Though the majority of reviews for the pilot of Once Upon A Time were pretty harsh, perhaps the show deserves a second chance. The creators have plenty to accomplish and can’t possibly fully address dozens of characters and parallel worlds in just one episode. But the first question that springs to mind is, “Who exactly is the target audience?” Is it the folks who love Desperate Housewives, or the teenage girls who swoon over Twilight, or is it directed more towards children under the age of twelve? Perhaps the show-runners haven’t quite decided yet, which might be the show’s number one problem (well ,apart from the dodgy special effects, wretched dialogue, offensive CGI and the hilariously campy central role of Henry). However, amidst all of these problems, there is something utterly enchanting about this fairytale mess. Though the characters may connect as nostalgia for an older generation, the lukewarm, watered-down recounting of everything we’ve seen before eliminates adults has a primary demographic. There aren’t any pretty teenage boys present (one assumes Prince Charming is a little too old for the Team Jacob crowd), and the show isn’t quite dark enough, nor mature enough for the rabid fan-base of Game Of Thrones, so who is the target audience?
“Power is seductive, but so is love,” the Evil Queen’s father, Henry, tells her just before she tears out his heart. This show is ridiculously crazy – it seems like the sort of story Stephanie Meyer would have written after consuming too many magical ‘shrooms. Outrageous it might be, but Once Upon A Time is also never boring. Take, for instance, this week’s exciting guest star appearance (True Blood’s Kristen Bauer as Maleficent, one of the greatest Disney villains), waxing poetic about the dangers of losing your soul to black magic before engaging in a choppy CGI witch-fight, only to lose whilst saving her black unicorn. Whenever the series has your eyes rolling, there is a thing of beauty to admire. And just when you think Rumpelstiltskin couldn’t get any creepier, he does. Robert Carlyle’s clearly the most entertaining of the cast, chewing up scenery in the flashbacks only to take a startlingly different personality in the closing moments. He’s taken the spotlight two weeks in a row now, and hopefully he’ll get plenty more screen time in the weeks to come.
We pick up rather quickly that with the Evil Queen’s curse came great sacrifices, and learn of a mysterious bargain made between her and Rumpelstiltskin. Against the advice of the Magic Mirror (Giancarlo Esposito – Breaking Bad’s Gus) and her own father, the Queen decides to exact her revenge. Emma spends the majority of the episode in and out of prison while taking some time off to get herself a chainsaw and butcher Regina’s apple tree, and Henry continues to try and convince himself and everyone else that he is not crazy. Speaking of Henry, the show-runners may want to address some sort of explanation in regards to his aging and in relation to his time spent on the show. It will be interesting to see how the creators justify his youthful presence if the series continues for a few more years.
And once again Once Upon a Time left us with plenty of questions. First, in regards to the identities of those “evil souls” who lend locks of their hair to the Evil Queen’s curse. Could the members include Hansel and Gretel’s witch or possibly Jack’s giant? And what harm did Snow White inflict on the Queen? Did someone actually die by Snow White’s hand? Is Emma still playing along with Henry or is she starting to believe him, and more importantly how much does Rumpelstiltskin factor into the future of the curse?
– Ricky D