“Once upon a time” is the phrase that starts many a fairy tale and these stories almost, always end with “and they lived happily ever after”. NBC's television program ONCE UPON A TIME takes legends and tales that are familiar to all of us and gives them a little twist to make them an entertaining viewing experience for the whole family.
Bruno Bettleheim wrote a book about the value of fairy tales and legends in showing children how to behave. In dramatic and chilling stories our ancestors learned what happened to children when they didn’t listen to their mothers, (they were eaten by wolves in the original Red Riding Hood story) or the results of unkindness to a stepsister (as in the original Cinderella story where the stepsisters were maimed and thrown out of the kingdom, forced to live only by the pity of others.)
Fairy tales fascinate us from childhood onwards, and in Once Upon a Time, our old favorites come to life again in a stunning new format. Opening with the wedding of a fairy tale prince and princess, the celebration is interrupted by a fierce and determined evil queen who curses the couple’s happiness. In our world Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) a young woman whose life has taught her to be tough is celebrating her birthday, alone, when there is a knock on the door.
In walks ten year old Henry Mills (Jared S. Gilmore) who introduces himself as the son Emma gave up for adoption. If that is not shock enough, Henry wants Emma to return with him to his home in Storybrooke, Maine, as she is the town’s savior. Emma’s only talent is that she can always tell when someone is lying, and Henry appears to believe completely in what he is saying.
Emma returns to Storybrooke with Henry, but does not receive much of a welcome or thanks from Henry’s mother Regina Mills (Lana Parrillo) the mayor of the town. Henry keeps telling Emma that all the townsfolk are really fairy tale characters from the enchanted wood, and that his adoptive mother is the evil queen who put them under the curse.
Feeling that Henry is troubled, and not trusting Regina to do the best for him, Emma decides to stay on first as a deputy and then as the Sherriff of Storybrooke when the hunky Graham (Jamie Dornan) dies mysteriously.
Once Upon a Time is a dream series. Each week audiences are treated to a familiar story, but with enough changes to the original tale coupled with spectacular special effects during the flashbacks to the fairy tale world, to make the show riveting viewing. The plots are so well constructed, viewers are convinced that the fairy tale characters’ lives in our world are plausible.
None of them remember who they are or where they came from, and in each story we see the characters overcome something in Storybrooke that either plagued them in the other life, or will lead them to remember who they really ars. One of our favorite things is to look for the tips of the hat to the classic Disney renditions of the stories. Not to spoil your fun, but take note of the bluebirds on Snow White’s balcony, and the fact that Mary Margaret Blanchard is having her class make bird houses, “not prisons, but a home.”
And Henry tries to convince Emma that Dr. Hopper (Raphael Sbarge) his psychiatrist is Jiminy Cricket in the other world. There is so much to love about this series, the agelessness of the stories, the excellence of acting, the beauty of the production, the humor, the touching moments, all combining to make this a keeper.
Fans will definitely want to purchase this series, which on Blu-ray is stunningly beautiful. Presented on 5 discs with a variety of special features, this series belongs in family collections as well as those who appreciate good stories.
Visit the DVD database for more information.