Monday, December 9, 2013

TV Series: Once Upon a Time


'Once' weaves reality with fantasy in a surprisingly effective way.  This show is clever in creating anticipation through the possibility of introducing new fairy tale characters with each new episode.

The protagonist is un-traditionally, not a teenager.  I had expected someone younger with the fairy tale theme tending to use younger actors for the protagonists in media.  Well, 30 is the new 20, right?  The story starts with Emma Swan (played by Jennifer Morrison) alone on her birthday and she just turned 28.  She's conned by her biological son to visit the elusive town of Storybrooke, located in a distant corner of Maine.  The inhabitants of this town are are under a powerful curse by the Evil Queen and cannot leave or else, "bad things happen."

Despite Emma's persistent furrow in her brow, I'm very charmed by all the actors in the show, including her.  I especially like the character Rumpelstiltskin.  He has a great back story and I'm glad the writers gave him a "more-than-meets-the-eye"kind of appeal.

Robert Carlyle does an excellent job with his part as Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold.  He creates an interesting sociopath of a character.  Although initially appearing creepy and hostile, this version of Rumpelstiltskin is hiding something deep down so we can't label him as simply, evil.

The same can be said of the Evil Queen/Regina played magnificentally by Lana Parrilla.

This woman is great at making herself appear sweet and genuine but then turn around and immediately change her demeanor to a grade-A cold hearted b*tch!

It's amusing to watch her and I'm amazed at how she toys with my emotions.  She can really make me hate her in one moment but in another, make me feel sympathy.  That's a talented actress for you.

And she plays the part of the possessive adoptive mother so well!  She's in a consistent cat-fight with Emma over Henry (pictured right) throughout the show because he's Emma's biological son and Regina's adopted son.  Speaking of Henry, he sure is annoying in the first few episodes.  Not intolerable, but annoying.  So annoying, that there were moments where I wanted to punch him.

So far, he's been okay.  They've toned down the whole, 'overly-enthusiastic-that-it's-cringe-worthy-kid' act about halfway through the first season.  At least now I have some sympathy for the kid.  That reminds me, I wonder why the writers never elaborate on why Henry is so against Regina, a.k.a. the Evil Queen.  I mean, okay, she's the Evil Queen but she's playing this persona of his adoptive mother and the show has never shown her doing anything to earn his hatred of her...  That makes the first 3-5 episodes all the more frustrating with the confusion over his defiance towards his adoptive mother.

As a final thought, if you think this show promises happy Ella-Enchanted fairy tale land, you'll probably want to find another TV show.  After watching through season one, I can say that 'Once' is quite dark.  Creepy even.  Sure, there are light moments, but of course, towards the end of the season, it gets darker and darker.  It's not unlike a horror movie where you don't want to continue watching it at night but you can't stop because the suspense is killing you.  The story is great.  That, on top of the possibility of a new beloved fairy tale character being introduced will keep you watching.  There's a fair share of blood and gore and towards the end season one and some disturbing crime elements that somewhat creeped me out during the night.

I highly recommend this series to the fairy tale enthusiast and anyone who wants a show that brings an interesting, and darker twist to fairy tales.

Images from: http://screencapped.net/tv/onceuponatime/

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