I figured it was about time I posted something about one of my latest entertainment discoveries: ABC's television series, Once Upon a Time.
|Ginnifer Goodwin and Joshua Dallas star as |
Snow White and Prince Charming, respectively,
in the ABC tv drama series Once Upon a Time.
I first came across this idea when I first read The Shadow of the Bear, a modern retelling of the Grimm fairy tale Snow White and Rose Red by Regina Doman. Towards the beginning of the novel, heroine Rose Brier asks,
"Have you ever felt that there was something going on in life that not everyone was aware of? ... As though there's a story going on that everyone is a part of, but not everybody knows about -- a sort of drama, a battle between what's peripheral and what's really important. As though the people you meet aren't just their plain, prosaic selves, but are actually princes and princesses, gods and goddesses, fairies, gypsies, shepherds, all sorts of fantastic creatures who've chosen to hide their real shape... Or have forgotten who they really are."
This idea fascinated me and since that day I have made it a type of hobby to identify the fairy tale character and/or species of friends and acquaintances. But to see this idea developed not just in a movie but in a TV series seemed like a fantastic idea filled with promise and entertainment.
I didn't start into the series until December 2011, so I had a few episodes to catch up on. I was hooked by the first episode, and while I have not been pleased with everything that the series has to offer, I definitely thought its faults were overshadowed by its virtues, making it a worthwhile pastime.
I am not an expert in regards to television series but I am sure that, just like any form of storytelling, elements such as relatable characters, their development, dialogue, and plot are the keys to a successful story. I thought that while the writers did an excellent job in presenting multi-faceted, relatable characters, the show fell a little short in regards to dialogue at times.
Another complaint among fellow viewers was how slow the plot seemed to progress. I did not take issue with this factor. The plot progression may have dragged at times, but the funny thing about it was that I wasn't bored in the least! I think this was mainly because of two factors: 1) the constant switching back and forth between the real world and the fantasy world (I say "fantasy" because Wonderland comes into the show for one episode); and 2) character exposition. These two factors are very much related, for while you are learning about the character's place and occupation in Storybrooke, in the fairy tale world you are receiving a lot of the character's backstory: past events that affect the present and that may even reveal a new perspective. So, while there may not be a lot going on in an episode, you did receive a lot of valuable information about the character.
Which brings me to one of the show's strengths: characters! The characters come across as REAL. This may have been the show's greatest strength. Many of us have grown up with these fairy tale characters: Pinocchio, Snow White, the Mad Hatter, Grumpy the Dwarf. We know them (or at least we think we do) and love them. This presents a challenge for the screenwriters because everyone has a preconceived image of who they are and what they are about, and no one wants to be disappointed! Fortunately, screen writers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis had character development as one of their primary focuses: "As people, you've got to see what the void in their heart or in their lives is to care about them... For us, this was as much about the character journeys and seeing what was ripped from them in coming to Storybrooke -- going at it that way as opposed to making it the 'break the curse show.'" Producer Adam Horowitz adds, "The idea is to take these characters that we all know collectively and try to find things about them that we haven't explored before. Sometimes it's a story point, sometimes it's a thematic connection, sometimes it's a dilemma they face in both worlds that is similar." One of my favorite examples of this is found in the Mad Hatter/ Jefferson and his separation from his little girl, Grace.
|The Mad Hatter a.k.a. Jefferson, played by Sebastian Stan|
An example of the darker twists of the story was the affair between Mary Margaret and David in the real world. This drove me nuts. I came very close to giving up the show, it was getting so bad. What bothered me the most about it was the inconsistency between David and James. There was a conflict between the Prince Charming/James of the fairy tale world and the David of the real world. James was courageous, honest, a person of integrity, while David was weak-willed. Then it occurred to me that David's behavior was also a result of the curse. Similar to Adam's fall from grace in the story of Christianity, David has fallen victim to the power of the Queen's curse. What also reconciled me with this aspect of the story was that the affair was hardly painted in a positive light. The audience sympathized with Catherine, and they certainly weren't painted as victims to the disdain of the Storybrooke community.
|Hansel and Gretel alongside the evil queen a.k.a. Regina, played by Lana Parilla|