* Prices may differ from that shown
Once upon a time season one this is for the series only and not the DVD or extras.
Running time:-946 minutes
Price:- £13.15 from Amazon
Once upon a time is a spectacular magical series based on fairy tales, from the creators of lost. My colleague at work recommended that I watch an episode or 2, well it's 2 weeks later and I'm here writing a positive review before I start season two. Knowing that this series was from the creators of lost, and as a super fan of that series I had high hopes for Once Upon a time and I have not been let down in the slightest so far.
Once upon a time starts with Snow White and Prince Charming getting married but unlike the fairy tale we all know and love the evil queen interrupts the celebrations through jealousy and puts a curse on the whole fairy tale kingdom.The curse is to trap the whole kingdom in a modern day life where there will be no happy endings apart from her own. All the characters are trapped in Storybrooke not knowing who they really are, all identities wiped and they are now modern citizens of the world doing normal jobs with normal names.Time is frozen in Storybrooke until the day that Henry the mayors son who has been the only person able to leave the town went to find his biological mother.
Emma Swan was celebrating her birthday on her own, she blew the candle out on her cupcake and hears a knock at the door. She opens the door, and is shocked that the little boy stood in her doorway happens to be the baby that she had given up for adoption. Emma takes Henry back to his mother the mayor of Storybrooke, and sticks around for a while to get to know her son, it's not long before Emma Swan is made sheriff not to the mayors liking. Henry knows of the curse that the town is under and is convinced that Emma is there to break the curse, he has a book full of fairy tales and Emma does not believe him for one second that the curse is real but she goes a long with it to some extend to spend time with her son. Throughout the 22 episodes of Once Upon a time there are many flashbacks to the fairytales world so you can get an understanding of who the modern day characters are and the back stories to their lives. The Evil queen is worried that the curse is weakening with Emma in Storybrooke so tries her best to strengthen the magic. To start with it is unclear as to who knows about the curse and who doesn't as not all the characters memories were wiped.
The main characters within season one are:-
Emma Swan played by Jennifer Morrison
Henry Mills played by Jared Gilmore
Snow White played by Ginnifer Goodwin
Prince Charming played by Josh Dallas
The Evil Queen played by Lana Parrilla
Rumpelstiltskin played by Robert Carlyle
There are many other characters involved in the series like Red Riding Hood, Belle, Jiminy Cricket, The seven Dwarves, The mad hatter, the Hunts man etc..
The acting within the series is superb, my favourite is that of the evil queen and rumpelstiltskin. I think that they show a wide variety of acting skills and emotion throughout the series.
I absolutely love Once upon a time, the twists and turns within the plot and the flashbacks have been done very well. It shows a good contrast between modern day life and that of fairytale as obviously the settings and costumes are completely different.I'm looking forward to starting season 2 I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves a Disney film I think you will all be positively surprised. I think it has been very cleverly written and directed.
I give this 5 stars I can not fault this at all.
*DVD Extras not reviewed - film only review*
Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) is found by the child she gave up for adoption as a baby, Henry (Jared Gilmore), and took to Storybrooke. It is a town unlike any other; it is full of fairy tale characters who don't know who they are.
Once Upon a Time started three years ago, when fairy tales were making somewhat of a comeback on both the small and big screens. Everyone is familiar with the characters in Once Upon a Time (OUAT) and that is why it was instantly so popular. Everyone knows Snow White, the Evil Queen and the other characters so the audience are immediately invested in the show and what happens. That existing knowledge also means that the show can get right into the action.
Throughout the first season, the show is essentially split in two as we watch what is happening in Storybrooke as well as seeing the characters previous life as a fairy tale character. It is an interesting way to approach the show and one that really works. A lot of what happens is quite predictable for anyone over the age of 15 but there were a few shock twists that show the writers are willing to shake the show up every now and then.
The stars of the show for me are Lana Parrilla as Regina Mills/Evil Queen and Robert Carlyle as Mr Gold/Rumpelstiltskin. They both are aware of their prior lives unlike the rest of Storybrooke and they portray their multiple personalities brilliantly. Carlyle's Rumpelstiltskin accent is a little iffy, not really sure what he was aiming for, but apart from that he gives a layered performance in a surprisingly complex role. They both steal scenes away from their cast members as they have more screen presence.
