5:30 pm EDT, July 15, 2014

ABC bosses spill: Why ‘Once Upon a Time in Wonderland’ didn’t work

ABC Entertainment Group President offers his take on why Once Upon a Time in Wonderland failed to gain traction and the future of OUAT spin-offs.

Last year ABC proposed a fledgling series that, in theory, would serve as a one and done spin-off of the network’s hit series, One Upon a Time. However, the story of Alice and her journey to reconnect with her love Cyrus, did little to please viewers. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland fought valiantly against subpar ratings and ended its ten episode run this past spring.

Today, ABC Entertainment Group President, Paul Lee, addressed some of the forces at work against the show as well as the future of “filler” shows for the network’s winter season.

First and foremost, the initial downfall of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland was the decision to run with an 8 p.m. Thursday airing. The idea to place a show before the wildly successful block of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal on the surface may appear smart, but the comedy in residence a few channels over,The Big Bang Theory, did not cut the fledgling show any slack.

Admitting the decision to go against the initial plan for a winter hiatus airing was a mistake, there were still other factors in place that warrant some attention.

The success of Once Upon a Time and fantasy shows like it, largely depend on the special effects department. The CGI for Wonderland was certainly subpar for a show that utilized it much more than its parent. The plot and pacing of the story was well crafted, but the distracting scenery left much to be desired.

Regarding the future of fairytale spin-offs on ABC Lee mentioned,

[Horowitz and Kitsis]have a glimpse in their eyes of stories they’re going to spin for many years to come on Once, and maybe beyond it. It certainly doesn’t rule out their ability or our ability to build on Once. In many ways, Once itself changes every season by bringing on new characters—think of the world of Hook, of Wicked, and now to have teased Frozen. It’s a very exciting way for us to use ABC to really take advantage of some of that—not just for the centuries of fairy tales, but specifically [stories] that come out of the Walt Disney company.

The first test of ABC’s winter season comes this year with Galavant. The fairytale series will add one element Once Upon a Time strays away from, song.

Composer Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater team up to bring the Monty Python-esque series to life.

Read the full description here:

Once upon a time, the dashing hero, Galavant (Joshua Sasse) lost the love of his life, Madalena (Mallory Jansen), to the evil King Richard (Timothy Omundson). Now, our fallen hero is ready to take revenge and restore his “happily ever after.” But it won’t be without a few twists and turns along the way.

A clip from ‘Galavant’

Do you think shorter series and spin-offs have a fighting chance in today’s ever changing television landscape? Let us know!

Thanks, EW!

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