Once Upon a Time, ABC
What it’s about: A lonely young woman’s life is turned upside down when her long-lost son leads her to Storybrook, a small town populated by fairytale characters who’ve been trapped in this world by an evil queen’s curse, and it may be this young woman’s destiny to free them all.
Why we chose it: For almost a decade now, I have been a rabid fan of the comic book series, Fables, and have always thought it would translate beautifully to the screen. In fact, I pitched a TV show adaptation of it for my producing thesis and won first place. But, despite constant rumors that “something is in the works”, no official plans have materialized. So when I heard that a TV show with an uncannily similar premise was coming out, I was suspicious, hostile, and most certainly curious. On one hand, I wanted it to be awesome, which could perhaps pave the way for a Fables series. On the other hand, I thought such an obviously inferior knock-off deserved to FAIL. Either way, it easily made its way onto the list.
Production Value: This was the big question in a Fables TV adaptation; was there enough money for it to look good? With a bunch of different settings (most of which were fantastical in some way), a lot of money would have to go to creating a realistic world. That is unfortunately the first major failure of this show. The CGI-fairytale land looks AWFUL; they might as well have left the green screen in. Also, Ginnifer Goodwin’s Snow White had the most absurdly terrible hair in the flashbacks I have ever seen. That might seem like a silly or petty criticism but the hair was so egregiously heinous, I had to mention it.
Acting: Someone put Ginnifer Goodwin out of her misery. Not since Charlie’s Angels have I seen such terrible acting on the small screen. As Snow White, she gives a classic “trying to emote, rather than act” performance and it’s just painful to watch. That being said, the rest of the cast is actually quite good. Jennifer Morrison is super likable as the protagonist and Lana Parrilla is fun as the evil queen.
Writing: The big advertising push for this show was that it was helmed by the writers of LOST. For me, that is not necessarily a good thing. However, the episodes they wrote include some of my favorites (“Dave”, “Expose”) so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. The writing for this show is mediocre, at best. It’s got some embarrassing clunkers and some awkward scenes but the ideas and concepts behind it are actually quite interesting. I do want to know what’s gonna happen and where the story’s heading.
OVERALL: I didn’t love it, but it’s not as terrible as it could’ve been. If they get a new special effects team, kill off Snow White, and fit in a couple of rewrites, this could actually be a really fun show. But as it is, it often feels silly, childish, and a little shallow. It’s certainly no Fables but my love of the subject matter and the intriguing premise could keep it in the competition longer than it deserves. It better hope that some other show has a rough week, though, or it’s going home early.