NYCC 2011: ABC’s Once Upon a Time

By Bill Liston

ABC’s Once Upon a Time – .Makes me want to believe in fairy tales again.

I recently had the pleasure of seeing “Once Upon a Time” at NYCC.  It tells the story of Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) a 28-year-old bail bondswoman living in present day Boston.   It is also her birthday and her wish when she blows out the candle on her cake is “not to be alone” on her birthday .  Enter her 10 year old son Henry who she gave up 10 years earlier.  Henry needs Emma’s help because his town (Storybrooke, Maine) is made up of characters from popular fairytales.. but they don’t know it.

Henry’s step mother is the Evil Witch (Lana Parrilla)  from Snow White.  Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a schoolteacher.  Jiminy Cricket (Raphael Sbarge) is the town psychologist and Rumplestilskin(Robert Carlyle) is Mr. Gold the owner of Storybrooke.

I am probably the only person that didn’t get hooked on LOST, but apparently this show is from the writers Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz who worked on LOST and Tron Legacy.  I enjoyed Tron Legacy, but the real “sell” for me on this show was the cast.  I have been a big fan of Ginnfer Goodwin & Jennifer Morrison for a while… and have been sold on Robert Carlyle since I first saw him in Trainspotting.  All three are really on top of their game in the pilot and I can’t wait to see episode two to really see where they take this story.

Morrison keeps the pilot “grounded” in that her character is cynical (maybe a little too clinical) and does not believe her son’s story that everyone is from a fairytale.  Goodwin is captivating.. especially in the fairy-tale scenes and Carlyle (who the creators wrote the part for) is absolutely mesmerizing when he is on screen.  Unfortunately it is only for a short time.. but appears towards the end of the episode that totally makes it worthwhile.

Unfortunately I was not familiar with any of the shows Lana Parrilla was in prior to this show.  Boy was I missing something special.  She plays “The Evil Witch” and plays it to perfection.  Specifically there is a scene with Morrison in the pilot that literally gave me chills.  She personified evil in that moment.  According to the producers,  Episode Two will deal with “The Evil Witch” and will explore her motives against Snow White and her evil ways.  Subsequent episodes will focus on Snow White & Prince Charming,  Jiminy Cricket, and the other characters in the show.  I like that idea in the each show will provide the perfect “jump in” point… unlike LOST where if you missed one episode you were essentially (pardon the pun) LOST.  I am so excited for the Evil Witch episode and Rumpelstiltskin episodes.   These two episodes have the potential of being truly epic.

Overall, I loved this show and can’t wait until the pilot airs next week.  It is slick, sexy and has a solid story.
The effects are well done for TV and has a little bit of something for everyone.I hear this show is similar to the comic “Fables”. While I haven’t read “Fables” (and neither have the producers) but if you have and liked it,I would set your DVR now.

In “Once Upon a Time” Rumpelstiltskin says “no more happy endings” but this show has the promise of many happy endings every Sunday.  It left  a smile on my face at Comic Con and hopeful it will leave a smile on everyone’s face as they go into work on Monday.

It airs Sunday Oct 23 8/7c (check local listings)

You can check out some of the featured videos of the show here

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