Series / This Is Wonderland

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/this_is_wonderland.jpg
Left to right: Alice, Elliot, Nancy, Max

Law & Order, but without the Order.
—Series tagline

Canadian courtroom dramedy that ran from 2004 to 2006, winner of four Gemini Awards. Set in Toronto's Old City Hall courtrooms, it gave a much more realistic and unromanticized view of courtroom procedure than most similar shows: instead of there being a Mystery of the Week, there would be multiple cases per episode, and most of them would go to Plea Court, Bail Court, or the ever-depressing Mental Health Court. Very rarely would a trial actually commence, and very rarely would the case be particularly high profile. It was usually stuff like Illegally Being on the Premises or drugs.

It focused primarily on a young defense attorney named Alice De Raey, who is basically good-natured but has the tendency to swear under her breath. She is occasionally helped by scary-efficient Vietnamese-Canadian law student Nancy Dao, given frequent helpful advice from scruffy and sex-crazed defense counsel Elliot Sacks, and not helped at all by her boss, James Ryder, who is in the middle of a nervous breakdown.


Provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Alice Allusion - The main character's name is Alice DeRaey. And it's Wonderland.
  • Ambiguously Gay - Crown Prosecutor David Kaye (not to be confused with the voice actor for Megatron on Beast Wars). He's fashion-conscious, moonlights as a hairstylist, and mentions that he loves musical theatre.
  • Amoral Attorney - Jack Angel in Season 3, though overall, the series was an aversion of this stereotype about lawyers.
  • Animal Wrongs Group:
    Alice: You are a member of PETA, are you not?
    Witness: Yes. Does that make me a criminal?
    Judge Fraser: No, but it does make you an opinionated pain in the butt.
  • Beard of Evil - Fortella
  • Bittersweet Ending
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer - In Season 3, Elliot goes through an identity crisis and tries new "looks" for himself, including Goth, and Dressed Exactly Like Kaye. Judge Frasier also has the tendency to hum loudly when people he doesn't like are talking, and complain of boredom.
  • Catch Phrase - Judge Malone gradually acquires "There must be something we can do to help this man/woman/child."
  • Caught with Your Pants Down - Elliot accidentally implies that his mother once walked in on him.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin - Judge Frasier usually had one of these.
  • Chronic Villainy - A lot of repeat offenders come through the system.
  • Courtroom Antic - "Check this out: you do that again in my courtroom, and I'm throwing you in jail."
  • Deadpan Snarker - Alice, Kaye, Judge Frasier
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud? - Alice occasionally gets called on her external monologue.
    Alice: It was nothing. I was just talking to myself.
    James: Oh. That's not good.
  • Domestic Abuse - Quite common in cases.
  • Driven to Suicide - A few suicide cases came through Mental Health Court, but they were all saved.
  • Freudian Slip - After Elliot reveals too much about his adolescence during a trial, Judge Serkis accidentally calls him "Mr. Sex".
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners - Alice and Nancy
  • Heroic BSOD - James Ryder is recovering (poorly) from a nervous breakdown.
  • It's Personal - Elliot has the tendency to drag too much of his personality into cases and embarrass himself.
  • Jerk Ass - Quite a few come through the courts.
  • Good Lawyers, Good Clients - Frequently averted.
  • Grotesque Gallery - Rosemary Davis. Ewwww.
  • Latin Lover - Elliot dates the courtroom's Spanish translator for a little while
  • Left Hanging - The final episode leaves quite a few loose ends.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Magical Negro - Subverted with Mr. Jackson, who is a highly religious and sweet-natured homeless black man, but he's also very smart and demands respect.
  • Martyr Without a Cause - One guest character, played by Ron White.
  • Monster Clown - Played with: Judge Frasier develops a bizarre obsession with clowns, and fills his office with porcelain ones, which frighten children in one scene. They ultimately serve as a sort of Morality Pet for him, though.
  • Nice Guy - Judge Malone, benevolent ruler of Mental Health Court. There's also Mr. Jackson.
  • One Steve Limit - Averted: there are two characters with the last one Davis. One, Anthony Davis, is a handsome black lawyer who used to be a cop. Another, Rosemary, is an incredibly ugly and none-too-bright white trash crackhead.
  • Positive Discrimination - Generally averted. There are jerk asses of every race, colour, and creed.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles - Yanna McIntosh as Zona Robinson in Season 2, Vik Sahay as Anil Sharma in Season 3
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis! - Judge Frasier's infamous "BIZARRE! MEXICAN! NIGHTMARE!"
    • Also, Richard Waugh's character, repeatedly questioned as to the location of his mom, eventually screams "AT! THE! LAKE!"
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic - Very much averted. This is something of creator George Walker's trademark.
  • Sarcasm Mode - The title.
  • Sassy Black Woman - Zona is a benevolent example. Another episode featured a much more annoying one.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse - Elliot tries to use this as a way of hitting on a woman, speculating that in her native South America, he beauty must have been a curse.
  • Special Guest - Quite a few actors did guest spots as defendants, complainants, or witnesses, including Frank McKenna of The Red Green Show, Graham Greene, and Richard "Albert Wesker" Waugh
  • Stalker with a Crush - Happened in a few cases.
  • Stepford Smiler - Nancy, to some extent, but Pamela Menon even moreso. Alice lampshades this, with an explicit reference to the original Stepford.
  • Suicide by Cop
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial, combined with I Never Said It Was Poison
  • Verbal Tic - Alice has the tendency to swear under her breath.
  • Waif-Fu - A more moderate example: a Husky Russkie gets a bit pushy with Alice, so she twists his arm around. Beware the Nice Ones.
  • Where Do You Think You Are? - The title is meant ironically
  • Wholesome Crossdresser - Mr. Jackson is friends with a pair of them.
  • Wire Fu - A defendant claims to have been intimidated by the martial arts stance of a Chinese man he put in the hospital. "I had just seen that movie, Crouching Tiger, or whatever..." causing Judge Frasier to quip, "And you thought he was gonna fly?"
  • A World Half Full
  • Worthy Opponent - David Kaye
  • You Are Number 6: In one episode, a mentally unstable woman claims a man, who is an agent of the Catholic Church, kidnaps her every week. This nefarious man has no name and is only known by a roman numeral.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/ThisIsWonderland