TV News

Once Upon a Time: Mid-Season Hits and Misses

It’s been the best, and worst, of times for Once Upon a Time‘s freshman year. This show suffers from a distinct split personality–it’s either sharply original or unbearably boring.  Now that we’re 17 episodes in, it’s a good time to examine what works with OUAT and what just doesn’t.

It’s been the best, and worst, of times for Once Upon a Time‘s freshman year. This show suffers from a distinct split personality–it’s either sharply original or unbearably boring.  Now that we’re 17 episodes in, it’s a good time to examine what works with OUAT and what just doesn’t.

Hit

Snow White and Prince Charming’s storyline remains strong. Theirs is the quintessential star-crossed lovers tale, complete with villains conspiring to keep them apart. Snow is a feisty heroine, able to take care of herself and her beloved Prince, while Charming is just as brave, dashing, noble and true. Even better, he’s funny, which makes him just about the perfect leading man. This is a couple easy  to root for and when they’re the focus of an episode, you know it’ll be a good one.

Miss

In sharp contrast to his FairyTale counterpart Prince Charming, Storybrooke’s David remains a solid dud. He’s proven to be so wishy-washy and spineless, it’s amazing he can even stand up straight.  I still can’t figure out if the showrunners have written him so weakly for a greater purpose down the road, or if they just can’t decide what to do with him. Either way, the result stinks. Likewise, Mary Margaret is also a pale imitation of her Snow White self.  She’s mostly miserable and morose, and if she’s not sniveling about something, she’s pouting and that’s not a great way to get viewers to root for a character or a couple. Frankly, I couldn’t care less if David and MM ever see each other again, let alone become a true couple.

Hit

What I do care about are the evil villains on this show, in both worlds. Queen Regina/Mayor Regina is the worst possible cold, malevolent, calculating bitch and it’s FABULOUS.  May we pretty please see more of her? Especially the FairyTale version; Lana Parrilla is perfect in  this role and she makes the most of every scene. With just an eyebrow lift, a sneer or a contemptuous tone,  she clearly conveys Regina’s wickedness. I adore this character and am not ashamed to admit I look forward to more of her horrible, horrible ways.

Equally as fine is Robert Carlyle’s Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold.  Look up scene-stealer in the dictionary and there’s probably a picture of him.  There’s rarely a line of dialogue he doesn’t give layered meaning to and with his first-rate talent he’s also made the crazy, wicked Rumple somehow sympathetic. No easy feat.

Miss

The excellent ensemble cast certainly is one of OUAT’s biggest assets. But the pace of the show sometimes drags it down. It’s taking far too long to advance central characters, both their motivations and their relationships with each other, and that hurts the show. Part of the problem stems from the “stand-alone” episodes that keep cropping up. For instance, the Hansel and Gretel andGrumpy installments proved to be nothing more than fillers and were forgotten almost as soon as they aired.  I actually resent these episodes and the writing for them is just not as sharp.  I’d much prefer we focus more on the characters that truly matter to the heart of the story.  If viewers aren’t truly invested in those people, nobody will really care and the show won’t stick around for long. For instance, I want to know a lot more about August W. Booth and the one-scene per episode snippets we’re getting frustrate me enough to lose patience. Instead of advancing a fresh and original plot idea, I’m forced to endure some Disney-Cute apprentice fairy falling in love with a dwarf.

Hit and Miss

The most recent episode, “Hat Trick”, perhaps sums up the best and worst OUAT can be. The Mad Hatter/Jefferson has the potential to generate some great storylines in both Storybrooke and FairyTale. Moreover, Sebastian Stan is another charismatic actor and he displays great chemistry with both Queen Regina in FairyTale and Emma in Storybrooke.  But if the character languishes, forgotten, for seven, eight or more episodes, will anyone care?

When OUAT is good, it’s very good. But when it’s bad, it’s just rotten. My worry is that the frustration factor in never knowing which version will show up will doom this show.  Season 1 is drawing to a close; so let’s hope lessons are learned and Season 2 proves more consistently strong.

{jathumbnail off}

About the author

Archived Staff

  • Badluckmania

    Couldn’t of said it better myself.
    You forgot the annoying parts where Emma just won’t believe in fairy tales

  • ITA with your hits and misses. 

  • Karen A Carter

    Wow I totally agree with every word you said!!!