Once Upon a Time (TV series)

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Once Upon a Time
Once Upon aTime promo image.jpg
Once Upon a Time title card
Genre Fantasy
Drama
Adventure
Mystery
Created by Edward Kitsis
Adam Horowitz
Starring Ginnifer Goodwin
Jennifer Morrison
Lana Parrilla
Josh Dallas
Jared S. Gilmore
Robert Carlyle
Raphael Sbarge
Jamie Dornan
Eion Bailey
Meghan Ory
Emilie de Ravin
Colin O'Donoghue
Michael Raymond-James
Theme music composer Mark Isham
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 61 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Edward Kitsis
Adam Horowitz
Steve Pearlman
Producer(s) Kathy Gilroy
Samantha Thomas
Andrew Chambliss
Christine Boylan
Ian Goldberg
Brian Wankum
Kalinda Vazquez
Robert Hull
Jane Espenson[1]
Editor(s) Julie Monroe
Henk Van Eeghen
Geofrey Hildrew
Location(s) Richmond (just outside Vancouver, British Columbia)[2]
Cinematography Steven Fierberg
Stephen Jackson
Running time 45 minutes
Production company(s) ABC Studios
Kitsis/Horowitz
Distributor Disney–ABC Domestic Television
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Picture format 720p (16:9 HDTV)
Audio format Dolby Digital 5.1
Original run October 23, 2011 (2011-10-23) – present
Chronology
Related shows Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
External links
Official website

Once Upon a Time is an American fairy tale drama series that premiered on Sunday, October 23, 2011, on ABC. The show takes place in the fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine, whose residents are actually characters from various fairy tales transported to the "real world" town and robbed of their real memories by a powerful curse. Episodes typically feature a primary storyline in Storybrooke, as well as a secondary storyline usually from another point in a character's life before the curse was enacted. The show airs Sundays at 8:00 pm ET/7:00 pm CT.[3]

Once Upon a Time was created by Lost and Tron: Legacy writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz.[4] Its first season received "generally favorable" reviews from critics. Metacritic gave it a score of 66 out of 100 based on 26 reviews. The pilot episode was watched by 12.93 million viewers and achieved an adult 18–49 rating/share of 4.0/10. The second season premiered on September 30, 2012 to an audience of 11.36 million while the third season began on September 29, 2013, opening to 8.52 million viewers.

A green-light for a spin-off series Once Upon a Time in Wonderland was also given by ABC, and consisted of 13 episodes. It premiered on October 10, 2013 and concluded April 3, 2014.[5]

Series overview[edit]

The series takes place in the fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine, in which the residents are actually characters from various fairy tales and other stories that were transported to the "real world" town and robbed of their original memories by the Evil Queen Regina (Lana Parrilla), using a powerful curse obtained from Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle). The residents of Storybrooke have lived an unchanging existence for 28 years, unaware of their own lack of aging. The town's only hope lies with a bail bonds-woman and bounty hunter named Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), the daughter of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas), who was transported from the Enchanted Forest within the fairy tale world as an infant before she could be cursed. As such, she is the only person who can break the curse and restore the characters' lost memories. She is aided by her son, Henry (Jared S. Gilmore), with whom she has recently reunited after giving him up for adoption upon his birth, and his book of fairy tales which holds the key to ending the curse. Henry is also the adopted son of Regina, mayor of Storybrooke, who is actually Henry's step-great-grandmother, providing a source of both conflict and common interest between the two women.

Episodes usually have one segment that details the characters' past lives, which when serialized, adds a piece to the puzzle about the characters and their connection to the events that preceded the curse and its consequences. The other, set in the present day, follows a similar pattern with a different outcome but also offers similar insights.

Seasons[edit]

The first season of Once Upon a Time premiered on October 23, 2011. The season begins with the Evil Queen interrupting the wedding of Snow White and Prince Charming to announce that she will cast a curse on everyone that will leave her with the only happy ending. The majority of the fairy tale characters are transported to the town of Storybrooke, Maine, where they have been stripped of their actual memories and identities as fairy tale characters. On her 28th birthday, Emma Swan, the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, is brought to Storybrooke by her biological son Henry Mills in the hopes of breaking the curse cast by his adoptive mother, the Evil Queen.

