Notes from New York Comic Con: Once Upon a Time Sneak Preview and Review

15 Oct

Once Upon a Time, the new ABC fantasy/drama created by Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis (of Lost fame) does not disappoint. It’s one of the more entertaining pilots I’ve watched in a while.  Ever since I took a “Freud and Literature” class in college, I’ve had a perverse fascination with fairy tales and I’m glad to see a network finally decided to take the plunge.  Of course, when one plunges, they all plunge so now NBC has Grimm and Fox has Locke and Key (although they chose not to pick up the pilot, I’d say they were having second thoughts considering they’ve now screened it at San Diego Comic Con and New York Comic Con – I had to stand to watch it and I was one of the last ones to get let into the screening – review to follow).  CBS is playing it safe with comedies, reality, and procedurals in one form or another.  It’s a smart move.  Not everyone is going to love fairy tale shows but I’m already looking forward to Once Upon a Time on Sunday nights.


The premise goes like this:  Snow White (Ginnifer Godwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) are in the middle of their wedding when the Evil Queen (Lana Parailla) breezes in and puts a curse on everyone and everything that has to do with fairy tales.  She’s mad and jealous of Snow White.  Prince Charming smites her with his sword but she manages to somehow survive, turning into a cloud of black smoke.  Her curse essentially banishes everyone to the real world and they forget who they are and nobody gets to live happily ever after.  Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) lets Snow White in on a secret:  her daughter who is about to be born, Emma (Jennifer Morrison), can return in 28 years and avenge the curse.

Fast forward 28 years.  Snow White’s and Prince Charming’s daughter, Emma, is a bail bonds collector in Boston.  It’s her birthday and a young boy shows up at her door, informing her he’s her son Henry (Jared Gilmore), who she gave up for adoption ten years before.  He tells her she must return with him to Storybrooke, Maine and save everyone in the town who don’t realize they are fairy tale characters.  She thinks he’s nuts but he grows on her.  Now the Evil Queen is Henry’s adoptive mother.  Emma doesn’t like what she sees and decides to stick around and check things out.  As the pilot progresses we see all the fairy tale characters including Snow White as average people.

What works in this pilot is the characterization of the fairy tale characters as average people.  And, in true Lost fashion, we get flashbacks to how things were before, how they behaved in a different world and the actions they took to make things end up as they have now.  Does that sound familiar to any of you Lost fans?

After the screening, Matt Mitovich, TV Guide’s Online Managing Editor, moderated a discussion with the show’s creators, Horowitz and Kitsis.  First, if you think it’s a reference to Lost in the show, then it probably is.  They just couldn’t help themselves.  Notice Henry’s name.  Look at the time the clock is stuck in Storybrooke.  Think about Emma’s last name:  Swan.  The good thing about this is that if you aren’t a Lost fan, you will never know and you won’t miss any deeper meanings.  If you are a Lost fan, go ahead and knock yourself out with the secret references.  A smart way to build on an existing fan base…

ABC has given this show a 13 episode order.  Horowitz and Kitsis explained that “each show would resemble the pilot.”  There will be a narrative between two worlds each time and episodes will include stories such as the Evil Queen’s side of the story, how Snow met Prince Charming, and an episode about Jiminy Cricket (written by none other than Buffy and Battlestar verteran Jane Espenson).

There will be a star-studded guest cast for weekly fairy tale characters.  And if you miss Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) from Breaking Bad, don’t despair, he will be the Evil Queen’s mirror in several episodes.

This show will now be added to my other guilty pleasures, Revenge and Castle for the Fall Season.  Congratulations ABC, I honestly can’t remember the last time I ever liked three of your shows in one season.  I think I was a teenager.  I’m not sure what that says about me or ABC and I prefer not to ponder on that question for any length of time…

Make sure to watch Once Upon a Time on Sundays at 8/7 central on ABC beginning October 23rd.

One Response to “Notes from New York Comic Con: Once Upon a Time Sneak Preview and Review”


  1. Comic Con NYC – Once Upon a Time Debut | Conference Wag - October 16, 2011

    […] Notes from New York Comic Con: Once Upon a Time Sneak Preview ( […]

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