Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Sunday, September 13, 2015

TV Review: Once Upon A Time Season One (Quasi Redux)

For my own sanity I'm going to break this up into seasons. What I like and dislike about the show changes from season to season.

When I first heard about Once Upon a Time I really really liked the premise. I am a fantasy nut, but overtime I had to come to grips that the show specifically this go round the first season but the other seasons have problems too. I believe and will probably always believe there is a good, hell a great show in here...somewhere.

The first season is kind of schitzo. There are a lot of ideas floating around some of them are great and some are good but badly executed, and some are down right lame.

The first season really does try to flesh out the backstory of the fables and really does make them quite interesting but it also makes clear that these interesting characters are the supporting cast. Most of the main characters. Snow White/Mary Margret, The Evil Queen/Regina and especially Emma Swan are just not that interesting.

Almost every moment somebody would get a really cool moment, I would want some time to digest it and the show would go, nope back to your regularly schedule program.

The biggest example I can think of is the Jiminy/Archie  episode which spends a lot of time explaining who he was, who he is and why he does what he does only to cut to bickering between Swan and Regina as Henry another more interesting character is in mortal danger

On that note Henry is one of my favorite characters. He more or less has the entire plot of the show and most of the characters figured out but nobody will listen to him because he's 10. Later on people start to get wise to it and their first response to the problem of the arc is find Henry and read his story book but it's still the first season.

Furthermore there is some fridge logic with Regina being the mayor. Being the evil queen and all she has prickly personality that keeps making me think who the hell elected her. Almost everybody either fears or hates her. And not in the good "Look, I don't want to cross that guy until I have to" way but more in that "Up yours pal" way. I can get that everybody else just sort of fell into their modern roles but for Regina I just can't see it. On the other hand she did cast the curse so of course she would put herself in charge.

Now that I think of it I kind of have a problem with most, though not all the villians. The better written ones dominate later seasons but Regina is kind of weak sauce especially in season one. The show in general focuses a little too much on wuv, and I'm not buying especially as written in season one Regina's I just want love motivations for all the crap she does.

Especially her murder of... look it's Snow White do I really need to spoiler tag that The Huntsman bites it.  The way that scene plays out she kills him not because he's the only guy who's reached the age of majority who's figured out the plot and can move the board against her but because he broke up with her and she can't deal. That's kind of weak.

That said the biggest problem with the first season is it plays fast and loose with the reveal that the flashbacks actually happened. Sometimes the show pretends like those are just stories, and sometimes it pretends Henry is the only sane man who knows what's going on.

This mean that the season spends a lot of time jogging in place until the last four or five episodes where everything is explained and we finally get a what's going on and why. Specifically who did what, how, and what their motivations were.

Because of that huge chunks of the first season feel like a prequel and I'm not talking about the flashbacks which are actually pretty good self contained stories in the vain of Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre or that Jim Henson show. (By the way I keep using the clip from The Story Teller for a reason it is really really good. It used to be on Hulu but alas. Then again there might be a reason for that.)  I mean that the over arching plot always feel like it's setting the pick for bigger more interesting stuff. This is especially so since the first season ends on a huge cliff hanger that feels like "okay the show can actually start now".

------Spoilers Now-----

While The Evil Queen brought all the fairy tale characters to the real world as revenge for all the stuff that happened in Snow White she was actually being manipulated by Rumpelstiltskin.

Before he was the evil bastard we know and hate he was an absolute wuss who sought power to protect his son but all that power changed him into the bargain makin', baby eatin', nightmare we know today. His son realizing that part of the transformation was caused by a magical deal with the devil made another deal with him to travel to a land without magic where he wouldn't be able to BE Rumpelstiltskin but Rumpie just couldn't let go of all that power and welshed, despite all the "stuff" he's done since that moment has become his biggest regret, "the one deal" he couldn't keep. Everything that happened in the first season was part of his master plan to reunite with his son and beg for his forgiveness, but being Rumplestilskin he doesn't have it in him to truly commit being without all that power. So he wants to, get to our world, locate his son, and here is the cliff hanger find a way to bring his mojo with him. What happens when you have a evil, goal oriented megalomaniacal,  fireball throwing wizard who at the same time ALSO happens to be a devious and ruthless contract lawyer in the REAL world?

That is a really good premise, but "the creators of lost" spent way to too much time keeping the audience in the dark and I can't help but feel the story doesn't really get started until season two and good until season three.


I'll deal with the second season later but what makes Rumple an interesting character is his fatal flaw. He is an absolute coward who is always searching for a bigger gun even when being the guy with the big red button scares the ever living shit out of his family (as embodied by his son) and would be allies partially because they know the score. If it's a choice between them and power he'll choose power every time.  And the question he has to ask himself is does he have it in him to change, to be comfortable being a weak man even though being that weak man is what drove him to be the monster of the tales.

But that question can't really get answered until the show explains all the background which doesn't happen until the tail end of the season.

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