Sunday, October 23, 2011

TV Review: "Once Upon a Time"

Let's take another zombie break, shall we? That's the beautiful and talented Lana Parilla as the Evil Queen in ABC's newest series "Once Upon a Time." Parilla's big break came on "Spin City." Since then she's appeared on the failed "Boomtown;" the failed "Swingtown" and the failed "Miami Medical." Sadly, it looks like she's landed another turkey with "Once Upon a Time."

A sequel of sorts to the familiar stories we all grew up with, "Once..." starts with Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) rescuing Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin). On their wedding day, the Evil Queen promises to put a curse on all the fairy-tale characters, sending them "somewhere horrible" (the 'real' world). A pregnant Snow (Disney characters have sex?), unnerved by the prediction, seeks out the imprisoned Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) for advice. He tells her that the daughter she is carrying will save them all on her 28th birthday.

Meanwhile, in modern Boston, Emma Swan ("House" alum Jennifer Morrison) appears to be on a blind date with a handsome rogue. Turns out she's really a bonds person, taking down a creep who skipped out on bail. She arrives home to celebrate her birthday alone with a cupcake when her doorbell rings. There she finds young Henry (Jared Gilmore), a 10 year-old who claims to be the son she gave up for adoption. Begging her to come home with him, Henry explains that Emma holds the key to saving him and everyone else in Storybrooke, Maine from the curse. He says his adoptive mother, the town's mayor (Parilla) doesn't really love him and he knows why. After dropping Henry home, a wolf in the road leads to an accident which keeps Emma in town and after some poking around, she decides to stay for a week at Granny's Bed and Breakfast. There she runs into Mr. Gold (Carlyle) who, Granny explains, owns the town.

Jumping back and forth between the two worlds, "Once Upon a Time" does it's best to create a cohesive story. And because Disney owns ABC, the show uses the Disney character names (Doc; Sleepy; Grumpy; Jimminy Cricket, etc.) with abandon. But try as they may, the writers ("Lost" and Tron: Legacy writers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis) just don't cut it. While the fairy-tale land is gorgeously rendered in terrific CGI with beautiful and elaborate costumes, the whole thing is just too damned silly to be taken seriously. It might have worked if they had taken the characters and set them in the modern world as an allegory, but making them the actual fairy tale characters trapped in the 'real' world, is just ridiculous. 

And before you say "Enchanted" (a movie I loved) to me, I have to say that there is not a hint of comic irony to "Once Upon a Time." We're meant to view this nonsense as a serious dramatic take on the genre. I'm hoping that NBC's upcoming competing fairy-tale series "Grimm" does a better job of it, though I'm dubious.

I'll probably watch "Once Upon a Time" a few more times before I give up on it entirely, but I don't anticipate the show making it past it's first season.

The real losers here are the talented cast, forced to take part in the most ridiculous series in recent memory. while retaining straight faces. *(One Star Out of Four).

And here's the trailer for NBC's competing series, "Grimm"

At least they have the good taste to use a Eurythimics song...

More, anon.


Pax Romano said...

So what you're saying is, I did not miss much not watching it.

Prospero said...

Not in the least.