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34 out of 54 people found the following review useful:

Refreshing and out of the box

10/10
Author: brtomlinson from United States
1 November 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

How refreshing to see a new show that isn't about courts, forensic science, lawyers or cops. I am keeping my fingers crossed this won't get the axe because it really is a cool twist on fairy tales. Your immediately drawn into this feeling of sympathy for the wicked queen who is scorned somehow (will find out more as the show goes on) by snow white and revenge is her only path. Then you go to a town where the cursed live and time has stopped. You slowly understand with flashbacks in time and why the queen did what she thought was her only path consequently a curse that has unknown origins at this time.

Then another twist is a bounty hunter who is contacted by her birth son that she gave up is the key to the whole mystery and the viewer is drawn into so many different worlds but still able to keep up is the key to unravel this well told mystery.

So sit back and just enjoy a well told story book tale without all the mind-numbing plot lines of so many television shows that all seem to have the same subject matter.

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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Contains spoilers: A show ruined by "jumping the shark" with a gay sub-plot.

1/10
Author: frisco2007 from United States
18 April 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

CONTAINS SPOILERS: I'm writing this in regard to the show overall, and most of all because of the 4/18/16 episode, when the writers decided to throw in a lesbian plot line. For the record - I was pro-gay marriage before it was cool, and I have respect for everyone's rights. But - defying the subject and suitability - every show writer now thinks it's oh-so-cool to shove a lesbian sub-plot into a TV show, even if it sticks out like a sore thumb, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the characters, the subject of the show or it's style. ONCE is a show about fairy tale characters placed in the real world. It is about as suitable for a story about gay relationships as an episode of the Care Bears! Wrong subject, wrong theme, wrong plot, wrong characters, wrong style, wrong show. It's just bad art. And I am sick of people band wagoning onto gay subjects. If you want to make a show about gay issues, do so. You don't bring a specific subject like that up in the middle of a show which it has zero to do with. This is not a show about sexual orientation. So, don't bring in gay off-subject material. IT IS UNSUITABLE. And I am tired of the unsuitability. So, I changed my rating of this show to match it's writer's bad judgment. In any case - overall - the show has been getting more boring over the last 2 seasons, and the audience is painfully aware of that. That the writers would "jump the shark" and resort to a wild change of subject matter in a sad, obvious, desperate attempt to jazz up an increasingly declining show is just sad. And pathetic. And a major disappointment because I really looked forward to and respected this show up to season 3, and now, I'm just weary, and the straw that broke the camel's back is tonight's mis-application of gay issue subject matter. Tragic "jumping the shark" moment. I won't be watching anymore.

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19 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Jumps More Sharks than Evil Kinevil Jumped Buses

2/10
Author: Rob Astyk from United States
7 November 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am a storyteller who's been immersed in folklore, myth and fairy tales since boyhood. The collected tales of the Brothers Grimm, Alexandr Afanas'ev and others over the last 2 centuries are the way we convey the wisdom, beliefs and ethics of the past to the present. That said, I'm not a purist. The Grimms' tales had been revised many times to make them comport with the prevailing religions and mores of the tellers' changing times. I dearly love re-imagined classic material such as Neil Jordan's The Company of Wolves (1984) or Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988). The only versions of such tales that I truly despise are the Disney versions. Give me Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast (1946) any day over the sickly sweet Disney version. That said, after a weak start, I tried with all my might to allow Once Upon a Time to grow on me.

I never watched Lost seriously. I found that show more pretentious and self-involved and just confused, never deep. I was always afraid this show would fall prey to similar script problems. Even so I had to give it a try.

That the first episode was weak isn't entirely a fault. The whole hour was exposition. We had to get from the story books to Storybrook before the real action could begin. The second episode actually had good transitions from past to present. I also wanted to be impressed the 3 main lead women.

And though I despise Disney-fication of fairy tales, I must say that turning Jiminy Cricket into a psychiatrist and a possibly corrupt one at that is a stroke of brilliance.