The second season was confirmed by ABC on May 10, 2012,[6] premiering on September 30, 2012.[7] Despite Emma's having broken the curse, which returns the characters' original memories, they are not returned to the fairy tale world, and must deal with their own dual identities. With the introduction of magic into Storybrooke by Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin, the fates of the two worlds become intertwined, and new threats emerge.

The third season was announced on May 10, 2013,[5] premiering on September 29, 2013. It was split into two volumes, with the first eleven episodes running from September to December 2013, and the later half from March to May 2014. In the first volume, the main characters travel to Neverland to rescue Henry Mills, who has been kidnapped by Peter Pan as part of a plan to obtain the magical "Heart of the Truest Believer" from him. Their increasing power struggle with Pan continues in Storybrooke which ultimately results in the complete reversal of the original curse. All the characters are returned to their original worlds, leaving Emma and Henry to escape to New York City. The second volume will follow the characters' conflicts against the Wicked Witch of the West (the long-lost half sister of the Evil Queen) in the Enchanted Forest and how they are brought back to a recreated Storybrooke, while also documenting Emma's mission to save her family from this new curse.

On April 1, 2014, it was revealed that Michael Socha was in talks to be a series regular on Once Upon a Time as the Knave of Hearts/Will Scarlet from the show's spin-off, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, suggesting a possible Season 4.[8]

Episodes[edit]

Season Episodes Originally aired DVD and Blu-ray release date
Season premiere Season finale Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
1 22 October 23, 2011 (2011-10-23) May 13, 2012 (2012-05-13) August 28, 2012 (2012-08-28)[9] October 31, 2012 (2012-10-31)[10] October 17, 2012 (2012-10-17)[11]
2 22 September 30, 2012 (2012-09-30) May 12, 2013 (2013-05-12) August 13, 2013 (2013-08-13)[12] November 18, 2013 (2013-11-18)[13] October 16, 2013[14]
3 22 September 29, 2013 (2013-09-29) May 11, 2014 (2014-05-11)[15] TBA TBA TBA

Cast and characters[edit]

° Characters from the Enchanted Forest who have a real-world identity without ever having been captive to the Storybrooke curse

Main characters[edit]

Actor Storybrooke or real-world counterpart Fictional-realms counterpart Episode count Seasons
1 2 3
Ginnifer Goodwin Mary Margaret Blanchard Snow White 60 Main
Jennifer Morrison Emma Swan° N/A 60 Main
Lana Parrilla Regina Mills Evil Queen 59 Main
Josh Dallas David Nolan Prince Charming 58 Main
Jared S. Gilmore Henry Mills/Swan N/A 56 Main
Robert Carlyle Mr. Gold Rumplestiltskin/Beast/Crocodile 52 Main
Raphael Sbarge Dr. Archie Hopper Jiminy Cricket 20 Main Recurring
Jamie Dornan Sheriff Graham Humbert Huntsman 9 Main Guest
Eion Bailey August Wayne Booth° Pinocchio 13 Main Guest
Meghan Ory Ruby Red Riding Hood/Wolf 32 Recurring Main Recurring
Emilie de Ravin Lacey Belle 30 Guest Main
Colin O'Donoghue N/A Captain Killian "Hook" Jones 32 Main
Michael Raymond-James Neal Cassidy° Baelfire 24 Recurring Main

Secondary characters[edit]

