Once Upon a Curse

Welcome to Parallel Tuesdays, where magic and science are two sides of the same coin…

What if your happily ever after was taken away along with everyone you ever loved? What if you were ripped from your world and imprisoned forever, without hope or even the memory of hope? What if your one chance at freedom didn’t even believe in happy endings?

That’s the premise of the new ABC show Once Upon a Time. Jealous of Snow White’s happily ever after with Prince Charming, the Evil Queen works a terrible curse on the fairytale world, trapping the inhabitants, including Snow White, Prince Charming, Little Red Riding Hood, PinocchioGepetto, Jiminy Cricket and Rumpelstiltskin,  in Storybrooke, Maine, a seemingly idyllic small town in our world, without their memories and without hope. Only Snow White’s daughter Emma Swann, now a tough bail bondsperson, can save them but she has no idea who she really is.

The cast of characters and their dual realities are intriguing:

  • Emma Swann (Jennifer Morrison)- Snow White and Prince Charming’s daughter. When her parents learned that she would one day save them all from the curse, they hid her in a magic wardrobe built by Gepetto. Emma comes through into the human world beside a freeway and winds up in the foster system. She grows up, has a son of her own, who she place for adoption, and becomes a beautiful but tough bail bondsperson. On her 28th birthday, she’s drawn to Storybrooke by her son Henry.
  • Henry (Jared Gilmore) – Emma Swann’s son, placed for adoption at birth and adopted by Regina, mayor of Storybrooke and really the Evil Queen. Given a book of fairy tales by his teacher, he learns of the curse and how his biological mother can save them. He tracks Emma down and convinces her to return to Storybrooke with him.
  • Snow White/Mary Margaret Blanchard (Ginnifer Goodwin) – Becomes a schoolteacher in Storybrook and is the only one who seems to still believe in happily ever afters even though she’s forgotten her own.
  • Prince Charming/John Doe (Joshua Dallas) – Having suffered a serious sword wound after hiding his and Snow White’s daughter Emma in a magic wardrobe, he becomes a comatose man in the hospital who Snow visits but doesn’t remember.
  • The Evil Queen/Regina Mills (Lana Parrilla) – Becomes mayor of Storybrooke and adoptive mother of Emma’s son Henry.
  • Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle)- Creepy in both fairytale and human form. He runs the town of Storybrooke, Maine and holds power over Emma because Snow White traded Emma’s name for Rumple’s prophecy that Emma would save them from the curse.

I was charmed by the story idea and the visuals but disappointed by the pacing. I wanted to be able to get a feel for the characters as they are in our world, their melancholy and sense that something is not quite right but they are helpless to change it. I wanted a tantalizing taste of the backstory and not a great big helping. I wanted to be guessing a little, sucked in by the mystery and dark atmosphere. But the backstory, or a large chunk of it, was revealed so quickly that it felt like TMI on a first date.

Still, some pilots get off to a bumpy start before the series takes off. I see a lot of potential in the story. I’m definitely going to keep watching.

Did you catch the pilot episode? What did you think? Where do you think the story will go from here?

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24 thoughts on “Once Upon a Curse

  1. Great post! Did you see how ripped Jennifer Morrison got for this show? Her arms look amazing! I’m so excited to see where the series goes.

  2. I’m so intrigued by this upcoming show! Did I miss the first episode?? I thought I’d be able to catch it! I’ll be so upset if it’s been missed! What a super cool concept!

  3. I missed the pilot!? I’ve been looking forward to see it. I’m going to search for it online before the next episode. Maybe, as the series continues, the pacing will pick up – especially since it seems the backstory has already been dealt with. One can hope!

    • I definitely think there’s a good chance for it to pick up. I’m going to stick with it and find out. Even if just because the characters are cool. :D

  4. I missed it on Sunday and of course got blocked by ABC because I’m not in the USA (thankfully the Cdn CTV has it on their website) so I watched the pilot last night with my girls. Loved it. My girls loved it. They are just aching to see Snow and Prince Char get back together because of course, those two always get a HEA. I love the new twist on the old idea – for adults. I didn’t mind the flashbacks – but I’m hoping we got one big helping at the start and then won’t get so much here on after. I mean, really, there’s not much more to tell other than reveal the fairytale character’s lives after the curse took affect. I expect we’ll learn more about John Doe, the teacher, Emma and Regina as time goes on – they’ve started many threads so I’m excited to see where it goes.

