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Once Upon a Time: Pilot

“This is my happy ending.”

Once Upon a Time set itself a mammoth task by taking on the beloved fables that are the classic fairytales we all know. There was so much that could have gone wrong if the writers didn’t approach it right, turning what could have been an epic fantasy into an incoherent mess. Fortunately, this was one of the most original, charming, exciting, and amazing starts to any series I’ve ever seen.

This pilot was absolutely nuts, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. The characters were animated, but not in a horrible stereotype kind of way, the writing was light and fluffy but not the wrong kind of cheesy, and all of the performances were on-point. Jennifer Morrison is effortlessly cool as Emma, exuding a strong charisma, but just enough softness to expose a sensitive side; Snow White is undeniably charming (if only Mary Margaret was as endearing); and Lana Parrilla sizzles as the evil queen, Regina. I’ve also never seen someone having as much fun as Robert Carlyle who is delightfully creepy and over-animated as Rumpelstiltskin.

My favorite part was seeing Emma meet Henry, this young child that she knows nothing about, but shares something incredibly deep with. There’s an obvious chemistry between them, and Jared Gilmore is a delightful little cast, no matter what anyone says. I’ve always had a penchant for seeing relationships like this blossom, when you know it’s destined to develop into something incredibly strong. You know the end result, but sometimes it’s more about the journey itself, not the destination. I suppose the same can be said for a story like this. We all know they’ll live “Happily Ever After,” it’s just a case of how they’ll get their happy endings.

When you take something that you would initially pen as movie material and change it to TV format, budgetary constraints will obviously become a serious problem. A believable scope for this story had to be achieved on a fraction of a film budget, and it was near perfect. The imagery was striking and the scenery looked cinematic, the first scene is what caught my eye in particular. Of course, it wasn’t all perfect, and some aspects of it were little too green-screeny to work that well, but on the whole it was a nice first impression.

All of the paralleling stories were undeniably clever and couldn’t have been more fun. I loved how they all had their own ‘real world’ selves, and how all of what happened in the ‘fairytale world’ translated over. Price Charming in the hospital got to me; I’m guessing there’s a lot of star-crossed stuff coming him and Snow’s way. The pilot really got me excited to see where this whole battle to free the characters will go, too. There’s bucket-loads of potential here, and it’ll be interesting to see how they’ll run with it.

This pilot isn’t just an ode to all of the well known fairytales, it’s a clever re-incarnation that does a wonderful job of not only blending the two seemingly opposing types of stories, but also breathing life into them in a way that I would have never thought a TV series could.

Plus

Some cool Lost references thrown in throughout this episode; Emma’s eye opening in the middle in particular.

Mark Isham’s score is beautifully composed, and it’s so fitting for a show like this.

He Said, She Said

Snow: “You found me!”
Charming: “Did you ever doubt I would?”
Snow: “Truthfully, the glass coffin gave me pause.”

Emma: “There’s not a lot I’m great at in life, but I’ve got one skill. It’s a super-power: I can tell when any one is lying."

Regina: “In the last decade, while you’ve been – well, who knows what you’ve been doing – I’ve changed every diaper, soothed every fever, endured every tantrum. You may have given birth to him, but he is my son.”

Snow: “Why did you do this?”
Regina: “Because this is my happy ending.”

Snow: “Good will always win.”
Regina: “We’ll see about that...”

Emma: “Who’s that?”
Ruby: “That’s Mr Gold, he owns this place.”
Emma: “The inn?”
Granny: “No, the town.”

Note: This review was written just after the pilot aired, so things may seem a little different now.

Four out of four evil curses.

Previously posted at PandaTV.

3 comments:

  1. I saw adverts for this show and thought it looked neat, so I gave it a try. I'm up to Episode 16 now and loving every minute of it. The first episode had me hooked, and I think it was great.

    They did a really good job casting the actors they did for this. I actually laughed and pointed at the screen when I saw Bra'tac. And just think - if Stargate Universe hadn't been cancelled, we'd wouldn't have Robert Carlyle giving a great performance as Rumpelstiltskin. Which would be a shame, because he's my favourite character in this show, and I'm loving Once Upon a Time way more than Universe.

    I'd give it four out of four as well. Just wonderful.

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  2. I'm so jealous that you get to watch the series all in one big run, Alice! I'm glad you're enjoying it though. Make sure to comment back and let me know what you think of the rest of the season =)

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  3. I'm watching this on Netflix with my son. I almost stopped watching as it seemed the fairy tales were Disney's version. As we've gotten further in the series (up to episode 14, I think), it's getting better and better.

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