Once Upon A Time Season 1

Once Upon A Time Season 1

(M) WDHE DVD

Once upon a time, the evil Queen Regina sought revenge on Snow White for ruining her life. And so she used a terrible curse to banish everyone, including Snow White and her Prince Charming, from the fairytale world into the “real-world” town of Storybrooke, Maine, without their memories so that only she could have her happy ending.

However many years later, a mysterious saviour named Emma arrived in Storybrooke, brought there by her long-lost son Henry to break the curse and free the kingdom.

On the surface, Once Upon A Time seems like another run-of-the-mill offering in the increasingly popular fairytale reboot genre with a corny-sounding “real-world crossover” twist tacked on. However, clever writing and a stellar ensemble cast work their magic to transform this potential pumpkin into a gleaming stagecoach.

Conventional themes of good and evil, vengeance and redemption, hate, and especially love are questioned and explored in each character’s story throughout the series. And while the themes are conventional, the stories and the characters themselves – Snow White and the eight (that’s right) dwarves, Cinderella, Belle and Rumpelstiltskin to name a few – are not quite so.

The Evil Queen Regina/Mayor of Storybrooke (Lana Parilla wielding an amazing repertoire of death glares) is shown to have a heart before she made it a habit to rip out the hearts of others (literally). Snow White (the perfectly cast Ginnifer Goodwin) possesses not only the fairest beauty in the land, but a quick wit and a mean swing to boot. The dwarf Grumpy wasn’t always grumpy. But it is Robert Carlyle’s Faustian turn as the enigmatic, magical wheeler-and-dealer Rumpelstiltskin/Mr Gold that really steals the show.

There are a few weak links in the chain. Jennifer Morrison’s Emma is serviceable at best as a leading lady. And while Josh Dallas is indeed an incredibly charming Prince Charming, that’s about all he is. However, the strength of the rest of the cast compensates for these minor acting shortfalls to keep the show running smoothly.

A few missteps into sentimental predictability and occasional platitudes aside (especially in the season finale) this imaginative series goes beyond the simple reworking of individual fairytales. By managing to seamlessly weave each character’s story into a greater collective narrative Once Upon A Time tells a fairytale of a much grander scale. Particularly poignant are the perspectives of the two main antagonists as they, along with the “good guys”, struggle with finding, keeping and losing love — the most powerful magic of all.

Enjoyable watching for the younger ones, and surprisingly thoughtful entertainment for the adults, Once Upon A Time is a show where the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. How, you may ask? Magic.

Amanda Lum

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