Ginnifer Goodwin's Mary Margaret Blanchard/Snow White isn't much of an actress sadly. She seems to have escaped directly from a senior class play onto the set of this show. I think it was Dorothy Parker who criticized Katherine Hepburn as having an emotional range of from A to B. Ms. Goodwin is much less gifted. Lana Parrilla's Mayor/Wicked Queen struts angrily about the set and snarls when she's not whining. She's neither wicked enough to be a wicked queen nor pathetic enough to gain sympathy. Her tragic back story is just a cliché. Ms. Parrilla needs a script and a verbal dope slap or two from her director if she doesn't give us a richer, more nuanced evil queen yet all she has is horrible, flaccid, clichéd writing. I knew that the show was in trouble when the writers' love affair with psychological; gobbledygook explained Lana Parilla's character as a poor, misunderstood victim of a more evil mother and thwarted love. I think the writers decided that she really does care for Henry and can't be all bad. But a fairy tale must have a focus of evil against whom all other must strive. Making Regina wishy-washy necessitates Barbara Hersey's Cora as the ultimate evil. Even this duplicative mess hasn't taught the scriptwriters a lesson and we're in danger of having Cora excused as an overwhelmed mom just trying to do right by her ingrate daughter.

I like Jennifer Morrison. Her Allison Cameron on House was one of a very few actors who weren't blown off the screen by Hugh Laurie. Her Emma Swan in the initial episode was one of the best things in the hour. However, she has no script worth playing and she's fallen into the trap of lazy actors who rely on standard expressions, mannerisms and deliveries if their directors aren't pushing them or they aren't pushing themselves. Unfortunately the writers haven't given her much with which to work. The crux of her problem is that there's just no chemistry between her and Jared Gilmore's Henry.

I've been a fan of Barbara Hersey's work for decades. Her best hope in this series is for Cora to find a quick death so that she escapes further embarrassment.

As for the men, what is Josh Dallas doing on camera at all? I understand that the show needed a pretty boy for Prince Charming he started the show in a coma and as far as I can see has never come out of it.

Robert Carlyle's Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold grabs the camera the moment he enters and holds it until his but too often descends into a lot of scenery chewing. Still even he can't work from the vast emptiness that passes for a script.

I've kept watching for about 2 and a half years hoping week in and week out that this show would grow into something extraordinary but I've given up. Just because these fairy tale characters are archetypes doesn't give license for them to be as flat as the pages of a story book. Rather it offers the opportunity to show us ourselves through them. The greatness of fairy tales is that they deal in absolutes. There is definite evil. There is definite good. Usually the hero or heroine of the story must make a journey of discovery from which he or she returns wiser, more mature and more powerful. Upon the main character's return he or she is equipped to overcome life's obstacles. There is precious little ambiguity. All clouds hanging over the characters clear and the couple, if there is one, can love "happily ever after" exactly because they have the experience to overcome difficulties that are far more petty than those they have already faced. Once Upon a Time founders about in a sea of ambiguity and bad writing and has just become unwatchable. It is infinitely less interesting than Grimm on NBC which also has far better writing. And it's a lot less go-for-broke exuberant and edgy fun than SyFy's Lost Girl. ABC needs to toll the bell, close the book and snuff the candle to exorcise this turkey from its roster even a second hour of the gawdawful America's Funniest Home Videos would be an improvement.

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32 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

Unbelievable. In oh, so many ways...

2/10
Author: crunchykitten from United States
12 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This series is so jaw-droppingly bad, my mind was boggled by the dribbling accolades of other viewers. Then I saw a review that said something like, "If you were a fan of "Lost" just stay tuned! You'll LOVE it!!!!" (I may have left out a ! or two.) Of course, that reviewer was absolutely right. I've watched maybe a half dozen episodes, and the writers have changed the paradigm at least four times. That is, they used the now-famous "Lost" principle of fantasy writing: if you introduce enough confusing minor side plots, oddly compelling but ultimately pointless minor characters, ersatz "mysteries" and alarming character about-faces that have the main actors alternately weeping for their lost innocence and true loves and then ripping out and eating the raw hearts of infants - well then by gum, this is the show for you! But- and I do absolutely and personally guarantee this- you will NEVER see anything like a real plot resolution, because the writers and producers plan to throw so many complications into the mix that they think, and past experience has shown, that the fans are too dim to remember more than a few of the most glamorous or grisly, so however they end it, no one will care, and few will notice that in any way that matters, the whole thing just stunk on ice.

