Once upon an ABC schedule, Adam Horowitz and Edward Ktisis wrote a little show about fairy tales. Once Upon A Time spanned seven seasons, and at least three of them were really good!
Once Upon A Time in Wonderland only lasted one season, but for thirteen glorious episodes, it was one of the best things on TV. Being so short, it never made it to DVD, and it hasn't been on a streaming service in eons. Now, finally, it's coming to Disney+ this month!
As a die-hard fan of Wonderland, imagine my surprise when this news was met with equal surprise. Why you ask? Because a lot of fans of Once Upon A Time never even knew there was a spinoff.
I was shocked, though it does explain why this gem never got a season two. Bad marketing maybe? The good news is, there are so many die-hard Once Upon A Time fans who will likely grab onto this seemingly new show in their favorite fandom.
As they should.
First and foremost, I bring to your attention Will Scarlet. Remember him? Played by Michael Socha, Scarlet was introduced to the main series in Once Upon A Time Season 4. He was a thief and former Merry Man.
He broke into the library, and Emma arrested him on Once Upon A Time Season 4 Episode 4. Turns out, he stole a book about Wonderland when he was drunk.
Remember how they never explained his connection to Wonderland?
The writers seemed to operating under the assumption that fans had seen the spinoff, because, guess what? Will was a main character. In fact, he stole the show like the thief he is.
He is brilliant in Once Upon A Time in Wonderland, so much so that they brought him into the original series after Wonderland was canceled.
Of course, then they under-utilized him, used him as a plot-device, and then discarded him like yesterday's trash. Not to mention the mess that was him and Belle.
Will Scarlet deserved better. You probably liked him for his brief time in the main series. How could you not; he's charming as (bloody) hell.
However, you can't be properly outraged without seeing him in his native habitat. Part of being a Oncer is raging at the writers for screwing something up or screwing someone over. Believe me when I say, they screwed Will over.
Still, the fact that he was popular enough to bring to the main series in the first place says a lot. It's near impossible not to fall in love with his character and his love story.
Wonderland has multiple love stories. And unlike Rumbelle, which the writers ruined, Snowing, which was downgraded to the background, or OutlawQueen which ended in tragedy, they are all given their due.
The main 'ships of Wonderland are given proper time for their stories to develop. They are totally shippable, and whether you leaned toward Snowing or OutlawQueen, I promise there is a ship for you.
More importantly, these love stories end how every fairy tale should. Happily ever after!
(We are, of course, ignoring how bringing Will into the main series alone and with no explanation screwed up his happy ending).
It isn't all about 'ships though. Wonderland offers something that the main series never did; a solid bromance between a female and a male character. We always need more of those.
Will Scarlet may have been a break-out character, but he isn't the only character we grow to love on Wonderland.
Alice, played by Sophie Lowe, is the strong female heroine we've come to expect from the Onceverse. She believes in the power of love, but she also knows how to take care of herself.
Alice is smart, resourceful, and stubborn. Sure, she doesn't have magic, and her father had her locked up in an asylum, but that won't stop her from fighting like hell for the people she loves.
One of the people she loves is Cyrus, a genie with a surprising backstory to be revealed in the latter half of the series. You might not board this ship right away, but you'll be steering it by the end.
(It's a much better follow-up to Snowing than GlassBeliever.)
Meanwhile, in the villain corner, we have Jafar of Agrabah and the Red Queen of Wonderland.
Not the one-note villain he was in Once Upon A Time Season 6, Jafar, as portrayed by Naveen Andrews, has a fascinating backstory. He's ruthless, and he's willing to cross lines even Rumplestilskin wouldn't to get what he wants.
The Red Queen, meanwhile, is not at all what she seems when we first meet her. There are a few surprises in her past. Emma Rigby is sensual enough to play the role, but also talented enough for the emotional scenes that will surprise you. She's one to watch, for sure.
Let us not forget The Jabberwocky, the "boogeyman" of Wonderland lore. She's a demon native to Wonderland that feeds on the fears of others. What more do we have to fear than fear itself?
One of these villains just might find redemption, as is the Once way, but they won't be wishy-washy about it, and they won't backslide.
They will earn their redemption by acknowledging they behaved wrongly, and making better choices to atone for it.
We could all fight about which redemption in Once Upon A Time was hardest to swallow, because of rape, or lack of regret, backsliding, etc.
Or we could watch Wonderland, a show where the redemption arc is executed properly, and there is no reason to complain.
We can also agree that seeing The White Rabbit, The Cheshire Cat, The Caterpillar, and Tweedles Dee and Dum makes all our Alice in Wonderland dreams come true.
Because let's face it, despite Jefferson and Alice Jones' existence, we spent very little time there in the main series.
Sadly, Jefferson does not make an appearance, but some of your other Once favorites do pop up, namely Cora Mills and Robin Hood, as well as a few others.
Plus, guest stars. Whoopi Goldberg does a wonderful job, per usual, as Mrs. Rabbit, and a young Millie Bobby Brown of Stranger Things fame gets her television debut as young Alice.
The setting is wonderous, the characters, compelling. There's a satisfying redemption arc, and there are villains who make you stop and say "whoa." Plus family love, platonic love, and shipping galore.
Wonderland has it all.
(And by all, I mean all the things the original show has, without all the things that went wrong. Truly, there is something to be said for a show ending before the writers have a chance to screw it up. The writing was so much better in 2013.)
If you haven't seen it, I suggest you give it a go. If you have, watch it again, because it holds up, and 2013 was a long time ago.
It's so great that this show is going to be available to fans now. It was the best thing Horowitz and Kitsis ever did. I can't wait to watch it again and again.
Check out the original trailer below:
Did you watch Wonderland when it first aired? Did you only just find out about it? Are you planning to watch? Do you agree that it was better than Once Upon A Time?
Let us know in the comments!
Leora W is a staff writer for TV Fanatic..