Once Upon a Time (2011) Season One Review

Plot: Centers on a woman with a troubled past who is drawn into a small town in Maine where the magic and mystery of Fairy Tales just may be real.

Review: I know this isn’t necessarily “action” but Fantasy is a kind of action and this does have some action scenes, including a battle with a dragon at the end. Once Upon a Time is one of the best shows on television. It manages to cater to children with the fantasy elements and adults with the other themes, like family, revenge and more.

The series belongs to two people: the villains Rumpelstiltskin (played to perfection by Robert Carlyle) and the evil Queen Regina (the stunning Lana Parrilla).

Essentially they are the villains, however a common theme in the show is how evil is not born, it’s made and each character has their own motivations. Robert Carlyle would be a great Joker by the way. Although he is the bad guy, you love every moment he’s on screen and he has a rather tragic story.

Jennifer Morrison (Emma) has a very tough demeanour and at first she’s difficult to take to but as the show progresses you’ll be rooting for her all the way. Her son Henry manages to not be annoying, which is a rare thing for a child. The performances are just spot on and it keeps you glued right the way through.

The writing in the series is superlative because it should be cheesy as hell and not work, but it really does. You care about every character and miss them when you aren’t watching, which is always a sign of good writing.

The score by Mark Isham is fantastic (literally) and has hints of sadness and magic all in one. It works perfectly because the show itself has a melancholy feel to it where happy endings are always foiled. It manages to achieve this without today’s tedious cynicism. It feels modern but there are no in-jokes or self reverential humour, which is refreshing. It doesn’t feel like anything else on TV at the moment and the variations on classic fairy tales are very imaginative.

There is some rotten CGI in places but not enough to ruin the story; I’ve seen plenty worse.

Overall, Once Upon a Time is essential for any fans of fantasy looking for great acting, writing and well developed characters. Did I mention it has a dragon?