The lead role of Emma Swan is played by Jennifer Morrison who is a little wet in the role to be honest. Morrison is ok in a lot of the episodes but when she has to show real emotion she's not that convincing. As the season progresses, the storylines naturally become tenser and Morrison struggles to hit the high notes. It is a shame as the supporting characters are much more interesting than the supposed lead.
Ginnifer Goodwin brings her usual quirkiness to Mary Margaret Blanchard/Snow White, her role diminishes slightly throughout the season which is a shame. Her 'other half' is David Nolan/Prince Charming who is played by Josh Dallas. He does a good job in the role and Dallas has good chemistry with Goodwin. The duo are prominent at the beginning of the season but both do get pushed to the back by the end of it, hopefully they are a big part of future seasons as they are a strong duo.
There are plenty of supporting characters that pop in and out of the storylines, you'll recognise the names but the stories are sometimes tweaked a little. They have to make it original somehow.
The fairy tale land is very much computer generated, obviously the budget is limited given that there are two primary locations for the show. I wasn't a fan of the fake castles and whatnot in the beginning but I learned to ignore it, there really isn't much alternative given the scale the writers want to achieve. The costumes and make-up are good; they definitely help sell the characters to the audience.
Overall, it's a family friendly show which has a compelling arc whilst remaining largely accessible to newcomers throughout the first half of the season at least. There is a good cast on board and a wealth of material for the writers to use. Hopefully OUAT can maintain its strong start, the first season is highly recommended.
Jennifer Morrison - Emma Swan
Lana Parrilla - Regina Mills / Evil Queen
Ginnifer Goodwin - Mary Margaret Blanchard / Snow White
Josh Dallas - David Nolan / Prince Charming
Jared Gilmore - Henry Mills
Robert Carlyle - Mr. Gold / Rumpelstiltskin
Jamie Dornan - Sheriff Graham
Also posted on ciao under the username shabbating
After my current favourite TV show 'Fringe' ended after 5 seasons I was stuck for something else to watch. I saw 'Once Upon A Time' season 1 DVD going cheap and thought I would give it a go. Buying TV Series DVD sets is a favourite pastime of mine, and I have so many that I didn't actually watch the DVD until about 2 months from buying it!
Anyway, 'Once Upon A Time' is a fantasy drama series about your favourite fairly tale characters. When I read the synopsis for the series I was a bit unsure about it, would it work? would it be any good? It is written by a couple of the guys who did 'Lost' and that was a great series (early on in the set) so I decided the give it a try.
The Plot (Without giving too much away):
In Fairy Tale land, the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) is plotting revenge over her land after her step daughter Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) awakens from her evil sleeping curse and marries Prince Charming (Josh Dallas). Queen Regina has been long after revenge on Snow White after an incident in her earlier years which she blames Snow for. The Evil Queen has decided that everybody must be punished and sets about a curse that will destroy the Fairy Tale land. The Queen is planning to take everybody from the Fairy Tale land and take them all to a place where there is no magic and where their memories will be wiped forever. Upon learning about this curse Snow White and Prince Charming set about trying to stop the Queen and seek advice from a rather shady character Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle). He has his own issues with the Queen and tells a pregnant Snow and Prince that the curse will not be broken from 28 years and their unborn daughter will be their saviour. Snow and Prince are told that their daughter, when she is born, must be sent through to 'our' land via a magic wardrobe and they'll not see her for 28 years. Faced with this heartbreaking decision, Snow and Prince place the newly born daughter into the wardrobe and pray for the best. Just as the curse is about to take place Prince Charming is fatally stabbed.
The next part of the story involves a young boy named Henry turning up at a woman's house claiming to be his son. Emma Swann is shocked that the boy she gave up for adoption 10 years ago has now showed up and agrees to take him back home to a town called Storybrook. On the car journey home, Henry reveals a book full of Fairy Tales and claims to Emma that she is the only one who can lift this curse. Emma instantly rejects the claims and returns Henry to his adopted mother, who he hates. Viewers can see that his adoptive mother is the Storybrook Mayer, otherwise known as Regina (The Evil Queen). After a couple of encounters with the locals, Emma decides to stick around for a while...The following morning time has started to move for the first time in 28 years.
In Storybrook, time hasn't moved for 28 years. All the residents have false memories and have not aged since being placed under the curse. Snow White is now a timid School Teacher known as Mary Margaret, Prince Charming is now a John Doe after being in hospital unconscious for the past 28 years, Rumplestiltsin is the local Antique/Property dealer known as Mr Gold (get it?). Many questions need answering and will be answered throughout the season such as who knows about the curse?
