Review – Ten’s New Wonderland
This new show certainly has very big shoes to fill, taking over the time-slot of Offspring on Channel 10, especially given just how much attention Offspring has recently received after the shocking death of one of the most-loved characters.
The premise of the show? Nothing we haven’t already seen, though probably not from an Australian perspective.
Tom Wilcox (the hot guy) can’t commit and his insensitive and past-to-present actions are generally without consequence because he is well-liked and probably just ‘misunderstood’….or something. This seems to be the central storyline with the peripheral characters that will no-doubt have unfolding sub-plots along the way.
Channel Ten introduces Wonderland as a ‘warm and engaging relationship drama revolving around four couples at very different stages of life.’
What it is, essentially, is a bunch of people all living in the same block of flats called Wonderland who hold close friendships (sound familiar?).
Judging by the lead-in commercials to this debut, the show held some promise especially considering that Australian TV shows seem to be doing very well at this time.
However, the promise that the commercials showed felt as though they were left a bit broken after last night’s airing.
For those of you who didn’t watch, in the opening scenes we met with Tom’s overbearing flat mate-turned girlfriend, Kristen goes from charming to unconvincingly self-centered and stupid before the first commercial break.
The first episode revolves around the wedding of Dani and Steve. Steve seems like the kind of guy you’d want to marry, despite the constant ribbing of Tom and other already-married neighbour, Rob, Steve is firmly committed to his wife-to-be. Dani, on the other hand, a ‘sexy PR Princess’ (Channel Ten’s description, not mine) is a complete, self-absorbed bridezilla.
The girls of Wonderland all get together pre-wedding for preparation. We are probably not supposed to wonder where the bride’s actual family is and why there isn’t a photographer taking pictures of both parties readying for their big day, but anyway.
In this scene we are treated to some strange banter and are introduced to another two characters, Colette and Grace (Brooke Satchwell). Colette is married to Rob, and Grace is the token cynic who doesn’t believe in marriage or anything remotely associated to love.
Later, in the show it will probably be revealed that this predictable attitude is to cover up her fear of rejection.
Ditzy (or just plainly stupid) Kristen announces she has a surprise planned for Tom at the wedding. The girls bitch about her behind her back, but in their defence, this character is possibly more clueless and self-absorbed than Dani.
The boys on the other hand are taking it easy, going for a swim, discussing marriage and losing balls and more quips about pending emasculation. It becomes clear pretty quickly that Rob is the over-the-top, stereo-typically empty-headed comic relief that falls flat in the area of humour.
Over the next 30 or so minutes, we see Kristen catching Dani’s bouquet and deciding that publicly proposing to Tom during another person’s wedding is socially acceptable.
Of course this leads to disaster and ruins Dani’s wedding.
After more bitchiness and lots of characters trying to smooth over the unplanned events, Kristen claims that Tom loves nothing but his car.
Oh, the car.
To be fair, it is a nice looking classic car, however the claim seems premature considering up until the declaration, there has not been one hint, mention or scene that even alludes to the fact that this car is, in fact, his life.
Because of this event and all past experiences Tom has with shacking up with female room mates (and presumably discarding them all like trash), his neighbours make a bet with him that he will not be able to go 12 months without sleeping with his next room mate.
If he fails, he will have to give his beautiful car to Steve.
Perhaps the solution is not as blindly obvious to them as it is to me, but how about, uh, get a male roommate?
Tom somewhat patches things up with Kristen who has taken off in said car, but not before she vomits everywhere inside it. Cos she’s obviously very classy.
Grace meets a nice-looking Brazilian guy at end of the night who quickly challenges her arguments about marriage and associated beliefs. The scene closes with them kissing.
Cue Steve’s hot sister who is obviously going to be the new roommate.
…And fade out.
The storyline feels a little bit weak at this stage, and while its still early, some of the acting leaves a lot to be desired. Some characters are over-the-top and already too unconvincing, but perhaps this will peter-out as the show progresses.
All-in-all, Wonderland will probably not be able to keep up with shows like Offspring (Australia’s very own Ally McBeal) or House Husbands, or even some of the more treasured classics like The Secret Life of Us and Love My Way – but only time will tell.
In any event, it is nice to see a home-grown TV show take the place of another, a pleasant change amongst a constant myriad of American crime shows and reality TV. But, if you’re looking for the ‘new’ Offspring, you’re not going to be finding it here.
How did you like the debut episode?
Written by Jessica Teni