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Once Upon a Time – One episode & I’m hooked

Sure, the premise of this high concept 'Once Upon a Time' drama is convoluted, but it got some of its DNA from 'Lost' so I'm willing to stick around.

- Season 1, Episode 1 - "Pilot"

Once Upon a Time is a big, primetime gamble. It has a lot of moving parts on which viewers are expected to keep tabs. There are allusions and connections to be noticed and motivations to be uncovered.

In other words, it’s not a simple procedural that makes it easy for its audience. And with the TV landscape littered with attempts to reinvent the multi-layered LostThe Event being among the latest shows to try — this drama, which puts a novel twist on fairy tales, is a risk, but it’s one I’m willing to take, at least based on the promising pilot episode and given the fact that Lost scribes are on board.

Now, you’ve got to be a fan of donning your thinking cap if you’re going to try to enjoy Once Upon a Time, plus you’ll need to give the show a little time to ramp up and get its sea legs. As with Lost, viewers will first need to buy into the premise and then the show needs to deliver.

Here’s the premise (you might want a pencil and paper to graph it all out): The Evil Queen from the Snow White tale has put a curse on all the fairy tale characters who lived in the enchanted forest and she has condemned them to live in a modern day New England town named Storybrooke, where time stands still for the characters who have no memory of their prior fairy tale lives. Only one character escaped the Queen’s curse, but we’ll get to her in a minute.

This means that now, in the post-curse world, Snow White (played by Ginnfer Goodwin from Big Love) is Mary Margaret, a melancholy Storybrooke, Maine teacher. Her beloved Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) has been reduced to a comatose man with no name who lies in a hospital bed at Storybrooke General Hospital. Mary Margaret seems drawn to him but doesn’t know why.

Meanwhile, the baby that Snow White and Prince Charming had very shortly before the Evil Queen’s curse went into effect was saved from the nasty spell by being magically transported to the modern day world, but that meant she was essentially abandoned by her parents (kind of like Superman). Now, that baby has grown up to be 28-year-old Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison from House) who is lured to Storybrooke by the boy she gave up for adoption 10 years earlier (oh, the irony). That boy, Henry, has been adopted by … drum roll please … The Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla from Swingtown), known as Regina in the modern day, alternate universe.

Henry even has Mary Margaret (his frozen-in-time grandmother) as a teacher. She’s the one who gave him the book of fairy tales that led him to track down his birth mother Emma. (Confused yet?) Henry pleaded with his bail bondswoman birth mother to bring him back to Storybrooke where he’s convinced she’ll break the Evil Queen’s spell, and indeed, the frozen clock in the town square started to move the moment Emma checked into a dusty local inn. Henry persuaded Emma to stay by telling her that Regina, the mayor of Storybrooke, doesn’t love him and is cruel (she is the Evil Queen in a suburban mom’s clothing after all).

Complicated? Absolutely. Balancing two different eras — the fairy tale era and the modern day era where the characters have different names and jobs — is tricky business, as was Lost’s flash-forwards, sideways-flashes and time traveling storylines. But if done well and in a way that makes sense within the confines of the story, viewers will stick around. However if they start meandering, if the stories no longer make sense within the world the writers created, viewers will flee.

I’m willing to give this show a chance and am even programming “record entire series” on my DVR. Hopefully it’ll be good enough to last that long.

Photo Credit: Jack Rowand/ABC

11 Responses to “Once Upon a Time – One episode & I’m hooked”

October 24, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Do you think the magical wardrobe was a nod to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe?

October 24, 2011 at 4:53 PM

I thought this was really cute. I hope this show gets some high numbers. Ruby, I seem to recall an enchanted tree trunk from my youth
that was not C.S Lewis but now I can’t recall where it came from. . .

October 25, 2011 at 8:37 PM

13 million viewers and a 4.0 in the demo is huge. Now lets see how fall it will fall.

October 26, 2011 at 8:19 PM

I am guessing 7 million could be a reality. I guess we will see. I am glad that Carlyle is working.

October 24, 2011 at 5:09 PM

I too cannot wait for this to unfold..I loved it! My eyes were darting all over the screen trying to take it all in, to see the links between the old era and the new one. Loved the Mayor offering the apple cider and then having the apples on the table. I’m wondering why she crossed over keep an eye on everyone?

October 26, 2011 at 1:17 AM

Loved it!! I hope it stays on…can’t wait to see it unfold…:)

October 26, 2011 at 1:54 AM

So how does a baby grow to be a 10-year-old child if time is standing still for everyone?

October 26, 2011 at 11:39 AM

Perhaps as he was born in our time verses fairy time, he wasn’t part of the curse – hence his ability to grow, leave the town and find his birth mom.

October 28, 2011 at 1:00 PM

I think so, too.

October 30, 2011 at 9:04 PM

I loved this show. Looking forward to next Sunday!

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