Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin and Robert Carlyle star in this fantastical series that follows the travails of a young woman who is drawn to a small Maine town and discovers that it’s filled with the mystical elements of the fairy tale world.
The Evil Queen (of Snow White fame) puts a curse on Snow, Prince Charming and the whole lot of fairy tale characters who live in that world, sending them to a place where they can never be happy! Maine! (A joke only a Mainer/former Mainer can appreciate.) The real reason they will never be happy is that no one will remember who they are! And Snow White can’t be happy as a school teacher named Mary Margaret without her Prince Charming! But just before the spell is cast, Snow and Charming secret their newborn daughter Emma into a cupboard Geppetto (yes, THAT Geppetto) made for them from the last enchanted tree in the forest. It transports her to another world, where, prophecy has it, she will grow and mature until the day she is ready. Then she will break the curse.
Emma has not had a great life. Since she was found on the side of the road when she was a baby, she grew up in the foster care system, got herself into trouble with the law, and gave up her own baby many years ago. Now she’s a bounty hunter of sorts, never settling down, never letting anyone in. Until a kid shows up at her door. His name is Henry, and he’s travelled all the way to Boston from Storybrook, Maine, where he lives with his adoptive mother, the Mayor. And he’s Emma’s biological son. She takes him back to Maine to his mom, but once there… she just can’t leave. Why is that, do you think?
This show features all your favorite fairy tale characters, PLUS SOME, and in ways that are often a delightfully surprising twist on the familiar stories all wrapped up in a campy soap.
There are literally a gazillion actors on this show, and you’ve seen most of them in other things, but I’m just going to list a few of the ones that brought me particular joy to recognize.
Robert Carlyle as Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold
You might remember Robert Carlyle from such things as Trainspotting, The Full Monty or Ravenous, but here he plays Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin with giddy abandon. This show is really his vehicle, and he embraces the camp, chews the scenery, is ridiculous and ridiculously fun to watch. I may or may not have recently adopted his voice when speaking for our currently crazed kitten, Sutch. “Cuddles always come at a price, deary…”
Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White/Mary Margaret Blanchard
It seems like Ginnifer Goodwin was in absolutely everything a few years ago, but I had only ever watched her in Walk The Line and Big Love. Gotta say, I can’t imagine a more perfect actress to play Snow. Although sometimes they go overboard with her eyebrows.
Emilie de Ravin as Belle French
Aw, it’s Emilie de Ravin! From Lost! Is anybody as cute as she is? I don’t think so. And she’s even cuter as a brunette. Can you guess who she is?
Kristin Bauer van Straten as Maleficent
It’s Pam! Pam from True Blood! Okay, Kristen Bauer, whatever, it’s Pam! The only character I still actually care about! (Apart from Sheriff Northman, but really, he shouldn’t even count.) And she plays Maleficent! Of COURSE she does.
Couch-Sharing Capability: High
My brother is actually the person who got me to give this show a try — I had previously scoffed. But since he’s in Maine (I KNOW!) and I’m in Texas, the best we can manage is chatting about it on the phone. So I coerced and cajoled my unwilling husband into joining me on the sofa, and quicker than you could say “Bippity, boppity, boo!” he was texting me things like “Is it ridiculously lame that I can’t wait to go straight home tonight and watch more Once Upon A Time?” And that is why I’m a lucky woman.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Moderately High to Low
This show hits its stride about halfway through the season, so while I enjoyed the beginning, I think it wise to begin with a nice buzz, the better to encourage outbursts like, “Ha! It’s Jiminy Cricket!” then slowly lessen the amount of alcohol with each episode.
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Excellent
You guys, I’m addicted. In fact, I bought a subscription to Hulu Plus so I could continue with Season 2.