Actor Storybrooke or real-world counterpart Fictional-realms counterpart Episode count Seasons
1 2 3
Beverley Elliott Granny Widow Lucas 29 Recurring
Lee Arenberg Leroy Grumpy 27 Recurring
Keegan Connor Tracy Mother Superior Blue Fairy 21 Recurring
David Anders Dr. Whale Dr. Victor Frankenstein 12 Recurring
Tony Amendola Marco Geppetto 7 Recurring
Giancarlo Esposito Sidney Glass Genie/Magic Mirror 10 Recurring Guest
Alan Dale Albert Spencer King George 8 Recurring
Sebastian Stan Jefferson Mad Hatter 6 Recurring
Tony Perez N/A Prince Henry 6 Recurring Guest
Barbara Hershey N/A Cora/Miller's Daughter/Queen of Hearts 12 Guest Recurring
Anastasia Griffith Kathryn Nolan Princess Abigail 7 Recurring
Sarah Bolger N/A Princess Aurora 12 Recurring
Jamie Chung N/A Mulan 11 Recurring
Julian Morris N/A Prince Phillip 5 Recurring
Ethan Embry Owen Flynn/Greg Mendell N/A 11 Recurring Guest
Sonequa Martin-Green Tamara N/A 7 Recurring Guest
Tom Ellis N/A Robin Hood 1 Guest
Sean Maguire 7 Recurring
Parker Croft N/A Felix 11 Guest Recurring
Freya Tingley N/A Wendy Darling 5 Guest Recurring
Robbie Kay N/A Malcolm/Peter Pan/Pied Piper 11 Recurring
Rose McIver N/A Tinker Bell 8 Recurring
Rebecca Mader N/A Zelena/Wicked Witch of the West 6 Recurring
Joanna García-Swisher N/A Ariel 4 Recurring

Development and production[edit]

Conception[edit]

Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis conceived the show in 2004 before joining the writing staff of Lost, but wanted to wait until that series was over to focus on this project.[16]

The idea is to take these characters that we all know collectively and try to find things about them that we haven't explored before. Sometimes it's a story point, sometimes it's a thematic connection, sometimes it's a dilemma they face in both worlds that is similar. We are not generally retelling the exact same story as the fairy tale world.

— Executive producer Adam Horowitz[17]

Eight years previous to the Once Upon a Time pilot (the two had just completed their work on Felicity, in 2002), Kitsis and Horowitz became inspired to write fairy tales out of a love of "mystery and excitement of exploring lots of different worlds."[18] They presented the premise to networks, but were refused because of its fantastic nature.[19] The two learned from their time on Lost to look at the story in a different way,[19] that "character has to trump mythology";[17] they expanded, "as people, you've got to see what the void in their heart or in their lives is to care about them ... For us, this was as much about the character journeys and seeing what was ripped from them in coming to Storybrooke – going at it that way as opposed to making it the 'break-the-curse show.'"[20]

Despite the comparisons and similarities to Lost, the writers intend them to be very different shows.[19] To them, Lost concerned itself with redemption, while Once Upon a Time is about "hope".[21] Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof aids in the development of the series as a consultant, but has no official credit on the show. Kitsis and Horowitz have called him a "godfather" to the series.[22][23] To differentiate the storytelling from what the audience already knew, the writing staff decided to begin the pilot with the end of the typical Snow White fairytale.[20] Themes concerning family and motherhood were emphasized, in contrast to the focus on fatherhood in Lost. Kitsis and Horowitz sought to write strong female characters, rather than the classic damsel in distress. Horowitz stated their desire to approach each character the same way, asking themselves, "How do we make these icons real, make them relatable?"[19]

The pilot is meant to be the "template of the series".[18] Kitsis confirmed that every week will contain flashbacks between both worlds,[17] as they "love the idea of going back and forth and informing what the character is missing in their life."[24] The writers' desire to present a "mash up" of many small characters can be seen in a scene of the pilot, in which there is a war council featuring Geppetto, Pinocchio, and Grumpy. Horowitz elaborated, "One of the fun things for us coming up with these stories is thinking of ways these different characters can interact in ways they never have before."[19] Since then, the creators have added more elements, and given its ties to Disney, have managed to expand the universe to include more recent material, by throwing out hints that they might look ahead at incorporating characters from Brave and Frozen in future episodes, if they get the green light from Disney.[25]

