With ratings spiraling further and further down the rabbit hole (sorry, had to), Once Upon a Time in Wonderland should probably re-evaluate its unpolished charm (quirky CGI, over-the-top villains, Anastasia’s horrible duck face) in order to avoid cancellation. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland stands a chance. Like its predecessor, this magical show driven by determination and true love is innovative and takes all of our beloved fairy tale and Disney characters and reinvents them. However, is creativity enough to save Wonderland?
Why Once Upon a Time in Wonderland is a Great Show
First of all, the cast is really impressive. Sophie Lowe is so authentically nice, I find myself rooting for her even though at times I think she’s being a total sucker (case in point: episode 5, “Heart of Stone”). Her character parallels Snow in Once Upon a Time and I also love Ginnifer Goodwin’s embodiment of the pure and affable princess. Underneath the sweetness, both Alice and Snow are truly feminists; they are extremely capable of taking care of and defending themselves, as well as standing up for their beliefs. There are not enough shows which promote this kind of woman.
Michael Socha is adorable. Who could resist those mischievous eyebrows and British accent? Furthermore, Socha and Lowe’s on-set chemistry is phenomenal. For awhile, I was even rooting for the duo to realize they are in love with each other. This last episode reassured me that she and Cyrus are meant to be together and maybe some day, Anastasia can get off her high horse and rekindle her love with Will.
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Jafar may be my favorite character in the show and I would be extremely upset to see him taken off screen. I’ve been in love with Naveen Andrews since Lost, and his acting carries through even as a vengeful, power-hungry sorcerer. And what a plot twist that was with his serpent staff that used to be his mentor/lover! I didn’t see that coming, I totally thought that was an evil version of Jasmine. Nope.
Like Once Upon a Time, Wonderland’s fairy tale myths and interpretations of Disney culture are interwoven with each other, and the creativity that went into that is phenomenal. I love that Will is also the Knave of Hearts and I wonder when we find out that Cyrus’ prison buddy is totally Jafar’s father.
How Once Upon a Time in Wonderland Can Improve
The CGI special effects need to be upgraded, although that should go without saying. Whenever I watch Alice and Will walking down their magical path through Wonderland, I immediately think Windows 97.
The Queen’s overacting is an issue. I think she does a much better job as a peasant than a heartless ruler. Emma Rigby is just trying way too hard to nail the nefarious role, and it comes across as a little bit too amateur. I know she was initially just trying to emulate the women she overheard discussing the crown jewels by repeating “dah-ling” over and over, but must this be her go-to phrase? She might as well start calling everyone “old sport” a la Gatsby.
The over-all cheesiness factor is something to be desired. I feel like I’m watching Nickelodeon whenever The Rabbit or The Caterpillar speak; there is something so childish and gimmick-y about these characters that it makes me cringe. When Will and Alice were trapped by the human-eating Grendel, I knew that they would find some way to his heart and convince him to let them go. Which happened. Kitsis and Horowitz have done so well with innovation thus far; they shouldn’t drop the ball when it comes to the smaller details.
The Numbers Breakdown
As of last night, only 3.71 million viewers watched Thursday’s “Heart of Stone,” which is actually a higher number than last week, which was 3.55 million. The ratings have steadily dropped these past several weeks. “Down the Rabbit Hole” started out with 5.82 million viewers, and it plummeted to 4.53 with “Trust Me” and 4.38 with “Forget Me Knot”.
The numbers aren’t looking good, but you never know. Cyrus has escaped Jafar’s dungeon, The Queen revealed that she still cares for Will, and Alice is as determined as ever (and keeps finding really cute clothes every she goes, how does she do that?). I think there is still hope for Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. We’re rooting for you, Alice!
Stay tuned for the next episode, which airs next Thursday at 8pm on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)