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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Loses plot per episode, goes literally nowhere

1/10
Author: SherbetDLemon
27 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am so surprised, and wary, of all the positive reviews. Maybe it's one of those troll phenomenons where bad product gets critiqued highly or maybe it's all based on the first season. Anyways...

As a viewer if you're looking for a TV show that challenges you and makes you think, you're at the wrong place.

As a viewer if you're looking for weak plots, weaker plots and weakest plots, congratulations.

I know what you're thinking, why did I consider a show based on fairy tales for intelligent TV viewing?

I hadn't. It was by complete chance that I stumbled upon the first episode and it intrigued me. The first season was done remarkably well but as with most shows the problem generally arrives after the first season.

Second season was made up of a lot of about-turns and the general tendency of this show is, if there is a snag in the storytelling, throw in more characters. The amount of irrelevant characters they put and pull: amazing. For that, I guess, we can give the writers credit. It does cause people to overlook how tedious the story progression is.

And as all shows, when nothing goes right, sprinkle romance.

Again, you might ask, why would I not expect romance in a show based on fairy tales?

Because it started out as a good adventure based show, I could actually see it turning it into the likes of Merlin where the focus is more on the fictional setup. By season 3 all their magical back-stories were, I don't know put on hold maybe, and they had 2-3 new guys for the love stories. There never was a chance to get invested in those love stories/triangles as they were sudden and lacking any emotional growth.

If they lose half the unneeded cast, try to find one story which the show can stick to, give the characters a break-free path to grow upon, this show might regain it's charm. Otherwise, well a lot of people liked Twilight (The similarities are uncanny when we compare twilight to the main lead Emma Swan's so-called romantic 'problems'), and I guess if this made it to fourth season, a lot of people like this too.

I have to admit I stopped caring around halfway season 2 but I still made myself watch till the end of season 3 because I kept feeling like this was such a wasted opportunity and oh this could have been so much more than a soap drama. I guess that's the only reason I care enough to write this review even though I'm not gonna continue watching it. It's just sad to see so much potential executed so badly.

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Meh

3/10
Author: rebbekcah
13 October 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The only way I can describe this show is meh. The premise seemed promising but before the end of the first season, it turned into a fairytale soap opera for 12 year olds. Some of the little subplots were entertaining, such as Ruby/Red being the wolf but this only lasted an episode or two. I was torn between clawing out my eyeballs and falling asleep during all of the Snow/Mary Margaret and Prince/David crap, and the whole thing about Regina/Queen and Emma fighting over Henry got old really fast. The one part of the show that was worthwhile was Rumpelstiltskin/Gold. His character was amazing and he was the only reason I watched as much as I did. Overall, it was pretty cheesy and random, but I am giving three stars for Rumpelstiltskin/Gold.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Time to say, "The End."

5/10
Author: Auntie_Inflammatory from United States
22 April 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I really liked the first season or two of "OUAT", it was different than anything else on network TV, it was a cute concept, it was fun. Unfortunately, it's really gone downhill in the last few years and I think it's time for this fairy tale to reach "The End."

I first started getting annoyed with the show when it began devolving into one long commercial for Disney. It just seemed like the writers were trying to cram every Disney character imaginable into the show whether it enhanced the narrative or not. The most egregious example would be the ridiculous "Frozen" storyline (seemingly written for 5 year-olds) in season 4. I could just imagine the scene in the conference room at ABC;

Executive: We gotta move these "Frozen" toys for Christmas, work it into the plot!

Writer: But...but, it doesn't really make sense...

Executive: It doesn't have to make sense, we got toys to sell, now put it in the damn storyline!!

Writer: Y-y-yes, sir!

After a while, every time a character went into the woods I half expected them to run into Pooh and Piglet! We get it, Disney owns ABC. We. Get. It.

The writers have made some other, very odd, choices;

They made Peter Pan, a beloved Disney (and J.M.J. Barrie) character, into...well...a prick! Yes, they took the happy symbol of eternal childhood and made him into a horrible person.

They made Mulan a lesbian.

