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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Stylized and Intriguing Drama about Fairy tales, 3 November 2011

Only two episodes in, and "Once Upon a Time" has already demonstrated an ability to play with the sheer absurdity of fairy tales in the real world, dig into the complexities of previously one-dimensional villains (a la Gregory Macquire's "Wicked"), and get into some real human drama. If you like gritty dramas, this show is not for you. You'd probably be better off watching this fall's other fairytale show "Grimm," a well done effort in standout cop procedural fare. But if you find shows like "Pushing Daisies" more to your taste, then you'll probably love this concept.

The premise is this: the Evil Queen from Snow White has had it, so she curses the entire fairytale world into Maine because what could be more torturous? Oh, but the characters don't remember being fairytale characters, and they're all frozen in time. Luckily, Snow White and Prince Charming's baby was smuggled out and escaped the curse, so she's grown up into the damaged but ultimately likable Emma Swan (no relation to Bella). On her 28th birthday, Emma's stagnant existence is completely altered by the arrival of the son she gave up ten years ago, who drags her to Storybrooke, Maine so that she can break the curse. Little Henry is the only one who knows about the curse - apart from his Mommy Mayor Dearest, none other than the Evil Queen herself. What unfolds next is a drama about parents, abandonment, the meaning of motherhood, and ultimately a story about hope.

The first two episodes have been charming and serviceable; I believe the story can only go up from here. What will catch your eye is the heavily stylized filming of the fairytale world flashbacks, probably formatted for 3D television. It's a very lush visual experience if you can suspend disbelief, but if you can't then watching this show will probably be unpleasant anyway.

Definitely room to grow for the series as a whole, but so far so very good!

106 out of 139 people found the following review useful:
Addictive and Original, 5 October 2010

When I tuned in to "The Vampire Diaries" for the pilot episode, I expected to watch perhaps six episodes, grow bored, and then drop the show entirely. After all, I was only watching in the first place because it aired before my favorite show of all time, "Supernatural." I'd seen (and read) the "Twilight" series and found the teen vampire romance story lackluster and redundant. It's been done before about a thousand times, right? But I remember reading the original "The Vampire Diaries" books by L.J. Smith and decided it couldn't hurt to give this supernatural soap a try.

The most important thing to know about this show is the first four episodes are seemingly pointless; focused on cheap thrills, romance, and teen drama. Then something magical happens, creeping up silently and latching on without the viewer's notice: interest. By the end of the fourth episode the many story lines pick up and take off, and suddenly a silly or meaningless event becomes important. Things move fast in "The Vampire Diaries." This is a show that takes risks: people die without warning, stories that you thought could go on forever take only a few episodes, characters do and experience things you wouldn't have thought possible. Even better, there is no character who is wholly unlikeable. Everyone in the large ensemble cast has a story and a 3-dimensional structure, and even if the viewer decidedly doesn't like a character, the swing from one storyline to the next never lingers in one place for too long.

Some people have called this show their guilty pleasure. I refer to it as smart writing, good acting, excellent storytelling, and wonderful viewing. As of right now the second season is in the first few episodes of airing and the magic has not gone out. Far from it; this show only gets better. The lesser episodes are still fantastic, and the truly great ones are rich with everything an episode of television could possibly desire. I have yet to finish watching an episode without cursing the screen to give me more - my addiction to such a fresh show sometimes keeps me up at night.

For anyone (yes, even non 18-49 women demographic - we welcome the men!) interested in watching vampires, witches, and more, take the time to view beyond the first four episodes. I can almost safely guarantee anyone who likes vampires and horror (and a lot of dry wit) will not be disappointed.