Once Upon A Time was one of the most anticipated series last fall. Premiering in what used to be the Wonderful World Of Disney time slot years ago, Once offered the hope that fans of fairy tales might just have a new weekly obsession. However, the fairy tales in this series aren’t painted in the pastel shades that most Disney fairy tales were, even though they are still family friendly.
Once Upon A Time focuses on a woman named Emma with a troubled past. In the pilot episode, Emma is drawn to the small town (Storybrooke, Maine) by her son, Henry, who she gave up for adoption 10 years earlier. Henry is convinced that everyone in Storybrooke is actually a fairy tale character, and that they’ve been sent to the small town by the Evil Queen aka Regina, his adoptive mother. She’s erased their memories and taken away their happy endings, and now their journeys are to rediscover who they are.
Can anyone save them from the horrible world that us viewers call the real world? It has to be Emma according to Henry. Emma, Snow White’s long lost daughter, is the only one who can save them.
Henry is spot on with all of this by the way, but Emma is not a believer. She does, however, stick around Storybrooke after seeing that Regina isn’t quite the mother that she wants for Henry, and from there Season 1 unfolds.
Each episode has a mixture of present day and fairy tale past life in it. From tales of Snow White to Rumpelstiltskin, we meet all the inhabitants of Storybrooke and cross our fingers that Henry can convince Emma of the truth.
The casting is perfect. Jennifer Morison does a brilliant job as Emma, and the breathtakingly sexy Lana Parrilla couldn’t be a more perfect Evil Queen if she tried. The innocence of Ginnifer Goodwin and the creepy… yet somehow mysterious attractive Robert Caryle (I have a massive crush on Mr. Gold/Rumpel… as creepy as that sounds) also seem made for the roles. And of course there is Henry, played so perfectly by Jared Gilmore.
The concept of this series is so incredibly strong, however some of the episodes are comprised of some of the most hokey dialogue I’ve ever seen on TV. Sure, it’s a series about fairy tales… Things are expected to be a little corny, but sometimes it can be downright painful. The dialogue seems so elementary – Especially in episodes like “The Shepherd” among others.
The cast is all seasoned and clearly talented, but some of the episodes not even they can save. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the series. I just hope that in Season 2 things are done differently with the character interaction. Again, it’s such a solid concept – and the overall arch is incredibly tenacious.
With the creators of this series (Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis) being Lost writers, there are lots of little Lost easter eggs for fans to find – such as Regina’s street number (108), and at one point you even see an Oceanic flight overhead. I always appreciate little details like this, and as much as Lost fans love to hate on the ending and how it wasn’t what they wanted it to be – they still seem to love these little easter eggs too.
The bonus features on the Blu-ray DVD release are enough to make any fan squeal. From a number of features such as “Once Upon A Time: Orgins” (which take you back in time to discover the historical origins of some of the fairy tales featured on Once) to the must have bloopers, deleted scenes, and audio commentary – there’s enough here to keep you busy for hours with a smile on your face.
Overall, it’s an exceptional idea for a TV series, and the Season 1 ratings show that I’m not the only one who fell in love with the new spin on these classic tales. If you haven’t checked out Once Upon A Time already – I highly recommend you do so before the series returns for Season 2 late this month!
Review By: Emma Loggins