Once Upon a Time Review: Believe in Magic

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I wasn't quite sure what to think when I sat down to watch the pilot episode of Once Upon a Time. Knowing it was a story about fairy tale characters - written by the creators of Lost - certainly piqued my interest. If anyone could pull off an entertaining fantasy world, it's definitely these guys. Still, I went in a bit skeptical.

But I needn't have been. I was hooked from the opening scene.

Once Upon a Time is a beautiful, stunning, magical journey. I may never have been a huge fan of fairy tales, but like the three bears and their porridge, I want more.

Once Upon a Time Premiere Pic

It all begins with the happy ending between Snow White and Prince Charming, which infuriates the Evil Queen, who won't be defeated for long. She issues a curse that will steal everyone's happy endings, making this plan for revenge more complex and powerful than anything Emily Thorne has come up with. What happens when there is no hope of a happy ending? Well, it's certainly no fairy tale.

Which is why all of our beloved characters are banished to... New England. They are all stripped of their identities and their magic and are sent to live along side the rest of us. Of course, Storybrooke, Maine still has a bit of magic in it, however latent it has remained all of these years.

Ginnifer Goodwin is Snow White and is a wonderful combination of innocence and fierce survival instinct. One of my favorite scenes is of her and Prince Charming struggling to save their baby from the Queen's wrath. In an epic sword battle (and who doesn't love those) Charming actually gives his life in the hope that his child has the chance to rescue them all.

The Evil Queen, played by Lana Parrilla comes across a bit over the top at times, especially in her role as Storybrooke's mayor, Regina, but you'll never doubt that she has the power to pull off the curse that keeps them all unknowingly trapped in this strange little town.

Jennifer Morrison is wild card Emma Swann. A beautiful bail bondswoman, she's just smart, feisty, and kick ass enough that you believe that some day she could take on the Evil Queen.

But the person who stole the show for me was Henry, the 10-year old adopted son of the Mayor/Queen. He's spunky, intelligent and has just the right amount of persistence, and faith in fantasy to make you want to believe. He and Emma have some of the best banter in the series and I enjoy how he continues to poke at her resistance. When the clock in the Storybrooke town square finally springs to life, I couldn't help but smile along with Henry.

There are several other fairy tale characters here that we barely touch on in the premiere. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of all of them as the series continues.  My favorite so far is Robert Carlyle, who makes a perfectly creepy Rumpelstiltskin. My question: will he really want to head back to the world of fairy tales where he's locked in a dungeon cell... when in Storybrooke he's a man with money and power named Mr. Gold? Will he help or hinder the efforts to break this curse?

As Mary Margaret, the reincarnated version of Snow White tells Emma:

Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing. | permalink

I'm hoping that power gives us some great story in the magical world of Once Upon a Time. So far, so very, very good.


Editor Rating: 4.4 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (313 Votes)

C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.


Just cechked out your wedding photos – you guys looked gorgeous – especially the bride! Flowers, everything just beautiful.xxxx


Good enough to watch another episode. Bad CGI. Obviously not Maine with those mountains LOL. Emma and the boy had good banter. Fairy tale world was cheesy. Charming swordfighting while holding newborn Emma was cool. Charming has been been dying for 28 years damn! Robert Carlyle was good. I hope everyone doesn't have a name that references their fairy tale nature cause that's too much.


Loved the episode and can't wait to see where this will all go. We can't let normal logic dictate what could/should happen...this is a fairytale after all, so we have to let our imaginations take over. Regarding Jennifer Morrison...according to IMDb, she is 32, so playing 28 is not that a big a stretch in my mind!


Jennifer Morrison is 41. How the hell is she playing a 28 years old? Who are they trying to fool? She is a horrible lead and i already hate her character but i´m totally addicted to the kid. Awesome actor. I´ll keep watching for him.


Really liking it so far. Can't wait to see more. With that latent power I am intrigued to find out how much Rumplestiltskin does remember Emma, I think there is some recollection when he hears her name. And how much does the mayor/evil queen remember. I know no one else does, but does she retain her fairy tale memory? When she stood in front of the mirror I half expected her evil queen side to appear in it. But she definitely knows more than the others.


@Hathor He is still in the hospital after 28 years because time is frozen in Storybrooke, Maine. Love this show!!!!!!


It was all right...It's basically a rework of the comic book "Fables" I imagine there's gonna be a legal fight about that some time soon. Jennifer Morrison is quite lovely. I don't think she's a leading lady though. We'll see. What happened to Robert Carlyle's career that he had to take not one but TWO Vancouver shows? One where he's Rumplestilskin. I agree. Grumpy was pretty good. The kid? He's right out of the "Spunky Precocious Kid" catalogue. Meh.


I've gotta agree with a lot of the comments that young Henry is outstanding. I also liked the subtle-and not so subtle-fairytale references. Too soon to form an opinion but the series shows promise. I get the feeling that Storybrook has been cut-off from the real world for the past 28 years. I'm wondering if maybe that will change now that time has once again been set in motion.


i saw some pictures on a differect site of Ginnifer, Jennifer and Jared (Snow, Emma and Henry)in the same scene. Great casting on that. They certainly look like they can be related


I was beyond skeptical about this show. I even laughed at the overall summary of it but then they showed the previews and the effects looked intriguing and then I heard great things from people "in the know" about the premiere and I told myself I'd just record the one episode just to see what it would be like. I'd be darned I kinda loved it! It has such promise! I love the intrigue, the mystery, the complexity of it all. Jennifer Morrison won me over instantly. Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White...she did what fairytales never really could pull off...she made Snow White a heroine, fierce, strong willed, independent w/o making her the cliche damsel in distress. In fact despite the sexism of fairytales so far the women of the show make these fairy tale females empowered women. I love that about it. I also love how they subletly remind you of which fairy tale character is what...like Red Riding Hood, if the inn wasn't any indicator her red-streaked hair and the way she subtlety wrapped the scarf around her head while preparing to go out was...and it wasn't cheesy. Or the way Gestapo mentioned something about he and his wife not having kids. You remember it was him. The little boy definitely stole the show. The concept is very interesting, I wonder how it all pans out. Prince Charming is really in the hospital presumable in a coma and Snow White is really the teacher, but their daughter is grown up and appears to be their age, so where is she in all of that. I'm intrigued enough to watch more and really surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did because I was determined not to.

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Once Upon a Time Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

She poisoned an apple because she thought I was prettier than her!

Snow White

Out of your suffering will rise my victory.

Evil Queen