In case you were unaware, ABC’s Once Upon A Time is available on Netflix Instant. When I saw this I was curious. I hadn’t heard much about the show — which I realized is the result of not talking to people about TV much anymore, one of the bummers of not having in-house co-workers — but the concept sounded interesting: characters from fairy tales are trapped in the real world and one woman is trying to deal with them while we see flashbacks to their previous lives. It sounded like a very Lost set-up, which makes sense when you realize it was created by two writers from that show Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis. I proposed checking it out to the missus, she was amenable, so we gave the first episode a whirl. That was a little over a week ago and we just finished the 22 episode season last night.
To get into a little more detail, the series revolves around Emma, the daughter of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwinn) and Prince Charming who was sent to our world as a baby just before the Evil Queen (Swingtown‘s Lana Parrilla) cursed the fairy tale world by imprisoning them in a world without magic where they don’t remember their past lives. Emma had her own child who she gave up for adoption and wound up adopted by the EQ in our world. Years later, he’s one of the few people who know the truth, so he tracks his mom down, tells her what he knows and gets her to stick around town.
From there we get episodic reveals of new characters, backstories in both worlds and growing intrigue. It’s a really well set up series that gives you enough information while also seeding new ones to keep you coming back for more. I was particularly taken by the choice to definitively show the audience that the kid is telling the truth, but having most of the town think he’s nuts, including his biological mom. There are also really creative uses of some very familiar fairy tales, I especially liked how they incorporated Belle and the Beauty and the Beast story. It’s fun because they’re basing their stories on existing mythology while creating a whole new one, kind of like a comic book relaunch/reboot/whathaveyou.
We wound up finishing the first season at around 8:50 PM last night which was unfortunate timing because the first episode of the second season premiered at 8:00 PM. I will admit that I’m a little leery about watching this show as it comes out. The beauty of checking out an entire season on DVD or via streaming is that you see all the pieces in a relatively short amount of time meaning you remember a lot more of the connections. Plus, cliffhangers (either around commercials or between episodes) get resolved a lot faster. I like that immediate gratification.
On the other hand, I have been looking for my new Lost. When I say that I don’t just mean a series with weird elements and lots of drama, half of which is told via flashback. I mean the kind of show I get really excited about every single week, the kind of show I’m deeply invested in and love absorbing. Weird as this might sound, the closest thing I have to that right now is How I Met Your Mother — which is more like Lost than just about anything — and the various Challenges.
A good testament to how much we like the show is that we’re actually planning on giving up a show we usually watch in an effort to get on board with the episodes as they air. Usually we watch The Amazing Race, but as we talked about this very serious decision last night (I kid…mostly), I pointed out that it doesn’t really matter if you miss a season of AR because there’s no carry over. If we don’t like watching OUAT in real time, we can easily switch over and not miss much of anything. So, all we need to do now is watch the season premiere online and we’re good to go next Sunday.