Once Upon a Time Review

Once Upon a Time is a 2011 fantasy drama television series created by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Robert Carlyle, Josh Dallas, and Jared S. Gilmore.  Set in the fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine, the series follows various fairy-tale characters who were transported to the “real world” and robbed of their original memories by a powerful curse.


Positives:

  • Great performances
  • Great cast
  • Great music
  • Memorable, well-written characters
  • Complex storylines
  • Clever writing

Negatives:

  • Cgi is crappy at times
  • Repetitive subplots

Plot:  Emma Swan, a bail bondsman, is brought to the fictitious seaside town of Storybrooke, by the arrival of her son, Henry Mills.  While in Storybrooke, she discovers that the citizens are fairy-tale characters who were transported to the real world and robbed of their original memories by a powerful curse cast by the mayor, and Henry’s adoptive mother, Regina Mills.  The story is very engaging with so many twists and turns. How the series presents the main stories mixed with the many subplots is done masterfully.  Some stories feel a little recycled but there are done separate enough to make them unique.  (4 out of 5)

Characters: If there’s one thing this series has its great, well-written characters. Nearly every character is written with care with interesting characteristics, great backstories, and understandable motivations. There is also a great focus on the minor characters making them standout in the certain episodes or certain storylines. Familiar faces from fairytales and Disney classics as well as originals make an appearance. Emma Swan is the main protagonist, who comes to Storybrooke after meeting her son, Henry Mills.  Emma’s a strong female protagonist though at times she can be incredibly stubborn.  There are her parents, Prince Charming and Snow White, and they are the perfect match.  What one lacks the other has and vice versa.  No one presents the aspect of true love more than these two.  The best character is Regina Mills, who’s spent her life as the Evil Queen but undergoes a strong developing arc, possibly the most prominent of all the characters.  There is also Rumplestiltskin, who easily steals the show.  His Mr. Gold persona isn’t as entertaining and can be a frustrating with how back-and-forth he is.  There are so many characters that it’s hard not to like them.  Even with the villains.  They are bad but like the heroes want to have their happy ending. (5 out of 5)

Cast: The performances are just done brilliantly with the main cast consisting of Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White), Jennifer Morrison (Emma Swan), Lana Parrilla (Evil Queen), Josh Dallas (Prince Charming), Jared S. Gilmore (Henry Mills), Robert Carlyle (Rumplestiltskin), Colin O’Donoghue (Killian Jones), and Emilie de Ravin (Belle). Love the chemistry between the cast and it doesn’t end there.  There are a lot of other great performances including Rebecca Mader (Zelena), Meghan Ory (Red Riding Hood), Sean Maguire (Robin Hood), Lee Arenberg (Grumpy), Keegan Connor Tracy (Blue Fairy), Jamie Chung (Mulan), Rose McIver (Tinker Bell), Greg Germann (Hades), and Jaime Murray (Black Fairy) to name just a few.  But what’s so great is how well the casting is.  Most of the cast fit their roles near perfectly. (5 out of 5)

Visuals: The visuals are highly appealing, establishing the high production.  The fantastic costume and makeup designs re-imagine these classic characters into a more stylish look. The outfits that the Evil Queen wears is fashionable, yet sexy.  Elsa looks seven levels of sexy, the Wicked Witch of the West looks awesome, Rumplestiltskin…no one is fresher in style than Rumplestiltskin.  The cgi is a bit of a mixed bag but as the series progresses it does get better. The spells have enough quality to look good.  Good settings such as the Enchanted Forest, Oz, Neverland, Wonderland, and Storybrooke make for a deep world. (4 out of 5)

Score: The music and sound effects are just on point.  Mark Isham does a great job with the score.  The opening sequence has a mysterious tone to it. In the twentieth episode of the sixth season, “The Song in Your Heart“, there are several songs sang by the cast that are just brilliantly done. It is strong with the emotional themes while keeping a magical element. (4 out of 5)

Writing:  The writing is honestly the most standout part of the series.  How characters and stories are interconnected just shows how beautifully crafted and brilliantly written the series is.  The various subplots and mini-dramas are looped in intricate weaves that not only tie characters and events together but also allows room for the introduction of new characters and subplots.  One of the things I wished they did differently is how the major stories are played out.  Every season the heroes have to deal with atleast two or three antagonists.  Sometimes they feel a little rushed too.  Also, I would’ve liked to have seen more badass moments by the antagonists.  Hades was an interesting badguy but I never got the feeling that he was as big a threat as he was perceived.  Another character who doesn’t do too well are characters like Maleficent, Ursula, Peter Pan, Jafar, or Mr. Hyde.  The most prominent has to be Regina, Cora, Zelena, and Rumplestiltskin. Also, there are some story elements that feel underutilized or recycled.  The entire series Rumplestiltskin is going back-and-forth about being a douchebag.  It wouldn’t be so bad if we hadn’t seen so many of the villians turn over a new leaf while he continuously does the same thing over and over.  (4 out of 5)


The Verdict:  In the end, Once Upon a Time is one of the best fairytale television series and a damn good one at that.  Yeah, some of the subplots are repetitive and the cgi can be crappy but it does get better.  However, this series features a great ensemble of terrific actors, large roster of great characters, a good score, good makeup and costume designs, and creative writing.  Once Upon a Time gets 4 out of 5.

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