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!