Do you believe in magic? After watching the first seven episodes of Once Upon a Time, I certainly do. This unique twist on classic fairy tales had me looking forward to Sunday nights.
Let's grade the first half of the season in the latest installment of a TV Fanatic Midseason Report Card, shall we? (Past Report Cards have evaluated New Girl and Parks and Recreation, among other programs.)
A Creative Spin on Old Favorites. All of our fairy tale favorites were bounced out of their familiar fables and landed in present day Storybrooke, Maine thanks to a curse from the Evil Queen. They're frozen in a world without the possibility of a happy ending, that was until little Henry got his hands on a book that tells the tale.
Henry's charming, innocent, yet smart enough that he made us have as much faith as he did in Emma's ability to break the curse. It also didn't hurt that he and Emma had such easy chemistry that we believed in their biological bond.
Fiery heroines. One of things I never liked about most classic fairy tales was the damsel in distress aspect to the stories. Too many of the female characters sat around waiting for their prince to come. They needed to be rescued. As a girl, I always found that boring.
There are no boring females on Once Upon a Time. Emma's a kick ass bail bondswoman turned deputy. She's not intimidated by bullying mayors or creepy businessmen who deal in babies on the side.
Mary Margaret's good and kind but not a push over. She was willing to take a chance on love when it looked like David had left his wife but did honorable thing when his memory returned and he needed to give his marriage a chance. Far from perfect, she licked her wounds by sleeping with the arrogant Doc but her flaws made her all the more interesting.
Snow White was the most delightful surprise. In the original tale, Snow never held much interest for me. She was far too delicate and domestic to hold my attention. But this Snow White is daring. She becomes a bandit to survive. She's feisty and fun and now I understand how Prince Charming could fall for her after one meeting.
Handsome Heroes. Okay, I'm a little in love with Prince Charming and I've never said that after reading a fairy tale. Prince and Snow have amazing chemistry. The twin twist caught me by complete surprise and made Charming's character even more interesting and likable.
Charming's Storybrooke counterpart, David didn't lack the Prince's charm and his connection to Mary Margaret felt believable. The fact that his wife was snarky in one world and nice in another seemed odd but just had me more intrigued about how this love story will work out.
Graham. Sigh. Just when I began to enjoy his scenes with Emma he was ripped away. His death was done with dramatic flair and proved that no one in Storybrooke was safe but I'll miss the Sheriff as much as Emma.
Wickedly Fun Villains. Rumplestiltskin was downright creepy. The eyes, the hair, that pasty skin and there's something about that voice that sends shivers down my spine. His penchant for babies was simply freakish but was firmly based in the fairy tale world. He could wield a curse as well as the Evil Queen and was the wild card in both world.
And do I need to mention those hideous puppets? I'm still having nightmares.
Mayor Regina held the power over all of Storybrooke. She slept with her Sheriff, intimidated her son's therapist, and had more than one smackdown with Emma. But as much as I despise Regina she's kept me guessing. One moment she's threatening and the next she appeared to have real feelings for he adopted son. How she came to find Henry is still a mystery we long to uncover.
The Evil Queen was just... well, evil. She loathed Snow White so much that she banished all of the fairy tale world to an existence without the hope of happy endings. Of course, that was until Emma was born and managed to escape before the curse took hold.
In the final episode of 2011, we found out that Regina well remembered her origins, so much so that when her boy toy Graham rejected her she turned his heart to ash, literally. The look of ruthless delight on her face as she ended Graham's life with a squeeze of her fist told us just how far she's willing to go to maintain her hold over this world.
The Past and the Future. The less than perfect grade was due to Regina's slightly over the top performance in the first few episodes but she's definitely found her groove as the story has progressed. The only other issue has been the special effects. At times they are downright magical and at others they are so obvious that they pull me from the story.
Perhaps the best part of Once Upon a Time is that there's still so much story to tell. So many characters yet to explore. Every week is so full of possibilities. I'm sure a happy ending is far off, but as Mary Margaret said in the first episode:
Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing. | permalink
Overall Grade: A-
C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.