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Is it just me, or has television caught the spinoff sickness? This year and plans for future seasons seem riddled with prequels and spinoffs. There was Private Practice spawned from Grey’s Anatomy (yes, I think spawned is an appropriate word there). The Vampire Diaries writers are working on an Originals spinoff that will air its backdoor pilot April 25. Chicago Fire is also in discussions for a spin-off. And let’s not even go into all the CSI and Law and Order versions that are out there. Then there are all the prequels that have sprouted this season, some successful (Bates Motel), some not so much (The Carrie Diaries, Hannibal – granted, it’s a bit early to tell for The Silence of the Lambs prequel, but the numbers aren’t looking great, and last I heard the adolescent Sex and the City was on the bubble for renewal, so maybe unsuccessful is a strong word…maybe). HBO is even considering the possibility of a prequel for Game of Thrones. (Don’t get too excited; they’re just planning ahead for if/when they catch up with the books).
But what I’m excited for is the spinoff for Once Upon a Time, currently in production, called Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, which is set in – where else – Wonderland, and follows Alice on her adventures. Admittedly, I wasn’t pleased when the original Once incorporated Wonderland into their canon, not because it wasn’t done well, but because it’s not a fairy tale, and there are so many genuine fairy tales out there that I just wish they had stayed away from literature, as much as I do truly love literature. (The same goes for Mulan and Peter Pan – as much as I love Colin O’Donoghue as Hook – and, even though the storyline was meant for me, Frankenstein.) Of course, none of this has ever stopped me from watching and loving the show. But having a spin off in Wonderland; that’s all fine and dandy for me. I’ll set all my clocks, so I won’t be late (for this very important date)…Well, I will when there’s an actual release date. Right now the series is in the rabbit hole, awaiting an official greenlight.
The development for the magical spinoff has been very hush hush, as Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz have been keeping their plans tight to their chests. But we do know a bit of casting and some of the premise. Kitsis and Horowitz have suggested that they want the show to be a type of ‘mini’ series (American Horror Story style), with 13 episodes that can stand alone, set in both pre- and post- curse Wonderland, I’m assuming similar to how Once formats things, with flashbacks, though that’s purely speculation. The lead role of Alice will be played by Sophie Lowe, who falls in love with the mysterious Cyrus (Peter Gadiot). Other casting includes Michael Socha (BBC’s Being Human) as the Knave of Hearts, Emma Rigby as the Red Queen, and Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman…) as the voice of the White Rabbit. No good news yet if Sebastian Stan (Once‘s Hatter) will be able to return for this series, but conflicting schedules are proving very problematic, making it unlikely.
Production for the project began April 7, directed by Ralph Hemecker, which is phenomenal news. Hemecker directed both of the Wonderland episodes of Once, as well as “The Miller’s Daughter”, which is very high on most lists of best Once episodes. I think, with all the popularity of Once, and the craze of fans speculating about casting and plot ideas for the show, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland is a shoo in for getting picked up. ABC would have to be crazy not to follow this rabbit into the magical land where huge audiences live.