ONCE UPON A TIME – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
Rating: TV-PG LSV
Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
MSRP: $79.99 but Amazon has the 5 disc set available for $44.49
Running Time: 22 episodes totaling 946 minutes
What’s Going On?
Compelled by her young son Henry, whom she gave up for adoption years ago, Emma Swan is brought to the town of Storybrooke, Maine from Boston. Once there, Henry convinces her that all of Storybrooke’s residents are actually fairytale characters like Snow White, Jiminy Cricket and Little Red Riding Hood and they just don’t know it because the Evil Queen has placed a spell on them and the town. Together, with help from some of the locals, Henry and Emma try and discover the mysteries of Storybrooke and Emma struggles whether or not to believe all of the things going on around her.
Who’s In It:
Created by LOST writers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis and with BUFFY and HUSBANDS writer Jane Espenson serving as a consulting producer and writer for six episodes, ONCE UPON A TIME’s all-star ensemble class includes Ginnifer Goodwin (BIG LOVE), Jennifer Morrison (HOUSE, WARRIOR), Lana Parrilla (24), Josh Dallas (THOR), Robert Carlyle (28 WEEKS LATER, SGU STARGATE UNIVERSE), Jared Gilmore (one of the Bobby Drapers on MAD MEN), Raphael Sbarge (the voice of Kaidan Alenko from the MASS EFFECT games), Meghan Ory (TRUE JUSTICE), Eion Bailey (COVERT AFFAIRS, BAND OF BROTHERS), Jamie Dornan (MARIE ANTOINETTE), Sebastian Stan (CAPTAIN AMERICA), Emilie de Ravin (LOST), Kristin Bauer van Straten (TRUE BLOOD), and Giancarlo Esposito (BREAKING BAD).
If You Like…:
Fairy tales, are a Disney-phile, or enjoy fairies, dragons, princes, swashbuckling, sneaking around, falling into mines, magic books, and poison apples, then check this out.
There’s quite a lot here. Exclusive to the blu-ray is ONCE UPON A TIME: Origins, which does not feature Hugh Jackman, but is hosted by Josh Dallas, OUAT’s Prince Charming. He discusses “Snow White,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Rumpelstiltskin” and, oddly “The Little Mermaid”, all of whom’s characters show up on the season in one way or another. It’s an interesting little tidbit.
FAIRY TALES IN THE MODERN WORLD features the shows creators, and later members of the cast an crew, discussing the roles that fairy tales played in their lives, and how these stories were adapted and changed for the show.
There are five audio commentaries, most of which feature series creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. Actors like Jennifer Goodwin, Josh Dallas, Lana Parrilla, Jennifer Morrison, Robert Carlyle also contribute on various episodes.
Building Character didn’t prove as interesting as I thought it would be. What was meant to illustrate how Belle, who’s played by Emilie de Ravin in the series, came to be in the story, comes off more like “hey, we had this girl in the last show we worked on, so we’ll use her”. What was actually more interesting was the look at the costume department, who recreated real-world interpretations of two of Belle’s dresses from the Disney animated version of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
WELCOME TO STORYBROOKE looks at the real-life town of Stevenston, British Colombia and how it is transformed into Storybrooke and how its residents feel about the show taking over their main street.
There’s also a blooper reel and deleted scenes.
The Technical Gist
While the show is beautifully shot and incredibly scenic at times, some of the CGI work is laughable and I almost think that they could have made it look at little better had they opted for more practical effects. That being said, it’s very polished TV and the elements in the real and fairy tale worlds that are shot on location or on green screen sets look excellent.
I was surprised at how much I liked the show, so much so that I marathoned the entire first season in one day. Its well acted, fun, and bends and blends genre in a way I haven’t seen before. ABC and Disney are the perfect match to create a show like this, because Disney is who most of us associate our childhoods and fairy tales with, so they’re taking the stories we know they told us and tweaking them and blending them together in unique and unexpected ways. The creators are also able to have a little fun with Disney’s Marvel license – look for Captain America’s shield to pop up in one of the show’s later episodes. Since fairy tales seem to be the new vampires, I’d get familiar with ONCE UPON A TIME, which is doing these stories in dramatic and engaging ways that I can guarantee will be better than HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS. I’d say QUEUE IT or watch the entire first season on Hulu for FREE. Also, give Jeremy Renner a hug if you see him.