Once Upon A Time: Too Crazy Not to Root For

In a world where network TV shows are scrupulously tested, mercilessly recalculated, and often shorn of any originality to get the broadest audience possible, Once Upon a Time is NUTS. The drama centers on a small town called Storybrooke with a secret: It’s inhabited by fairytale characters who don't know their true selves but are about to be thrown into an ultimate battle of good and evil by a twenty-something lady bounty hunter. Who, exactly, is the target audience for this show? Besides me, I mean, because this is exactly the show I want to see. Twin Peaks plus fairytale romance—like, is someone at ABC reading my journal entries? Okay, I don't keep a journal, but if I did, Once Upon a Time would be roughly outlined on the last page (right above a list of my favorite girls and boys names).

The pilot cut between two connected storylines. The first took place in a fairytale world, where Snow White and Prince Charming's wedding was interrupted by the evil Queen, who vowed to destroy them. They discovered from soothsayer Rumpelstiltskin (who was just locked up in the Royal Dungeons, NBD) that they were about to be cursed and trapped "someplace horrible," and that they would need to craft a "vessel" out of an enchanted tree to save one person from the Queen's malicious scheme. Rumpelstiltskin also foretold that, if saved, the baby Snow White was carrying—Emma—would come back on her 28th birthday and break the spell, so the baby was the one person placed in the magic tree armoire.

Meanwhile, current-day Emma Swan (grizzled/hot bounty hunter) was being dragged to Storybrooke on her 28th birthday by the son she'd given up for adoption when she was 18. Henry showed up on Emma's doorstep because he's convinced that his teacher is Snow White and that his adoptive mom (Storybrooke's mayor) is the evil Queen. Obviously he's right or what are we watching, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest?

Good gracious, do you realize that last night, while another gritty, sad-faced detective on another network was cracking wise over another blue-tinged corpse, there was a Model United Nations of fairytale characters meeting in a castle and discussing whether they could carve an armoire out of a magic tree? Or that, while another married couple cheated out to the audience as their teenager told them off, you could change the channel and see Prince Charming having an intense sword fight while holding a gooey newborn baby in one arm?

I admit I cackled out loud when an actress who'd been CGI'd to the size of a hamster blew in on some gauze wings. Sure, secretly I'm kind of racist against people who have serious conversations while wearing poet blouses and wiglets. But even more secretly, I want to curl up with every episode of this show that will be made and watch them one after the other, breaking only for oven pizza and root beer floats.

The success of vampires in multiple franchises has made TV execs more friendly toward fantasy, particularly the Snow White mythos, which is at the heart of Once Upon a Time (and also two films currently in development), but still this is one risky, crazy, ambitious show with a big story behind it. The CGI looks goofy, and Ginnifer Goodwin's wig might have recently been used to scour some pans, but that’s nothing money can't fix. ABC is a Disney company, so Disney-originated characters seem to have priority (Snow White's midwife is the dwarf Doc, Jiminy Cricket has been anthromorphized into a child psychiatrist in the "real world" of Storybrooke) and no doubt that will infuriate folklore professors who own TVs (both of them).

That's not to say I don't have some reservations about Once Upon a Time. Henry, the emotional heart of the real-world story, is shrill and super annoying. One day we will perfect the small robots who will replace child actors; until then, then Henry will have to do. And the Evil Witch's curse, which says that every fairytale character who lives in the Enchanted Forest will be trapped in modern times, seems both A) weirdly inconvenient to her—she is trapped with them, and is also the evil mayoress of Storybrooke, which must be an administrative chore, and B) ultimately not that bad (jet plane travel and internet vs. thatched cottages and porridge).

Still, minor concerns, and the level of actor on this show is so freaking awesome. The evil Regina, Lana Parrilla, has a sense of intelligence and humor about her that’s captivating. Jennifer Morrison, who plays the heroine Emma—Henry's baby mama and the second-blondest bounty hunter on TV (Dog would be first)—is both hard and heartfelt, a difficult balance to pull off. Ginnifer Goodwin is totally adorbs both as Snow White and as her "real world" counterpart, Margaret Blanchard (who was waaay too chillax about Henry stealing her credit card).

