Saturday, November 5, 2011

Once Upon a Time: Review

I finally watched both the pilot episode and The The Thing You Love Most (both currently available on Hulu, though I don't know how long they'll be up as that's not posted. Five episodes at a time seems fairly standard, though, so I'd guess another month). Anyway, I really enjoyed them, and I'm looking forward to Snow Falls, the third episode, this Sunday.

The basic premise is that the Evil Queen from Snow White took her revenge on all the other fairy tale characters by exiling them to "someplace terrible" that is, our world. They do not remember their old lives, nor do they notice that time has stopped in their new town of Storybrooke.  Only Henry, the adopted son of the mayor, Regina--the Evil Queen herself--suspects something is wrong, and he persuades his birth mother, Emma Swann, to come to town to try to save everyone. That's one strand of the story. The other strand, being told backward, are the events that led to the Evil Queen casting her curse in the first place.

Complicated? Yes. Also intriguing and full of fascinating characters. Emma Swann, who is probably Snow White and Prince Charming's daughter, has grown up without parents and supports herself as a bail bondsperson. She is very good at tracking down people who don't want to be found and, though out of her depth in the current situation, is stubborn enough, and already attached enough to Henry, to agree to spend a week in the town trying to sort things out. Henry is a likeable kid, determined to prove that his crazy claim is real. Rumplestiltskin aka Mr. Gold is devious, probably playing both sides, and looks to be all kinds of awesome. Even the Evil Queen has her, well, not exactly good--in fact, quite exactly not-good--um, multidimensional? aspects to keep her interesting.

Anyway, the interpersonal element is strong. The story element has a lot of potential; I'm enjoying the flash-back and present-day intertwining, and it will be interesting to see  how making and breaking the curse plays out. There's the added fun of seeing the fairy tale characters (and I do love fairy tales) in new roles here in our world.

I'm also pleased by the show's apparent desire to focus on the possibility of happily-ever-after. I get tired of "darker and edgier" claims.

My one major doubt is that it is really hard to see how this is going to play out in a series format. I can see it easily working as a miniseries with a clear beginning, middle, and end and known length. A (potentially) multi-season show with no clear end in sight. That's going to be a lot harder. Still, it is off to a good, strong start.

Minor doubt? Not so much of a doubt as a gripe: There's a scene where Snow White (now a school teacher), is teaching her kids to build cages. She has some nice spiel about birds and freedom, and in the course of this lecture, puts out her hand. A bird hops onto it and then is released back out into the wild. My problem? They actually focus in on the bird and it's little hooked beak. It's not a wild bird. It is a parrot--either a lovebird or a parrotlet--and should not be being released to live in little birdhouses in Maine, where it will die in the winter. Totally unfair of me to gripe about it, and I love the show otherwise, but I hope they won't do that again!

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