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I am not a big "TV watcher," but like most, I have my favorite shows that I try very hard not to miss. However, as these shows move from season to season the plots and characters become stale...same old, same old. Then in early October 10, 2013, something wonderful happened to make me want to watch at least one TV program, besides: CNN, "Downton Abbey," "Breaking Bad," "Mad Men," etc. "Once Upon a Time," a sort of American fairy tale, premiered. I was hooked about a half hour into the pilot.

The show is based on the theory that there is an alternate universe where every classic fairy tale character exists—a world that has a connection to our world.

In Storybrooke, a small town in Maine, beloved fairy tale characters we've known of since our parents read to us about them, are trapped in our world by a curse cast by an Evil Queen. Everything changes when a boy named Henry Mills, (beautifully played by Jared Gilmore), an adopted child, learns the "truth" through a "special" book. He finds out who his birth mother is and goes looking for her...heading toward Boston with his school teacher's credit card - desperate times call for desperate measures...right? Maybe not......

The action moves between the two worlds - one where the fairytale characters are themselves and living in their own parallel universe, and the present, in modern day Storybrooke, where they are trapped by their own curse-induced amnesia. The pilot seamlessly sets up the connections between these two worlds and makes it clear that the Storybrooke characters' stunted emotional lives could well be explained by the curse that Henry so fiercely believes in.

The Pilot opens with a period Prince Charming, (Josh Dallas), racing into a snowy forest in search of Snow White, (Ginnifer Goodwin). He finds her in an open coffin, seemingly dead, and surrounded by seven rather gnarly looking dwarfs. But as in the timeless tale, his kiss awakens her and in the next scene they're being married. Suddenly, a sexy, snarly, Evil Queen, dressed in black-leather (Lana Parrilla - who is fantastically BAD), busts in to the celebration to inform everyone that "I shall destroy your happiness, if it is the last thing I do." What a GREAT Gift!!!!

Meanwhile, back in modern day Storybrooke, Emma Swan, (Jennifer Morrison), a bounty hunter and bails-bond collector from Boston, is on the track of a fleeing defendant. As she drives toward Storybrooke, searching for her "missing person," she sees a boy walking alone, along the dark nighttime roadside. Dangerous! She stops the car and asks him where he is going and if she can help him. The boy is Henry Mills.

Emma had given a baby boy up for adoption 10 years before and now discovers that the infant is 10 year-old Henry. Although he has not yet reached the town's limits, he has traveled quite a distance. He is running away from home, looking for her....trying to find her because, as he tells Emma, "No one can ever leave or enter Storybrooke." This is Emma's 28th birthday and she wants, more than almost anything, to not spend it alone. As it were, she does get to spend at least part of it with her son. In any case, a disbelieving Emma drives the boy back home to the mother who raised him. So, Emma, innocent of her role in Storybrooke, enters the town, (probably the first person to do so), and into the story, as the prospective heroine.

As mentioned above, Henry has in his possession a special volume of fairy tales from long ago - certainly not your mother's book of fairy tales. The boy is convinced that Emma, his birth mother, is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. The royal couple sent her away so she would be protected from the deadly curse. They placed her in a magic wardrobe made from a block of wood by Mister Geppetto and his son Pinocchio. The infant was transported from the Enchanted Forest, within the fairy tale world, as a babe before she could be cursed. As such, she is the only person who can break the curse and restore the characters' lost memories.

The town is indeed populated by fairy-tale characters such as the above mentioned Snow White and Prince Charming, only they have no idea of their true identities. The only two who do know are the Evil Queen, a.k.a. Regina Mills who is also the town's powerful mayor and Henry's adoptive mother, and the villainous Rumplestiltskin, (Robert Carlyle). a.k.a. Mr. Gold, the enigmatic owner of the local pawn shop, as well as the town itself. Jiminy Cricket, Geppetto, Pinocchio, Captain Hook, Red Riding Hood, the Seven Dwarves, Hansel and Gretel, Belle and the Beast, etc., are all characters in both worlds.