If good acting and great storytelling are not enough reasons to root for this show, then consider the biggest reason to watch this series: the effing craziness of it existing in the first place. How easy would it be for them (faceless execs) to have laughed this script closed on page one (EXT. Enchanted forest, dwarves mournfully line glass coffin…)? And yet here it is—a drama rooted in fairytales, probably the simplest and purest form of storytelling, in the middle of the crassest, most cutthroat, most unforgiving arena for entertainment since the time of the gladiators. Thank you ABC, and thank you to everyone who got behind something this squirrel-nuts insane. I can't wait for Episode 2.

Questions:

… Has anyone seen the '90s-era miniseries The 10th Kingdom? Do you think it influenced Once Upon a Time?

… Adopted folks: Would you/your parents get offended by all the adopted-kid angst or no biggie?

... Which fairytale character do you hope pops up next?

… What did you think of the premiere? Liked it or loved it?

Comments (152)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
Just got the pilot here last night and I was intrigued enough to watch next week. Way better than Grimm which imo was a pilot by numbers and had nothing original or interesting to say and which bored me halfway through.



I have to agree that as evil queens goes, Regina seems to be a bit of a dunce. She sure missed a trick with the curse. Surely, your victims will suffer most of all if they remember everything - and everyone - they lost? If you make it so they don't remember what's missing, they don't really suffer much at all, do they? Go back to evil curses 101, Regina. Try harder. Much better if they remember everything they were and what they lost but can't talk about it to anyone. Now, that's suffering.



But, there was much to enjoy about this pilot - I particularly liked Little Red Riding Hood turning from supportive council member to disgruntled teen slut. LOL. Jennifer Morrison was superb in her role - and how nice to see another feisty, butt-kicking female hero on TV.
Reply
Flag
I loved it! I was hoping for really good things from this show and I'm happy to say that I am not disappointed :)
Reply
Flag
ohhhh and by the way, the prince charming is really hot. lol
Reply
Flag
I really enjoyed this. I was pretty surprised actually. I can't wait to tune in to another episode. :)
Reply
Flag
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I was not at all expecting it to be this good and was just watching it to check it out, as curiosity from all the previews got the best of me. I was so worth it and I can't wait to see the next episode and more. I've already told my mom, sister and brother to check it out. It is so refreshing in it's origninality and you cant help but feel nostalgic at seeing characters you read about and saw all the Disney movies of. Its like seeing a continuation that answers the question (in a totally twisted, awesome way) of "what happened to...?" And I am sooo looking forward to seeing what happens next. Great job ABC!
Reply
Flag
Dude, I effing LOVED the 10th Kingdom!!! So much that I am one of 5 people in America who acutally owns it on DVD. I don't know if I can really see any definite similarities between it and Once Upon A Time, but I definitely think that it influenced it somehow. You know what show I think is also a little bit similar to it but is made to have more of a procedural drama audience...the new NBC show, Grimm. I feel like that's definitely made to be more of a darker show than Once (as I will call it from now on because that's what my friends originally thought it was called and everyone likes to shorten the names of shows these days anyway...). I absolutely loved the premiere. Although I went into it kind of expecting to be let down because everyone I know who was actually excited about it premiering called and/or texted me letting me know how unimpressed they were with it. But I had a good feeling about it, which turned out to be right, and I can't wait for more episodes!
Reply
Flag
This show explores the question of our inner selves remain the same even if our enviornment is changed--and how important it is to know thyself and be true to your inner self.
Reply
Flag
You make a good point. I totally agree.
Reply
Flag
I love this show! Can't wait for more...
Reply
Flag
Agreed.
Reply
Flag
I found this to be one of the most original shows I've seen in a long time. And it actually presents fairy tales with a plausible connection to the "real world". I will certainly continue to watch a show that so much time and thought was put into making.
Reply
Flag
Yep. Most original pilot since Lost.
Reply
Flag
This is so much better than those "housewives" and other reality shows.

This is different and I hope they can keep the plot interesting.
Reply
Flag
I despise every show that starts with "Housewives of-"
1
Reply
Flag
I agree. I absolutely loved it and I cannot wait for the next episode!
Reply
Flag
man, the Sheriff was HOT!
Reply
Flag
FInally the recognition it needs to get. I ment everybody who I talked to was like it's something for kids or what is it with all the fairytale stories.