    • Bummer about ABC. But it’s great the episodes are available online too. I don’t get CW but I like to watch the Ringer. So I have to watch it online. Means I’m behind a couple of days but that’s ok.

      I definitely think it’ll be interesting to see where the story goes from here. :D

  5. You can watch it online; I’d missed part of it and went back for the rest.

    I enjoyed it. I like the premise of fairy tale/real life cross over. I agree with you, way too much back story. But very curious to find out how long ABC draws out Emma’s ‘savior’ quest. This could get old real fast.

    • I love that so much is availble online (without copyright infringement). Makes it so much more convienent.

      I hear you on the quest. It’s hard to imagine the story being able to carry very many seasons. But who knows. There could be lots of surprises in store. I do like the idea of Emma being the saviour rather than a knight in shining armor. :D

  6. For those who missed it: It’s also available on IMDB.com.

    I agree that there was too /much/ flashback. Given how much effort the marketing department put into telling us that this is by the guys who wrote Lost, I rather expected more mystery.

    Maybe they’re recovering from the backlash against Lost, and figured that rather than never explaining ANYTHING, they should go ahead and give us some details right out of the gate so that the same complaints don’t get leveled against them for this show.

    • Great tip on IMDB.com. Thanks! Yeah, Lost was kind of slow in developing. There has to be a balance. Hopefully they’ll find it as they go along.

  7. I am really interested in seeing this. I’ll try to catch it online since I missed the premiere. Thanks for the outline!

    • I get so excited when paranormal and fantasy type shows come out. I love a good police procedural and all but give me something enchanted and I’m thrilled. LOL

  8. This one’s on my DVR. Bummer about the backstory, but I’ve noticed a lot of new shows trying to cram a lot into the pilot. Then in later episodes they get in the groove. I’ll be watching it this week.

    • I wonder if they’re trying too hard to hook folks by craming all that in. Or maybe they’re trying to tell too much story in a few episodes. I don’t know how many are planned for this season. Then again, Game of Thrones seemed to capture that just-right pacing and backstory reveal in its first episode and it only had 10 episodes total, I think. And the first season of Walking Dead had 6. Anyway, I’m willing to stick with the show so far.

  9. I saw lots of previews for it but I only caught the pilot by chance. I liked some of the clever ways the characters were woven into the story (e.g. the dwarf Doc being the doctor . . . and was that wolf on the road hinting at the Big Bad?) but on the whole I’m afraid I wasn’t too impressed. I might check up on it now and then to see how it’s doing. And I’m sorry, but I find that Emma looks a little older than her supposed 28 years.

    • I agree about Emma, which is ironic in that Jennifer Morrison herself is only 32. She’s not aging well. I first noticed it in Star Trek (2009), and now this.

  10. Pingback: Red Riding Hood: A Movie Review | Movie Star News As It Happens

  11. We watched the pilot. I was excited about the show. I don’t think my wife will like it that much, as she’s not as much into fantasy as I am. It seems very much like “Fables,” the graphic novel by Bill Willingham. I’ve enjoyed that series very much (not caught up on it, though). I have a friend who said that he had sold the rights, so it could be that “Once Upon A Time” is loosely based on “Fables.” It will be interesting to see where they take it from here. I’m a little confused about what effect the wardrobe had when Emma was put into it as a baby.

  12. Sara Grambusch

    Interesting perspective. I liked the show but I had really low expectations so they were easily exceeded. I think the real test will be the second episode. I think it’s going to be markedly better or markedly worse. I hope the show continues because it’s something different but I don’t think fairy tales in prime time are sustainable in today’s entertainment world. I assume it will be cancelled before next year.

  13. I loved the first episode, but like you, I wanted more of the new “reality” in which they live and a little less backstory–keep it a mystery for a while longer. But I was definitely hooked. And knowing it comes out of the same minds that did LOST, I have no doubt that there will be plenty of mystery ahead.

  14. Great topic Sonia! I watched the pilot episode too. I was excited by the premise. But I think my reaction was close to yours. There was enough there to watch it again to see where it’s going, but I feel like they left some “awesome” on the table. It was almost really cool, but instead came across as surprisingly bland. You know the difference in quality between a tv commercial for a BMW and one for Chevy Malibu? One has better music, better cinematography and better ad copy read by the better voice over guy. I kept wanting that BMW level of show, but it was much more Malibu.

  15. Pingback: Once upon a Time-Snow White & Prince Charming « afterhourstelevision

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