there were two writers of „Lost“ who decided to create a TV-series about Fairy Tale characters that ended up in our world.
When the series was far into its second season a random Blogger started watching it.
So here I am now waiting for the next episode and giving you my two cents on ABC’s “Once Upon A Time” by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz.
The premise and where it leads
When the Evil Queen enacts a „horrible“ curse all Fairy Tale-characters one (possibly) knows are separated from their loved-ones and given new memories and lives in a town in our world: Storybrook, Maine. Breaking this curse is the destiny of the main character Emma Swan. And being the main character she has to face different trials throughout the season(s).
Before I start to go into the topic I’d like to note that I consider it pretty hilarious that the Evil Queen claims our land to be „somewhere horrible„. For a magic user a land without any magic probably IS a horrible place. For everyone else probably just weird and foreign. 😀
That said: I don’t really know why I started watching it in the first place, but it might have to do with the fact that I simply like hearing/reading about or watching Fairy Tales. And with OUAT you don’t just have every Fairy Tale-character you (possibly) know, but also them in a different world. Besides I’ve already was curious about it thanks to the previews for the German version of it. So I gave it a shot and was admittedly quite easily won over.
Seriously: I only needed to watch a certain scene in the pilot and they had me.
The scene I’m referring to is the Evil Queens entry scene: The music, the atmosphere, the wonderfully bizarre animation of how she “walked” down the hall towards Snow White and Prince Charming. My mind really just went “BAM, you gotta watch this”. And when later they switched to a scene with a weird sounding and looking creature kept in a dungeon prison; guess that was the very final straw to destroy all my doubts (pun intended 😉 ).
Characters and Concept
I really think this series has a great concept and great writings. It is always fascinating how the different stories (Fairy Tales) connect and how the different characters interact. As well as seeing „history“ repeat itself when the „humanized“ versions live through a similar trial in each episode as their Fairy Tale-counterpart.
And the characters are great too, well most of them. There are some that are a bit easier for me to grasp than others. The worst for understanding and stuff are probably Charming (My spell-check is fascinating: If I only write Charming it tells me to write it with lower case, if I write Prince Charming it’s all right. XD) and Snow White…I just find them so disturbingly romantic and stuff that I just want to hide somewhere so I would not have to see that…I’m no good with too much romance, sorry.
Every time they do their little “I will always find you”- conversation my mind goes: – Yeah, I know…for crying out load…oh wait, no, they cry silently, whenever they find and/or lose each other…they cry so effing much…they must have an enormous supply of onions on set…or the actors are really good at crying without a reason…
Still, they do have some good scenes – where they are close to being pretty cool instead.
In those where Charming wore his pelted cape around his shoulders I somewhat thought: Now longer hair and beard and he might have just walked off of the set of „Thor“. 😀
Well, you see I’m not really a Snow White fan, but I’ve mentioned that before when I talked about dwarves.
Speaking of those: Grumpy. 😀
He’s one of my favourites and as I said: I really like his attitude and humour. It is always fun when he’s around. His comments cause some moments to become more enjoyable. Beside that did I really enjoy the episode that featured his back story. It was fun, interesting and kick-ass, because he is kick-ass. 😀
Little Red Riding Hood was also covered in a wonderful way. When I watched her episode I had a slight feeling of what might happen, but the revelation was still well done. Additionally, her actress is just amazing…she really manages to balance being seductive without appearing slutty.
But balancing stuff is kind of a theme in the series as each character has at least two sides to them. Their Fairy Tale- and their „Storybrooke“/Real World-personification. And some even have a third part to them: The personality before the big change. And I think it is obvious, for those who have seen the series, whom I’m talking about: The Evil Queen and Rumpelstiltskin. 😀
Their development from loving daughter/father to those badass characters that are cunning, witty and „evil“ is just brilliant. And the development is quite reasonable and well explored so far – we all know that there is even more to come and the majority of us are eagerly looking forward to that. 😀
But what I like most about those characters is that they are the ones you can relate to the most. Well, at least I can. Especially with the “imp”: Pessimism accompanied by cowardice, more or less antisocial behaviour and a way with words? Sounds familiar to me. 😉
Even though many characters have one or the other insecurity those two bring theirs to a different level. Yet, it still makes sense and that’s what’s fascinating about them. They have loved; they have lost something precious and secluded themselves behind their powers. Still they are willing to do anything to regain (a bit of) what they have lost.