After watching the Pilot episode, I managed to watch a further 3 in a row as I was instantly hooked. I never thought this show would be my thing but it's clever, fast pacing and has some great cliffhangers. The main plot is well thoughtout, the characters are complex. Unlike Lost the story doesn't drag on too long and the finale reaches a fantastic conclusion which sets about a change for Season 2.
I love the little twists the show takes on classic fairytales, for example, it's safe to assume that in this programmy Grumpy is the 'leader' of the severn dwarves, not 'Doc' like in the classic tales. Rumplestiltskin is a fascinating character too and I like what they have done with him regarding several other fairytale characters too (think Beauty and The Beast). The show introduces many fairy tale characters throughout the season. It is also a bit like Lost in the way that each episode tends to have a 'flashback' episode as to when a Storybrook character was in their Fairy Tale land and these Flashbacks tend to pose more questions too. You find, for example, what made the Evil Queen the way she is. On a different note, I love the Evil Queen, just when you think she's showing some signs of redemption, she tricks you and goes back to her evil ways. I still don't buy that she's 100% evil though judging by some of the Evil Queen centric episodes later on in the season.
I don't have many negatives about the show either. The casting is great although I would say that I find Prince Charming a bit of a wimp compared to the expectation of this hero, although a twist in around episode 8 or 9 may explain that. Also, some characters you see for one episode and never see again (ie Hansel and Gretal) so it seems strange that they have a H&G centric episode and they're not heard from again. Also, you may find that the 'main' story arc gets a bit slow pacing every now and then. For the majority of the show you are willing for Emma to believe the curse, but to be fair to the writers, would you actually believe fairy tale characters are living among us?
I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoy watching this show. It has the same basis as Lost but it is not as complicated and suitable for the whole family. If you're looking for a fantasy drama then look at this!
Roll on Season 2!
2013 appears to be the year of fairy tale subversions in my opinion. I think this is because of things like the Hobbit coming out and the common themes of zombies and vampires are pulling out of fashion and witches and wizards are coming back in fashion. It's a bit of a sea this supernatural/fantasy genre.
That aside, i was introduced to this series around October last year, and have really enjoyed it since, not for the acting or directors, as i'd never heard of any of them before, but for the fairy tale subversions. You see as a novice writer subverting a fairy tale is quite a common exercise for me to help me out with writer's block. The beauty of fairy tales is that they leave themselves completely open to being chopped and changed and re- interpreted or taken from another character point of view. They are just so much fun for a writer to play with. Which is probably why i also love seeing other writers' successful subversions of fairy tales, which leads me on to this product.
Once Upon a Time, written by Adam Horowitz et al, is a series primarily based around Snow White and the seven dwarves, but also focusses on how other fairy tales, such as Rumplestiltskin, Beauty and the Beast, Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, Pinnochio, Alice in Wonderland plus having hints at many other fairytales, connect with this story.
We start at Snow White (played by Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming's (played by Joshua Dallas) 'happily ever after' wedding. But, instead of happily ever after, as that would make this series incredibly short, the Evil Queen (played by Lana Parrilla) turns up and threatens place a curse on the land to make sure nobody gets their fairytale ending. Snow, heavily pregnant and against Charming's better judgement, seeks the help of Rumplestiltskin (played by Robert Carlyle) in order to save her baby from the Evil Queen's wrath. He tells them that in 28 years their baby will be the saviour of the curse, in return for the baby's name. Reluctantly Snow gives it.
Emma Swan (played by Jennifer Morrison) works as a Bail bonds officer in Boston. We meet her tracking down some cheating lowlife whom she helped bail out some months ago. Having caught the lowlife she returns ti her apartment and has a little 28th birthday celebration with the simple candle on a cupcake routine. The ironic saying 'be careful what you wish for' doesn't even cover it when a knock at her door reveals a ten year old boy by the name of Henry (played by Jared Gilmore) claiming to be her son.
On the way to taking him home, he tells her of his theory that all the people in his home town are all fairy tale characters from a story book that his teacher gave him that can't remember who they really are and are trapped there. He tells her that time has been stopped there for 28 years and that the people are all miserable because they don't have their happy endings. Not only that, but nobody can leave Storybrooke because bad things will happen. Emma thinks this is a load of baloney, but goes along with it just to take him home.
