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291 of 312 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon May 12, 2012
By the end of season One, ABC was already touting "Once Upon a Time" as the best new drama on television and small wonder given that it breaks away from the crime drama rut and wonder of wonders; no sleaze, excessive violence or profanity to be found, possibly one of the most family-friendly dramas that television has seen in years. What... is a creatively enjoyable story with likeable characters, great FX and gorgeous sets still sufficient to rate as exceptional adult entertainment?

This brilliant fantasy drama continues to gain momentum with each episode as you are drawn into a world where classic fairy tale characters are brought to life after having been exiled to our world via a wicked queen's evil spell and all memories of their previous lives have been erased. Snow White and Prince Charming are the most obvious main characters but there are also dwarves, fairies, trolls and other great characters like Red Riding Hood, Gepetto & Pinocchio, The Mad Hatter and many more along with some nasty villains like Rumplestiltskin and of course the Evil Queen herself. In spite of the fantasy setting, it's immediately apparent from the cast's performance that this is a program which takes itself seriously resulting in a surprisingly believable narrative. Also, "Once Upon" plays a little like a detective show in that various clues are revealed in each episode all pointing to their previous lives, and although this is a serial, many of the episodes are just great stand-alone, fairy-tale based stories

Now if you're like me and just couldn't get into "Lost" please don't be put off by the fact that "Once Upon" has some of the same writers because the style of this series doesn't resemble that one at all. In fact it doesn't resemble anything on the big three networks, which is probably one of the main reasons I was so taken with it; i.e. utter amazement at something so remarkably nonconforming.

I'm not gonna review each episode because I dislike spoilers and you can easily wiki summaries of each but I will say that "Desperate Souls" is a very moving tale featuring my favorite character Mr. Gold, "Skin Deep" is an excellent take on the Beauty & the Beast theme, "Dreamy" features an awesome dual-theme featuring everyone's favorite dwarf, "Red Handed" is one of the most creative werewolf stories I've seen in years, "Hat Trick" is visually gorgeous and introduces the existence of other fantasy worlds and finally in "A Land Without Magic"...way to go ABC for giving us such a ridiculously cool dragon!

As a long-time fan of TV fantasy and sci-fi series (good ones being few and far between) I can honestly say that this is one of the best and reminds me a little of the Harry Potter films in that it is very character driven and I found myself eagerly anticipating each Sunday evening to see what new turn of events the next episode would bring; and of course with the release of season one I can now sit and veg for hours on end watching one of my fav new shows.

With 22 fabulous episodes packed into this DVD set (having a hard time thinking of a really lame one) prepare to become a permanent fan of the show, harboring a secret desire to run away to Storybrooke. :o)
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88 of 93 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2012
Okay, we all love the show. That's why we're here. Here's what's on the DVD, according to the back cover:

-Fairy Tales in the Modern World - Filmmakers and cast discuss their early love of fairy tales and how it inspires their work on the show.
-Building Character - Follow the character of Belle from initial concept, through casting of Emilie de Ravin and costumes, to filming.
-Welcome To Storybrooke - Meet the residents and watch the small port town of Steveston, British Columbia, transform into an East Coast village trapped in time.
-The Story I Remember...Snow White - The cast's childhood memories are interwoven in this retelling of the beloved tale.
-Fairest Bloopers Of Them All
-Audio Commentaries
-Deleted Scenes

5 disks. 946 minutes of total episode running time.

Here's what's on the DVDs, according to my research:

1. Pilot
2. The Thing You Love Most
3. Snow Falls
4. The Price of Gold
5. That Still Small Voice
+Bonus Features:
Audio Commentary of the Pilot episode (Co-Creators/Executive Producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz)
Once Upon a Time Orchestral Suite (basically a four-minute advertisement for the music CD)

6. The Shepherd
7. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
8. Desperate Souls
9. True North
10. 7:15 A.M.
+Bonus Features:
Audio Commentary of 7:15 A.M. (Ginnifer Goodwin aka Snow White and Josh Dallas aka Prince Charming)

11. Fruit of the Poisonous Tree
12. Skin Deep
13. What Happened to Frederick
14. Dreamy
+Bonus Features:
Audio Commentary of Skin Deep (Robert Carlyle aka Rumpelstiltskin and writer Jane Espensen)

15. Red-Handed
16. Heart of Darkness
17. Hat Trick
18. The Stable Boy
+Bonus Features:
Audio Commentary of Stable Boy (Co-Creators/Executive Producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and Lana Parrilla aka Regina)

