The race is on between NBC's high-concept, high-budget pilot 'Wonderland' (which acts as a sequel to the classic 1865 Lewis Carroll tale "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland") and ABC's 'Once Upon a Time' spinoff series, 'Once: Wonderland' (which also acts as a sequel to the Carroll tale). Nearly 150 years later and that book is quite the hot adaptation commodity!
Today ABC announced the title for their spinoff project--'Once: Wonderland,' very close to NBC's already announced 'Wonderland'--and announced their principal casting as well. Australian actress Sophie Lowe will play Alice, the young blonde who finds her way into Wonderland and embarks on a series of misadventures. 'Once: Wonderland' is set in a pre-curse Wonderland, featuring Alice who "has a generous heart but carries the scars of a long hard life." Presumably things became more difficult for the fair-haired heroine after Carroll's text concluded? Lowe is best known for her work on the series 'The Slap.'
Alice won't be alone in Wonderland: She is joined by two other characters, Cyrus (to be played by British actor Peter Gadiot), Alice’s love interest with a background shrouded in mystery, and the Knave of Hearts (played by the previously-announced Michael Socha), a sardonic adventurer, a man of action, a loner and a heart-breaker.
Given that 'Once: Wonderland' will be building off of the same tone and visual aesthetic established by 'Once Upon a Time,' it would seem that ABC has the upper-hand when it comes to pushing their Wonderland project through production faster than NBC's. 'Wonderland' over at NBC has already been delayed once, due to the extreme cost and work involved in bringing Carroll's imagined world to life on screen; one can infer that the NBC project is seeking a more immersive, dream-like setting, as opposed to ABC's 'Once Upon a Time' which folds phantasmagoria into a realistic package. While this makes NBC's 'Wonderland' far more interesting to those hoping for more visual Wonderland delights (such as in Tim Burton's ill-received feature film 'Alice in Wonderland'), ABC will likely air 'Once: Wonderland' before NBC can answer, stealing the thunder from the NBC project.
In fact, production on 'Once: Wonderland' is slated to begin on April 7 in Vancouver. As I said: the race is on.