ABC has cancelled the Once Upon a Time spin-off Once Upon a Time in Wonderland after just one season. The series finale is slated to air Thursday, April 3 at 8 PM ET. The network will fill the gap in their programming schedule with a special edition of Shark Tank on Thursday, April 10 at 8 PM ET, as part of a two-night special concluding Friday, April 11, with repeats of Grey's Anatomy to air in the time slot starting on Thursday, April 17.
The show joins Lucky 7, The Assets and the recently-cancelled Mind Games as first-season programs which have been given the axe by ABC. The Thursday 8 PM time slot has proven to be a difficult one for ABC to fill in the past five years, after the network moved Ugly Betty in 2009. Other shows that have come and gone in that time slot include FlashForward, My Generation, Charlie's Angels, Last Resort and Missing.
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland was originally envisioned as a mini-series to air between seasons of the flagship series Once Upon a Time, before it was fast-tracked into production for a fall debut. The move put additional pressure on series creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, who also created Once Upon a Time, to deliver two visual effects-heavy shows at the same time. There were plans for an extended run of up to 17 episodes, but following the show's slow start in October, the order was scaled back to a 13 episode run, which concludes next Thursday with the series finale "And They Lived...".
During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, ABC Studios chief Patrick Moran admitted that the network should have stuck to their original plan for Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.
"I really had hoped that Once Upon a Time in Wonderland would work. It was designed to be what they call 'gap programming,' to go in between the regular season, and it probably would have fared better as that."
ABC president Paul Lee revealed at the TCA Winter Tour in January that they wanted to fit the show in on Thursday nights, to have a block of programming filled with empowered women, including hit shows Scandal and Grey's Anatomy, while reiterating that they should have gone ahead with their original plan for the show.
"That would have been a natural audience to go through there. That Thursday slot is difficult. We loved the idea. We knew the creative was great, and so we loved the idea of having a run of empowered women going all the way through Thursday night [with Grey's Anatomy and Scandal]. What we didn't want to do is play defense on Thursday when we wanted to play offense. But in retrospect, I think it would have done better there, and I should have stuck to the earlier idea. ... I totally take responsibility for that."
Adam Horowitz revealed in a previous interview that this season will have a beginning, middle and end which was meant to be a closed-ended story. He also revealed that, if the show was successful, the producers planned on telling a different story with the same cast.
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland is set in Victorian England, as Alice (Sophie Lowe) tells her tale about a strange world dubbed Wonderland. Peter Gadiot, Emma Rigby, Michael Socha, John Lithgow and Naveen Andrews also star in the series.