Once Upon a Time: A Fairy Tale BeginningS

Everything these days that isn't about vampires is about fairy tales. There's 18 Snow White movies coming out, that awful Little Red Riding Hood movie no one saw, and two fairy-tale related shows on TV this fall. ABC's Once Upon a Time came a-courting first. Was it a happily ever after or a poisoned apple?

Brian Moylan: I have to say I was really excited for this show and was a little let down by the execution. First of all, the concept is deliriously convoluted. In the "enchanted forest," the Evil Queen from Snow White put a curse on all the fairy tale characters who live there and cast them into the real world. They're all trapped in a town in Maine called Storybrooke and time there doesn't pass. They've all forgotten their past lives and magical powers. But wait! The daughter of Snow White will come to town and free them. That's what the prophesy tells. Her daughter is a lonely orphan named Emma who is a tough bail bondsperson (she's like Not a Dog: Bounty Hunter) and her biological son that she put up for adoption brings her to town to save everyone. God, it's so much. It's so confusing, I don't think I even understand it. And it all comes off a little cheesy. However, 12-year-old Brian would have been positively obsessed with this show, and that's the only thing that will keep me watching it.

Richard Lawson: Yes, there's a very Disney (it's ABC, after all) nostalgia factor at work in the show that I think will keep me watching at least the next episode or two. For me it was most closely reminiscent of the Brandy Cinderella from 1997. (Whitney!) It just reminded me of a time when networks, ABC especially, would do these big, broad, sweeping family entertainments during primetime. I like that the show is so roundly uncynical. And they've cast the right people to pull that off. Ginnifer Goodwin, as Snow White turned kindly teacher in Storybrooke, is the perky elf woman to end all perky elf women; Jennifer Morrison, as Snow White's daughter, does a good job of playing tough babe in a way that isn't too much for kids (she references booze once, and that's about it); and Lana Parrilla is a perfectly gentle villainess. It's fun that the show is lady-centric, though I suppose that's true of most fairytales. As for the men, it's really not worth talking about anyone but the North Irish rogue that is Jamie Dorman, as the town's sheriff. Happily ever after indeed. So yes, I found it silly and square and all that, but that's kind of all right once in a while? Like you said, I'm sure there are kids out there who already love it. I say let them have their Sunday night fun. My question, though, is this: Does the show settle into a fairytale of the week type thing, or is it going to solely be serialized mythology? If it's the latter, I think this ultimately would have played better as a miniseries. But, sigh, network TV doesn't really do those anymore, do they?

Brian: I was thinking the same thing, like when NBC did those crazy Merlin miniseries and stuff. This would have been so good like that. And it's one of the many shows this season (see also: Ringer, Revenge) that I just can't see where it's going in the long term. What happens after they've "awoken" all the familiar fairy tales like Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Pinochio, Cinderella, etc and then they have to settle on the bargain basement ones that no one really remembers except from Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theater. I'm sure Thumbellina is a great person and all, but do I really want to find out all about her? Not really. But, yeah, I'm going to stick with this show for a little bit, at least to feed the 12 year-old fantasy loving child inside. But why does it have to be on Sunday? Everything is on Sunday now. Or Wednesday. Why can't the networks just give Sunday to AMC and HBO already. This is more than my DVR can take.

Richard: Ha, I was just saying to someone the other day that I wish they'd just bring back Faerie Tale Theater and call it a day. This is not going to be Sunday appointment television, I don't think (though it could be a good post-Walking Dead palate cleanser — I'm sick of having zombie dreams), but I'll keep up with it in some capacity. At least until they get to Sleeping Beauty. I mean, Maleficent! I'm going to start a campaign to have Illeana Douglas play her. Or Shelley Duvall.