And they are both brilliantly portrayed by their actors Lana Parilla and Robert Carlyle respectively.
They bring so much life into their roles, it’s incredible. If I didn’t knew it better, I’d say they are enchanting the audience with their performance. But who says I do (know it better)? 😉 Especially the interpretation of Rumpelstiltskin is most fascinating. The voice, the gestures, the combination of both. Carlyle created something unique there. Combined with the well written backstories and dialogues it makes for one incredible character.
It is always fun to see how Rumpel was involved with the other stories, manipulating people into doing what he needs them to do. A trait the Evil Queen has picked up from him.
While for most characters their Storybrook-personality is not as good as the one they had in the Enchanted Forest, those two manage to combine them. It is just always fun to see what is happening to and/or with them in each episode. 🙂 I wonder if it makes me a bad person if I prefer the supposed evil characters over the good ones? o.O
A Fairy Tale background
Watching OUAT made me realize that I haven’t watched the old Disney versions of the Fairy Tales that often. Mostly only once or twice. And I probably haven’t seen every one of them (I know I haven’t watched Tangled so far). But I do have some memories of some of them: Grumpy and the witch from Snow White, a little bid of the dragon in Sleeping Beauty, the scene where the beast fights with the wolves from The Beauty and the Beast, and probably some others if I would think some more about it.
It seems I wasn’t really into obsessively watching movies as kid, more a series kind of person. Like I still am today. 😉 Another thing is probably that my parents grew up with the German, Czech and/or Russian interpretations and Fairy Tales and taught/read/showed me those as well. I’ve seen the movies with Baba Yaga and her chicken-legged hut more often than I’ve seen any of the Disney movies. Though I don’t think that’s a bad thing, as they have a pretty fun and different tone to them. And less singing. 😀
Regardless of that I know all the stories OUAT is based on, some because they were read and/or told to me, some because I’ve seen a version or two of them and I really like the approach they made on them. (And I don’t see it as rip off of anything else, as the concepts of those other things sound different.)
It also made me realize that I didn’t know who Jiminy Cricket is (though I knew that there was a cricket in Pinocchio) and that I never really noticed that the Prince from Snow White was (nick)named „Charming“ or the witch from Sleeping Beauty „Maleficent“. Though I’ve heard those before I think…you always learn something new I guess…
The German version
As I said the show is on German television currently. They recently aired the finale of season one, which gave me a chance to shorten my wait for the new episode on Sunday (or Monday considering the time shift).
But don’t let me get started on the German voices…
Even though they made some good choices (Snow White is pretty well chosen), some are rather weird.
I mean: Couldn’t they have just let Sebastian Schulz voice Josh Dallas as he did in Thor? o.O No they chose the little boys voice instead…Aside from the fact, that Schulz sounds better, it would have been fun to have him alongside Claudia Urbschat-Mingues (Regina) like they had him alongside Oliver Siebeck ( as Volstagg ) in Thor, causing another family reunion. 😀 (Schulz voices Trunks in Dragonball Z, Urschat-Mingues is Bulma, while Siebeck is the second voice actor for Vegeta)
Also, why do voice actors always have to voice several actors? I mean as fitting as Thomas Nero Wolff might be for Robert Carlyle, my first association with his voice is and probably will be for a long time: Hugh Jackman and after that: Anthony Steward Head. Beside that is he not really able to come at least close to Carlyles Rumpelstiltskin voice…even though he is trying, but it just sounds so wrong….just like the characters German name by the way.
Even though I grew up with it, it sounds so weird when you’ve heard the English version, which has a different sound to it…though the suffix is basically the same…but in my ears Rumpelstiltskin sounds better (and even more threatening) than Rumpelstilzchen outside of the classical Fairy Tale context…no idea why…guess my ears are just weird like that…
Anyhow, the second season showed some quite interesting new turns and I am really looking forward to the next episodes. I think this format could really have a chance to last for quite a while as Fairy Tales are timeless and what Kitsis and Horowitz created is something special that contributes to that. Something you enjoy to indulge in when you’re day wasn’t the best one.
Just like a „real“ Fairy Tale would. 😉