For me it was the best pilot this season, the ratings went through the roof. From beginning to end those 40something minutes flew past by me. It captivated me, it took me to places I've never been before, I feel the characters they show me, and I absolutely love to see Jennifer Morisson in this role. How much better can this get?

Disney and ABC rocked this, I mean to pick up on the first Disney story ever told (Snowwhite) and make a tv show that is so crazy you don't know where you are or what happens. I can't stop talking about it!
Reply
Flag
I really love this show! Finally, a show that has everything I enjoy. Humor, fantasy,even action; something to look forward to each week. This reminds me of the new movie "Little Red Riding Hood". Can't wait for ep. #2
Reply
Flag
Hubby and I really liked it - can't wait for #2!!
Reply
Flag
I loved it a lot which is worrisome... The shows I love are usually in jeopardy no matter how good they are. I tend to like shows that have well-developed characters and lush, creative storylines. I also really appreciate a seasonal arc which can be difficult to find unfortunately. I like crime dramas very much but I also appreciate variety. I really hope this show stays good and on the air.
Reply
Flag
Right?? My favorite shows seem to always get cancelled :( Lets hope this show won't follow suit ;)



I see from your avatar pic that you're a dw fan (as am I)! So there's one show we both like that hasn't been put into jeopardy (yet....*knocks on wood*)
Reply
Flag
I really enjoyed the premiere.

I'd enjoy some more evil people popping up here and there.
Reply
Flag
Actually the pilot episode was good, but some of the bits were a little bit too corny and "cute"... I think it could have been a bit darker.... I liked Emma and the evil queen.... But I generally preferred Grimm's premiere.... Need to see a few more episodes to make a final decision
Reply
Flag
Before I start my comment I have noticed that people are comparing this show to the the truly awesome miniseries the 10th kingdom. While that is in some ways true with the young woman and her father going to a parellel fantasy world that featured many Fairy tale characters including the evil queen, In my opinion I think OUAT is more like the Graphic Novel series called "Fables" by Bill Willingham, I HIGHLY recommend reading the series. In Fables every fairy tale character living in their fantasy world are attacked by an army led by the mysterious "Adversary". After losing the war the Fables retreaded to here whom they call the "Mundane World" and the story starts years after that with them living in modern NYC. The Big Bad Wolf who can take human form renounces his ways and is the sheriff, the witch from Hansel and Gretal survived and became good so there are some change up's to the Fables. So much more to tell but Fables is not for kids it's done by DC VERTIGO which is the rated R of comics and was originally supposed to be made into a show but it fell through. So both Fables and OUAT are darker and more Grimm brothers like.

Ok on to my review, A while back I was reading many predictions and judgements from both critics and people on how this show was going to be like right before Lost came out. Let me tell you the majority of these people, like 90 percent all were slamming both shows. there was plenty of: "stupid and unoriginal", "The acting is terrible as well as the CGI" oh yes and one person wrote about OUAT :completely unrealistic" UNREALISTIC? it is a fantasy show!, what an idiot right.? Well we all know how Lost turned out. As for this show fortunately the majority of reviewers on here and other sites seem to have changed their minds and really liked it and see great potential, let's hope it stays that way.

The acting was great all round especially Robert Carlyle who I predict will probably become people's favorite character Rumpelstilkskin who seems like the trickster God Loki from Norse legends I think. Also doing great is Jennifer Morrison and the kid Henry who's name I don't know. I am looking forward to seeing how the characters parallel from their counterparts which we have only seen a fraction of. There were several references to Lost you can look it up. The thing is as I said earlier people might get turned off by this show's darker tone, as already I see people expecting Disney when they will be getting Grimm with some Disney added to it. But I am hopefull since the reviews and ratings were huge and I look forward to the next.

More+
Reply
Flag
I wish they'd called whoever it is that does the costumes for Game of Thrones. The fairy tale part actually had a pretty dark story but it was hard to take it too seriously because everyone looked so corny. I thought the whole idea was for this to be a fairy tale for grown ups. The costumes were straight out of kids' fairy tale books/movies. Also, I think it's funny that the horrible place they were all dreading turns out to be a quiet, picturesque, lovely little town in Maine.
Reply
Flag
I think a lot of that has to do with it being such a new show and them having such a low budget. They splurged on special effects so somewhere else it had to be lacking, in this case it was the costumes.



