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Once Upon a Time in Wonderland “is like a psychedelic romance,” co-creator Edward Kitsis told reporters Sunday at the Television Critics Association press tour. “It is trippy. It is weird. It is intense.”
The Once Upon a Time offshoot follows a young Alice in Victorian London who tells of a strange new land that exists on the other side of a rabbit hole. The 20-minute presentation was shown to Comic-Con attendees in late July, but the creative team behind Wonderland explained how they would fill out the rest of the pilot for broadcast in October.
“What you saw will be the first half [of the full pilot] and we’ll actually go to Wonderland,” Kitsis said. “We’ll get a sense of Alice’s return [to Wonderland] and you’re going to meet Jafar (Naveen Andrews) and you’re going to get more of the Red Queen (Emma Rigby) and more of a sense of the world.” (Earlier on Sunday, ABC entertainment chief Paul Lee referred to this version of Alice as “kick-ass.”)
Co-creator Adam Horowitz reaffirmed that Wonderland was picked up for an initial 13-episode order, with the intent of producing a “complete tale with a beginning, middle and end” and “is meant to be a close-ended story.” “The dividing lines [between Once and Wonderland] are very clear in our minds,” he added later.
Horowitz noted that if Wonderland is successful and viewers flock to it, “hopefully” another story could be told with the same cast.
With Kitsis and Horowitz also overseeing Once, the duo fielded several questions about whether Wonderland was reliant on the flagship series. “For us, this show has its own mythology that isn’t dependent upon the mothership,” Kitsis said, with Horowitz adding that “this show exists concurrently in the Once universe.”
Once often turns fairy tales on their head, and Kitsis and Horowitz intend on doing the same with Wonderland, saying that in their version, Alice is in love with a genie — a development that has truly never been seen before.
As for what can be expected in the first season, the producers hinted that Alice’s tragic backstory with her father will be explored — “Alice was an ignored girl,” Kitsis said — and they voiced optimism that should Sebastian Stan‘s schedule clear up (he is in Captain America 2), he could possibly appear on either Once or Wonderland as the Mad Hatter. The White Rabbit, voiced by John Lithgow, will also be a pivotal part of the show, with producers reassuring that they are treating him “like any human character.”
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland premieres Oct. 10 on ABC.
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