The general premise, importing the Snow White core characters into the "real world", was previously seen on ABC television in the short-lived 1980s comedy The Charmings. The show also has a similar premise to Bill Willingham's ten-year-old comic series Fables, to which ABC bought the rights in 2008 but never made it past planning stages. After Fables fans raised controversy over possible appropriation, the show writers initially denied a link, but later said they may have "read a couple issues" of the comic book but while the two concepts are "in the same playground", they are "telling a different story."[24] Bill Willingham responded to the controversy in an interview, where he stated he did not feel the show was plagiarism and said: "Maybe they did remember reading Fables back then, but didn't want to mention it because we've become a very litigious people."[24][26]

Casting[edit]

The cast as they appeared in season two

Secondary character casting director, Samuel Forsyth started the casting process back in 2010. Horowitz stated that everyone they initially wanted cast in the series accepted their offered role after being sent a script.[18][19] Ginnifer Goodwin was cast as Snow White,[27] who appreciated that she would be playing a strong character that was fleshed out for the audience. The actress had just completed her work on the series Big Love, and was looking for a new project; she turned to television after film scripts failed to interest her. Having said previously in interviews that she would love to play Snow White, Goodwin called her acceptance of the Snow White role "a no-brainer."[28] Both Kitsis and Horowitz are self-described big fans of Big Love, and wrote the part of Snow White with Goodwin in mind.[19] Josh Dallas, who plays Prince Charming, was pleased the writers took "some dramatic license" with his character, believing the prince had become more real. He explained, "Prince Charming just happens to be a name. He's still a man with the same emotions as any other man. He's a Prince, but he's a Prince of the people. He gets his hands dirty. He's got a kingdom to run. He has a family to protect. He has an epic, epic love for Snow White. He's like everybody else. He's human."[28]

Jennifer Morrison was hired for the part of Emma Swan.[29] The actress explained her character as someone who "help[s] her son Henry whom she abandoned when he was a baby and who seems like he's a little bit emotionally dysfunctional", but noted that Emma does not yet believe there is a fairytale universe.[28] Ten-year old Jared Gilmore, known for his work on Mad Men, took the role of her son, Henry.[29] The role of The Evil Queen/Regina went to Lana Parrilla.[30] She explained the character, "There's always two stories being told when playing Regina. There's the threat of her knowing she's an evil queen and then there's just the pure simple fact that the biological mother has stepped into her world and the threat of losing her son is just enormous. That's a fear that I think any adopted mother would have. I think that's going to really help the audience relate to Regina in some level."[28] The role of Rumplestiltskin was given to Robert Carlyle;[31] it was written with Carlyle in mind, though the writers initially thought he would never accept the part.[17] Horowitz recalled Carlyle's prison sequence, which was the actor's first day on the set as "mind-blowing ... You could see Ginny actually jump, the first time he did that character. It was fantastic!"[18] The writers offered the part of the Blue Fairy to recording artist Lady Gaga, but never heard back from her management staff.[17]

For the second season, Meghan Ory (Ruby/Red Riding Hood)[32] and Emilie de Ravin (Lacey/Belle)[33] were promoted to members of the regular cast. New supporting characters for the season include Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), played by Sarah Bolger;[34] Mulan, played by Jamie Chung;[35] Prince Phillip, played by Julian Morris;[36] and Captain Hook, portrayed by Colin O'Donoghue.[37] On October 3, 2012, it was announced that O'Donoghue would be billed as a series regular from episode 14 of the second season.[38]

Cast changes for the third season included Michael Raymond-James being promoted to a regular cast member for his portrayal of Neal Cassidy. Furthermore, Meghan Ory (Ruby/Red Riding Hood) did not return as a series regular (due to the actress having been cast in another series), while Giancarlo Esposito (Sidney Glass/The Magic Mirror) re-appeared as a guest star, after being absent from the show since its first season due to his commitments to the TV series Revolution.

