With the success that is the hit ABC series Once Upon a Time, the creators had decided to do a spinoff series that tells the tale of a well-known girl who followed a rabbit down a hole into a mysterious land. Alice is portrayed by Sophie Lowe and her companion the Knave of Hearts is played by Michael Socha. I’ll try and get a review for the second episode up soon.
This incarnation of Alice is an adolescent (young adult) who has been to Wonderland multiple times to bring back proof to her father that it is real. Along the way she discovers an old bottle that contains a genie by the name of Cyrus hailing from the land of Agrabah. With him, they go on many adventures, culminating in a confrontation with the Red Queen (played by Emma Rigby) at the Boiling Sea where she tosses Cyrus off the cliff.
Dismayed, Alice returns to “our” world and is institutionalised and is set to be undergoing an operation that looks suspiciously like a frontal lobotomy. Just as she resigns herself to the surgery, the Knave bursts in and proclaims that Cyrus is still alive, whereupon she opens a can of whoop-ass on the orderlies, further distancing the idea that heroines are not action-oriented.
After she and the Knave jump back into Wonderland, we can see how creative and punny the world is; the Mallow Marsh and the dragon flies (that spew fire!). Granted, it does seem a bit too technicolour, but then again, it is Wonderland, where anything is possible.
As the Knave and Alice leave the marsh, the Knave refuses to travel with her any further as he’s become a very unpopular character that warranted a bounty on his head. Alice decides to bribe him with 1 of 3 red stones that she’s hidden in her shoe that turn out to be the physical manifestation of her wishes, to which the Knave wonders out loud why she can’t just use one of them to bring Cyrus back immediately. She replies and states that the bigger the wish, the likelier it is something will go terribly wrong, thereby prolonging the series and rightfully so. The White Rabbit then declares that Cyrus was last seen at the Mad Hatter’s place. Alice then decides to climb up a tall tree, leaving her wishes down with the Knave. Up there, she meets the Cheshire Cat, who has grown to large proportions and wants to eat Alice. She jumps down and discovers the Knave missing with her wishes. After a bit of adequate combat, she is pinned down and about to be snacked on when the Knave returns, throwing one side of a mushroom into the Cat’s mouth, shrinking it back to normal size and fulfilling the “I saved you just in time!” trope. It turns out that he can’t use the wishes, as they’re not his, and so he is stuck with Alice on her quest to find Cyrus.
Meanwhile, we learn that the White Rabbit is actually in cahoots with the Red Queen, and that she is in an unholy alliance with Jafar (played by Naveen Andrews, who you may remember from Lost), who is the one that holds Cyrus captive and brought Alice back so that she would use all of her 3 wishes so that the genie would be unbound from her.
This new series so far is promising, though Sophie Lowe seems a little wooden. Michael Socha as the sardonic tag-along brings reluctance contrary to Alice’s determination, becoming a nice foil around her. I haven’t made my mind about this show yet, but I hope it get renewed for a second season.