We've reached the real straggly part of the season, where it feels like September was months and months ago, yet there are still a few new shows celebrating their four-episode birthdays. At this point, there isn't a single "normal" series left on the docket. Seriously: This week, it's all fairy-tales and superpowered teens and ghosts and royal teens who live in a fairy-tale-esque world in the 16th century and have ghosts for friends. So let's get to it, shall we?
Verdict: Some rabbit holes are better left unexplored.
It must be hard for the cast of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland to contrast the show’s dismal reception with the success of the original Once Upon a Time’s first season; their talent is what's keeping the Wonderland spin-off vaguely watchable. Sophie Lowe, Michael Socha, Peter Gadriot, Naveen Andrews, and Emma Rigby are all winning. And some applause is due to showrunners Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz for not merely turning out a carbon copy of Original Recipe OUAT—they have excised the mystery elements and the parallel storytelling that engaged so many OUAT fans in the beginning and focused instead on making Wonderland a straightforward fantasy romp. Unfortunately, the show buried the lede (the Knave and the Queen of Heart’s relationship drama wasn’t revealed until Episode 3), and is so straightforward in its storytelling that sometimes it feels plodding and other times it feels childishly simple. (Will Alice save the genie? Probably not this week, if the season is going to continue!) Also, if you’re going to set your entire multimillion-dollar series in a fantasy land, maybe actually build some of that fantasy land? Or invest in CGI that looks more advanced than the backgrounds of MYST. —Lily Sparks
Verdict: Just let the internet tell you the secrets later.
I'll level with you: Ravenswood, at least for the time being, is more of an excuse to play a drinking game than it is a compelling drama. The problem starts and ends with the boring teenage leads; the Pretty Little Liars spin-off would be so much better if any of its cast members actually participated in the legitimately interesting happenings of their town. Despite all of them (except Caleb) having grown up in Ravenswood, they all just seem like someone handpicked the most boring yet popular people at your high school and gave them a TV show. They don't really have personalities beyond living in fear of their Final Destination-inspired lives, and they only really emote when they're whining about the same problems they experience every damn week. Luke, your dad is still dead. Olivia, your dad is also dead and your mom wants you to be a classy lady. Caleb, you're apparently always going to be the butt of some large-scale conspiracy, mortal or otherwise. Remy, you're nothing but a pair of wide eyes and convenient information. And Miranda... If I told you to do a shot every time Miranda reminded the living characters that she's a ghost, you'd be dead by act three. Until Ravenswood introduces some characters you can actually care about, just sate yourself on .GIFs of Creepy Uncle Ray and wait until the PLL diehards who are still watching just for Caleb post all of Ravenswood's secrets on Tumblr. Unless you want to get hammered. In that case:
If Remy and Luke touch each other in a casual yet clandestine way, drink. ** If any of the remaining members of the new incarnation of the pact find themselves in a secret under-school dungeon or catacombs under a pre-school, drink. ** If Caleb communicates with Hanna in some one-sided conversation, drink. ** If you hear a raven caw (outside of the opening credits), drink. ** If someone in the pact survives another attempt at trying to recreate the Final Destination magic, finish your drink. ** If there's a raven involved with initiating that magic (by flying into the spokes of a bicycle wheel, for instance), finish your neighbor's drink. ** If Remy comes up with some amazingly convenient information to help the other characters solve their situation, drink. ** If Luke smiles, try not to vomit. ** If Olivia bores the snot of you, take an Ambien, send your friends home, and try to forget she ever happened. ** If Caleb launches into a less eloquent Winger Speech, finish your drink. ** If Miranda mentions being a ghost or being dead, take a sip of your drink. It'll be a long night otherwise. —Nick Campbell
Verdict: You need to see this.
Reign is a series many of us have been waiting our whole lives to see: a smart, complicated (if not historically accurate) period piece that never talks down to its audience, with a smart, brave heroine who’s actually committed to doing the politically savvy thing for her country. AND it has Anne of Green Gables (a.k.a. Megan Follows) as the big bad, Catherine de Medici! Yes, the costumes are nuts and anachronistic. No, no one in the 1600s was anywhere near as beautiful as our young star, Adelaide Kane—so what?! The show is filmed on location in a stunning Irish castle with the kind of epic cinematography that really sells sweeping romance and timeless drama. When young Mary Queen of Scotts arrived at French court to marry her betrothed Francis, she spent the first episode realizing his parents were doing everything they could to delay the wedding—his father to get more political leverage, his mother (the aforementioned Catherine) because she believed Mary will mean Francis’s death. By the second episode, Mary was fighting back; by the fourth, she’d won the support of her prince. Add a mysterious ghost named Clarissa who's working to warn Mary of the various schemes that threaten her crown, Francis’s handsome bastard brother Sebastian, Mary's own army of hot waiting ladies/besties, Nostradamus as a young and handsome hipster, a costume ball in almost every episode, and you have a series you will find yourself looking forward to all week long. LONG MAY IT REIGN. —Lily
Verdict: This one's a keeper. At worst, DVR it for tomorrow. (GET IT?)
The Tomorrow People started off with a bland, albeit well-executed pilot—and then it quickly improved by simultaneously pushing the narrative forward at warp speed and traveling backward into the lives of some of the main characters. Although leading man Robbie Amell is still growing into his role (and will always seem about a decade older than his character is supposed to be), Luke Mitchell, Mark Pellegrino, and surprisingly, Peyton List have really risen to the challenge of providing the show with quality supporting performances. The show isn't covering anything close to new ground, but it seems to know that the best way to battle that problem is to not be boring. And while The CW paired The Tomorrow People with Arrow because of the Amell connection, the show fits nicely alongside other C-Dub favorites like Nikita and The Vampire Diaries: There are stakes, but it's also a lot of fun. —Cory Barker