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Once Upon a Time: That Still Small Voice

“I wish, I wish, but nothing changes. I wish I was better at wishing!”

Back in my review of the pilot, Patricia commented how these fairy tales were based not on the traditional tales, but on Disney versions. It made perfect sense then, especially considering ABC belongs to the House of Mouse, and it makes more sense now. If you don’t consider the song Jiminy Cricket sings in the animation, “When You Wish upon a Star”, the scene when Archie does it looks like a Deus ex Machina. Besides many, many references, we didn’t get much this week, though.

Last week I didn’t agree with how they made Rumpelstiltskin more of a villain than he was, but at least it made general sense. But this week? I get it: his parents were overbearing, full of emotional blackmail and whatnot. And I get it that he felt trapped. However, “I tried to turn my parents into puppets, but it fell through. I can’t leave them as I am, make me a bug so I can” is the kind of loophole that only a deranged mind could think is okay. I guess what they say is right: to be a shrink, you must be at least a little crazy.*

The best part of the episode, for me, was seeing Harry Groener again. The Mayor is my favorite Buffy villain, and Groener was at his usual amazing affably evil performance. Oh, and the references. This show excels at dropping allusions into the script. Consider this line, from Regina:

“I can cut you down to size until you're a tiny, shrunken little creature, and this (showing his umbrella) will be the only roof over your damn head.”

That’s very clever. And that shows Regina has a sense of humor, too, since she knows who Archie really is.

I also liked that he managed to stand up to his authority figure, which he couldn’t in FairyTaleLand. It’s a shame he did it through blackmail. It’s not a very heroic thing to do.

*Before anyone gets offended, this is what a student of mine who's a psychiatrist told me.

Bits and Pieces:

- The boy who plays Henry is really good, but don’t have him cry anymore, please.

- That Rumpelstiltskin is behind every evil deed, isn’t he? I bet we’ll find out he’s behind the falling out between Snow and the Evil Queen as well.

- On the love story front, Mary Margaret is guiltily becoming a home wrecker.

- Are all fairies black?

- I’ll just mention that whatever is under those caves must be important. I’ll say more when they show more.

- Thank God Archie doesn't buy those cheap Chinese umbrellas.

- This is a link-heavy review, isn't it?


Archie: “We make enough on the ticket sales. Do we have to steal, too?”
Martin “We don't need to, but it's nice. We steal from them, and they steal from someone else.”
Myrna: “It's called an economy.”
Martin: “We're a vital part of it.”

Henry: “You're a conscience. You help people see right from wrong.”

Regina: “Ms. Swan, this is now official town business. You're free to go.”
Emma:”Well, actually, I work for the town now.”

Two out of four towns with no crickets.


  1. Loved your review. The comment about Disney versus traditional made me think about how fairy tales are generally taken up these days. I grew up at the beginning of the Disney madness and I was read and read myself the traditional versions of fairy tales. My sense though is that most people don't have much knowledge of anything but the Disney version. (Grimm is an interesting contrast) I agree that turning your parents into puppets is pretty diabolical but he didn't actually know that was going to happen. Rumplestiltskin brings the dark edge to this show that saves it from being Disneyfied. My one worry is that they will equate dark with depth. You can be good in a complex way too.

  2. Loved that Henry had an Apollo bar! Big hole in the ground that might have something important in it + Apollo bar = nice reference to Lost. Good job, ABC.

  3. More proof that it's the Disney version of the stories, the dalmation's name was Pongo. Bettcha didn't know that 101 Dalmations was a classic fairie tales did ya?? If Stitch, Kuzco, or Wall-e show up I may have to quit the show. ;-)

  4. DrAlice, how could I have forgotten the Apollo bar? Guess it's the Finals.

    Doc, thanks. I guess they really are catering for the common denominator, otherwise my favorite fairy tale, Blue Beard, would be there too.

    Dustin, I feel the same about Pinocchio,Alice in Woderland and the Wizard of Oz. They are much more recent than the other tales and have a definite author. The brothers Grimm, Andersen and Perrault were important in that they collected and retold the popular tales,but you can't say they're proper authors in the strict sense.

    Pinocchio, by the way, was still under copyright when Disney adapted it, if I'm not mistaken.

  5. I really don't think that the show is based on Disney versions. How about Cinderella? It's too far from the sweet Disney version. And Snow herself is not so Disney sweet either. I love Disney, I've seen every animation Disney has made, but if the show was based on them, I wouldn't like it so much...
    Ah, and under the mines there's probably something related to Snow. Not only because of the 7 little men that worked there, but because Regina found a piece of Snow's glass coffin, at least I tiink it was...

  6. I was interested in their bringing the Pinocchio tale into this world as well, simply because it so much newer than the tales we have seen so far. However, it is so well known that I guess it counts. I, too, liked Regina's comment to Archie -- very cleverly done.

    I'll be interested to see what happens when they start running out of the "classic" stories. Will they resort to Disney's films? So far, I had to look up the story about the trolls under the bridge (I knew there was a story, but couldn't remember the details) but I've known the others.

    This series is moving slowly, but I am enjoying the ride, other than what I consider very self-conscious Lost references. I always get really annoyed when show runners do this. You had a successful show in the past -- congratulations. Move on.


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