Sunday, November 4, 2012

Once Upon A Time

Melanie's post about the show The Event got me thinking about my favorite television shows, and how the characters interact and evolve throughout the course of the season.  My top favorite show right now is ABC's Once Upon A Time.

If you're not familiar with it, I'll give you a brief run down.  Emma Swan, a woman with a troubled past, is celebrating her twenty-eighth birthday alone, when out of nowhere, the boy she gave up for adoption ten years prior shows up on her doorstep.  Henry convinces Emma to go with him to his home town of Storybrook, Maine, where he says she is destined to break an evil curse.  Emma has no desire to be a part of this boy's life, but upon meeting Henry's less-than-loving adoptive mother, she decides to stick around and keep an eye on him.

This is where the story really takes off.  You see, the residents of Storybrook are all characters from classic fairy tales.  (Disney fairy tales, to be exact, since Disney gave ABC the green light to use their licenced characters in the show.  How cool, right?)  Henry's mother is none other than the evil queen from Snow White, and she cursed the fairytale world to live in a land without magic, transporting everyone to Storybrook.  None of the residents can remember their past lives, and until Emma arrives, they've been stuck in a timeless existence, unable to leave the town boundaries.

Emma's arrival sends the gears of changes (and the town clock) into motion.  She quickly befriends Mary Margaret Blanchard (Snow White) and even takes a job as deputy sheriff.  She and the evil queen (Regina Mills in Storybrook) are constantly butting heads.  Despite Henry's insistence that the stories in his fairytale book are real, Emma refuses to believe the truth, even when it's standing right in front of her face.  Season one wrapped up with a showdown between Emma and Regina, but I wont go into details in case you haven't seen it yet.

There are a lot of relationships within the show that are fun to watch.  For starters, the way Emma slowly falls in love with Henry, stepping up to be the mother he both needs and deserves, is what drew me into the show in the first place.  I love a good romance, but this mother/son bond is so much sweeter than watching Cinderella or Snow White get her prince.  It's nice to see a show that centers around family in such a unique way.

It's a theme that repeats over and over throughout the first season.  In Storybrook, Snow White's Prince Charming turns out to be a married man.  David (Charming) and Mary Margaret try to fight their inexplicable draw to one another, with varying degrees of success.  I'll admit their relationship in Storybrook annoyed me, but it was tempered with flashes of their past lives together, and that's what got me through their less-than-noble affair.

Or there's the dynamic between Emma and Mary Margaret.  They are friends in Storybrook, but they, too, have a shared past.  Emma, you see, is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming.  She was sent to this world as a baby because of a prophecy that said she would save the kingdom from the queen's curse during her twenty-eighth year.  It's sweet to see these two women interacting, never knowing that once the curse is lifted, they will be the family Emma never had growing up.

I think my favorite character in the show, though, is Rumpelstiltskin.  I don't usually fall in love with the bad guy (and make no mistake, Rumple is involved in some pretty shady business) but I can't help it.  Like most of the characters, Rumple is looking for his family, though the methods he uses are decidedly evil.  Still, as you watch the show, you get bits and pieces of his history, and you find that he's not such a monster after all.  Part of me wants Rumpelstiltskin to succeed, despite his nefarious methods, just to see how that changes him as a character.

Regina, too, is slowly evolving into a good guy, though that doesn't really get going until the second season.  I'm at the point where I don't know who to root for.  There are so many factions, all of them struggling against the others, all with their own motives for doing what they do.  At the moment, the best I can do is hope for a new villain to step up, bringing the factions together to fight against a common enemy.  Though I suppose I'll just have to wait and see.

This is my favorite kind of story.  The one that makes me rethink good and evil.  The characters are three-dimensional.  They are forced to make sacrifices, sometimes for the better, sometimes with unforeseen consequences.  Even the dainty princesses from Disney's original films turn out to be flawed, which makes them just about perfect in my eyes.

So if you're looking for inspiration in developing your characters--heroes, villains, or something in between--check out Once Upon A Time.  (And yes, season one is available on Netflix!)  If you're already a fan, I'm dying to know...who is your favorite character?


  1. Once Upon A Time is the reason I finally broke down and started watching Lost. You probably already know this, but some of the writers on Once Upon A Time were writers on Lost, and there are apparently several little hidden things that hark back to Lost--the clock is a good example. It was stuck on 8:15, which happens to be the flight number of the plane that went down in Lost.

    We're only about half way through season one, because I watch it with my teenagers, and we don't seem to have much time to watch it together. (What with Psych reruns and all...)

    Wow, I sound like a TV fanatic. Great post Trisha!

    1. I might just have to give in and watch Lost, now. :)

  2. I started watching Once Upon a Time, but I fell too far behind and didn't finish last season. I liked it though, great characters. I didn't know it was on Netflix. I'll have to catch up.

    Great Post!!

    1. For season 2, ABC did a 2 hour premier. I was so excited, until the first episode started to play. It was a complete season catch up, and went into all the most important details from season 1. I don't think a show should be able to summarize the major plot points of 22 episodes in a one-hour time block. It's one of the few criticisms I have for the show. But yes, last I checked, it was available on Netflix.

  3. I dig Once Upon A Time, although hesitantly. It's one of those shows I have to just swallow my disbelief in order to enjoy. Also, I don't like what they've done with Belle's character in the last season. She's too dumbly blinded by love for me to care what happens to her.

    I do, however, really like August. He's an interesting character.

    1. Have you been watching season 2 yet? Belle impressed me a few episodes ago. I think she made up for some of her shortcomings in season 1. If you haven't seen it yet, last night's episode featured a new look at August. I am dying to know what was in the box. And where the heck is Balefire? I hope we see him this season.
      There is a lot of suspended disbelief to choke down, but once You get past that (and the sub-par CG) it's a decent show.

    2. Ive seen them all. I think they ended Belles arch at a good place, but took a dumb brunette route to get there.

      August is interesting because he operates outside of the rules.

      Also... Captain Hook? Yummy.

    3. Yes...I'm a huge Hook fan. He's a cutie, that's for sure. But he's also an unknown, and I'm dying to see what happens with him. (Don't side with Cora, Hook!)

      I don't think anyone has gone looking for August since the beginning of season 2. I'll be interested to see who finds him, and how they'll fix him. (They can't leave him like that forever, can they?)

      I was also secretly hoping that Henry's dad would turn out to be Rumple's son. Guess it's still possible, but highly unlikely.

  4. Heh, this is just the latest of many good reviews I've seen of the show. Apparently I really need to start watching!


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