“Once Upon A Time” – TV Review

A solid show that’s way less cheesy than its promos make it look.

Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz met when they were sophomores in college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and shared a love of all things awesome. Thus, following a successful collaboration on a project which earned them a “b-minus”, they came to Hollywood and started writing.

Fast forward a decade or so. Kitsis and Horowitz have built a strong resume, writing for cult hits like Felicity and Popular as well as big-time critical and commercial success Lost. Now they have their own show on the air, Once Upon A Time, about a fairy-tale universe literally grounded in the real world.

The show alternates between the fairy tale world and the ‘real’ world, depicting a curse cast by the evil queen (Lana Parilla) upon Snow White’s (Ginnifer Goodwin) happy ending with Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) that reveals that all the fairy tale characters have been brainwashed into forgetting their fairy tale lives and are now living in unhappiness in a place called Storybrooke, Maine (“Seriously?”, Jennifer Morrison asks in the pilot episode).

It sounds cheesy, but the only stuff that’s really hokey is in the VFX department, and there’s not enough of that hokey-ness to be turned off to the show. Why? The characters. Having grown up on character-driven shows like Lost (which Kitsis and Horowitz obviously borrow from structurally in the pilot and future episodes), the writers ground the show with realistic and three-dimensional characters. Despite the fact that the Queen/Mayor is evil, she still articulates good points for why she should win and for that reason we empathize with her.

Beyond that, I won’t spoil the plot for you, because it really is a joy to go in and just be compelled.

I recommend that you watch at least the pilot of the show. It should be sufficiently compelling to make you stick around for a few weeks. Plus, Kitsis and Horowitz are funny and really interesting to talk to, along with being genuinely nice guys (you don’t see that in show business often, FYI). So watch for that reason too.

It’s not the best show on TV–no Breaking Bad* or anything–but it scores points for style, originality, and most of all, character. I’ll be watching.

Once Upon A Time premieres this Sunday at 8/7c on ABC.

*If you didn’t see Giancarlo Esposito kick ass on Breaking Bad, check him out on this show. He appears in episode 2 and keeps coming back as a recurring character. I’m excited. He really is one of the best actors on TV.

About Dylan Visvikis

Dylan Visvikis is a working screenwriter and director in Los Angeles. View all posts by Dylan Visvikis

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