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Once Upon a Time: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)

31 Aug, 2012 By: John Latchem

Five-disc set, $45.99 DVD, $79.99 BD
Not rated.
Stars Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Jared S. Gilmore, Robert Carlyle, Raphael Sbarge.

In ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” Enchanted meets “Lost” with an intriguing premise that plays with audience expectations about classic fairy tales.

According to the set-up, the characters of the storybooks live together in a magical dimension that exists as an amalgam of fairy tales, fables and ancient myths. As Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) prepares to give birth to her and Prince Charming’s (James Dallas) daughter, the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) vows to subject the land to a dark curse that will take away their happy ending.

The curse sends the characters to our world to live normal lives with no memory of their true self in the small town of Storybrooke, Maine. The only defense against the curse is Snow’s child, who is sent through a portal before the queen could work her magic, and is prophesized to save the day when she turns 28.

The baby grows up to be Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), a tough-as-nails Boston gal who is told by her long-lost son, Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) that she is the savior. She believes none of it, but heads to Storybrooke to get to know Henry, and runs afoul of his adopted mother, the town’s mayor who happens to be the Queen.

The show is remarkably easy to get into, with a structure very similar to “Lost.” Each episode chronicles Emma’s adventures in Storybrooke contrasted with a flashback to a character’s life in the fairy tale world.

There’s a suggestion in one episode that apparently the barriers between worlds are such that creative types in our realm can peer into these other worlds to inspire their imaginations, although it would seem, based on how fairy tale land is set up that most of the people writing the fairy tales over the years were wrong until Disney came along. Most of the characters are given their Disney-modified backstories (e.g. Pinocchio’s cricket is named Jiminy, all the dwarfs share their Disney names, etc.), and part of the fun for the viewer is trying to find all the Disney references. But there are also characters Disney hasn’t touched yet, such as Red Riding Hood and the show’s standout character, Rumpelstiltskin (played with relish by Robert Carlyle), presented here with their own unique twists.

The extras pretty much meet expectations for a show such as this, with featurettes about the creation of the show, re-creating the fairy tale look and transforming a real small town into Storybrooke. There’s also a segment in which the actors try to recount their own memories of the Snow White story. Rounding out the package are 12 minutes of deleted scenes, a blooper reel and several audio commentaries, including one in which Morrison discusses using her experience on “House” to help bring accuracy to medical scenes on this show.

Exclusive to the Blu-ray are a series of featurettes that detail the literary origins of some of the characters used on the show. Interestingly, one of them is The Little Mermaid, which hasn’t yet been featured on the series. Maybe in season two.

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