Filming[edit]

Steveston doubles as the town of Storybrooke, Maine for the series.

Principal photography for the series takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia.[39][40] The community of Steveston in the adjacent city of Richmond doubles as Storybrooke for the series, with props and exterior sets disguising the existing companies and buildings. Certain sets are additionally filmed in separate studios, including the interior of Mr. Gold's pawn shop and the clock tower, which are not found in Steveston.[41]

Setting[edit]

The actual spread and scope of the Enchanted Forest is currently unknown. Several independent kingdoms are implied by an array of different rulers, including Snow White's father King Leopold (the kingdom later ruled by his widow (the Evil) Queen Regina); Cora's father-in-law King Xavier; Princess Abigail's father King Midas; Charming's (secretly adoptive) father King George (Charming and Snow rule his kingdom after deposing him); Cinderella's father-in-law; and Sir Maurice, Belle's father.

In the series' first season, Storybrooke, Maine, is depicted as a typical ocean-side small town. Although it has a "trapped in time" factor, modern conveniences such as TV broadcasts and the internet are available. Because of the curse, residents cannot remember how they came to live there or meet each other, though they are unconcerned by this. They are also unable to venture past the town limits of Storybrooke. When characters have attempted to leave, something prevents them, such as their cars breaking down causing them to get into some sort of danger (in a similar fashion to how residents of The Village were unable to leave in the 1960s TV series The Prisoner). Some of the series' characters are partially or entirely free of the curse, however. One of these is Henry, who was born years after the curse was cast, in the "real world". He leaves Storybrooke in the pilot episode to retrieve Emma from Boston. She is revealed to have escaped the curse in the enchanted wardrobe. Later, August Booth (Pinocchio) and Neal Cassidy (Baelfire) are introduced; August came to the "real world" with Emma, and is similarly not cursed, and Neal left the Enchanted Forest through a portal many years before the curse was cast. Regina, Mr. Gold, and Jefferson (the Mad Hatter) are aware of the curse and remember their previous lives, but the latter two characters are still forced to remain in Storybrooke by the curse.

With Emma's arrival, the curse began to weaken, with clocks moving forward, crickets chirping, and Regina's apple tree showing signs of spoilage. Once the curse was broken, residents who passed the city limits found their newly restored memories of being fairy-tale characters erased; they only remembered their Storybrooke identities. Also, those who have magic powers will lose them upon leaving town. In addition, as alluded in "The Outsider", the weakening curse resulted in individuals from the outside world entering Storybrooke; characters include the arrival of Greg Mendell (who, along with his father were witnesses to the town's "arrival" in 1983) and later Tamara (after she followed August from Hong Kong). The episode "Hat Trick" shows Wonderland of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It revealed that other worlds or universes exist; in "The Doctor", Dr. Frankenstein is brought to the Enchanted Forest for a short while, and later in Storybrooke, (as Dr. Whale) he expresses concern over whether all the worlds have disappeared. It was also revealed in "An Apple Red as Blood" that it can be possible to retrieve an item from the Enchanted Forest and bring it to the present day.

In the second season it is revealed that not all of the Enchanted Forest was cursed because of a protective spell cast by Cora. The survivors were frozen for 28 years and awoke when the curse was broken. They established themselves in a safe haven, waiting for news of the fate of the remaining Enchanted Forest. In the season two finale, Greg Mendell and Tamara take Henry to Neverland, after creating a portal with a magic bean.

Cultural references[edit]

As a nod to the ties between the production teams of Once Upon a Time and Lost, the show contains allusions to Lost, and is expected to be a continuing theme throughout the series' run.[24][42] For example, many items found in the Lost universe, such as Apollo candy bars, Oceanic Airlines, Ajira Airways and MacCutcheon Whisky, can be seen in Once Upon a Time.[43] In addition, former cast members of Lost have made appearances in the series, including Emilie de Ravin, Jorge Garcia and Alan Dale. Regina's house number in Storybrooke (108) is referenced multiple times as a "magic number" in Lost.

