Being a college student, I have time now to watch many of my favorite shows. I don’t have a bias on genre or actor preference. While there are many great shows I have seen, the one that has captured and held my attention is ABC’s Once Upon a Time. Before I review the show, I think it is important to share a little about the review, about myself. I am English Lit major, who enjoys reading and watching popular television shows on my days off, or whenever there is spare time in the day. I particularly love the shows that are fictional—in other words, ones that have a more fantastical element to it. More so, I am a sucker for creativity. Crazy about it even! I’m also into fan fiction from popular works, especially if the work is brilliantly crafted and plausible to the original story. What does this have to do with a television review, is what you’re probably wondering. Well, that is what Once Upon a Time is.
What is it that makes this show different, addictive, and a joy to watch?
Most shows, while very entertaining to watch, are pretty repetitious in nature, though that is never the intention. We should by now be bored with this phenonmenon, but for some reason, the audiences hardly ever feel that way. Perhaps it’s because we have a need for a comfort zone; it’s our nature to crave the familiarity, the safety of predictability. There are probably many crime shows, teen dramas, reality television shows, and paranormal romances out there. That’s not a bad thing, but after a while, it gets a bit redundant. Though the actors change, and maybe the sequence of the plot twists and the story lines may have some variations, I was personally getting a little bored, craving something new. That was until the conception of Once Upon a Time. It is a new, creative show that is original, different, new.
The series takes place in two scenes, the fictional town of Storybrooke, Maine, and The Enchanted Forest, where the residents are fairytale characters from various famous literary works, most notably Grimm’s Fairytales, though in current seasons, new characters have hailed from Disney, Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland and Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In the early part of the series, the characters are cursed, thus banishing them to our world, where they are to remain trapped forever, without a happy ending. They loose sight of who they are, were in their old lives, and are in need of a savior to restore their happily ever after. (I don’t want to dive into too much, because a pet peeve is spoiler alters!)
As an English Lit major college student, I do a lot of reading and have taken classes that require reading many beautiful pieces of work. Because of the practice of reading, a guilty pleasure is reading the Original Literary Works—which encompases the original fairytale stories. The reason why I am hooked on Once Upon a Time is because it is the creation of an ingenious interpretation of a great piece of literature, a beautifully crafted twist and story crafting. Even the idea to shake the traditional stories up is brilliant and revolutionary in itself. I am not saying that this is a mainstream fan fiction off of Grimm’s fairytales. However, to take something as historic and priceless as these stories to create something new, risky and bold is not only admirable, but it is enjoyable. If you love fan fiction, or love the original fairytale stories, the interpretations that make the show are quite moving, as well as creative, which catches the eye.
While it is true that a show like this has never been done before—which is a huge part of its charm—that is not the show’s only redeeming quality. The story lines are creative, interesting, and twists to references of other stories original ingenious. As you watch the show, and compare it to any of the referenced original works, you can see the cleverness of the script, and the well-crafted use of these references to make an interesting story line.
The show also provides a few lessons and moral inquiries that viewers can apply to their own lives, even if they don’t believe they can. Though they apply to a more fictional scenario, for instance, being separated by your soul mate by some supernatural force, or making a deal with magic, the root of these ideals are simple, and applicable to our own reality. My favorite lesson is that love is always worth fighting for, even if the most hopeless of times. I’m not saying that the show is like my new go-to for love advice. But the intimacy of the characters, the ability to relate on a personal level leaks into my life, and I can make it better by trying to apply the things I learned.
Expanding on the creativity, the show is full of it! This ranges from the costume designs of the fairytale aspect of the show—heck even the normal attire of the characters in our world is stylish and chic—to the special effects and fantastical scenery that is used to create these worlds.
The show itself has had an amazing potential from its start, as well as a refreshing tone and outlet from the other shows. It still has its wonderful and energetic pace of entertainment, and still manages to hold onto its hooked audience. Yes, we could do without all the mini panic attacks from the cliff hangers until the next episode, but we can’t always get everything we want. The question is that since the show has such a great run, will it run out? As a faithful fan, I am in doubt that the show will have a case of even the slightest burnout. Once Upon a Time already demonstrates so much potential and actual success, with a great pilot episode to the current one. It really gets to the point without giving everything away, while maintaining the audience’s attention throughout the long, dreary wait that is every week, until Sunday at 8pm (or when it’s posted on the web).
Generally, the program is showing generally favorable reviews, most being positive. The ratings are currently updated, and upon research, still hold a desire to watch the show. But don’t take my word, or theirs, as your sole source. As our parental figures and role models once said, you won’t like it until you try it! And should you decide to give the show a chance, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.