Upon entering Storybrooke we find out who Henry belongs to- his adoptive mother who is coincidentally the mayor of Storybrooke, Regina Mills, along with the Sheriff, played by Jamie Dornan. When being told that Henry is Emma's birth son, she thanks her for her trouble, then 'kindly' asks her to leave. Emma obliges, only to have her car crash right by the 'Now leaving Storybrooke' sign.
After that she is resigned to get a room at Granny's bed and breakfast, where she meets kind hearted but rather doltish Ruby, played by Meghan Ory, and various other residents of Storybrooke, including Mr. Gold, Mary Margaret Blanchard, a coma patient who comes round first by the name of John Doe but later found out to be David Nolan, and Doctor Hopper, played by Raphael Sbarge, who's Henry's therapist. As soon as Emma decides to stay, the town clock starts ticking once more, and Emma finds herself befriending all these people, then helping them all out in one way or many.
For the first part of the series we keep flipping between lost memories of the fairytale land- for example Snow White handling herself in the forest long before she meets the dwarves and running into Charming by stealing off him, whereas in Disney's version Snow is a poor helpless thing that gets scared of the woods and ends up balling her eyes out in a clearing. But we are never truly certain as to whether Henry is deluded or telling the truth until someone who Emma gets very close to gets killed. But then the rest of the series is about getting Emma to believe Henry.
In my opinion, the way these stories are interlocked and subverted is a stroke if absolutely brilliant pen work, to the point where i have to make sure they haven't done what i'm subverting already. Although there are a few inconsistencies and a few parts that make you think 'eh, how does that fit in?' But that's the thing about writing, it's never truly perfect nor is it ever truly finished.
Once Upon a Time has two seasons thus far, each consisting of 22 episodes. Season 1 can be found as a DVD box set in most high street DVD stores, or is also showing on channel 5 at the moment on Sundays around noon. We're currently 15 episodes into Season 2 (being in the UK we're always going to be a bit behind when it comes to American shows) which are all available online (S2, ep 16 is out online next Monday.)
I'd highly recommend it to anyone who likes a good story. Each episode is around 45 minutes long but most of them provide fantastic inspiration or just nice easy watching- especially when trying to guess which real world character plays which fairytale one before they tell you.
Unless they asked express permission, I'm fairly sure that regular cowriters Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis should be getting sued. Why, you might ask? Because they've stolen the concept and formatting of cult TV show Lost (on which they used to be writers), reshaped it, twisted it into a fairy-tale setting and trundled it out to the masses... and they've done it fairly blatantly. Not only that, but they've done it with a TV show that lacks the writing quality, characters, imagination, production values and expert casting that its predecessor possessed. Not to say that Once Upon a Time is all bad; it has its moments, but they are few and far between. I should say at this point, in order to be forthright, that I have only made it six episodes into this series and given up. I tried, I really did, but was finding more and more that it felt like a chore to sit down and watch it properly. Arguably, that would be grounds for not reviewing something. But in my opinion, if a TV show is not engaging and you've made a genuine effort to give it a chance, then continuing to watch it is bordering on self-harm. It's certainly a waste of time that could be spent seeking out something you'll enjoy, which is precisely what I'll be doing after I write this review.
Jennifer Morris is Emma Swan, a troubled bounty hunter determined not to allow attachment or emotion into her life. That is until Henry (played by Jared Gilmore), the boy she orphaned years ago, turns up on her doorstep with a strange plea: he wants her to visit the town he lives in now. Realising she has to take him home anyway, she ends up visiting his town and not being able to leave. The more Emma sees of Henry's life, the more determined she becomes to stick around and make sure he's okay. But there's not just something odd about Henry's life, there's something odd about the entire town. Convinced that everyone who lives there has been trapped by an evil queen in a fairy-tale universe, and that Emma is the key to unlocking the spell that has been cast upon them all, Henry must now convince Emma to stay and see what happens as she becomes more and more connected with the community. Can Henry get Emma to stick around for long enough to convince her that there really is something special about this strange, insular town?
