Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Intro to Once Marathon Starting With A Pilot Review

There was once a boy beguiled by tales. He was fascinated by stories of far off lands. Soldiers traveling through a gate to the stars, a lord of time running across space, desert men riding magnificent beasts over the dunes, the rebuilding of a fallen empire. One year the lad became worried. There was a story. A story he took as an omen. An omen that the makers of the stories no longer thought such tales would be listened to. But he took heart for he was wrong, and he soon found more stories than he could consume. A woman who shared her face, hunters of demons, power falling into the most unlikeliest of hands. And these stories amused him all but one that left him perplexed.

Okay in English. After Legend of the Seeker,  Stargate Universe and some comments from Syfy (You know what it's Sci-Fi short for Science-Fiction deal with it damn it.)  for a hot minute there I was worried that science-fiction and fantasy shows were going to dry up. Then around 2011 I started discovering a lot of good ones. Caprica, Being Human,  Eureka, Supernatural, Orphan Black, Grimm, Lost Girl, Misfits, Game of Thrones, Haven, Legend of Korra.

Out of all of these shows I spend the most brain power thinking about Once Upon A Time. An avengers style cross over with folklore. How awesome oh wait.

The show has genuinely brilliant ideas, but a horribly flawed execution. Why can't I quit you?!

Tooling around on TV Tropes made me realize just how much good there is in the show tucked away in there. So as an experiment I am going to watch every episode and go over my thoughts. Here goes starting with the pilot.

The Open
The first five minutes are brilliant. A lot character main characters all get establishing character moments. Prince Charming charging with the horse tells you how much he cares for Snow White, when the Evil Queen crashes and does the whole Maleficent thing the party it's Snow who breaks out the sword, and Henry is reading all of this... on a bus, by himself almost like an adult but not quite. Yep that's so Henry.

The Book and The Curse
I love the narrative device of the book. In Smallville Chloe says something that I will remember for the rest of my life. You got a second chance but you made all the same choices. Particularly in the fist season it's interesting to see how the character of each of these guys manifests itself in a new context. Snow White is a teacher and Grumpy is a misanthrope locked in the drunk tank.

Visual Cues
Even before characters are straight up outed it's interesting how the series peppers visual cues. We see Archies/Jiminy's umbrella and Red's hood.

Okay I have to get this out of the way. One of my biggest problems with the show is Emma. She is the most borring character in the show.  While her early chase scene is kind of interesting in and of itself it also seems like it belongs in another show a much more conventional and boring show. This ain't 24. While the show always acts as if Emma is the protagonist I would make the argument that it's actually Henry.

On Henry 
I've said it before but the plot kind of revolves around him. He is the one who gets everyone into action you just can't say know to that smile of his.  And the boy is clever. In someways too clever. Even at the age of 10, especially within the confines of a story, Henry is the smartest character in this thing possibly only bested by Rumpy.

The Man Who Literally Tricked A Woman Into Feeding Him Her Firstborn
Oh god I love Rumpelstiltskin. And his first scene is glorious. In said scene he reveals to the audience that Emma is Snow's kid. That is interesting information. We the audience know this but Emma herself doesn't.

The Set Design
I've always thought the costumes were a little froofy, but god the sets are spectacular.

Final Confrontation
The ending is brilliant. Ultimately what makes the Evil Queen evil is here own insecurities manifesting in her decisions and how she treats people. That is a good strong characterization and it's telling that in a way Henry knows more about her than she does.

You know what? I can't find a whole lot wrong with the pilot.  Watching it I realize how much hope I had and still do have for the series.  There is so much promise in this premise. What if all the characters of your favorite faerie tales not only existed and interacted with each other, but what if they lived in modern times?

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