being the Red Queen – is listed as being the QoH – Cora’s alter-ego – we don’t know what’s going on for sure, which is why somebody needs to ask Adam and/or Eddy to clarify things.

  22. Davey Elmer says:

    Here’s something I wanted to point out: the two shows – Once and Once: Wonderland – are intended to be separate, individual standalone entities occupying the same universe, and Adam and Eddy have hinted that, if/when characters we already know show up on Once: Wonderland, we won’t see them on Once in any huge capacity, and that, with the spinoff being greenlit, any stories set in the realm of Wonderland will be confined to it.

    This means that, as much as fans might want it to be otherwise, we’re not likely to see anyone who has a prominent role on Once showing up on the spinoff.

    Note: I put the ‘if/when’ caveat in the above because, as per the official OUaT in Wonderland FB page, there are definite plans in place to bring some Storybrooke/OUaT characters into the series, although no other details are being offered at this time.

  23. Bob says:

    “…its popular sophomore drama…”. From what I read elsewhere, many sophomore shows are experiencing declining ratings this year, including Once Upon A Time.

  24. Zachary Flye says:

    While I love the idea of a limited series spin-off that both introduces new characters in a way that won’t marginalize the regulars from the original Once, and bridges the gap for a hiatus, I feel as though the hiatus that this series should have focused on was a summer one. Winter hiatuses usually last a month, MAYBE two meaning that if this is a 12-13 episode run it will bleed into classic Once time, whereas summer is much longer and with a larger cliffhanger and hiatus time the show would be more beneficial then. So part of me is hoping that they lengthen the winter hiatus of Once to both leave time for this series to run out uninterupted and to eliminate some of the breaks Once would have had to take post-winter hiatus. Oh, also I’m hoping that if this one does well we’ll get to see other realms have their own limited run series, such as Oz.

  25. Queen of Hearts says:

    They’re crazy for not casting Barbara Hershey in a major role in this. Her Queen of Hearts is already very interesting, it would be really cool to see a lot more of her in Wonderland. I know it’s not confirmed if she will be in it, but if she is it looks like it will only be a guest appearance. If she had been one of the main stars I would definitely have watched and probably liked it far more than OUAT.

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