19. The Return
20. The Stranger
21. An Apple As Red As Blood
22. A Land Without Magic
+Bonus Features:
Fairy Tales in the Modern World
Building Character
Welcome to Storybrooke
The Story I Remember...Snow White
Fairest Bloopers of Them All
Audio Commentary of A Land Without Magic (Co-Creators/Executive Producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and Jennifer Morrison aka Emma)
Deleted Scenes (nine in all)
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100 of 109 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2012
I don't watch a lot of television, but I do allow myself to get hooked on a few series (Mad Men and The Walking Dead presently). I very happily added Once Upon a Time to the list this year. Very skillfully written, especially in terms of transversing the fairy tale world and the "real world" Storybrooke. And I appreciate the way the writers fractured a few fairy tales in the interest of advancing certain plot lines. Unlike one of the other reviewers, I think the characters are rich and multi-dimensional. Some of the most interesting aspects of the show are found it its dark undercurrents/themes. It might be an 8:00 show, but it is definitely an 8:00 show with an edge.

The acting is top-notch. Robert Carlyle will always be a favorite, but all of the actors are spot on for their characters. It has been a great first season and I look forward to Sunday's finale with mixed feelings. I can't wait to see what happens, but I will miss watching the show over the summer.
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118 of 138 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2012
I've watched this show since the pilot and fell in love with each new episode it had to offer. This show is so unbelievably unique in its own way and its fun to see what kind of new twists come up within it. My favorite episodes so far have been: Skin Deep, Heart of Darkness & Desperate Souls. Robert Carlyle is very very always on time with his acting. He brings Rumplestiltskin to live in this new magical out come of our favorite disney characters and many other fairytales that lurk within a vault. His performance is breath taking and truly remarkable. Everyone should watch this show because if your not then your missing out on a great show. This has an amazing cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Dallas, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla & of course Robert Carlyle. You will not be let down by the fantastic twist that the directors have been putting down here. Its a must see for fairytale lovers. You have my word that this show is very good to watch with all ages. Once Upon A Time, is truly remarkable.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Who knew that network television could sustain not one but two programs based on childhood fairy tales? One of these is the fascinating "Once Upon a Time", whose premise is that a collection of story book characters have been cursed and frozen in (modern) time and place (the small Maine town of Storybrooke) and are largely unaware of their real identities. Into this situation walks bail bondsman Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison from "House"), who stumbles across the son she gave up for adoption ten years. The son, Henry, has been adopted by Regina Mills (Lana Parilla from "Miami Medical"), the Mayor of Storybrooke, who doesn't take kindly to Emma's presence. It is the knowing Henry who explains to the skeptical Emma that her destiny is to end the curse.

The plot quickly develops into a nasty rivalry between Emma and Regina over the fate of Henry and the town. Emma is significantly handicapped by her inability to accept the cursed nature of the town and its inhabitants. The audience has the benefit of flashbacks that explain the amusing and/or scary backstories of the residents. Regina is of course the Evil Queen who instigated the curse. Snow White and her Prince Charming are living in the town, but sadly unaware of their relationship or that Emma is their daughter. Pawn shop owner Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) is a devious Rumpelstiltzskin who plays off Emma and Regina against each other for his own purposes. Little Red Hood and Pinocchio makes surprising appearences as characters, among others.

If the plot can be a little challenging to follow, good acting and a great mixture of humor, drama, and some moral lessons sell the series. The season finale brings a shocking change to Storybrooke, but viewers will have to watch Season Two to find out what the change means. "Once Upon a Time" is highly recommended to its fans.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2012
First of all, if you haven't seen Once Upon a Time, I HIGHLY recommend you see it... right away, asap! I was hooked in the first five minutes of the pilot episode! Sometimes that happens and then the rest of the episodes aren't as good, but with this show, every single episode is excellent. When I try to choose a favorite episode, I find myself naming off half of them.

The characters are very well done, especially Regina/The Evil Queen. It's amazing how you can go from hating her one moment to liking her or feeling sorry for her in the next (You're awesome, Lana Parrilla!). Usually I have a least favorite character, but I really like all of them.

I love how they switch back and forth from the real world to the fantasy world. It may sound like it jumps around, but it doesn't seem like that at all. It's very easy to follow and the scenes between the two worlds are always linked and play an important part in the storyline. I won't go into specifics, but there are some amazing plot twists and surprises along the way. The things the writers think of!

Anyways, 5 stars for Once Upon a Time! I would give it more if I could! I'm really glad it's been renewed for next year and I can't wait to buy it on DVD.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2012
Once Upon a Time is a heady cocktail of fairy tales, children's lit and Disney animated movies.

As it begins, the Evil Queen of Snow White fame makes her bid for revenge by unleashing a spell on all the residents of Once Upon a Time land - including her nemeses Snow White and Prince Charming - which will hurl them into our world sans memories, ergo stripping them of their happiness. A council of the good guys manage to gum up the works by sending Snow and Charming's literally just born baby daughter Emma through first, making her the only person who can break the curse.

