Written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz
Directed by Mark Mylod
This show must overcome two major obstacles if it wants to win me over. First, it was created by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, both of whom wrote for Lost. Now, this isn’t a bad thing, per se, but while I loved the majority of Lost, I still am somewhat unhappy with how the show ended, and that taints my view of Once Upon a Time. I admit, however, that this is a small bag compared to the other baggage that stands in the way of my enjoyment of the show, and that is the Vertigo comic Fables by Bill Willingham. While Once Upon a Time and Fables do seem to be telling very different stories, the basic concept of fairy tale characters entering the modern world is a common core between the two. Once Upon a Time deals with Maleficient cursing the fairy tale characters at Snow White’s wedding, a curse that forces them into an existence without happy endings . . . basically, our world. Fables deals with fairy tale and folk lore characters escaping their realm of fantasy after a fable character becomes a tyrannical emperor who conquers the Fable kingdoms. The exiles set up in a ghetto of New York and try to get along while hiding from the emperor. So yes, similar but different. Unfortunately, I really like Fables, and it is hard for me to set aside this enjoyment to let Once Upon a Time work it’s spell on me. I keep expecting well-dressed wooden soldiers to appear or for Bigby Wolfe to be lurking off to the side, cigarette in mouth. I also keep expecting Hugh Laurie to walk into scene and start telling blond jokes to Emma Swan. I want to play fair with you, Once Upon a Time, but you are making it so hard. Especially when I can boil the entire concept down to a paraphrase of The Sixth Sense: “I see fairy tale people. They’re everywhere. They don’t know they’re fairy tale people.”
But let me focus on the good, an that is Robert Carlyle. He is a great actor, no matter what he is in, and he works wonderfully as Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold. He dominates his two all-too-short scenes, and I look forward to the show delving more into his character. You see, Once Upon a Time, this is where you have a chance to hook me. So long as you continue to give me compelling Robert Carlyle I will continue to watch your show. You have a chance to win me over, but you have to do something amazing. I’ve watched your pilot, which is primarily set-up. Now hook me. In the meantime, I need to dig out my back issues of Fables.