When I first heard about Wonderland, I figured that the wonder was short for "wonderful," not "wonder how we're gonna make it?"

As I noted in this week's review column, part of the reason OUaT:W doesn't feel that interesting is because of how they made it: it seems to be rehashed OUaT. After an episode or two where the creators seemed to let their imaginations run wild, in sync with Lewis Carroll beloved novels, they seem to have reverted to OUaT generic fantasy. Instead of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, we get the recycled ballroom from the episode "Ariel." Instead of the Marsh Mallow Swamp, we get a cave filled with skeletons. Instead of a menagerie of Carroll creations at the Knave's execution, we get extras wearing Mardi Gras masks.

Now, some of this is certainly a result of weekly TV budgeting and the limits of CGI. But some of it seems to be that the creators have only read the Cliff Notes for Alice in Wonderland, and Looking Glass and maybe played the video game a few times.

And as I noted above, the first episode or two they seemed to be "getting" it. The White Rabbit, the Caterpillar, and the Cheshire Cat may not be the greatest CGI effects in the world (weekly TV budget, remember!), but at least they seemed to know what Carroll was shooting for. The Cheshire Cat in particular seemed to be a nice combination of Carroll's original creation and the seedy gone-to-pot Wonderland the series promised us initially.

But let's see what we've got now...

The Red Queen

Okay, yes, we knew that they weren't going to make a main character with a major romantic subplot, called upon to interact with the other stars on an ongoing basis, a CGI entity. And apparently no Kitsis/Horowitz show is complete without an evil queen, complete with magical powers. But couldn't they incorporate a chess motif into her outfit? Bring in some of Carroll's verbal whimsy with the character?

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards."

"Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"

That also means that once you make the Red Queen a fairly bog-standard human/evil queen, you have to make some other characters the same, or we wonder why she's a human and they're chess pieces. Which bring us to...

The Red King

Or maybe he's the White King, since he's wearing white? Although if Anastasia married him, wouldn't he have to be the Red King to make her the Red Queen? Maybe they'll explain this down the road. But either way, we end up with a pretty standard human in a pretty standard royal outfit. If they can't make him a CGI chess piece, give him some kind of chess motif.

Tweedledee and Tweedledum

The Tweedles are two fairly iconic characters, for a variety of reasons. Twins resonate, there's a certain Billy Bunter image to them, and they're minor Batman/comic book villains. Instead we get two guys who only look a little alike, with white hair and face makeup.
This isn't due to a low budget. Unless they couldn't afford to hire twins. This change I find puzzling because there's no reason for it. They're not better characters, they're not even distinctive characters. They're just two guys who happened to be called Tweedles. The producers took two distinctive characters and turned them into background noise.

The Bandersnatch

Now we come to the stuff that has to be CGI. After the Caterpillar, and the Cheshire Cat, we get... Pumba?

So yes, the Bandersnatch was a one-shot disposable beastie. But it seems like there's a little more that they could have done with it, imagination-wise. If Carroll was about anything, he was about giving his creations personality.

And finally...
The Mock Turtle

To take a character that in the novel is a pun on a uniquely British concept (Mock Turtle Soup) and turn it into a giant seagoing turtle, kind of misses the boat (so to speak). The Mock Turtle is a concept and a character, not a ferry boat ride.

In fact, they seem to have taken their inspiration from another iconic turtle...

Anyhoo, my advice to the show would be to go back to giving us some Lewis Carroll stuff like it started out, and stop falling back on the parent show. Give us a Wonderland that's Wonderful!

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