Once Upon a Time Is Magical

I spent the past weekend catching up with some of my many TiVo’d shows. (2 Broke Girls, Homeland and this one, Once Upon a Time).

When I was five years old, I took some of my favorite fairy tales and rewrote them. My mom thought it was weird. I knew in that moment, I was meant to be a writer.

I think of that when I watch this reworking of many fairy tales, with a twist. “All of our favorite” fairy tale characters are here: Snow White, Cinderella, Rumplestiltskin, the evil Queen, heck, even Jiminy Cricket. (I didn’t think Disney characters counted as “fairy tale characters,” but I digress.

The premise is this: The fairy tale characters have been transported to modern times, and they no longer remember who they are/were. Their “happy endings” have been stolen (I know the feeling!), and they need one particular woman to get them back. A shaky premise perhaps.

Why it succeeds as a TV show is this: Ginnifer Goodwin as the role she was born to play, Snow White; and Lana Parrilla as the Evil Queen. Throw in a dash of the evil Robert Carlyle as Rumplestilskin/Mr. Gold and you have ratings gold.

Well, also why it’s succeeding is because you have people who worked on Lost (producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis) and a writer from Buffy, the Vampire Slayer (one of the best shows ever on TV) (and that would be Jane Espenson) working on it. (And why have no females directed any of these episodes? Boggles the mind.

Ginnifer Goodwin is always wonderful to watch, and evil Lana Parrilla has never been better. They really make these fairy tale characters come to life. Robert Carlyle chews off huge hunks of that scenery, but is fun to watch.

The first few episodes (including the wondrous “Snow Falls”) are quite amusing. By the Cinderella storyline (“The Price of Gold”), they were kinda losing me. Cinderella was pretty boring compared to Goodwin and Parrilla. Plus, Snow White’s beloved is named Prince Charming, and there’s quite a bit of wonderful banter back and forth about that. Then Cinderella’s story comes up, and isn’t her Prince also named Charming? They kinda don’t even give the guy a name, other than “Thomas.” Um, ok.

So, they are using the bits of fairy tales we know and kind of fabricating whatever they need to flesh out their own stories. With the whole Snow White/Evil Queen thing, it’s working quite well. Cinderella kinda failed.

I mean, as fairy tales go, Cinderella is at least as big a deal as Snow White (most little girls would say moreso), and we don’t even get to see her pumpkin carriage. We go from her sweeping to her having a nice dress on, and then POOF! She’s married. And then with child.

So, if they are going to rush through the big fairy tales like this (although I didn’t mind, cause the actress was dreadful), what’s left for further seasons? In fact, Snow White’s child (Jennifer Morrison, not quite up to the acting talents of Parrilla or Goodwin) is back in town, and she’s on the mystery. So once she solves it, which could be by the end of the season, then what?

Quite unclear. Doesn’t really seem anywhere for them to go after that.

But in the best episode so far, “Snow Falls,” we discover how Snow White and Prince Charming met (and wouldn’t you know it? He’s married/engaged to someone else. (Depending on which of the time frames you are in.) Although in both of them, it’s quite clear that he’s really in love with Snow White.

Did you know Prince Charming’s real name? It’s James. The banter between them is charming, not inspid.

I really liked the show, I just hope that they get back to the Snow White/evil Queen dynamic as often as possible. That is what is truly magical here.

This entry was posted in Emmys, Entertainment, Television by michebel. Bookmark the permalink.

About michebel

MicheBel has worked as an entertainment journalist and podcasting pioneer (MicheBelz Hollywood and Whispered Pearls). She has been paid for theatre criticism and won the American College Theatre Festival Critics' Competition (regional edition). You can find her now exclusively online.

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