First Impressions

Once Upon a Time

Aired on: ABC

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            The promos for ABC’s new fantasy drama, Once Upon a Time looked very intriguing to me.  A series by the creators of Lost featuring fairytale characters sliding from the fantasy world into reality.  I found the idea to be rather interesting and so I plopped myself right in front of the television on Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 8PM EST to watch the premiere episode.

            The first episode opens with Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) rescuing Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) from her sleeping death.  As in the fairytale, Snow White and Prince Charming prepare for marriage, but all does not exactly end happily ever after.  The Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) shows up at the wedding and warns them of a curse she has created that will take away everyone’s happy ending. 

            Some time later, Snow White is now pregnant, but she has not forgotten the Queen’s promise.  She visit’s the imprisoned Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) to ask him about the prophecy, but must pay the price by telling him the name of her unborn child.  According to Rumplestiltkin, Snow White’s daughter is the only one that can save the world from the curse, but she will not do so until her 28th birthday. 

            A war council is held and it is decided that Gepetto (Tony Amendola) and his son, Pinocchio (Jakob Davies), will fashion a wardrobe from a magical tree.  At first, it is assumed that the pregnant Snow White will hide inside.  Unfortunately, the wardrobe has just been completed when Snow White goes into labor.  The newborn baby, Emma, is placed inside the wardrobe by Prince Charming just in time.  A battle ensues between Charming and the Queen’s forces and he receives a near fatal wound.  As the Queen’s henchmen open the wardrobe, they discover that Emma has disappeared.

            Flash forward 28 years, and we meet Boston bounty hunter Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison).  Emma is tough as nails when it comes to her job and not very trusting thanks to her time spent in an orphanage.  Tonight is her birthday and she spends it alone after bagging yet another criminal who has jumped bail.  As she makes a wish and blows out the solitary candle on her cupcake, she hears a knock at the door.  Opening it, she finds a young boy named Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) who claims to be the son she gave up for adoption ten years ago.

            Baffled, Emma decides that she should return Henry to his adopted mother who lives in Storybrooke, Maine.  Along the way, Henry tries to explain to her that fairytales are real, that the town of Storybrooke is home to a host of fairytale characters who cannot remember who they truly are thanks to the Queen’s curse and that Emma is the town’s savior.  Unfortunately, Emma’s not buying it, not even when he introduces her to his therapist, Archie Hopper (Raphael Sbarge) who he insists is really Jiminy Cricket.  Henry’s adopted mother, Storybrooke’s Mayor Regina Mills, tells Emma she is happy that Henry is home, but that happiness doesn’t seem to meet her eyes.  Emma, determined not to cause problems, attempts to leave Storybrooke, but ahs a car accident after a wolf jumps out into the roadway.

            Stuck in Storybrooke for the time being, she decides to help Regina out when Henry goes missing again.  She meets Henry’s teacher, Mary Margaret Blanchard (Snow White), and is given an idea as to where to find Henry.  Upon returning him home, she has another run-in with Regina and decides that she would like to keep an eye on her and the way she interacts with Henry.  She takes a room in a local bed and breakfast.

            Once Upon a Time is everything I hoped it would be and more.  The story is told in a series of flashbacks, just like Lost, so that you end up flashing back and forth between the present and the past.  Jennifer Morrison is excellent in her role as Emma Frost, loner/would-be heroine.  I first noticed her on House, but wasn’t pleased with the direction her character was going there.  I’m glad to see she’s moved on to greener pastures with a role she can really sink her teeth into.  It was also nice to see Robert Carlysle again.  I can’t wait to see what his character, Rumplestiltskin, has up his sleeve for Emma.

            I watched this show with a friend who was skeptical about the plot and really didn’t even want to watch it.  By the end of the show, my friend was smiling and ready to watch the next episode.  Why?  It’s the fun of guessing which fairytale each character is from.  I loved the wardrobe idea and quickly decided that this was gleaned from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  I also enjoyed the fact that the show has its own spin on our favorite fairytales.  We all believe we know what our favorite fairytale characters are supposed to be like, but Once Upon a Time offers up a new spin on those characters, making them a lot more interesting than they ever were before.

            The show promises to reward us with constant mysteries to solve and flashbacks filled with clues to help us do so.  There’s a lot of emotional conflict as well as intriguing character clashing in this series.  I, for one, can’t wait to see the next episode of Once Upon a Time - I can already tell that this series is going to be one of my new favorites!


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