Tonight marks the debut of ABC’s Once Upon a Time, the first of two new shows that revolve around fairy-tale stories. While the source material may be similar, that’s where the similarities end. Once Upon a Time is a romantic drama while NBC’s Grimm (coming this Friday) is more like a supernatural cop show.
Once Upon a Time begins in a mythic fairy-tale world where the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) has put a curse on the residents, including Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and her Prince Charming (Josh Dallas). To protect their infant daughter and thwart the spell, the couple sends their baby daughter to the world that we know. After growing up in foster homes, she (Jennifer Morrison) is eventually drawn to Storybrooke, Maine where all of the classic characters are alive but don’t remember their previous identities. The show also stars Robert Carlyle, Jared Gilmore, Raphael Sbarge, Meghan Ory, and Jamie Dornan.
Is the new ABC series worth your time? Here’s what the critics are saying:
LA Times: “Once the action leaves the overly Maxfield Parrish-ized world of magic trees and drooping pregnant princesses, things pick up considerably. There’s a book; there an enlightened boy, Henry (Jared Gilmore); and best of all, there’s Morrison. Her Emma is predictably cynical and prickly — fairy-tale princess, my Aunt Fanny — but she’s sharp and lively enough to keep audiences begging for ‘just a few more pages’ before they go to bed.”
Chicago Tribune: “Yet [creators] Horowitz and Kitsis are clever and playful in how they insert the fairytale characters into the present day, which kept my interest even when, as I said earlier, I was chuckling. But maybe that’s a good sign the show will remain enjoyable. Once Upon a Time is just as charming as a prince.”
TIME: “The tone of the show overall is reminiscent of past light, fanciful ABC dramedies like Cupid; it’s sweet, often funny and maybe most important, conveys the sense that the writers are having fun finding where to fit Snow White, Rumplestiltskin, & company into our world. I ended the first hour smiling, but not feeling deeply invested in the characters, and because it spends so much time simply establishing the premise, I’ll have to wait to see if future installments integrate the worlds better and create a sense of greater stakes.”
NY Daily News: “To draw out the story by looping it through subplots and minidramas runs the risk of turning it into a fairy-tale soap opera — when what we really want to know is whether the tragic Snow White or the lonely Emma can in the end live happily ever after. The fact the characters are well drawn gives Once Upon a Time a shot. But where Snow White’s fate is concerned, TV viewers may not have as much patience as the Seven Dwarfs.
NY Times: “Once Upon a Time seemed to have the richer premise and more interesting characters, and having Ms. Goodwin (Big Love) in the cast automatically made it one of the more promising new shows. She’s excellent, and Ms. Morrison, known for playing uptight snobs on House and How I Met Your Mother, uses her whiskey-and-cigarettes voice (close your eyes, and it sounds like Angie Harmon) to good effect as the reluctant savior. Watching the pilot again, though, it became harder to ignore the soap opera underpinnings and the twee sentimentality.”
What do you think? Will you be watching? If you’ve seen it already, will you tune in again? Should it be given a chance or should Once Upon a Time be quickly cancelled instead?
Image courtesy ABC.