Once Upon a Time (ABC, Sundays, 8/7 Central) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, August 11th, 2020  

Once Upon a Time

ABC, Sundays, 8/7 Central

Oct 23, 2011 Web Exclusive
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If you like your shows totally on the nose, unsubtle, and unworthy of the source material, then Once Upon a Time is the show for you. Some good performances from Jennifer Morrison (House), Lana Parrilla (Swingtown), Ginnifer Goodwin (Big Love), Raphael Sbarge (The Guardian), and Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting) can't elevate this story of amnesiac fairy tale characters come to life in our world as mundane humans after being cursed back in their own land.

There's definitely an odd rift between tone and subject matter; at times the show tries to be deadly serious when perhaps it could use more charm. Especially in the fairy tale scenes, which tend to be overblown and display little whimsy and no majesty or wonder whatsoever.

When the adult characters start interacting in modern times—particularly the three actresses mentioned above—it raises the show a few notches, even while raising the question of why the fairy tales were so mishandled. Not that the real world scenes are perfect; the main snags are the goofy exposition of Emma's (Morrison's) ability to know when someone's lying, and the cloying and overly earnest acting by Jared Gilmore as Henry. He's the lynchpin of this tale, and the addition of a great child actor could have elevated it, as he's the one who uncovers the mystery of Storybrooke, Maine, where all the storybook characters now live.

The best way to describe this: somebody loved Heroes, read Fables, and tried to combine the worst aspects of the first with the premise of the second. The only silver lining is that the pilot ends better than it begins. (www.abc.go.com/shows/once-upon-a-time)

Author rating: 3/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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