In addition, as a production of Disney-owned ABC, the show contains multiple allusions to the Disney versions rather than the original stories that form the basis for the series. Snow White's seven dwarves, unnamed in traditional versions of the story, have the names they were given in the Disney film. When Snow White first meets Grumpy, he can be heard whistling the main chorus of "Heigh-Ho", also from the original. Dr. Whale (Victor Frankenstein)'s name is a reference to James Whale, the director of the 1931 version of Frankenstein. His realm resembles a black and white world similar to old monster movies. In an episode featuring Cinderella, Henry accidentally drops one his shoes on the stairs, like in the 1950 Disney version. Geppetto's fairy friend is named The Blue Fairy as in the 1940 Disney film, rather than the Fairy with Turquoise Hair in Carlo Collodi's novel The Adventures of Pinocchio. Similarly, his conscience figure is called Jiminy Cricket rather than "the Talking Cricket". Jiminy's Storybrooke counterpart Archie, owns a pet dalmatian called Pongo - a reference to One Hundred and One Dalmatians. The Genie claims to hail from Agrabah, the central location in the Disney animated film Aladdin. Red Riding Hood's lover Peter is an allusion to Sergei Prokofiev's story and composition, "Peter and the Wolf". A chipped teacup is an allusion to the character Chip from Beauty and the Beast. Further Disney characters have been introduced throughout the series including Mulan, Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) and her love Prince Phillip. Indeed, when Neal meets up with Mulan after he arrived in the present-day Enchanted Forest, he tells her that there was a movie made about her when he was in the real world, of which she replied, "What's a movie?" Even the opening sequence in the third season episode "Quite a Common Fairy" in which Tinkerbell's wand tapped pixie dust on the series' title was a nod to another Disney-produced series that ran on Sunday nights (including its run on ABC), The Wonderful World of Disney, whose opening title(s) also featured Tinkerbell's wand being tapped with pixie dust.

In the first season, Snow White and Prince Charming use a powerfully magical wardrobe to transport their new-born baby to the "real world", just as the main characters in C. S. Lewis's The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe use a magical wardrobe to travel between the real world and the magical universe of Narnia. Henry also owns a Tron lunch box and a handheld video game device upon which he plays Space Paranoids, a fictional video game from the movie. Tron also provided another allusion in the second season episode "Welcome to Storybrooke" in which Greg came back to Storybrooke to search for his father after he was trapped upon its entry into the real world, similar to the plotline of the film. The episode "Hat Trick" contains numerous references to Alice in Wonderland, including The Blue Caterpillar reclining on a mushroom smoking and saying "Who are you?". In "An Apple Red as Blood", the shot of the apple falling out of Snow White's hand is reminiscent of the shot in the movie. The Dwarves' hats are the same color as the hats in the animated movie. Similarly, Sleeping Beauty was cursed by Maleficent, the name used in the 1959 Disney film for the wicked fairy godmother that lacked a name in many other versions. In "A Land Without Magic", Emma slays the dragon Maleficent with an overhead sword throw, similar to the action of Prince Phillip, also in the film. In the second season, Jefferson mentions magic slippers that can transport the wearer between magical and non-magical worlds, referencing the Silver Shoes in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Belle's interest of books is referenced from the Disney movie as she becomes the town librarian. When Emma, Mr. Gold and Henry are searching the names listed on the building directory for Mr. Gold's son, the only listing without a name is apartment 407. The number is a reference to Walt Disney World's Orlando, FL area code. The name Jefferson for The Mad Hatter may well be a reference to the Jefferson Airplane song White Rabbit (song) due to its association with Alice in Wonderland. Also, the 'O' in the word 'Once' resembles a looking glass.

Opening sequence[edit]

Beginning with the second episode of the first season, the opening sequence that appears below the show's title includes the image of a mythical creature, person, item, or structure featured in the episode.

