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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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I like the show but it seem a little lost and the should get to some kind of point.
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I loved the first season on OUAT, and am still loyal to the show but do feel like it's failing hard and fast - Last two episodes has semi change my mind. I'm actually enjoying Wonderland more at the moment. Yes, the CGI does suck, but it it also does on OUAT. I really think if they don't have the budget, go the 'less is more' approach. The main criticism is they really do need ot tie it into the original show more. Such as, where is Cora? On a final point, thanks for clairficy the roles of the Tweedles. I kept seeing them listed in the credits but couldn't work out who they were.
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I have to say that while your points are interesting, I don't think that's the problem with the show.

1) The actors are terrible (no one comes close to Lana Parilla or Robert Carlile)
Oh sure, there are a couple of amazing ones in the cast (John Lithgo for example) but we never see them on screen!
This is about as dumb as casting one of the hottest actresses in Holywood as the invisible girl...

2) The CGI is awful

3) The writers tell us stuff instead of showing us stuff. Does anyone really feel a love connection between Cyrus and Alice? Not really buying it. The original show clearly showed us how each of the characters care for one another (Gold\Belle, Show\Charming, even Regina\Henry). Minus the stupid Ariel story, they actually were pretty decent on the build up.

Wonderland simply asks us to accept it as a fact which is just wrong.

4) The story is just pointless running around. Seriously, this is worse than Dragonball Z. Alice simply keeps going towards finding Cyrus. Why? What changed? What is she going through? Nothing really.
It's just random encounter of the week and frankly they aren't all that interesting.

5) Any attempt to gain momentum via the branding of Once Upon a Time fails when the entire show completely took a dump on the original show's premise (which already contradicts itself way too often).

Now we have *another* way of traveling between dimensions?
No explanations on the issues regarding Cora as the queen of hearts or Sidney as the genie from Agriba?

Seriously our only connection to the original show is Robin Hood (yuck) and an off screen voice comment from Maleficent?
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Well, I was just focusing on one point. I still hope to do a "Why this show is failing" article in its entirety at some point. :)
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Just heard its been cancelled which is a bummer because I thought it had potential. Not been renewed past its initial 13 episodes. Hope i'm wrong and information is false but probably not as ratings were poor
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Would make sense as this show was offing terrible! This show had no plot, terrible actors and the worst CGI.
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Most recent story I can find is that it's been put on "winter hiatus" as of December 12, with the remaining five episodes to air at some later time.
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I have to agree with almost every point you make. But I still think the show is pretty wonderful.

You say: "it seems to be rehashed OUaT".

As far as I can see it is pretty much the opposite of OUaT.
The original takes place in the real world with storybook characters masquerading as real people.

OUaT:W takes place in Wonderland with real people acting like storybook characters.
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I was referring to the special effects and costuming. :) The King and his ball would fit right in on OuAt as another one of the endless parade of generic "in the past" Enchanted Forest kings and princes that show up. (And presumably are still in Storybrooke: what do they think of being stripped of all their royal privileges?)

As I've noted elsewhere, plotwise, the two shows are almost opposites. OUaT is about characters that are on journeys of personal development because of their pasts. OUaT:W has character development, but the main characters are more adventurers on quests. Alice and the Knave and Cyrus aren't trying to overcome their pasts and become better persons. Jafar is no Regina or Gold, and right now, the Red Queen seems to have a regretful love life, but she isn't interested in changing her ways. She dumped the Knave for wealth and power and would do it again. It seems like if she had the Knave at her side, she'd be perfectly happy to keep on ruling and torturing people.
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For instance, Alice "learned" that killing is bad, when she refused to kill the Queen. But we don't know she's ever killed anyone before.

So while Alice realizing that killing no matter the provocation is character development, it's not a journey of personal development. When Regina or Gold have a history of killing people, and then we see them overcome it, and backslide, and try to overcome it again, that's a journey.
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I kept thinking (or hoping) that instead of all this CGI stuff, the show would rather use its Disney connections and hook up with the Henson company and do kind of a Labyrinth type story. Even if it clearly looked like a set on a sound stage, I think there would still be something so much more interesting about Alice and Will's interactions with the puppets. They have two actors who seem fully game and are very expressive, they could really benefit from having to interact with beings (I can't think that puppeteers and felt are any more expensive than CGI artists and all the camera work necessary). Heck, then for the grand shots, or Cyrus' prison, or for some of the magic, it might be so unexpected and exciting, you wouldn't be so caught up in how fake it all looks. Then it would have some of the psychedellic feel that I always got from Lewis Carroll's tales.
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I watched this as I liked Michael Socha in the original (and best) "Being Human" and wanted to see how this would play out as an idea. Its been a little disappointing but I'm still watching it. Curious to see where its heading before its gets cancelled, I'll stick around till the end...
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I can sum up two things that make this show suck
1) No Major crossover the tie the shows together
1) No Cora the red queen really is really no match to her
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I guess I like seeing the slightly darker side. And I expected it since we aren't having a brand new group of people develop this show.

As far as making the show feel Wonderland-esque, the CGI budget is definitely a problem and probably the biggest hindrance to the show. If they can't do convincing scenery, creating Lewis Carroll creations was something I didn't think they'd do very well at.

However, I have wondered what the deal with the Tweedles and the lack of chess in the wardrobe of the Red Queen is all about. Those would have been easy things to factor in.
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That's what puzzles me as well. The Cheshire Cat hinted that hard times had fallen on Wonderland, while dwelling in a dark gloomy forest. But since then it's all been Mardi Gras peasantry and bright cheerful landscapes. And a Red Queen who seems to be beloved by all at least as she goes with the bread & circuses routine and severs the occasional head.
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It could be fear as well. We still don't know what she did to get rid of the King. And the subjects did seem like a bit of a bloodthirsty bunch.

But I do agree that we've seen some dark places but we haven't seen the extensive effects like we did in Tim Burton's version.
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