Is "Once Upon a Time" destined to become the "CSI" or "NCIS" of fantasy-driven TV series?
ABC and "OUAT" creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis have brought in writers Jane Espenson ("OUAT," "Torchwood") and Zack Estrin ("Prison Break," "The River") to help realize a previously-reported spinoff of the Sunday night hit, which will take place in Wonderland and be told through the point-of-view of Alice, according to Deadline. The original plan was to build the show around the character of the Mad Hatter (a possibility addressed by Kitsis and Horowitz in an interview with our own Daniel Fienberg at Paleyfest earlier this month, embedded below), though that approach was subsequently abandoned.
As to which other characters might play a role in the prospective new series, the pilot for which is slated to begin production on April 7 in Vancouver, Deadline cites a recent casting breakdown that lists the following: 1) Amahl, an "exotic, soulful and optimistic" character; and 2) The Knave, "a sardonic adventurer, a man of action, a loner and a heart-breaker." The spinoff will take place in a "post-curse" world, though similar to "Once" flashbacks will also be a factor - meaning fans may well see "Once" characters including Cora, the Queen of Hearts (Barbara Hershey) cropping up. The show is being eyed as a summer series, bridging "Once"'s fall and spring segments.
In addition, ABC is reportedly considering an "American Horror Story"-style approach to the show, in that each 13-episode season would boast a brand-new storyline with a beginning, middle and end before rebooting with a new plot. Horowitz and Kitsis, who got the go-ahead on the pilot from ABC head Paul Lee after pitching him on the idea, are currently in the midst of writing a 15-20 page, four-scene presentation with input from Espenson and Estrin. If the pilot goes to series, Espenson - a consulting producer on "OUAT" since the beginning of Season 1 - would likely serve as showrunner.
"Once Upon a Time" has proven to be a solid performer for the network since its debut, averaging north of 8 million viewers an episode in its second season.
Would you be interested in a "Once Upon a Time" spinoff? Do you like the idea of a Wonderland setting? Let us know in the comments.