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A Twist on Tales as Old as Time
Once Upon a Time - Series 1 (DVD)
Member Name: tinkerbell18
Once Upon a Time - Series 1 (DVD)
Advantages: Fantastic retelling; clever storylines; wonderful cast
Disadvantages: Drags a little at the start
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.
Summary: A little twist to some classic tales
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