TV Review: Once Upon a Time Season One

Monday 20 April 2015 by

Once Upon a Time, Fairytales, TV

Every now and then someone pops up on my Twitter feed singing the praises of Once Upon a Time. The TV series seems to be a cult hit, with growing popularity. Once Upon a Time tells the story of all your favourite fairytale characters, but with a twist. The evil queen of Snow White fame has laid a curse on the fairytale characters, dooming them to live in a town in Maine called Storybrooke. But they don’t remember who they are, and it is the mission of newcomer Emma (Jennifer Morrison) to make them remember and break the curse.

Each week covers a different fairytale, constantly referring back to Snow White’s story, but adding wry twists and tongue-in-cheek nods to Disney, Grimm and all versions of the tales (and also a rather excellent salute to One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest). There’s even an episode that includes Alice in Wonderland.

Adorable and clever, this is a sweet series that plays on your childhood, on your dreams of heroes and villains, and of good triumphing over evil. You spend half the time wondering how on Earth they’re going to carry this on for other series (don’t worry about that – I’ve started season two and it’s just as brilliant). You spend the other half of the time trying to figure out the twists and turns of these revamped fairytales.

The cast – a blend of familiar faces and fresh ones – is outstanding. However, the outstanding performances come from Lana Parilla (who plays the Evil Queen/Regina Mills) and Robert Carlyle (Rumpelstiltskin/Mr Gold). They absolutely OWN this series. With the help of a perfectly balanced script, and the deftness of the deliverance, this makes it a pure pleasure to watch.

I’ve not binge-watched a TV programme like this for such a long time. It’s horrendously addictive and they are perfectly set up to give you the momentum to keep watching from one to the other. I have yet to stop.

The joy of this series is that it’s not too intense that you’re overwhelmed and not too fluffy that it becomes inane. Plus, Henry (Jared Gilmore) is the least obnoxious child actor I’ve yet come across. I thoroughly enjoyed Once Upon a Time – it’s pure escapism in its finest form, and you’ll love every reference to your favourite stories.

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