Monday, October 24, 2011

'Once Upon A Time:' Two shows for the price of one

ABC's ambitious new drama "Once Upon A Time" follows fairy tale characters who have been cursed to live in the real world without any knowledge of their true selves.

Viewers are introduced to the fairy tale world first, with the classic scene of Prince Charming riding up to save Snow White by awakening her with a kiss. Then everything shifts to their wedding which is interrupted by the Evil Queen cursing the happy occupants of fairy tale land.

The action picks up in the real world where bail bond agent Emma Swan tracks down a bail jumper by setting up a blind date with the criminal, chasing him down and beating him up, all while wearing a tight red dress and stiletto heels.

After a lot of set up that involved Emma meeting the son she gave up for adoption and taking him back to Storybrooke, ME viewers were introduced to real world versions of the fairy tale characters.

The Evil Queen is Regina the mayor, Snow White is sweet schoolteacher and Rumplestiltskin is ruthless business man Mr. Gold.

The real problem with "Once Upon A Time" is that it's two shows in one, neither being very well developed. The pilot felt disjointed and unsure of itself. The producers don't seem to know whether they want it to be a serialized drama like "Lost" or a fairy tale adventure.

For a show featuring some of literature's most enduring personalities, they were very one note and predictable.

Of all the fairy tale characters, the only interesting person was Prince Charming, who is unfortunately in a coma in the real world.

The only thing saving the show from its overly complicated premise is the strength of the cast, which includes Jennifer Morrison as Emma, Lana Parilla as Regina, Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White and Robert Carlyle as Rumplestiltskin.

Though it's always hard to judge a show by its pilot, "Once Upon A Time" will have to conjure up some powerful magic to keep the average TV viewer interested in the convoluted plot.

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