The pilot for Once Upon A Time aired a week ago Sunday with the second episode airing yesterday. I watched both episodes, and I find them quite delightful. The blend of fairy tales and life in Storybrooke, Maine is done with impeccable timing. Henry Mills (Jared Gilmore “Mad Men”) is a young kid who thinks that his adoptive mother doesn’t love him, so he tracks down his birth mother Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison “House”). Henry is convinced that he lives in a town where time has stopped (which is evidenced by the fact the town clock hasn’t worked since Henry can remember). He believes that everyone in town is a character from his fairy tales book (which seems to be an amalgamation of sorts). His birth mother is a bounty hunter (which is awesome) and is confused by Henry’s need to meet her. She takes him back to his adoptive mother (Lana Parrilla “24”) who seems more intent on fitting Henry into a box of her own making (a figurative one) than in understanding who he is. Emma has a secret ability, she knows when people are lying and she is not convinced that Henry’s adoptive mother is looking out for his welfare, so she decides to stay in Storybrooke, Maine for the time being to make sure he will be OK.
Meanwhile, in fairytale land Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) are rudely interrupted on their wedding day by the Evil Queen (also played by Lana Parrilla) who says that she will give them their one happy day before she unleashes a horrible curse on them and theirs. Still they manage to get pregnant and it is instead their daughter who is in danger. Every person in fairy tale land has a counter part in Storybrooke, Maine, or perhaps it is the other way around. And it is hard to tell, even after two episodes, if the fairy tale land is all in Henry’s imagination or if the people in Storybrooke, Maine are really fairy tale characters who don’t know it, yet.
I found the take on fairy tales refreshing and fun, imaginative in a child-like and family friend way. The writing is decent and the acting is decent. Some parts of the first episode where a little stilted, as though the actors hadn’t quite found the voice of their characters yet, but the second episode was more settled, and I have high hopes for the rest of the season. I was trying to figure out why the fairy tale stuff worked so well, and I think the reason is that it is extremely gorgeous, over the top, costumes, scenery but the acting was not over the top.