For some reason, Once Upon a Time Season 1 (as well as season 2) got lost in the wash of multiple similar fairy tale series (like Grimm) all going at the same time. I was busy, and just didn’t pay much attention. When my nieces started regularly discussing it, I started to notice, and then began watching the series.
Private detective Emma Swann is surprised one day by a knock on her door. A young boy is there, claiming to be her son and wanting her to come with him back to his home in Storybrooke, Maine. He claims everyone there is a fairy tale character with amnesia, and that Emma is the only one who can break the curse.
Once Upon a Time Season 1—and, in fact, the entire series—is populated mostly by characters from Disney animated feature films, but in their live-action versions. I could tell a lot of thought had been put into weaving everything together in order to make some sense out of it. The key to it all is the nefarious Rumpelstiltskin, otherwise known as the “Dark One”, and the Evil Queen from Snow White.
The season started off strongly, but then seemed to get lost in its exploration of all the many characters for a while in the middle of the season. By the end of the season, it had started getting a little stronger in the story department, but it was still somewhat weaker than the first few episodes.
I really liked Jared S. Gilmore as Henry, Emma’s son. He was very earnest in his portrayal of the believing young boy, and he brought an energy and urgency to Once Upon a Time Season 1. Ginnifer Goodwin played a great Snow White (Mary Margaret). She was beautiful, usually cheerful, and full of goodness. Her beloved Prince Charming, played by Josh Dallas, lived up to his nickname. Lana Parrilla shone as the Evil Queen (Regina), and Robert Carlyle finally found his niche as Rumplestiltskin (Mr. Gold).
Jennifer Morrison gave a strong performance as Emma, but I was constantly frustrated by her seeming lack of emotional reaction on her face. I could tell by everything else that she was experiencing emotions, but the only ones which seemed to register on her countenance with any regularity were disbelief, anger, and “blank stare”. On those rare occasions when she chose to smile, it was like sparkling sunlight breaking through dark storm clouds! If only she had chosen to share her beaming grin more often.
Overall, Once Upon a Time Season 1 was mostly mediocre with a couple high spots. No one episode really stood out as great past the first two or three, but there was enough there to keep me interested. And things picked up in the second season.
Original Air Dates: October 23, 2011 – May 13, 2012 (USA)
TV Parental Guidelines Rating: TV-PG
Alcohol/Drugs: 2 (somewhat frequent drinking, social drinking)
Language: 2 (occasional deity, other minor)
Sexuality: 1 (innuendo)
Violence: 3 (fisticuffs, sword fights, battles, magical threats, death)