Behind the Times TV Reviews: Once Upon a Time

Yes, I realize I’m (again) behind the times on these TV reviews. What can I say? Not having television makes it kind of difficult to watch new shows. Not impossible–there’s Hulu and the like–but difficult enough that I don’t typically waste time with a show until the first season at least is over. That way, I can hear if it was worth my while or not.

Once Upon a Time is a show that I’ve heard good things about. Or is it Grimm that I’ve heard good things about? I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that Once is available to stream now, so Denisa and I gave it a shot. (Plus, it supposedly takes place in Maine, which perked my ears.)

My thoughts? It’s fairly intriguing. Lighter fare than I usually prefer, but I do enjoy the play off between the fairy tales and the real world stuff. For those of you who don’t know, the premise is that “all the people from fairy tales” got cursed to be stuck in time perpetually in Maine–unaware of who they really are. Some odd things that stand out to me:

  • The fairy tales are a mixture of all sorts of different Western European backgrounds, with a multicultural twist forced into them. Fairy tales and legends are one area where multiculturalism feels . . . off. Cinderella is German, folks. And not modern-German. Medieval German. And that means she’d probably be more than a little freaked if her fairy godmother wasn’t white. The solution to providing a multicultural slant to these fairy tales isn’t to introduce token people of color, but maybe (dare I say it?) to branch out and present fairy tales from places other than Western Europe? I know. Pretty extreme. But it bugs me that they specifically state the fairy tale people are from “all” of the various tales, and then only present the ones most familiar to American audiences. (Though I get why, but still . . . lame.)
  • Actually, the one thing that ties all these tales together is that they’ve all been Disney-fied. Which makes sense, since the show airs on ABC, which is owned by Disney. And so you don’t have generic dwarfs in Snow White. You’ve got Grumpy. And you’ve got Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty. But it’s all so subtle . . . to me, they should have gone all-in (ala Enchanted) or not at all. But I tend to take my fairy tales pretty seriously.
  • The plots tend to be a tad predictable, which is too bad, and the acting . . . leaves me hanging some of the time. But I’m only five episodes in so far, and I’m still watching. So obviously it hasn’t turned me off too much.
  • This takes place in Maine? Really? Why? They make a point of saying it’s in Maine each episode, but there’s absolutely nothing about it yet that says “Maine” at all. Sure, there are some trees, but I’m told trees exist in places other than Maine. No visitors from out of the city. No Maine accents. All I can think of is that they decided Maine sounded exotic, so . . . they went with it. The Jessica Fletcher/Murder She Wrote approach.
If all that stuff is bugging me, then why am I still watching?
  • I’m a sucker for fairy tales, plain and simple. I enjoy seeing what they’re doing to flesh them out and make the characters more realistic.
  • It’s done by the same people who did Lost (some of them), and . . . I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
  • It’s improving from episode to episode. Sometimes it takes shows like this a while to get their legs under them. Too many good shows get canceled too soon these days. I have hopes that things continue to improve.
So I ask you, oh viewers from the future–do things get better? Do you all like the show, too? Or was it Grimm I was hearing good things about, after all? Do share . . . 

2 thoughts on “Behind the Times TV Reviews: Once Upon a Time”

  1. Once Upon a Time is good, but SLOW. REALLY slow. I kind of wish I’d watched it all in one go, because not enough happened from week to week, yet I was addicted at the same time. It has its faults, but the way the stories intertwine, both in the present day and the backstory (very Lost-ish storytelling there, with the backstory structure, which happens in every episode)–it all works, eventually. It just takes a very, very long time to get there. And I’m really looking forward to the new season, which premiers this week, if I remember right.

    Grimm is pretty good, too, but also has its own flaws. It does look Portland-ish, at least (Oregon, not Maine), inasmuch as I believe it’s filmed in Vancouver, and at least it looks like the Pac NW, even if it isn’t *quite* Portland, the way that shows supposedly set in Seattle really don’t look like Seattle either.

    By the way, your captcha is *really* hard to read. I had to refresh it 4 or 5 times to get it to come up with something distinguishable as English.

  2. CAPTCHA now turned off. I never see it as an admin for the blog, so I didn’t know it was being pesky.

    Glad to hear the show stays good. I remember you talking about it, actually–one of the reasons I started giving it a go. So thanks for the roundabout recommendation. 🙂

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