I love the concept of the program, but then I always loved fairy tales. And, even this late in my life, I do believe there are at least a few happy endings. "Once Upon A Time" is very different from what what's on television at the moment, ("Grimm" cannot even begin to compare with the quality and talent of OYAT). The cast does a fantastic job! And the clothing, scenery and decorations in fantasy land are sumptuous. I can not wait to continue watching the show and see how the storyline develops in Season 2. Very highly recommended!
JANA
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on February 3, 2013
REGION FREE

Once Upon a Time - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)(5 Discs)

2011 - 2012, 946 min
Video: 1080p High Definition Widescreen 1.78:1
Audio English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai

Extras:
Audio Commentaries:
"Pilot" with Co-Creators/Executive Producers Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz
"7:15 A.M." with Actors Jennifer Goodwin & Josh Dallas
"Skin Deep" with Actor Robert Carlyle & Writer Jane Espenson
"The Stable Boy" with Co-Creators/Executive Producers Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz & Actor Lana Parrilla
"A Land Without Magic" with Co-Creators/Executive Producers Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz & Actor Jennifer Morrison
Once Upon a Time Orchestral Suite (HD) (4 min.)
Once Upon a Time: Origins (HD)
Fairy Tales in the Modern World (HD) (20 min.)
Building Character (HD) (7 min.)
Welcome to Storybrooke (HD) (7 min.)
The Story To Remember... Snow White (HD) (4 min.)
Fairest Bloopers of Them All (HD) (2 min.)
Deleted Scenes (HD) (13 min.)
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on July 9, 2014
I remember seeing a behind the scenes preview for this in theaters back when Green Lantern came out and it didn't really leave much of an impression on me. What really got me interested was seeing that Frozen was going to be incorporated into the show and decided to check it out. I was surprised by how much I liked it, most of my favorite bits are the flashbacks to before the curse was enacted. I know that it's a mash-up of fairy tales in general but when they started saying the dwarves names and the Evil Queen said she was preparing to travel to the Forbidden Fortress, it's the Disney versions of these characters. For the record: no I've never read the original stories, really don't have a desire to do so (maybe one day). The Disney versions are what I grew up with (don't care if they altered them to have happier endings, though I do enjoy the darker stuff from what I've heard about them)

As far as acting goes, everybody's great, except Jared Gilmore, though he's not the worst child actor I've seen. A lot of credit to Lana Parrilla for really making the Evil Queen come to life (never cared for her all that much in Snow White), along with becoming one of my favorite villains, and making me hate what should be a despicable character for all the cruel things she's done, like framing Mary Margaret for murder. But then I felt sympathetic when her flashback story was revealed and I didn't want her to lose Henry to Emma in the real world since she is his mother. Then I wanted to slap the brat when he was revived since all he did was stare at her with a vacant expression after she told Henry she truly loved him (more on my feelings of the heroes in season 2). The writing for the most part is good but I'm still waiting to find out what happened to Cinderella's prince at the end of her episode (still wondering what's become of her character in general). I've never seen Lost so I don't hold whatever issues people had with the storylines on that show to what goes on here (though they do love recycling actors from that show). Special effects however, could be better. The two dragons and the magic effects look great along with how they do the green screen work for the fairies (the film version of Maleficent should've taken a cue from this show) but then I see laughable efforts like when the Huntsman shoots a terrible CG deer then pulls the arrow out of a real stuffed deer. Was it too hard to find stock footage of a real deer eating, looking up and running away? Didn't need to show the guy actually killing the animal.

If there's any complaint I have with the show it's a minor nitpick to probably a lot of people but pretty major to me and that is Maleficent, my favorite Disney villain (I'm talking about the animated version). She gets two scenes in two separate episodes and all I know of her in this universe is she traded her sleeping curse to Regina, she's gotten over the whole ordeal with Aurora and now has a black unicorn pony (I assume in place of her raven if the show goes by what happened in the movie). I want to know more! On top of that, she's dispatched by her friend pretty easily when she's purportedly the most powerful of all these characters (with the exception of Rumplestiltskin) but I'm going to say she was caught off guard by Regina when she attacked her little pony.

If you haven't seen the show yet, give it a try if you like fairy tales, particularly the Disney versions, and different twists done on said stories.
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on January 22, 2014
I live a cloistered life even though I have taken no vows. Like many people, I am retired and watch way too much television. I have my favorite shows and rarely go beyond the "A" list of my personal programming. This show was brought to my attention by a couple of different family members. I liked it immediately and bought the season. I am not disappointed. While the stories are somewhat more primitive than Americans are accustomed, the moral of the story tends to be kept intact. There is some violence that may not be appropriate for young viewers, and the dialog is likely to be over the head of many under the age of 20. Still, all in all, it is good and strong and appropriate for young adults even though they may not understand the finer points of the show.

