Once upon a time, there was a cute, quirky black princess who had grown weary of kissing frogs.
Opps, sorry, Once Upon a Time wasn’t my fairy tale, but another sort of fairy tale all together (though neither theirs nor mine seems to have a happy ending!). After a summer of hype, I settled in Sunday night for a dose of fairytale magic. What I got was lots of exposition (after all it was the pilot) and lots of promise.
It all started when Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) married Prince Charming (Josh Dallas). Before they could even get in a good “Kiss the bride,” the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) swooped in with her own wedding gift … a curse. It wasn’t just any curse but the curse to end all curses. It was a curse that would end all happy endings and transport our fairy tale favorites to ‘someplace horrible.’
Of course, she doesn’t do it just then, she waits. Meanwhile, Snow and the Prince are expecting their first child. Consumed with anxiety, they visit Rumplestilskin to get some insight on the Queen’s plan. Things don’t look good, but there is one hope. The baby Snow is carrying will save them all once she hits her 28th birthday.
When the curse comes, baby Emma is the only one who is spared. So what was the curse? Where is this ‘horrible’ place with no happy endings? Our world, of course and they have no memory of who they really are … except for the Queen … who’s now the mayor (did anyone think she wouldn’t be in politics?). Snow is a teacher and little Emma has grown up to be a bail bonds person who meets her 10-year old son for the first time on her 28th birthday.
He’s runaway to find her and bring her back to Storybrooke Maine. He’s read a fairytale book given to him by his teacher and is convinced the stories are true and she is the only one who can help.
Being a serious fairy tale fan (Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales is one of my favorite books), it was fun to see some of my favorite characters reimagined in our world. Grandma and Red Riding Hood become a hotel owner with a goth granddaughter in a red shawl in our world.
I think the show has a lot of promise. Ironically, the fairytales we knew and loved as kids were watered down sunny versions of the actual fairy tales that were often much more intense and gory. Cinderella’s stepsisters each cut off part of their foot to try to fit into the coveted glass slipper. One the way to the wedding, a bird came down and gouged one of their eyes out. On the way back from the wedding, the bird came back for the other eye!
I hope that Once Upon a Time can straddle a happy medium between the intensity of the original stories but still maintain a few moments of whimsy, and dare I saw humor, sprinkled in.