Music[edit]

Mark Isham composed the series' theme and music. On February 14, 2012, an extended play album featuring four cues from the score was released by ABC Studios.[44] On May 1, 2012, a full-length 25-track official soundtrack album was released by Intrada Records to accompany season one.[45] On August 13, 2013, another full-length 25-track official soundtrack album was released by Intrada to accompany season two.[46]

Broadcast[edit]

The series has been licensed to over 190 countries.[47]

Season 1[edit]

In Australia it first aired on Seven Network starting May 15, 2012. In Canada it airs on CTV from October 23, 2011. In Hong Kong and Malaysia it premiered on Fox Movies Premium on June 4, 2012. It also airs on ntv7 starting October 28, 2012. In India, Pakistan, and the Philippines the series airs on STAR World. In Ireland it airs on RTÉ One from September 15, 2012.[48] It premiered on Channel 5 in the United Kingdom on April 1, 2012.[49]

Season 2[edit]

In Hong Kong it premiered on May 5, 2013 in a new timeslot. It premiered in Ireland on May 18, 2013.[50][51]

Season 3[edit]

On December 17, 2013 it was confirmed that Channel 5 would not be picking the series up for the third season airing in the UK.[49]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Critical response to the series was generally positive. On Metacritic, it was given a score of 66 out of 100 with "generally favorable reviews".[52] E!'s Kristin dos Santos cited the show as one of the five new shows of the 2011–2012 season to watch.[53] Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe gave the show a "C+" grade commenting "From a pair of Lost producers, this is a love-or-hate proposition. The ambition is impressive, as it asks us to imagine Goodwin's Snow White and Parrilla's Evil Queen as moderns. But Morrison is a wooden lead, and the back stories – a random collection of fairy tales- don't promise to surprise."[54] In a review from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, TV critic Gail Pennington hailed it as one of the "Most Promising Shows of The Fall" and, unlike Gilbert, had high marks for Morrison.[55] USA Today's Robert Blanco placed the series on its top ten list, declaring that "There's nothing else on the air quite like it."[56] Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times preferred the series to another fairy-tale themed drama, Grimm, citing that the premise takes its time building up the charm and that the producer "has that part nailed". She also gave excellent reviews for Morrison's character: "Her Emma is predictably cynical and prickly – fairy-tale princess, my Aunt Fanny – but she's sharp and lively enough to keep audiences begging for 'just a few more pages' before they go to bed."[57]

Several feminist outlets were pleased with the show for its feminist twist on fairy tales. Avital Norman Nathman of Bitch stated that she liked the show for "infusing a feminist sensibility" into the stories.[58] Genie Leslie at Feministing commented that Emma was a "badass", that she liked how Emma was "very adamant that women be able to make their own decisions about their lives and their children", and how Emma was a "well-rounded" character who was "feminine, but not 'girly'".[59] Natalie Wilson from Ms. praised the show for a strong, "kick-butt" female lead, for including multiple strong women who take turns doing the saving with the men, for subverting the fetishization of true love, and for dealing with the idea of what makes a mother in a more nuanced fashion. Wilson went on to state about the lead: "Her pursuit of a 'happy ending' is not about finding a man or going to a ball all gussied up, but about detective work, about building a relationship with her son Henry, and about seeking the 'truth' as to why time stands still in the corrupt Storybrooke world."[60]

Ratings[edit]

The first season premiered as the top-rated drama series. The pilot episode was watched by 13 million viewers and received a 4.0 rating/share among 18–49 year olds.[61] It was the season's highest-rated drama debut among the age range and ABC's biggest debut in five years.[62][63] With DVR viewers, the premiere climbed to 15.5 million viewers and a 5.2 rating/share in adults 18–49.[64] The show's next three episodes had consistent ratings every week with over 11 million viewers.[65][66][67] The series has become the number one non-sports program with viewers and young adults on Sunday nights.[68]