I must admit, I don't think I am necessarily the target audience for this particular show. Target audience aside though, I don't see any reason why a TV show should be put out there without at least a little something for everyone. The fairest thing I can probably say here is that they seem to have tried, but mostly failed, to not alienate certain audiences. For the most part, Once Upon a Time is nothing short of twee and frequently annoying. As the story develops further, revealing fairy-tale counterparts for each member of the 'real-world' town, there is an unrelenting sense that the writer's want to be doing something dark and mysterious, but are being stymied into producing a safe, underwhelming set of episodes that teeter on catering to an adult audience, but never quite convince us that they are meant for anyone over the age of sixteen. There are moments to be enjoyed, but they are merely moments and they come too rarely. Ginnifer Goodwin is frequently adorable in her role as Mary Margaret Blanchard/Snow White, with Robert Carlyle suiting his role as Mr. Gold very well, but never coming across as anything more than a pantomime baddie in his 'fairy-tale' role of Rumplestiltskin. The rest of the cast can be pigeonholed into one of poor, ordinary or relatively insignificant.
I mentioned that this show has blatantly stolen from Lost, so it's only fair if I explain. Once Upon a Time is a show about a large group of people who are trapped in an isolated place, initially unaware of the strange circumstances that have brought them there. They share connections they are as-yet unaware of, there are enemies among them that they think are on their side, and as time passes they will learn more and more about the strange land they inhabit, leading them to follow lines of enquiry and get into scrapes/adventures. Added to this, the story is told through present-time events being juxtaposed with insights into their lives before they got there, showing who they were before they came to be trapped and 'cleverly' mirroring events across the worlds to make the whole experience seem more magical. Fans of Lost will have already gotten my gist, but for those unfamiliar with it, sufficed to say that those previous three sentences could easily have begun with "Lost is..." The difference, of course, being that Lost was successful in its endeavours the vast majority of the time and was certainly far more engaging within its first six episodes.
After only six episodes of this series, I'd seen enough to know that it definitely was not for me. I'm sure it will be enjoyable for many other people, particularly since I've seen a couple of reviews that rate this very highly. There were times when I found this show to be quite sweet and even amusing in parts, but it was never as intriguing or exciting as I'd hoped it would be at first, or hoped it would become over time. It can be difficult to stop watching something when you've invested a certain amount of time into it, certainly for me anyway. But with so many other television shows out there to be enjoyed, when one like this gives you the overwhelming feeling that it is never going to have much to offer you, it must be time to let it go. Am I curious about where it was going? Yes, I am. Is there any part of me that will be tempted to go back to it one day and find out if it manages to improve in later episodes? That is a resounding no.
While I don't watch a lot of live TV, that doesn't mean that I don't watch a lot of TV series. I have quite an impressive DVD collection, have quite a few series that I've bought and downloaded from iTunes onto my laptop and also have to say that I'm quite bad for streaming shows online as well. This is especially true of a lot of American series, as they're often broadcast there (and therefore put online) months if not a couple of years before they're available to buy in the UK. Once Upon a Time was one of the series that I ended up watching online, as I liked the sound of the concept and my friend really recommended it. I'm glad I did as it's been one of the most enjoyable programmes that I've watched in recent months.
== Once Upon a Time ==
Snow White is marrying Prince Charming, which doesn't sit too well with her stepmother, the Evil Queen. The Queen swears she will put a curse on them to guarantee that they are never together and are never happy. With the help of Rumpelstiltskin, the Queen sets a spell on their kingdom that will send the two newlyweds as well as the rest of the fairy-tale world into another dimension, where they will not remember who they are or be able to be together. There is, however, a prophecy that Snow White's child, whom she is pregnant with, will be able to save them all once she turns 28. They manage to send their new-born daughter, Emma, to safety before the curse hits.
Emma Swan is a woman in her late twenties living alone in Chicago. She doesn't have any friends or family, having been abandoned at birth by her parents. She is solemnly celebrating her 28th birthday alone when she hears a knock at the door and is greeted by a ten-year-old boy, Henry. He reveals himself to be the son that she gave up for adoption as a teenager and, not massively wanting anything to do with him, she drives him back to his hometown and his adoptive family in Storybrooke, Maine. He tells her that his entire town is stuck in time and nobody has much memory of their pasts and that he has worked out that they are cursed fairy-tale characters stuck in our world, and that she, his real mother, is the only one who can save them.
== What I Thought ==
I absolutely loved the first series of Once Upon a Time. I really enjoyed the concept of fairy-tale characters being sent to our world without knowing who they really are, as this at least had a certain strand of originality to it, without being a completely unique idea. The implementation of this idea was done exceptionally, with scenes set in Storybrooke being interspersed with ones from the fairy-tale world they have left. The actors are the same for each world and we slowly come to work out who the Storybrooke characters used to be, while being shown their stories in their fairy-tale world.
