Once Upon a Time
“Pilot” written by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz; directed by Mark Mylod
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
It’s amazing how TV themes come in bunches. This season we have competing fairy tale series: Once Upon a Time on ABC and Grimm on NBC. Both of these take classic fables and put their characters into modern, urban settings. Hmm; it seems there’s a comic book called Fables that has that same premise… since 2002. But I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.
Once Upon a Time stars Jennifer Morrison as Emma Swan, a lonely bail bondsman whose estranged ten-year-old son Henry (Jared Gilmore) comes knocking on her door on her birthday. He claims that Emma actually was born in an alternate fairy tale world and is Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming’s (Josh Dallas) missing daughter.
(A brief aside here. I think the only fairy tale so far is that someone as pretty and outgoing as Jennifer Morrison would be celebrating her birthday alone.)
Although Emma doesn’t believe a word of Henry’s story, the viewer is shown flashbacks that tell that yes, indeed, the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) cursed all the fairy tale people into “someplace horrible”—i.e., Storybrooke, Maine. All the fable people have forgotten whom they once were and have taken up alternate identities in the mundane world. According to Henry, Emma is the only one who can break the curse and return everyone to their real identities in their rightful fairy tale land.
Even if the foundation for this series is a bit shaky, there are enough good actors to make it entertaining. Robert Carlyle as Rumplestiltskin / Mr. Gold is worth the price of admission. It looks like future episodes will continue to be split between the modern world and flashbacks of the fairy tale world.
I’m sure we’ll be subjected to a bunch of eerie mysteries, considering that Once Upon a Time was created by two Lost alumni. Let’s hope that this show is not half as convoluted as Lost. My guess is that there will be more soap opera, à la Desperate Housewives, and less Lost-like strangeness in the episodes to come.