ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee has a theory about why Once Upon a Time in Wonderland didn’t work out. The network executive suggests the Once Upon a Time spin-off was undermined by its time slot. Originally, ABC planned to run the Alice in Wonderland-inspired fantasy series during Once’s winter hiatus. It ultimately opted to air Wonderland Thursdays at 8 p.m. leading into Grey’s Anatomy instead—which has been a tough hour for the network in recent years, with several shows struggling to gain traction in the slot (particularly up against CBS’ top-rated The Big Bang Theory). This fall, ABC will execute its original plan by running fairy tale musical comedy Galavant in the OUAT ”gap.”
“I would have given [Wonderland] a better chance had I done what we’re doing with Galavant and put it in the gap,” Lee told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Beverly Hills on Tuesday. “We wanted to build a night of empowered women, and we were excited about the show, disappointed we didn’t bring an audience to it … I think we should have tried that one in the gap. I think we would have had a better chance with that.”
And Wonderland fizzling out doesn’t hurt the odds of Once getting another spin-off, the executive added.
“[Showrunners Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis] are endlessly inventive,” Lee said. “They 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.”