One perhaps unintended consequence of the show is that I view the fables with a eye toward the evil queen in many stories being the same person that Brothers Grimm originally wrote about. It is an entertaining thought, it breaks down when put into a venn diagram, but I would make a case for it anyway.
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on March 19, 2014
When I first watched this season (on my Video library) I did not no what to expect. This series is produced by ABC studios and they
also produced the excellent CASTLE series and WONDERLAND as well and do a great job with the latter two. But I am not a great
fan of the Disney conglomerate that own ABC because they have over the years turned away somewhat from the vision of the great
Walt Disney. But here as well as in the other shows done a magnificent if a bit weird job of bringing Adult style fairy tales to life with
a darker, grimmer but more realistic form that I really love. Lately there has been a spat of darker versions of fairy tales by
independent companies such as NEVERLAND, ALICE and TIN MAN: all excellent. But this season has got it all. and a lot of stuff
to feast on. A brilliant cast, I think, with a beautiful Snow White/Mary Margaret and Emma added to a very creepy Rumplestiltskin
who one can not figure is good, bad or just ugly. A evil queen who is also very hot and just a bunch of wonderful others such as
the dwarves. Wait until you see who shows up in season 3. Anyhow Maine will never be the same. Terrific special effects, dark
and gloomy forests, neat Castles and Palaces and sexy evil women. The stories become more complex and if a person really
gets hooked on this show, one cannot miss any episodes because they all sort of tie together. And with all the flashbacks, if you
miss any you might get a bit confused though they do have at the beginning of each episode a brief update of what happened
previously. I think they could speed up the stories a bit, but I am happy with what we have now. The producers are going to be
adding more villians as the seasons roll on: I have watched the complete season 1 & 2 and get season 3 on my video library at
AMAZON. I just ordered season 1 & 2 DVDs from AMAZON and will give my reviews of season 2 and 3 later. And the best part
is NO Dr. Sweets!! enjoy!
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on December 31, 2013
It's done by the guys who did Lost (Kitsis and Horowitz). You can see their style unravel through the show and know right then. But the show is original enough to be enjoyable. In short, imagine all of the fairy tale characters you have grown up with from stories and see them somehow make it to the real world. Now, before you say anything...yes, there is a comic/graphic novel series called Fables that has a similar concept, but its darker and grittier in its own ways. This one is an ABC production, approved for viewing by audiences that can get it, and it is an enjoyable one.

The show is a bit of a slow starter for a couple of episodes, but each and every character slowly gets highlighted with their backstory and little tidbits behind their history unfolding throughout the course of the series. Overall, this show is a rarity that should be experienced at least once. Hey, they are in the midst of the third season, so you know it's doing something right.
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on October 17, 2014
I really enjoyed this first season of Once Upon a Time. The series is a little cheesy at times, but I think that adds to the charm. They take the fairy tales we know and love and turn them into interlocking stories that sometimes deviate very far from the original tales.

I've always been one to cheer on a villain who at the core is not so evil, so Regina and Rumplestiltskin were my favorite characters. Lana Parrilla and Robert Carlyle really brought these characters to life (Carlyle is especially entertaining as Rumple).

All in all, I am definitely continuing on with this series and will be purchasing Season 2 very soon.
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on November 2, 2012
I started watching season 1 right when season 2 was beginning. I had taken advantage of my Amazon Prime account over the summer and watched all of the seasons of Lost and loved it, which got me interested in this show. The quality of the stream (not HD) was very good and only had to refresh once or twice. I also downloaded episodes to my Kindle Fire quickly and the playback was great. This show has an interesting take on traditional fairy tales, but I must say I was not familiar with all of the fairy tale characters - maybe that's my age (28) or that I'm a guy, I'm not sure, but my fiance was familiar with all of the characters. I think the writers do an amazing job interweaving the stories and have now begun watching season 2 on my DVR.

The stories can be a little "out there" at times, but who doesn't need a little break from reality and believability?

As for my personal rating system, I reserve 5 stars for my favorites of any genre. In this case, 5 stars would go to shows like 24, Dexter, and The Shield. As for the quality of the streaming video and downloads, they would both get a 5 from me. I was very satisfied.
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on October 3, 2015
I'm really happy with the product and it did arrive on time, but I was disappointed with the slowness of delivery. I'd recommend using a different delivery service since the one is used took my purchase halfway across the country before bringing out back. It could have been delivered in half the time otherwise. I'm really happy 😊 with my DVD though and am pumped to watch the first season all over again!
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on February 23, 2016
I love the series, which is why I decided to get it so I won't mourn when Netflix takes it away. That being said, I wish I could warn other fellow customers about the packaging.
To quote Emma, "seriously"?!?! I got the DVD case in a bubble wrap envelope. The case was shattered, the DVDs jingling all the way. Luckily none of the actual DVDs broke, but I ought to get at least a replacement case!!! I intend to buy this whole series, and I would very much NOT like to get each season like I got this one!
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