Season Timeslot (ET) # Ep. Premiere Finale TV Season Rank Viewers
(in millions)
18–49 viewers (#rank) Live + DVR Viewers
Date Viewers
(in millions)
Date Viewers
(in millions)
1st
Sunday 8:00
22
October 23, 2011
12.93[69]
May 13, 2012
9.66[70] 2011–2012 #28 11.71[71] 4.1/10 (#18)[72] 12.47[73]
2nd 22
September 30, 2012
11.36[74]
May 12, 2013
7.33[75] 2012–2013 #36 10.24[76] 3.6/9 (#18)[77] 10.91[78]
3rd 22
September 29, 2013
8.52[79]
May 11, 2014
TBA 2013–2014 TBA TBA TBA TBA

Awards and nominations[edit]

Once Upon a Time was nominated for a 2012 People's Choice Award for "Favorite New TV Drama", but lost to Person of Interest.[80] The show was nominated at the 39th People's Choice Awards in four categories: Favorite Network TV Drama, Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show, Favorite TV Fan Following, and Favorite TV Drama Actress (Ginnifer Goodwin); it lost to another ABC show Grey's Anatomy in the first category, Supernatural in the second two, and Ellen Pompeo in the last category. the show was nominated at 40th People's Choice Awards, but lost to Beauty and the Beast (2012 TV series) and The Vampire Diaries, respectively. the show was also nominated for "Best Genre Series" at the 2011 Satellite Awards, but lost to American Horror Story.[81] The show was nominated in this category again at the 2012 Satellite Awards, but lost to The Walking Dead.[82] The program also received three nominations at the 2012 Visual Effects Society Awards, but all lost to Boardwalk Empire, Gears of War 3, and Terra Nova.[83] At the 38th Saturn Awards, the series received a nomination for Best Network Television Series and Parrilla was nominated for Best Supporting Actress on Television, but lost to Fringe and Michelle Forbes, respectively.[84] The program was nominated for the former award again at the 39th Saturn Awards, but lost to new series Revolution.[85] The show received trophies for "Favorite New TV Drama" and "Favorite Villain" for Lana Parrilla by the TV Guide.[86]

The show was nominated at the 2012 Teen Choice Awards, but lost to The Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars and Awkward and the show was also nominated at 2013 Teen Choice Awards, but lost to The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars. It was also nominated at the 64th Creative Arts Primetime Emmy Awards, but lost to Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead and the show was nominated again at 65th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, but lost to The Borgias and Game of Thrones.

Tie-in material[edit]

Novel[edit]

In 2013, Disney-owned Hyperion Books published Reawakened by Odette Beane, a novelisation of storylines from the first season, expanded to include new perspectives. The narrative is from the points-of-view of Emma Swan in Storybrooke and Snow White in the Enchanted Forest. The novel was published on April 28, 2013 as an ebook and May 7, 2013 in paperback form.[87]

Comic Book[edit]

A comic book, titled Once Upon a Time: Shadow of the Queen, was released on September 4, 2013 in both digital and hardcover forms. The story was written by Dan Thomsen and Corinna Bechko, with art by Nimit Malavia, Vasilis Lolos, Mike Del Mundo, Stephanie Hans and Mike Henderson. Shadow of the Queen details what happens after the Evil Queen takes the Huntsman's heart. She forces the Huntsman to commit evil, and try and capture Snow White yet again. The Huntsman faces his past, and also meets Red Riding Hood, who is trying to cope with her beastly alter ego. Together, they team up and try to save Snow White before all is too late.[88]

Spin-off[edit]

In February 2013, Kitsis & Horowitz, along with producers Zack Estrin and Jane Espenson, developed a spin-off focusing on Lewis Carroll's Wonderland.[89] The series was given the proposed title Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. A "teaser presentation" began shooting in April 2013, with the pilot being shot in late July or August.[90] On May 10, 2013, ABC announced that it had green-lit the spin-off and on May 14, 2013, announced that the spin-off would air in the Thursday night 8:00pm time slot instead of making it a fill-in for the parent series, which had been hinted in the early stages.[91] The series premiered on October 10, 2013, for a thirteen-episode run that ended on April 3, 2014.[92]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]