I also found it amusing that they chose such a quiet place in Maine. I liked it though. Our world would be dreadful in comparasion to some mystical, magical place in FairyTale land, and I love the irony of their personal hell being a place that people assume is quiet, lovely, and quaint.
Reply
Flag
As they establish in her first season when the jerk bail-jumper says, "Oh, you're a bail bondsman," Emma is a Bail Bondsman. Not a bounty hunter.
Reply
Flag
I loved the show, it pretty much combines everything I love: fairy tales, interesting characters with a backstory, the different worlds/flashbacks, the prophecy/mystery part, and a plot that might be a bit confusing but something that keeps you watching. I'm really looking forward to the next episodes, and hopefully they'll bring in a lot of other fairy tale characters. I also love how they didn't really say if the sheriff has a fairy tale counterpart, too (my bet is that he is the huntsman from snow white).

and I loved the 10th kingdom when I first watched it as a child, I only recently bought the dvd. :)
Reply
Flag
I LOVE the 10th kingdom (still watch it on DVD), it's what got me to want to watch this show because I was hoping it'd be, or at least close to, as great as 10th. The pilot was really good, and I'm looking forward to more episodes. I wish for more fairytale-world stories though (come on fairy god mother, make it happen), the real world is just not as awesome..
Reply
Flag
this was the only new show that I have watched, that I will not be watching again, loved 10th kingdom have it on dvd, but people saying that their is nothing like on tv I disagree too manyt examples to list, whoever continues to watch hope you enjoyed it, I will be watching TAR and keeping my dvr space free terrible pilot
Reply
Flag
Isnt there two Prince Charmings.. one is Cinderella's and one is Snow Whites.. What are they brothers?? Looks like there will be a back story and a "now' story. I dont know if I will like that or not but I am going to give it a chance
Reply
Flag
You mean "aren't there two" plural not singular. Sorry, I couldn't resist ; ) But yes, I was wondering the exact same thing. Cinderella and Snow White both have a "Prince Charming" so I was curious as to how that would play out. I also recall Jennifer Morrison saying something along the lines of " Why not have Cinderella and Snow White be best friends?" which seemed to imply that Cinderella would play a role, or at least that is how I chose to take it. Maybe he does have a brother...



I actually think the Present story, and the Fairy Tale story are essential to making this a lasting tale to be told. It has to transition between both, can't possibly have one going without the other, otherwise it wouldn't be nearly as intriguing. It's so very necessary for great writing, especially in regards to something this whimsical. They have to tie the antiquated stories with a modern vibe to make it fresh.
Reply
Flag
I was determined to watch this show and laugh at the ridiculousness of it. I was beyond skeptical...in fact I finally decided to record it two minutes before it came on. I laughed at the summary and rolled my eyes. But then I seen it. I'm pleasantly surprised and was intrigued within five minutes! It was so much better than I ever would have thought and even though I'm a reality show chick (within reason) and a crime show and legal drama junkie...and yes I'm also one of those who has jumped on board with some of the supernatural stuff too (TVD and TSC) I love this. I love that it's new and fresh and different. It breaks the norm. It isn't about who is cheating on who and finding the killer or partying on the jersey shore or trying to sing. It's a very original concept on tv...that is rare. Nothing is original anymore!



I loved how they subltly eased in who was who. Red Robin Hood just eased her little red scarf around her red streaked hair at gramma's inn and you knew it was her. She was very pretty and sassy and snarky which means I instantly liked her. I love that they made fairy tale women (women who usually are poor examples of empowered females) and they made them strong women while still staying true to the fairy tale aspect.
More+
Reply
Flag
sorry but it is RED RIDING HOOD.. my fave btw so... sorry to be picky but there it is
Reply
Flag
No worries. I tend to type very fast and given the child watching some Robin Hood movie in the background at the time, it somehow slipped in. But thank you kindly for your astute observation of that glaring error.
Reply
Flag
I love this show!!!! So far I am a big fan of the Evil Witch (Queen?) I can't wait to see how everything turns out! I would love to see Hansel & Gretal in Storybrooke next!
Reply
Flag
Dude, you read my mind! Absolutely lovely!

