Like so many other pilots this season, I admit I had my doubts. Fairy tales in prime time? When did the average viewing age drop ten years? Despite my misgivings, at the end of the pilot I was smiling and stating how much I enjoyed the show. It was packed full of everything that makes me watch every week, engaging characters, strong plot, and a good balance of suspense. The plot line of the show is this, in the enchanted forest lives the land of fairy tale characters. This once blissful place of happy endings is cursed by Snow White’s stepmother, the Evil Queen. She arrives at the wedding of Snow White and the Handsome Prince vowing her revenge.
Blah blah, sounds like a kid’s movie. Well the writers of Once Upon a Time have melded these classic tales with a modern day story featuring a bail bonds woman named Emma Swan. It is Emma’s 28th birthday, and the son she gave up for adoption ten years before is standing on her doorstep. She takes him home to Storybrook Maine while he babbles about his beloved book of fairy tales. This where things get interesting, and surprisingly the writers draw you into the parallel tales with ease. You are watching and guessing which characters you are seeing, like Granny and Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin, and the dwarf named Grumpy.
The genius of the writing is the balance of the old and the new, using the traditional tales woven in a subtle new way which adds conflict, suspense, and guessing what is going to happen next. Astonishingly, the show is not campy or even insulting. It doesn’t change the soul of the original stories, but tones the characters down enough to make them believable.
I really enjoyed this show. It is different, creative, fresh, and a nice change. In presenting characters that are relatable for the kids but complex enough for the adults, this is also a great family show. It has all of the favorites; action, adventure, romantic suspense, and a bit of whimsy we sometimes forget can be so addicting.
I highly recommend you take the time to check this new ABC family fantasy. It is reminiscent of the days where we would all sit in front of the television on Sunday evenings to watch The Wonderful World of Disney. There are very few shows of this quality that are truly family friendly, and I am excited to see ABC get back to their Disney family roots in such an impressive way.