ByAlisha Grauso, writer at
Editor-at-large here at Movie Pilot. Nerd out with me on Twitter, comrades: @alishagrauso
Alisha Grauso

No one seems to know what to make of Once Upon a Time spin-off Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. The Alice in Wonderland series initially got an order for 13 episodes, the usual run for a brand-new series. If there is enough positive buzz generated once the show starts airing, the network will grant the additional "back 9" order to give the new series a full 22-episode season. All standard operating procedure in television.

Word on the street via EW, however, is that the series will be granted an additional number of episodes that will fall somewhere between a 13-episode initial order and a full season of 22 episodes. Weird, right?

But not so fast. As it turns out, there's a reason for this awkward in-between series length. As co-creator said, the show has been designed that way from the start:

We really want to tell the story without having to worry about how to stretch it for five years. The upfront order will be it for the season. This is not meant to be a 22-episode season. Whatever it ends up being, we'll have told a complete story, with a beginning, middle and end.

Wonderland will tell the story of the romance between human Alice () and the genie Cyrus () and the adventures they face together. Fellow co-creator further explains that the show will be a stand-alone, and fans won't be missing out on plot points or lost if they haven't seen Once Upon a Time:

The DNA of this show is different and consciously so. The idea is you can just come on in and enjoy the ride. If you've seen 'Once', you'll be rewarded; if you haven't, you won't miss a beat.

The idea behind a shortened season is essentially to make it easier on the writers and the showrunners. The story arc is planned out in advance and completed by the time filming begins, so everyone on set, from the crew to the cast, know exactly where the story is going and can offer a show that is more fully realized than a longer, episodic series that needs a lot of filler from show to show or that lacks a clear direction.

This isn't to say that this season will be the only season for Wonderland. If the series is a hit, they would bring it back for another close-ended story arc and self-contained season, says Horowitz:

If the audience responds and people love these characters, the plan would be to bring it back next year and tell a whole new story.

While 24 was the series to initially introduce this concept of characters, but not the plot, carrying over each season, more and more series in development have been jumping on board with this idea of a limited run, or a show that spans multiple seasons, but bookends the plots.

No word yet on when Once Upon a Time in Wonderland will premiere this fall, but we'll bring you the news as soon as we hear it. Follow along for updates.

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