Now, back in the dark times of 2011, I reviewed all the big upcoming shows that were launching in America. One of these was “Once Upon a Time”, a show about fairytale characters trapped in the real world, without knowing who they really are. At the time I said it might be OK but will probably be a big pile of wank. I was wrong. Very, very wrong.
Well, not very very wrong. At times, it can be a bit crap, but that just adds to the campy appeal of the whole thing. Even when it’s a bit rubbish, and it has been (the Hansel & Gretl episode, in particular), it’s still fun enough to keep you entertained, and when it’s good, it’s AMAZING.
Basically, the set up is a woman named Emma is found by her biological son, who she gave up for adoption, who takes her back to the town of Storybrooke (Yeah I know, but keep with me). Once there she finds herself caught up in some strangeness all centring around super-mega-bitch Mayor Regina, her son’s adoptive mother.
Each episode splits itself between the real world and the storybook world, taking each character in turn to reveal who they were in their past life (some are really not surprising, take a guess who Ruby, who always wears red and happens to have a Granny, turns out to be) and also pushes the main story on. In that respect it strongly reminds me of Lost. In fact just like Lost, it seems intent on making sure absolutely EVERYONE finds a soulmate of some description, with love being the motivation for pretty much everything. Which would all be very nice, and much more fitting in a show about fairytales, if it wasn;t exclusively heterosexual love. Let’s have lots of love stories and people being happy together AS LONG AS THE GAYS DON’T GET INVOLVED. Le sigh.
Anyway, sometimes it will focus on one of the main characters, like the Mayor/Evil Queen or the romance between Snow White and Prince Charming (and their equally adorable fairytale counterparts) and with others it’ll focus on a supporting character like Cinderella, Belle off of Beauty and the Beast, or, bizarrely, Grumpy the dwarf (he falls in love with a ditzy fairy. It’s… not great)
The acting is all very good, there’s plenty of eye candy for both the men and the women (my favourite being Jamie Dornan, a former model from Northern Ireland. He is entirely beautiful and I am in love with him) and the costumes (particularly those of the evil Queen) are amazing. The CGI lets it down, with most of the fairytale world sets being very obvious green-screen, but it is only a TV show, and you have to make allowances with this sort of thing.
Other cast members include Jennifer Morrison (who you may know as Cameron from House or the intolerable Zoey from How I Met Your Mother), and Robert Carlyle (off of the Full Monty) as Rumplestiltskin. He’s very good and everything, but his make up, hair and performance all combine to make me feel a bit sick. I think that’s the intention though. Aomgst the very amazing list of guest stars are Richard Schiff (Toby from the West Wing), Kristin Bauer van Straten (Pam from True Blood), Emilie de Ravin (Claire from Lost), Amy Acker (Fred from Angel), Emma Caulfield (Anya from Buffy) and Alan Dale (Charles Widmore in Lost, Bradford Meade in Ugly Betty, that dude who shoots Owen in Torchwood, and, most importantly, Jim Robinson in Neighbours)
Anyway, it all kicks off in Britain tonight on Channel 5 (if you reading this in the future, I mean Sunday April 1st 2012 and I hope you enjoying your flying cars) and I really do thoroughly recommend you watch it.