Friday, November 25, 2011

Watch Once More Than Once...

Once upon a time...

creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis came up with a simple but elegant premise for a new TV show, Once Upon a Time.

I had hopes for this show.  Not necessarily high ones, but lofty enough that I wondered if it would be able to reach them.  As with most things, I waited patiently for it to arrive.

After viewing the pilot, I decided it to be worthy of another gander.  It didn’t blow me away, no.  But it didn’t smack of utterly lousy either.   In other words, it had potential.  So I gave it the chance it deserved.

Now many episodes in, I’m glad that I did.  It’s shaped up quite nicely.   I had wondered if such a simple plot could be sustained to a satisfactory level without being just a gimmick, and it turns out it can be.  Quite well.  What is this seemingly gimmick plot?

All the fairy tales are real (but of course) and the Evil Queen  has decided to take away all the happy endings.  She puts the most evil of curses on the land and the people - sending them to a horrible place: our world.  The characters are all now renamed and have forgotten their true identities and lives, living in a little town called Storybrook.  Just before the curse ‘hit’ however, Snow White and her Prince Charming sent their infant daughter Emma away via a magic portal.  Yep, Emma wound up here...ahead of everyone else.  Turns out she grew up and gave a child up for adoption.  Well, this child, a little boy named Henry, seeks her out as she is the only one who can restore the stories in his “magical” book of fairy tales.

It’s rather clever in its writing.  The counterparts (such as Queen/Mayor) work very nicely.  And the names are terrific.  Miss Blanchard, the schoolteacher... she’s Snow White.  Blanca/White.  A recent episode featured a maid named Ashley (sp?) and it’s learned she has two stepsisters and a stepmother.  Ah!  Cinderella.  Cinder/Ash.  Well played.  There are plenty of other allusions as such and it’s a joy to hear/see them come to light.

Since it’s on Disney-owned ABC, they’ve been using the Disney names.  Maleficent is mentioned, for instance, and the dwarves have the monikers made familiar by the animated feature Snow White.

It has enough questions that arise - such as who each character “is” or the mysteries surrounding the great tome of stories that the boy Henry carries around.  Where did HE get it?   Who would he be in the fairy tale land/s?  Would he be anyone since he’d been born outside of them?  What needs to be done for Emma to restore the fairy tales?

It's also interesting to see well-known characters behave differently.  Not just as their real-world counterparts but, for instance, Snow White as an outlaw thief (in the fairy tale land.)  For you see, part of what makes this show work is it doesn't singularize the focus.  We're treated to backstory in the fairy tale realm... which can also directly parallel events in the 'real' world.  Such as Rumpelstiltskin demanding a child for his services... but now he would have to go through adoption proceedings.  It's fun to see how the two worlds mirror (ha!) or collide with each other, as well as the welcome oddity of seeing White with a sword.  Thus, in both realms we're given new ways of looking at old stories.  And the "look" of the storybook lands is "just right."  

Maybe I’m just a sucker for fairy tales... no, that’s not it.  For it’s very easy to rework them poorly.  But this one seems to be doing something right.  A goodly amount of magic has been peppered into this show.  It doesn’t exactly sparkle with it, but it shines through nevertheless.

1 comment:

Mel said...

We had the exact same process with the show -- curious enough to watch the first episode, intrigued enough to watch more, and now, very much invested in the show. I have SO many questions. I can't wait to chat with you about it!!!