Flash forward to the modern town of Storybrooke, Maine. Emma is now a young woman who got herself knocked up and, unable to care for her son presumably because of a combination of her young age at the time and the unwillingness of her lover to step up to the plate, had given him up for adoption. This is something she was at peace with until the boy, Henry, seeks her out with a wild story: he is the adoptive son of Storybrooke's mayor Regina - none other than the Evil Queen herself - and the whole town consists of cursed characters who cannot remember their identities and cannot cross the town border and whom Emma is obligated to save. Occasionally aided by town residents Mary Margaret (Snow), David (Charming), Archie (Jiminy Cricket), Ruby (Little Red Riding Hood) and Ruby's Grandma, Emma begins to oppose Regina, not quite believing Henry but also not liking what she sees in Regina's behavior and becoming attached to Henry in spite of her intentions. But the Evil Queen has no intention of letting the curse be lifted, and also in the mix is the perhaps even worse Rumpelstiltskin, who starts racking up favors for purposes of his own...

Can Emma save the residents of Storybrooke, including her unknown parents and the son she thought she wasn't cut out for raising?

Some of the characters are immediately recognizable, but half of the fun is figuring out who alot of the town residents are going to turn out to be - particularly town Sheriff Graham, who deputizes Emma and backs her up, and later on a biker who eventually goes by the name of August and seems to know what's going on. Many of the backstories turn the traditional views of the characters completely on their heads. Sometimes it's with clever whimsey, but other times with pitch blackness and in some cases aching tragedy. The Queen's damage runs deep and far, and there are several stories of couples and relatives torn apart and trying to find their way back to eachother for a happily ever after - even if they don't quite know who they are thanks to the curse. There are any number of people to root for and get attached to, with some having been played a worse hand than others and many trying to rectify mistakes they've made. Acting honors almost definitely go to Robert Carlyle, who does a phenomenal job as a Rumpelstiltskin who manages to be sympathetic, creepy, scary and his own worst enemy all at once; but there are nuggets for basically all the main and supporting cast.

If you're a fractured fairy tale fan, then this is a must watch.
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35 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2012
This is the best show ever. I cannot believe how wonderful the writing is and not to mention all of the actors. If you want to see a show that is all about how far one will go for family and just how far that same family can litterally drive you past all point of reasoning, then this is your show. And on top of that add in constant guessing about what is going on which character and what could possibly happen next. Basically the only things guaranteed in this show is you will love it and you will never think about anything else when you start it. I LOVE this show. OuO
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2011
The idea of this whole show intrigued me when I first read about it under the fall 2011 season previews. The whole idea is amazing. The fairy tale world they created was stunning and breathtaking, I can't wait to see more of it in the coming episodes. It started out with the kissing of Snow White, which is a classic. I was unsure of whether or not I was going to like Josh Dallas as Prince Charming, but I must say that he grew on me as the first episode explored both the real world and the fantasy world. It did start out slightly slower than I expected, but after watching it twice, I understand why it did so. The show, as the writers have said, is character driven, and they had to set up the characters. Emma Stone is an interesting figure. I like the idea that we get to see our favorite storybook characters after the weddings. And, it's interesting enough that even my nine year old nephew liked it. So, I have to give this a good review. I can't wait for the next episode, because now the characters are set up, and you know where they are in the real world, and what happened to them in the fairy tale world to get them there.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2012
Personally, I am completely over the myriad of crime drama franchises and supposed "reality" shows, so Once Upon A Time has been a welcome addition to my TV viewing. This is not among the greatest shows in the history of TV, the special effects won't win awards, two of the lead characters are rather vanilla and predictable, and the writers have some tweaking to do as they roll into season 2. However, the show has some redeeming qualities:

--For those of us who grew up on fairy tales (especially the Disney versions), it's refreshing to see these stories told with a new twist and a more 21st century take. For example, we're actually given a more meaty reason as to why the Evil Queen hates Snow White, instead of the standard having-to-be-the-fairest-one-of-all nonsense.

--Lana Parilla's Evil Queen/Regina Mills is constantly driven, relentlessly selfish and a vicious individual--and yet she creates moments where you actually feel for her (at least a little bit).

--Robert Carlyle's Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold is manipulative, sneaky, and almost always out for himself--and he somehow makes you like him as he's plotting and pulling all those strings.

There are other positives, but to delve much further would reveal too much of the show for those who've yet to see it. Suffice it to say that, yes, Once Upon A Time is admittedly not the best show on TV. BUT, for what it is, it's a splendid change of pace and a welcome reprieve from the crime-laden, voyeur-rich, lowest common denominator fare that currently dominates television.
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