TV review: 'Once Upon a Time in Wonderland'

Wednesday, 09 October 2013 09:55 AM Written by 

once wonderland 10-13Dark, angst-filled and not all that fun, “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” (8 p.m. Thursday, WTAE) is a dull spin-off from ABC’s Sunday night mainstay “Once Upon a Time.”

In this iteration, the focus is on Alice (Sophie Lowe) and her adventures in a CGI-created Wonderland where she’s accompanied by the Knave of Hearts (Michael Socha, “Being Human”) while trying to find her genie love interest Cyrus (Peter Gaidot), who may be dead after a fall into the Boiling Sea thanks to the evil Red Queen (Emma Rigby) and Jafar (Naveen Andrews). (How an “Aladdin” character invaded Wonderland is never addressed.)

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Ultimately, the story doesn’t really matter because the characters are paper thin and efforts to make Alice more than a damsel in distress – she’s a skull-crushing, tree climber – don’t really add much depth.

The premiere features a series of set pieces, including a tumble into a marshmallow swamp, that probably read like fun adventures on paper but look like cheap special effects on screen.

Creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (“Once Upon a Time”) and Zack Estrin (“The River”) try to give the show more dimensions by sending Alice back and forth between Wonderland and a Victorian era British asylum but this only adds to the show’s confusion. It’s too dark for kids but not smart enough for adults, making it more Blunderland than Wonderland.

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