ABC may have found the perfect magic spell to cure long mid-season breaks of “Once Upon a Time.”
The network has given the nod to a potential spinoff series of the hit fairy tale show that could feature the popular literary character of Alice set in Wonderland. And they want popular genre writer Jane Espenson to head it up with “Prison Break” producer Zack Estrin.
Alice, of course, is one of the few fairytale characters that have not been shown on “Once” as of yet, nor are there any immediate plans to. And the idea for the Wonderland spinoff is designed to take place after the curse created Storybrooke, but will also include flashbacks. That could mean a return of Barbara Hershey, who played Cora (and the Queen of Hearts).
The move is good news for Estrin, who is coming off a disappointing run in “Zero Hour,” which ABC canned after just a handful of episodes. He was also an executive producer or co-executive producer in a couple other short-lived series for ABC as well, including “The River” and “No Ordinary Family.”
Estrin, of course, is probably best known for his producing work on “Prison Break” as well as “Tru Calling” and “Charmed.” He has also written many episodes for the shows he produced.
Espenson has a long and amazing career in science-fiction. Besides her current work as a consulting producer and writer for “Once Upon a Time,” Espenson has also been a writer or a producer for shows such as “Game of Thrones,” “Caprica,” “Torchwood,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Tru Calling” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” among others. She was nominated for an Emmy in 2009 for the “Battlestar Galactica” short “The Face of the Enemy,” which she was an executive producer on.
In the meantime, “Once Upon a Time” has some serious catching up to do. Audience for the show is down nearly 10 percent from last year, and it’s now trailing NBC’s “Revolution” as network television’s top genre show. In February, it fell out of network television’s top 30 and is currently tied with fellow ABC comedy “The Middle” in household viewership.
Filming on a pilot, written by “Once” creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, with a pilot set to begin filming in April in Vancouver. ABC will then decide whether to commission a short-run first season that could make its debut before the end of the year.
The project is also a great sign that despite a smaller audience finding “Once” on Sundays, ABC is staying confident with the show, and is expected to order a third season of the drama.
“Once Upon a Time” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.