Observation: wasn't it the slutiest Red Riding Hood of the history at Granny's Inn?!

Mistery : Who is the wolf?
Reply
Flag
I absolutely loved it. I hope that the rest of the episodes live up to the first.
Reply
Flag
This article seriously needs proof reading. "Model UN", "Cackled out loud"? "Grizzled Bounty hunter"? "the level of actor on this show"? What are these "blue tinged corpses" you speak of? How does a couple "cheat out" to the audience? How does an actress blow in gauze wings? How can one be racist towards poet blouses and wiglets? Do you mean "biased" or "discriminatory"? Your contradictions itemized as A and B are direct contradictions in themselves. "A" states the witch is trapped, while "B" states the witch is free to travel in airplanes. Huh? The Storybrooke that holds a secret isn't forest-y as you say, its a run down dirt town. The fairly tale world, which holds no secrets in its universe, is the forest-y one.
Reply
Flag
Staff
Model UN as in Model United nations, "cheat out" is a theater term that refers to characters facing forward to an audience or camera while having a conversation with each other, you cannot be racist against someone wearing a poet blouse and a wiglet so the term is used humorously there (as a ludicrous overstatement of how much I dislike someone in a wiglet and blouse). Not blew in wings, blew in on some wings. I saw plenty of forest on the roads to and from Storybrooke and in the wideshots, but feel free to have a different perception. So thanks for the effort and analysis, but I really really hope your computer monitor is not covered with red sharpie correction marks.
Reply
Flag
LOL!

You know how something sarcastic isnt' funny anymore when you have to explain ii??? LMAO
Reply
Flag
I absolutely loved it, but I do think that Goodwin is a casting error. She's not THAT pretty.
Reply
Flag
Also, the fact that two people who were involved in the behind-the-scenes creation of LOST just makes it all the better :-)
Reply
Flag
I loved the pilot!!! I think my expectations were unrealisztically high for this show, since I am a huge fan of all things fantasy/sci-fi (*cough* FRINGE *cough*). But the pilot exceeded them all. I totally agree with the title of this article, it IS too crazy not to love. I will definitely watch every week. As for fairy tale characters, I am content to let them appear whenever they want and constantly be surprised by their appearance.
Reply
Flag
I loved the first Episode, I do have my reservations about Grimm starting this Friday, especially because they bot have massive basis on fairy tales. I doubt this will be a problem though, i didn't even know this show existed until i saw this post (it's not airing here in the UK yet). In Short "What Did you think of the premier?" I Loved it, Which Fairytale Character do you hope pops up next? More Jennifer Morrison (Emma) is just fine for me
Reply
Flag
this was a great show, really well done. unless you absolutely hate anything fantasy, you'll find something you like here.
Reply
Flag
Does anyone remember the black smoke?:)
Reply
Flag
I was really looking forward to this show, but now I'm quite disappointed. I think that Once Upon A Time lacks of atmosphere. As an European I grew up with the original Grimm tales and they are quite dark and spooky. This however is pure Disney-kitsch. Glittery Fairies with blue crochet skirts and big breasts, really? And Ginnifer Goodwin as Snowwhite, seriously? Doesn't anyone remember that Snowwhite is supposed to be the most beautiful woman in the kingdom? I liked Jennifer Morrisson as Emma though, and I think that Lana Parrilla is a perfect match as the Evil Queen - but what is she doing in her own trap?
Reply
Flag
Yes, I agree with Ginnifer. The stepmother Queen must be nuts to believe the mirror! But I don't really think that it's all Disney-kitsch, they used stories that most people know now and built from that. Grimm made their version, collecting what they thought was best from stories that they heard and put their own twist on them. In this case it would be kind of wrong to use their Snow White as she was only 7. I have a feeling that this is going to turn out like a mix from Grimm, Andersen and Disney, happily ever after, full of darkness in between. Well, I hope.
Reply
Flag
i don't know but im affraid that it is gonna turn to be something else . some dream , something in the boy's head cause it is like only the boy knows the truth and the actions happened in the past "fairytale" is similiar to the present " parents give up their child ->emma' gives up her child , the prince is dead in fairytale ->he is in coma now"i don't think that he is in coma since the past!".

