“Once upon a time”: will this television series get its happy ending?

The tale of Snow White has been told copious amounts in 2012 with the release of two different takes on the classic fairytale in:  Rupert Sanders’ “Snow White and the Huntsman” and Tarsem Singh’s“Mirror Mirror”. Between Kristen Stewart’s cheating antics ruining her chances of playing the fairest of them all in the sequel and Singh’s film flopping at the box office; there is definitely a space open in the market for any new adaptations. A television series created by the writers of the hit series “Lost”, Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, aims to fill that gap. ABC’s “Once upon a time” is a series that twists the conventional fairytale narratives that were fed to us as youngsters by the Disney franchise. As it moves into it’s second series starting in September, only time will tell whether the characters get their happy endings.

“Once upon a time” revolves around 28 year old Emma, a woman with a troubled background. One evening she meets Henry, a ten-year-old boy who is the son that Emma had to previously give up for adoption. Henry carries around a book of fairy-tales and is convinced that every one living in his town of Storybrooke is a fairy-tale character, trapped in the ‘real world’ by a curse imposed by the evil queen, who Henry believes is his adopted mother Regina. Henry is adamant that that his birth mother Emma is the key to breaking the curse, but the only problem is Emma is not convinced. The narrative not only centres around one fairy-tale character but the whole lot of them and their histories: Snow White and Prince Charming, Red Riding Hood and her granny, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Rumpelstiltskin, Cinderella, Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket, just to name a few.

I was surprised to find that many people in the UK had not heard of the show before due to its popularity in the US. The show was aired on Channel 5 in the UK and its first episode drew in 2.2 million viewers according to Digital Spy Magazine. However the shows popularity wavered and the final episode with a viewership of 1.2 million, which is still not too shabby. “Once upon a time” brings up the issue of storytelling. It delves into the origins of each character and makes the audience ask certain questions such as: why is the Mad Hatter actually mad? Why is the evil Queen set to get her revenge on Snow White?  Why is Jiminy Cricket a conscience? And other lingering questions that Disney forgot to answer.

The audience can identify with Emma as she has a difficult time believing in the world of magic and will fall in love with Henry’s enthusiasm, as he is determined to get Emma to believe. The show instills hope; even if magic doesn’t exist in the ‘real world’, everyone still hopes it exists in some form or another.  Essentially “Once upon a time” is a fantasy series, which undoubtedly is not for everyone, but with so many adaptations of fairytale story lines going back hundreds of years, there is plenty for the creators to choose from and there is never an abundance of interesting plot lines. Thus Series two, without a doubt, is going to be magical.

Watch out for Series 2 of “Once Upon a Time” on Channel 5, coming this autumn.


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