One of the things I particularly liked about the fairy-tale sections was that they didn't stick 100% to the stories we all know, but took clever artistic license with a lot of it. The character of Rumpelstiltskin played a number of villain roles and has a much more interesting and complicated history than the one we know. The Snow White story is also more detailed and varies more than the Disney version or ones I've read, but is definitely well done and interesting. We even get to see the lives of the seven dwarves before Snow White came into their lives.
=== Acting ===
The acting was generally good on all fronts, but I was particularly impressed by Lana Parrilla in her role as the Evil Queen and Regina, mayor of Storybrooke and Henry's adoptive mother. She played the part with the necessary level of evil but also managed to reflect the depth of her character very well. Jared Gilmore (who played Bobby Draper in Mad Men) was also very good in his part as Henry, Emma's biological son, and was particularly impressive considering that he is only eleven years old. Jennifer Morrison was also good in her role as Emma Swan, but I don't feel that she played her character much differently than she played Cameron in House and I felt myself unable to think of her as anyone other than Cameron for most of it. This may be mainly due to her role in House being so familiar to me as I watch it all the time, but I also don't feel that she changed her character much for this role.
Now, Robert Carlyle: he was something else entirely. I don't think there is an adjective positive enough to express how much I loved his depiction of Rumpelstiltskin (or Mr Gold in Storybrooke). He played Rumpelstiltskin with a perfect mix of being slightly camp, slightly mad and more than slightly evil, while still having a deep character. He played his character in Maine in a more toned down way than his fairy-tale part in a way that worked ridiculously well. In many ways I would recommend watching this programme even just for him as his performance is that enjoyable.
I also have to say I enjoyed performances by Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White, Lee Arenberg as Grumpy, and Giancarlo Esposito as journalist Sidney Glass (I'll keep his fairy-tale identity secret for those of you who want to watch this), who many of you will recognise as Gus from Breaking Bad (and if you don't recognise him, then please go and watch Breaking Bad as it's too exceptional not to have seen).
=== Visual Presentation ===
Once Upon a Time is also somewhat of a visual masterpiece. As well as depicting a small New England town (albeit one inhabited by ex-fairy tale characters) with as much realism possible, the fairy-tale kingdom is stunningly presented. A lot of the fairy-tale stories take place in forested areas and these were always very atmospheric and visually attractive. There are also some exceptional shots of castles and the surrounding kingdoms, dragon fights and other brilliant shots from the fairy-tale world. Part of Rumpelstiltskin's excellence was also due to his appearance, as in his evil form he is made to look yellow and wrinkled in an evil manner, and this was definitely done very well and to great effect.
== Conclusion ==
I really loved the first series of Once Upon a Time and do not hesitate to recommend it highly. It's very entertaining, well written and acted, puts a good spin on fairy-tales we know and love, as well as being very dramatic at times. It's hard to stop watching and I would watch several in a row even if there was something else I really should have ben doing as I was enjoying it too much to stop. The only negative thing I have to say about this programme is that it doesn't start as well as it continues; I found myself not loving it all that much until the fifth or sixth episode, and I only persevered with it because I liked the idea behind it and it had come so highly recommended. I would therefore encourage you to keen watching it even if the first few episodes leave you feeling unsure about it, as it definitely gets better and better as the series goes on, and ends very well.
The DVD was released on DVD on 12th November so you can now pick up a physical copy of it. It is also already available to download from iTunes for £24.99 in standard definition (£29.99 high definition, which I imagine would look awesome), which is, a very reasonable price considering that it has only been released very recently.
In short, this is a very enjoyable series that I recommend highly. Honestly, I would say it's worth a watch for Robert Carlyle alone, but fortunately it's also a very good series excluding his performance.
One Sunday evening, perhaps during the Easter holidays (oh so long ago), I came across this show. At first, I wasn't too sure, and I only watched episode one and two because the boyfriend's family wanted to watch it. To be honest, the show wasn't quite what I had expected from its title (yes, I know, don't judge a book by its cover, etc.); but now, season two has begun and I'm still watching faithfully every Monday. Once Upon a Time has turned out, in my opinion, much better than it first seemed it would. And now, to attempt to get a few more people hooked...
