“Once Upon a Time” Pilot Released; Let the Fairy Tale Battle Begin!

Although Oct. 23 is the official release date of ABC’s new fairy tale series, “Once Upon a Time,” I was delighted to see IMDb offering the full first episode for free viewing today.  As I’ve been excited for the upcoming battle of the fairy tale shows since March, I eagerly settled in to watch the pilot.

To quickly summarize the show’s concept, all of the fairy tale characters we know and love have been transported to the modern world by spell of an evil witch (Lana Parilla).  To further complicate things, they no longer remember their true identities, giving them no way to fight back against this curse.  Think “Fables” plus amnesia–an easy criticism of the show’s plot.

Despite the similarities to “Fables,” however, the pilot was relatively solid, striking a good balance between an angsty and mysterious present and flashbacks to the characters’ magical pasts.  Although this episode didn’t delve particularly deep (Few pilots do.), many scenes teased the audience by suggesting future twists and upcoming conflict.  I’m not a true fan yet, but if the show makes good on the potential the pilot hinted at, there’s a good chance I’ll become one.

I was interested to see that the show is not simply focusing on true fairy tales.  Many references were made to Carlo Collodi’s “Pinocchio,” which I’m willing to accept.  Although this story is not a true fairy tale, it is getting closer to becoming one; few people seem to know the name of the original author (Carlo Collodi), and there have been tons of adaptations, many of which bear little resemblance to the original story.  Lines were further blurred, however, when the book that represents the characters’ past lives briefly showed an illustration of some flying monkeys.  Likewise, the magical wardrobe capable of transporting people to another land was clearly a Narnia reference.  “Pinocchio” may be halfway to a fairy tale, but “the Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and “The Chronicles of Narnia” are not.  Although many audience members will likely ignore this, some will know enough about fairy tales to make this a little wince-worthy.  If the writers expect to get away with this kind of line blurring (something of which “Fables” is wildly guilty), they’ll have to make their plot compelling enough that pickier audience members will be willing to let it slide.

Overall, I found the pilot pretty enjoyable.  I’ll admit, however, that I remain excited  for the Oct. 28 premier of  “Grimm,” which is sure to be this show’s greatest competitor.  Let the fairy tale battle begin!

ABC’s “Once Upon a Time”

It looks like NBC’s upcoming show “Grimm” is going to have some competition.  ABC is developing their own fairy tale show, “Once Upon a Time.”  The show, which comes from the writers of “Lost,” features a star-studded cast; Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, and more are listed on the official cast list, and “Pirates of the Caribbean” veteran Lee Arenberg announced his involvement on Twitter less than 24 hours ago.

 

Jennifer Morrison of "House" is set to play Anna Swan, the star of "Once Upon a Time."

“Once Upon a Time” centers around a town called Storybrook where fairy tale characters exist in the modern world.  Although this has the potential to be a great show, it also feels a bit like a rip-off of Bill Willingham’s comic series, “Fables.”  Since ABC got the rights to a “Fables” television show in 2008, one wonders why they seem to be abandoning it for such a similar concept, especially since the comic series has already proven its success; “Fables” has won 14 Eisner awards during its nine year run and it does not seem to be losing any steam.  It really makes me wonder if ABC and Vertigo might be having some trouble with their deal, after all.

I also think it’s fascinating that two fairy tale shows are coming out at once.  In fact, NBC has another show in development with an equally mystical plotline: magical cop drama “17th Precinct.”  I have not heard any fairy tales mentioned in association with it, but with all the fairy tale films that have been cropping up lately (Snow White especially) I wouldn’t be surprised if a few found their way onto the show.

To see a collection of the other tweets and stories I consulted while writing this post, check out the story I created with them on Storify.  I’ve included everything from concept summaries to tweets from the actors themselves.

%d bloggers like this: