October 25, 2011

Once Upon A Time - Are You Hooked?

Okay, the good stuff first. Robert Carlyle makes a great Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold. The production values are fairly high with decent special effects. The basic plot—storybook characters cursed with amnesia, doomed to a life with no happy endings unless the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming frees them—is intriguing. And it's fun to catch the fairy tale allusions.

Yet the first episode wasn't as compelling as I'd hoped.

Perhaps it's because the back story that explained the curse was filled with hamming, overwrought acting, and weak characterizations. The way the Queen chewed the scenery, I'm surprised there was a shred of tapestry left in the castle. And, please, give me some chemistry between Snow White and her prince, not vapid arguments with dialogue like "I can't believe I'm having this conversation with you again." They're in a fairy tale, not the 21st century.

I liked the way characters were revamped when the story switched to modern times. Mr. Gold was particularly creepy as the man who "owns" Storybrooke, Maine, where the oblivious characters are trapped. Jiminy Cricket as a school counselor is a clever touch, almost too clever.

And the daughter who could be a savior? I get that she's hard-boiled (she escaped the Enchanted Forest before the Queen's curse took effect and her life in the real world was anything but charmed) and her transformation from skeptic to believer has potential. I just hope her character grows in a way that makes me want to care.

Right now, the boy she gave up for adoption has more appeal. He lives in Storybrooke, has grown up reading a book called Once Upon A Time, and believes his real mother is the town's only hope. A bit precocious, but his actions get the ball rolling.

I'm intrigued enough to want to see what happens next, but the acting definitely needs to get ramped up before I'll commit. How about you?


  1. This is embarrassing. Other than news and football, I don't watch TV… ever. I stopped during the ascendency of reality TV - which I abhor - and found life was better without television. That said, this trailer looked really awesome. If I get the opportunity to watch it online, I'll be back with a review. :)

  2. VR: I'll admit, I watch it too much, even though I have a bare bones cable subscription: the basic commercial channels (ABC, etc.) and some great alternatives like Free Speech and Link TV. As for "Once", I really like the premise but—as they say in the trades—the execution doesn't live up to it, mainly due to weak acting.

  3. I saw ads for this show and I was curious, but then I forgot to watch it! I don't watch a lot of tv, but I might go look for this one on Hulu.

  4. I'm back! I think your review is spot on, Kathryn. Some of the acting was downright awful, although I liked Henry a lot. I watched it online, which may have been a mistake. I was ten inches away and the number of closeups made it appear the actors were mugging for the camera.

    It was pretty to watch though, and I stayed interested throughout. That's a big deal for me. I'm intrigued enough to seek out episode 2.

  5. Sherrie: It wasn't on Hulu when I wrote the review, but it's up now.

    VR: Yes, the mugging was a bit much. Let's hope they tone it down in future episodes before it becomes caricature.

  6. I haven't watched this, although I find the whole "fairy tale" trend interesting. I wonder what it is making the retelling of them so wide right now.

  7. Heidi: Life's pretty grim these days and fairy tales offer a bit of escape mingled with hope.

  8. I've never seen this, but I just viewed the trailer. Not sure it's something I would waste my time on. Sorry!

  9. Eileen: No need to apologize. I think it may have a hard time finding viewers because not everyone cares for fairy tales—modernized or not—and the acting leaves a lot to be desired.

  10. I'm watching it right now--how's that for fate?

    I missed the first episode, but am enjoying it regardless. :)

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse


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