This September ABC launched a new series written by the same crew that dreamed up LOST: Once Upon A Time, a show about fairy tale characters in the real world.
There is something peculiar about the cozy, old-fashioned town of Storybrooke, Maine. It’s not the fact that the clock has stopped working, or that no one ever leaves… no, according to 10-year-old Henry, the funny thing about this town is that every person in it is a storybook character. None of them, however, remember that they were once the Huntsman or Jiminy Cricket or the Magic Mirror. This is something of a problem, since Henry is convinced that the Evil Queen, who happens to be his adoptive mother and the Mayor of Storybrooke, is the one who ‘trapped’ these characters here in the first place. The only one who can break the curse is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming.
When Henry finds his biological mother (who you may recognize as Dr. Cameron from House, M.D.), he explains that she is that daughter: the savior bound to restore the fairy tale characters to their respective happily ever afters. Emma, a pragmatic bounty hunter with attachment issues, does not believe him right away. But after being sucked into the lives of many of the citizens, she finds herself unable to deny that something otherworldly is at play in Storybrooke.
I really, really like this show. I should start by saying that it’s not nearly as convoluted as LOST, which I – alas! – abandoned in its last season because I simply could not keep up with it. While I feel the pilot of this show tries to cram in too much ‘premise’ without giving us enough entertainment, the following episodes certainly make up for it. Ten episodes have aired so far.
One of my favorite aspects of the show is the healthy balance between real life drama and intrigue in Storybrooke, and the fun flashbacks to the fairy tale world. Even though the characters themselves are not conscious of their fairy tale pasts, we as viewers get to see what ‘Mary Margaret’ was like as Snow White, or how Jiminy got turned into a cricket. It’s definitely a show full of subplots, and for the most part I think they are very well-managed.
The actors, costumes, and sets are fantastic. Henry is the most adorable ten-year-old ever, the Evil Queen is openly nefarious in the fairy tale world and subtly diabolic as Mayor Regina in Storybrooke, and Prince Charming is… well… quite charming. The fairy tale world is full of vast, verdant forests and labyrinthine castles, and the Medieval dress is really stunning.
Once Upon A Time airs on Sunday nights at 8pm on ABC. It’s definitely worth watching. You can’t deny it – no matter what age you are, everyone loves a good fairy tale!