Once Upon a Time

Snow White is so badass!
I don’t often write about television, but I feel compelled to say something about what I feel is the best new show on television this season. Imagine what the creators of *LOST* could do if they took on fairy tales. Wait: you don’t have to imagine! That’s what really happened! *Once Upon a Time* is based on fairy tales, but it’s so much more than just another fairy tale retelling.

The story takes place in two worlds. One is the fairy tale world, populated by the characters we know (or think we know) and love. The other is a town called Storybrooke, Maine, where those same characters are cursed by the evil queen to live ordinary lives in our world, with no memory of their fairy tale existence. The queen herself, played by Lana Parrilla, is the mayor of the town.

The first episode introduces the town and the characters, and shows the fairy tale backstory leading up to the curse. Then, in typical LOST fashion, the entire rest of the season proceeds to deconstruct the backstory, teasing out the “true story” in stunning reveals, episode by episode.

The acting is BRILLIANT, especially Ginnifer Goodwin as Mary Margaret Blanchard/Snow White, Lana Parrilla as Regina/Evil Queen, and Robert Carlyle as Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin. Most of the characters are very different in the two worlds, and the actors handle the double characterization beautifully. I can’t say enough good things about the entire cast of this show.

I adore Red Riding Hood’s cape!
The production values are very high; it’s worth watching the show for the costumes alone! From the queen’s elaborate costumes to Snow White’s forest getup, from Emma Swan’s boots to Ruby’s cute modern costumes in Storybrooke, the attention to detail is amazing. I particularly love the costumes that give an ironic nod to some of the characters’ Disney counterparts, such as Belle’s dress in “Skin Deep.”

If you haven’t been watching this show, you should be. I recommend that you don’t jump into the middle, though. As with LOST, you may be a bit confused if you haven’t been watching along, and you’ll definitely get a lot more enjoyment out of it if you watch from the beginning so that you can follow along with the development of the characters and the reveals. You can watch the episodes on the ABC website, or get them from Amazon Instant Video or iTunes. There is also a DVD of the first five episodes that ABC says is available exclusively from Target.

A heartbreaking performance by Lana Parrilla
For those who have been watching it: **I thought last night’s episode was the best yet!** Lana Parrilla was absolutely brilliant, and the tragedy, and her transformation from an innocent teenager to the beginnings of the evil, manipulative character we know, were absolutely heartbreaking. Even though you pretty much knew what was going to happen after the initial setup was revealed, watching it unfold was horrifying. And the confrontation between Mary Margaret and Regina in the jail was incredibly moving, with terrific performances by both Lana Parrilla and Ginnifer Goodwin. (There must be something about that jail cell that inspires the best in the writers and actors! Some of the best scenes have been in that cell.) The talented girl (Bailee Madison) who played young Snow White not only looked a lot like Ginnifer Goodwin, but she nailed Snow White’s mannerisms. And of course Barbara Hershey was perfect as the Queen’s mother. What did you think?

Photos are from the ABC website.