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Don't mean to be harsh here but you need to draw a line in the sand, even if the sand is actually fairy dust and you draw it with a magic wand. Once upon a time (a-ahem) when the world was green and TV was new, there was a hit series called THE FUGITIVE about a man wrongly accused of murder. The show was well-acted, well-produced, well-written. It was a hit. On the final episode after a wonderful run, the real killer was finally caught and the hero was vindicated. But that was not the real ending. The "real" ending was that, with the villain caught, viewers lost interest in watching the series in re-runs, and much income was lost, at least to the producers. And a valuable lesson was learnt -- never resolve any story, if you can avoid it. OK, flash forward a half century. In today's world viewers have somehow become a lot more comfy with paradox and ambiguity and, seemingly, can now watch for hours on end -- literally -- without ever knowing or caring how the story ends. Which is the premise of this show, reduced to the bare bones. Instead of making the fairy tale about the ending, make it about the story. Use quality actors, scripts, production values, knock yourself out. But -- here is the key - like another fairy product from Hollywood, prophetically called THE NEVER-ENDING STORY, just make sure each episode ends with more problems than solutions. If you dig deep through the 100s of IMDb viewer reviews here, you will find others who have noticed the exact same thing. Just when you think an episode is about to resolve, it instead spirals out of control. Clearly, this is not enough to dissuade viewers -- OMG, they have spun off a sister show! -- but for historians of the future, it does raise issues about the attention span of the modern TV watcher. For breaking just about every basic tenet of core narrative fiction, albeit profitably, this show is just plain wrong. I don't expect much agreement, but I need to point out the obvious. And here is a footnote -- you have to wonder aloud if the two Jennifers each initially read for each other's parts. Narrative aside, the show would have been more interesting had the roles been switched.
I can appreciate that people want a wholesome show that has a continual
story arc, constant influx of new characters to learn and engage with,
and some sizzle in the form of special effects and plot twists. But
OUAT has absolutely no steak.
The writing is garbage. From implausible story elements to plot holes to middle-school- caliber creative writing content, I can feel brain cells committing hari kari halfway through every episode that I endure for the sake of my wife.
The acting isn't much better. Delivery tends to be either over-baked melodrama or flat, emotionless tripe. I sympathize a little with the cast, as Morrison proved that she's watchable in House, and Carlyle has had a great career. I don't know that Hanks and Streep could do any favors for OUAT's script. The boy is shrill and precocious, and while his story tells me that I should be sympathetic and intrigued, I'm desperately hoping that he gets written out and causes at least one of the main characters to have some motivation to do something that actually impacts the story.
Special effects are on the poor end of network made-for-TV fare. Even the costuming and makeup seem to be an attempt to anger taste and logic. Goodwin in particular vacillates between looking like a feminine boy to a ringlet-wigged superhero, neither of which makes her likable or approachable.
The premise is clever, but the execution couldn't possibly be worse. I do believe that family-friendly content can coexist with quality, but OUAT certainly isn't evidence of that.
*** 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.
Utterly contrived, wooden plots with no imagination, bad acting, sets
that look cheap and unreal, this series has it all. I could select
individual actors for special mention but I'll save them the
embarrassment. The cast list sounds quite hopeful with Robert Carlyle
and some of the others in it being good actors and well known - I do
hope they're being paid well enough to compensate for the dreadful
story-less plots and wooden dialog they're being forced to recite. The
end of series 1 can't come soon enough for me and hopefully it won't
get a second series and we'll be spared the pain of more of it.
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.
I loved the first two seasons, but this third season is nothing like I had hoped. It was a great idea, everyone loves Neverland and Peter Pan, but you hardly see him or Neverland, except jungle. This doesn't have the magic the first season did. I guess there's only so much you can do with fairytale characters living in our world, because it's like they're grasping for anything to bring it back, and I'm afraid it's finished.It's dark, dreary and boring, before they would go back into the past and it fit, now it seems very scattered and just a filler. The opening of the third season had only 8 million compared to 12 in the first season and viewing will probably go down. This will probably be the last season for it anyway, loved the first season esp guys, but I don't look forward to the next episode now. Sunday was my last one.
*** 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.
From the makers of Lost comes Once Upon a Time.
When Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) is alone on her birthday she is visited by her son whom she gave up 10 years ago for adoption. While on their way to 'Stroybrooke' the boy tries to convince her that all the residents of the town are fairytale characters and they are not aware of it. This is the core and modern day setting of the story.
The second half of the story runs in flashbacks this the part which you can assume to the be the authentic setting of show white.
So, basically there are two settings which are in different parts of time.
The storyline is good, Jared Gilmore shows some really good acting for his age, other actors have also done a nice job. the cinematography is decent (haven't seen any extraordinary shots or camera angles till now) the sound effects are really great.
If you are looking something as exciting, complex and hardcore as Lost you will be disappointed, come on it's a fairytale but it certainly is enchanting, warm and gripping.
Now the criticisms,
The cast is good but not brilliant. The shift between the two time lines is a little bit awkward sometimes.
In all the show is interesting, so if yo have 60 minutes to spare it's worth venturing into.
The show has a promising premise , but that's about it. There's plenty of miscasts, overacting, and bad scripts to be found. After a few episodes, certain characters like the mayor and Emma really gets on your nerves with their grating personalities. Everyone seems to spend too much time arguing and plotting soap opera style. I wish the plot has better pacing and more depth. Poor Robert Carlyle, he deserves so much better. It's like seeing Kenneth Branagh in Wild Wild West. I wonder how big of a budget this show has? The scenery, costumes, and special effects all seem to be on the cheap side. It just makes the fantasy elements of the series feel underwhelming.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I actually found this on my IMDb list of recommended things to watch.
Id never heard of it before, and thought it sounded interesting so I
watched the pilot and was hooked as soon as I saw Robert Carlyle'
performance as Rumpelstiltskin.
The story line is well thought out, and the cast is amazing. Id never heard of half of them but Ill definitely be watching some more of their work, they are all brilliant.
I was so upset in episode 7, when Graham died. When he started getting his memories back, I really wanted him to help Henry and Emma break the curse; and secretly maybe I wanted Graham and Emma to get together as well, they would have been so good together. I've watched this episode so many times now, and every time it gets to that part I wish I could change things. Where is Rumpelstiltskin when we need him?
All in all, this is a brilliant show, I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a new twist to all our favourite fairy tales.
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