David Letterman’s announcement yesterday of his retirement was the big news in TV and certainly the end of an era for late night. However, in primetime, there was another end. Officially cancelled last week by ABC, limited run Once Upon A Time In Wonderland (0.9/3) wrapped its first and only season last night. Having debuted on October 10 last year with 1.7 rating among adults 18-49 and soon dipping below a 1.0, the fantasy drama spinoff of Once Upon A Time was down 10% from its result of last week. The rest of ABC’s night with dramas Grey’s Anatomy (2.6/7) and the ever intrigue-filled Scandal (2.8.9) saw the Shonda Rhimes-produced shows even and down 10% respectively from last week. That’s a season low tie for Scandal.
Unlike other limited-run series this season like CBS’ Hostages and ABC’s Betrayal, which quietly finished their freshman runs with no hope of coming back, ABC is actually officially announcing that next week’s season finale of Once Upon A Time In Wonderland will be its series finale. The network’s most trusted utility player, Shark Tank, which was summoned in for repeat airings when The Assets and Lucky 7 were axed earlier this season, will air a special episode on April 10, after which repeats of Grey’s Anatomy will take over the Thursday 8 PM slot after that. Originally envisioned as a bridge between the fall and spring runs of mothership Once Upon A Time, Wonderland was instead fast-tracked for fall. That put additional pressure on the franchise creators to mount two complex, special effects-heavy productions simultaneously with little lead time — and possibly over-saturating the schedule with both series airing at the same time. (ABC brass have since admitted that that scheduling strategy was probably a mistake.) Wonderland opened with a disappointing 1.7 in adults 18-49 and quickly slipped below the 1.0 demo rating, most recently logging a 0.9 last night. It was originally eyed for an expanded limited run of as many as 17 episodes but, following its slow start, it ended up producing 13 episodes, all of which will have aired.
TCA: ABC’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Wonderland’ Teases John Lithgow, Roger Daltrey Roles & Sebastian Stan’s Mad Hatter
Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
At today’s TCA panel on ABC’s new drama series Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, the producers said the initial order of 13 episodes will “tell a complete story.” If the show returns, said executive producer Adam Horowitz, “we will come back with another adventure.” In describing the relationship of Wonderland to the series Once Upon a Time (which introduced some elements that are part of the new series), Horowitz said Wonderland “exists in a Once universe but stands on its own. The pilot hits the ground running, [new viewers] can come right in.”
EP Edward Kitsis called the new drama a “psychedelic romance.” The new show begins filming this week on the same set as Once, producers said. The cast of characters that Alice (Sophie Lowe) might meet in Wonderland naturally lends itself to guest stars doing voices. The producers confirmed that John Lithgow’s White Rabbit of the pilot will be a regular character, not a cameo. The Who’s Roger Daltrey will be the voice of the hookah smoking Caterpillar and producers are seeking a Cheshire Cat. As the series progresses other characters will “pop up with great voice actors behind them,” producers said.
UPDATED: ABC today revealed its midseason scheduling plans that support the strategy for limited runs of its serialized dramas laid out by topper Paul Lee at the upfronts. New drama Resurrection will debut March 9, taking over the Sunday 10 PM slot from another serialized rookie which will have a limited-run first season, Betrayal. Similarly, new reality series The Quest will premiere Jan. 2, following the the first 8 episodes of the Once Upon A Time spinoff, Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, which will air in the fall through mid-December. The remaining four originals will get on the air once The Quest ends its run, and Lee indicated today that additional episodes could be added to the spring cycle. ABC also has set midseason return dates for its older serialized dramas, Grey’s Anatomy, Nashville, Once Upon a Time, Revenge and Scandal, whose seasons will be split in two stretches of largely all-original episodes, one in the fall and one in the spring. Here are ABC’s midseason premiere dates:
Anthony D’Alessandro contributes to Deadline’s Comic-Con coverage.
UPDATED: Lost vet Naveen Andrews is boarding Once Upon A Time In Wonderland as the genie villain Jafar. That was the big news coming out of the ABC’s show’s panel today at Comic-Con. Andrews joined the Wonderland cast members Sophie Lowe (Alice), Michael Socha (Knave of Hearts), Emma Rigby (Red Queen) and Peter Gadiot (Cyrus) onstage at Ballroom 20. Co-creator and exec producer Edward Kitsis said that the addition of Jafar adds to the entire genie-in-the-bottle- mythology they are building with the character and the show, and Alice’s love interest, Cyrus.
Preceding the panel, a 20-minute clip from the pilot was shown to applause. There wasn’t as much foot-stomping like yesterday’s ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but then again this is mostly a female demo in the room. Footage showed Alice being questioned by doctors in a Storybrooke insane asylum, remembering flashbacks to Wonderland with her beau Cyrus. She is then rescued from the asylum by the white rabbit (John Lithgow) and the Knave of Hearts.