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Giants, ogres, werewolves, Frankenstein, Mulan, Captain Hook … what do all the things have in common? Once Upon a Time Season Two, that’s what! This is the series that has single-handedly changed the face of television fantasy and made ABC a major player in creative, prime-time entertainment.
This show has almost limitless possibilities and (at the writing of this review) is creatively satisfying the potential of an ever-expanding setting while maintaining continuity with previous episodes. To date Once Upon still hasn’t sold out to the HBO/Showtime/AMC paradigm of dark/edgy/gritty; a thematic bandwagon I’m so sick of I could literally vomit and more importantly they stick with the main characters from season one, continuing to develop them in a huge way (e.g. the welcome “manning up” of Charming) while constantly introducing new ones.
Also, I’ve sort of come to expect sub-standard or straight-up cheesy FX from television as a given and this is where Once Upon just continues to amaze me. What I really find astonishing is when I hear other people actually labeling the CG as bad… I guess I just don’t get it. I mean if we see a dragon on TV we already know it’s not real; we just hope it’s convincing enough to maintain the illusion that the events we’re watching might actually be taking place somewhere… out there. I say kudos to the producers for their frugal reliance on CG which is inherently a technology always one step ahead of being outdated and overly scrutinized as more people become fluent in graphics tech. In other words, too many people know how the trick is done to maintain the illusion if it’s the only trick up the sleeve, so to speak, and so I guess it’s a good thing that Once Upon excels in the areas of camera-work (including green-screen), costumes, sets, lighting, makeup, fighting and action choreography.
So get ready for a bigger season with more action, lots of unexpected and clever plot twists, much more fantasy than season one and just enough added drama to enhance adult appeal without detracting from the original premise, less emphasis on Emma, spotlight on Charming and Snow as their characters are reinvigorated, less of Henry, more of the hottest werewolf on TV, far less screen-time for the Evil Queen as new dangers are introduced and based on the way this series is gaining momentum, at the writing of this review, I’d predict it may very well be a five year run because it just “feels” like the writers, producers, actors etc. actually enjoy what they’re doing. )
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Yes it’s a bit silly and purely escapism, but this series offers fun and flights of imagination. What if those familiar fairy tale, mythological, and legendary characters were alive and living somewhere in Maine? This isn’t great cinema, but many viewers will enjoy the what.if element of each episode.