Once Upon A Time – J. A. Bove
Once upon a time there was a television program called Lost. This program was so well written and so original in its idea that it received critical acclaim and a mass following. Then one day this show had reached it conclusion. The viewers were saddened and were left wanting more. What were the creators of the show to do? Ahh, we’ll they decided to reach back into the recesses of time to come up with a new program to please the viewers. This program is called ‘Once Upon a Time’. Will it comfort the masses? This may be just one man’s opinion, but in short – no.
The concept itself was original and very Lostesque (I just made that up). They took some very common fairy tale characters, ranging from Snow White to Rumplestiltskin, and brought them into modern day America. You got an opportunity to look into their lives after the common story had concluded to see what became of our beloved characters. Apparently, it was a good thing they ended these stories when they did, because life for the fairy tale heroes wasn’t happily ever after at all.
No, the evil queen, (this particular one is from Snow White) decided that she did not like happy endings (don’t go there) and decided to cast a spell on all of our beloved friends. A spell so evil that not only will it transport them from the pages of our books, but into a sleepy little northeastern town in modern day America called Story Brooke. The rub here is that all the characters from the fairy tales are now simply common men and women, no longer princesses and dwarves, etc. No one remembers their past lives, nor for that matter, each other. Only one little boy knows the true secret. He alone (well, with some help from the mother who abandonned him) will end the horrible every day existence of the common man, end the curse, and place our friends back into their storybook lives.
The Lost spin placed on the story (beyond opening the first scene by staring at an eyeball) is that they would jump from fairy tale time, to modern day present time in good old Story Brooke. Ok, this sounds intriguing. It’s an interesting spin on a familiar tale, so what’s the problem? If only there were just one.
Maybe I was living under the high expectations of Lost, but this story plays out, to me at least, more like something I’ve seen in the eighties, or dare I say it … The Cape. Ugh, I can’t believe I said it. There is something that I like to refer to as the cheese factor. It may not be a Webster’s term, but I think you all know what it means, and this show has enough cheese to feed France. Below are my top 5 suggestions to fixing the program.
Replace the cast: What? Replace the entire cast? How? Why? That’s impossible. No, this is not impossible, this is a story based on fairy tale characters. There’s a lot more out there than Snow White, Pinocchio, and Rumplestiltskin. The only character in the program worth a grain of salt is the evil queen (played by Lana Parilla) all the others should be replaced. Bring in some newer, more appealing blood.
Lose the kid: This kid is one of the most annoying, unlikable characters in the show (next to the main protagonist, Emma). This kid is supposed to see and understand things that no other adult in this timeless town can. Why? Is he that more intelligent than every other member of this city? Does he have some insight into the world of fairy tales that no one else knows? What is it? Not only is he a know it all; he’s a disobedient little troublemaker that doesn’t listen to anyone. Ground him and throw away his book.
Lose Emma: All right, first of all we’re to believe she’s only 28 … come on. Second, she abandoned her son, gave him up for adoption, and now it’s her only goal in life to prove this boy right. What’s with the outfits (my eighties reference earlier)? Her character is a very unappealing protagonist that you root against. Hey if Snow White and Prince Charming really had a kid, I would like to think that s/he would have turned out better than being a washed-up bounty hunter with nothing to live for.
Make better backstories: Come on, does any one really want to believe that Snow White was the Robin Hood of her land? Does a grow man, who’s been granted only one wish in life, really wish to become a cricket? A cricket? Are you F#$%^ kidding me? Does anyone really think the evil queen from Snow White is a more powerful sorceress than Maleficent (my girls would hotly debate this one)? I like that you wanted to create interesting back stories, but make them a little more realistic. I mean you are, after all, trying to bring these characters into the real world.
Pick your audience: Is this program meant for children or adults? I watched it at first because I thought it would share some resemblance to Lost, but man was I disappointed. My girls watched it with me because they wanted to see their favorite fairy tale princesses living in the real world. Well, I’m bored, and my kids are having nightmares. Did you see the episode in where the kind, generous family was turned into ugly wooden dolls? My girls haven’t had a good night sleep in a week.
Anyhow, I truly try to do my best to not rip any creative idea, because it is just one man’s opinion. Clearly EW and ABC would disagree with me. It was written up as one of the new fall show winners. ABC has decided to pick-up the tale for another season. I just don’t see it. No, it’s not as bad as The Cape, but if you’re not watching it, does it really make a difference?