We begin with Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) getting their happily ever after, to the delight of their kingdom. But there is one person who is far from happy - the evil Queen Regina (nope, she didn't die). Regina (Lana Parrilla) has a knack for showing up right at the worst (or happiest moment), and choses this point to declare a curse on the Magical Kingdom. But whilst this is going on, we cut to a present day, present world town called Storybrook, and a young man called Henry (Jared S. Gilmore). Henry is convinced that the stories and characters in his fairy-tale book are real and living out their lives in Storybrook without their memories, and thinks his mother is the Evil Queen. Henry sets out to find Emma (Jennifer Morrison), a bail bondswoman who is the only person able to break the curse (not that she knows this). And just to make things a little more complicated, Emma & Henry have to contend with slimy Mr Gold (Robert Carlyle), who changes sides depending on who he and his schemes can benefit from most. Will Henry be able to persuade Emma that this is really a town of fairy-tale characters with memory loss and get her to fulfil her destiny?
Now I know this isn't the traditional start to a fairy tale, but this is no traditional fairy tale. The main thing I absolutely love about this show is how it links the 'normal' characters to their magical past, as well as the re-telling of the stories we thought we knew so well. Yes the stories follow the traditional line roughly (give or take a couple of details), but they are also interwoven with each other; for example, Snow White is best friends with Little Red Riding Hood, and Prince Charming was betrothed to King Midas' daughter - and that's just the tip of the iceberg. You can also see how their cursed lives & roles relate to their personalities and characteristics from the Magical Kingdom.
The linking between worlds, and the flashbacks, are so cleverly done. They weave together wonderfully, and neither has a negative impact on the other. Yes, there are times I am frustrated that we get whisked away to the other world, but this is usually because whatever is going on in whichever world at that point is so gripping that I just want to see it played out. You also need to be prepared that some fairy-tales may not be 100% Disney - but the re-telling is done so beautifully, and allows all the stories to link together so well that the writers can be not only forgiven, but praised for their work. I can't tell you enough how much I love the storylines. It is so clever how the fairy-tales have been retold and entwined together; this is the main reason I watch the show. Sometimes I don't really care what's going on in Storybrook (but that is only very rarely!).
When I started watching the show, there was only one familiar face; that of Robert Carlyle (of Full Monty fame). He manages to portray a sneaky, scheming character rather well! Through further research, I have found that some faces may be familiar to you if you watch shows such as House (Jennifer Morrison), Thor (Josh Dallas), and 24 (Lana Parrilla). Throughout the show, some of the fairy-tale characters may be more recognisable than others as the cast seems to be a mix of new stars and a few old hats.
But this is not the draw of the show. The draw is that even though there is a large cast portraying two roles each (fairy-tale and cursed), they work brilliantly together. Although the fairy-tale and cursed character is the same person, there are fine distinctions between the two as the curse has had some influence upon them. But, there is just enough of the original character shining through that when it is revealed through flash-blacks who is who, the penny will drop and all will fall into place. There is fantastic chemistry between Snow and Prince Charming, even in the real world where they 'meet' for the first time. This could be because the actors are dating outside of the show, but it's still nice to see!
To be honest, there is wonderful chemistry between the whole cast. I know I seem to say this a lot with ensemble casts, but they do work well together. Even though there are clearly main characters, each character gets their own story (perhaps even their own episode). Sometimes you only ever rarely see them again (but you do see them, even if it is in the background!), and other times they become integral to other stories. The continuity of the cast is to be praised - especially as a random background cast could be hired each time. The only downside is the child Henry. I hate to be mean, but he is rather whiney, and the show could almost be better off without him - apart from the fact he is the one reading the fairy stories and trying to persuade Emma to save the day! The good news is that he seems to have gotten less annoying towards the end of season one and the start of season two; but that is the story for another review.
It may be clear to some, but I shall just reiterate. I love this show! Sometimes it can feel that the whole Henry-persuading-Emma aspect drags on a little, but it is the retelling of the fairy-tales that I absolutely love. There is so much back story that is learnt, such as why the Evil Queen became Evil - and I love a bit of backstory. This is definitely a show that those who have grown up loving fairy stories (and perhaps Disney) will enjoy - and those who love a fantasy show with a twist. This is an unusual retelling of some classic stories, and whilst it may not be suitable for younger viewers, the young at heart will thoroughly enjoy it! This is sat on my wish list, ready for Christmas, and I will thoroughly recommend it - just persevere past the first couple of episodes.
American series set in the town of Storybrook, populated by fairy tale characters who have forgotten their true identities.