We review the new ABC fantasy TV show by the writers of Lost . . .

STARRING: Jennifer Morrison, Jared Gilmore, Josh Dallas, Lana Parrilla, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jamie Dornan, Robert Carlyle, Raphael Sbarge, Giancarlo Esposito

2011, Directed by: Mark Mylod

The new ABC fantasy TV show Once Upon a Time is marketed as being “by the writers of Lost.”

It however couldn’t be further from Lost. For starters there’s no tropical island . . .

Seriously though, except for Once Upon A Time sharing a serialized format – episodes doesn’t seem to be standalone and viewers will have to tune in each week to see what happens next – Once Upon a Time has (thus far) little in common with Lost.

Also Once Upon A Time seems much less willfully obscure than Lost – something which will no doubt come as a relief to those viewers of Lost who felt that they were simply being strung along by a bunch of writers with no clear plan in mind and who were simply making things up as they went along all those years.

Once Upon a Time takes more than a page from Disney’s Enchanted and the works of Neil Gaiman.

In Fairytale land – or whatever the heck you want to call it – the evil queen (Lana Parrilla) is about to have her revenge on Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) and ruin their “happy ever after” wedding ceremony.

The queen concocts an evil spell that will transport all the fairytale creatures to a most “horrible” place, namely our world. Or, to be more specific, a small town in Stephen King’s state of Maine.

The only person who can save the fairytale folk is Snow White and Prince Charming’s daughter Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) who grew up in the real, i.e. “our”, world. Emma is a street smart 28-year-old woman with her own superpower: she can tell when people are lying to her (that would be handy now, wouldn’t it?).

(In case you were wondering: IMDb.com lists actress Jennifer Morrison as being 32 years old.)

But she has quite a job ahead of her: none of the small-town fairytale creatures caught in the real world actually knows that they are in reality banished mythological beings. And not only is the evil queen also the mayor of the small town, but the duplicitous Rumpelstiltskin (the excellent Robert Carlyle fresh from the failed SGU) is also lurking about . . .

Once Upon a Time is quite a bit of fresh air. Unlike most genre TV shows it isn’t about a group of law enforcement officials investigating needlessly complicated murders or UFOs abducting cows – thus far.

The show boasts a great premise – that of mythological creatures rubbing shoulders with people in the “real” world (just like in Gaiman’s celebrated Sandman graphic novels). However one wonders just how sustainable it would be. Once Upon a Time may make for a great miniseries, but will it last, let’s say seven seasons? Does it have “legs” as they say?

In short
the show is off to a good start. It just might be the ideal weekly fix for genre fans tired of gore. It is still early days but in its first episode Once Upon a Time has shown enough promise to make one want to tune again in future, which is more than one can say of the pilot episodes of some recent high profile genre TV offerings. Yeah, we’re looking at you here Falling Skies and Terra Nova!


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Category: Reviews, TV

About the Author

James has been running The Sci-Fi Movie Page since Before the Beginning of Time Itself (TM), i.e. since the site's inception in 1997. In addition to sci-fi James also likes 1970s motorbikes and chili dogs although he doesn't own the former and no longer eats the latter. He currently resides in Kiev, Ukraine for reasons best left unexplained.

  • Federico Kereki

    The FABLES comic books also come to mind.

  • Anonymous

    You’re right. I clean forgot about those . . .

  • interdimensioner11

    I hope it doesn’t end-ep like,well, Lost



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