it is hard to tell what is all about ,it was just a thought!we will see what will happen in next episode!
Reply
Flag
awesome show can't wait to see more
Reply
Flag
loved this show, is one of my favorite new shows can wait to c more episodes. I hate waiting for s week to pass!!! To whoever said they didnt understand it, whats to understand? Its laid out perfectly, there was nothing to be confused about. I would say rewatch it and if u dont understand even after then well ur kinda dumb
Reply
Flag
this show is amazing cant wait for more. this was the best new show of the fall.
Reply
Flag
i really wanted to love this show bt i really didnt, im going to give another chnace though
Reply
Flag
I didn't like it. :(
Reply
Flag
Also, anyone know who the Sheriff of Storybrooke's alternate fairytale character is? I can't seem to figure it out.
Reply
Flag
the hunter in snow white?
Reply
Flag
That would make sense since he's kind of chummy with the mayor. Although my sister reminded me that all sheriff's are chummy with their mayors. But I still like the hunter from snow white idea. :)
Reply
Flag
I cant figure it out either... I was thinking hes maybe the huntsman? Red Riding Hood and the granny were briefly on the show...
Reply
Flag
I LOVED this!!!!! It was fun and new and riveting. But then again, I tend to like a lot of things. but this show still makes it somewhere at the top of my list! I hope it stays and keeps being awesome.

Also, totally agree on the fight scene with the prince holding the baby. That was awesome!
Reply
Flag
Next character to pop-up? How about Ron Perlman as The Beast, from Beauty and the...



I thought this pilot was a bit naff, but it's so different to anything else that's on I've decided to give the show the four episode test. I hope it improves in that time because I really want to like it. And I'm a bit fed-up with cop procedurals. And I really like Jennifer Morrison.
Reply
Flag
This kinda sounds like the game Kingdom Hearts! So I watched the leaked version of Grimm, and I thought it was pretty terrible-- bad actors, stale script, with a B-quality, daytime television feel. "But ooooohhhhh its soooo dark!" Right... Anyway this looks better, because I'm not into dark; I'm into quality television. That always comes first!
Reply
Flag
I loved the premiere it was great maybe not THE greatest but still a great start! I have high hopes for this show and can't wait for more and the best thing? Its on on Sundays when none of my other shows are on so I don't have to choose lol I have seen the 10th kingdom in fact I'm watching it right now (my sister has it on dvd) and Once upon a time does remind me of the 10th kingdom which is great cause I love that movie. I wanna see more of little red ridding hood and maybe another iconic fairy tale character like Cinderella and someone else lol
Reply
Flag
I watched the premiere with my sister, and we both absolutely enjoyed it immensly and can't wait to watch the next episode. We love the concept of the fairy tales living in a town together, and the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming the savior of the characters living in the town-of the characters we grew up with.
Reply
Flag
Too many comments for me to read them all and have my comment relevant to them and/or specifically not repeat, so I'll just answer the questions.



-Saw "The 10th Kingdom", loved it, got it on DVD. I think it very much influenced this show, and I'm all for that. I love storybook stuff.

-Not adopted, my opinion does not count.

-I so very much want to see Beauty and the Beast from that fairy tale, but I think that's a French fairy tale and not part of the same thing, so I doubt I will. Also, I'm excited for Little Red Riding Hood, who I hear is to come in the future.

-I loved the premiere. Was it the greatest premiere in the history of television? No. But it was a fairy tale premiere and that means it needs 3 things: To be entertaining (check), to have some sore of supernatural element/magic/anthropomorphized animals/etc (check), to have some indication that this is a fight between good and evil (check). As long as it has those three things and is anywhere in the realm of well done (so far, so good), I will watch this show.
Reply
Flag
Little red riding hood already made her debut! She was having an argument with granny at the inn when emma checked in ;) I cannot wait to see more if her tho!
Reply
Flag
Load More Comments

Like TV.com on Facebook

  • 9:00 pm
    What Would You Do?
    NEW
    ABC
  • 10:00 pm
    20/20
    NEW
    ABC