They made Little Red Riding Hood and Dorothy Gale (of Oz fame) into lesbians and had Red (aka Ruby) wake Dorothy from a spell with a kiss that practically turned into a make-out session.

Over the last couple of years I've pretty much come to expect that every late-night adult drama will include a gay storyline at some point. It is, however, totally inappropriate to include scenes like the one described above in a show that airs at 8pm and that appeals to children, a show based on fairy tale and cartoon characters. The fact that the Ruby character had been on the show since season 1, had never shown a romantic interest in any female character before, and had a boyfriend in the one flashback scene dealing with her love life exposes this latest development as the cheap pandering that it is.

The constant back-and-forth between different worlds has become tiresome and a little hard to follow. Last year it was Storybrooke and The Enchanted Forest, this year it's Storybrooke and The Underworld. It's almost as if the writers can't figure out how to keep a plot set in one location compelling. "How will we ever get back to Storybrooke?!" gets pretty old the 30th time around.

No, this show isn't what it used to be. Time to put this story to bed!

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

That's It

1/10
Author: vandyke50 from London
12 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

OK, I quit. Having suffered through season three I won't even bother trying to watch season four. I program has gone from silly to just plain dumb in my opinion. The Blue Screen effects are poor, seen better Blue Screen on some weather maps, the acting for the most part is awful, the story has become boring and story lines that even include Medusa which would make me think the writers are either teenagers or can't tell the difference between a Fairy Tail and mythology. The only thing missing now is including Superman and Ben Hur. It seems that A.B.C is so desperate for a hit show they will just keep flogging this dead horse.

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12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Pretentious, commercial peace of crap

2/10
Author: Ilian Todorov
9 October 2013

For goodness sake couldn't they've used anything other than what Disney was already filmed, there are literally thousand upon thousand other fairy tales, but the minute they've used up the most popular ones they switch to Alice in wonderland and Peter Pan because those books are popular. And there are literally no bad guys, all characters are driven by true love or some other noble crap, no matter how despicable their actions are and how much they deserve their punishment they are always forgiven, doesn't anyone in this show heard the phrase "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" the evil queen deserved her punishment but she is forgiven the instant the annoying boy say "She is my mother" it doesn't matter that she killed the sheriff and tried to emotionally crush said boy in more than one occasion. The acting is above average but but anything more is suffocated by the poorly written plot and characters.

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41 out of 74 people found the following review useful:

"Disappointing" would be an understatement

1/10
Author: Jiji-3 from Bulgaria
21 November 2011

The pilot was intriguing. The concept can seem interesting - nothing groundbreaking, don't get me wrong, but this is a show in which there's no gratuitous violence, no sex and bare T&A, and no gore. Strangely enough, only one of the female characters is a porn star lookalike wearing remarkably skimpy clothing (Little Red Riding Hood in 4). This look is, as usual, unnecessary for plot/character development and has only been inserted to gratify male viewers. Nevertheless, prime time shows that don't rely on female nudity, blood & guts closeups, the glorification of violence or all of the above to get attention aren't exactly common so even without the "fairy tale characters exiled in the real world" premise (which is nice), at first glance Once Upon A Time could still vaguely feel somehow different, possibly original. Which it could have become, except it didn't.

The producers and screenwriters evidently decided that no actual effort was required to make the series successful. As such:

The actors, good as I know some of them are, seem strangely uninvolved - with their characters and with each other. Some of them (like Emma and Prince Charming, to name 2) have been miscast.

The characters feel flat (poor writing you can't expect actors to always be able to undo) so 4 episodes later I still don't care about anyone in particular. That's a problem considering the number of people to choose favorites (or most disliked antagonists) from.

The plots are slow, simplistic and predictable. The dialog ranges from average to mediocre, and I often find myself wondering if someone made a mistake that still hasn't been discovered, as a result of which a children's show (and a poor one at that) is being aired in Once Upon A Time's time slot 4 weeks in a row.

I don't think the potential the series had at the beginning is ever going to unfold - the people in charge clearly decided to rest on whatever laurels they think they possess, walk all over said potential, and settle for a low maintenance time waster. The thing is, they aren't going to waste any more of my time.

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