TV’s Fairy Tale Fall Brawl Round One: ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” Pilot

Fairy Tale stories seem to be all the rage these days on TV, with ABC premiering Once Upon a Time tonight and Grimm kicking off over on NBC this Friday.  Here at Grizzly Bomb, we offer to keep you abreast of the goings on of these two very similar stories, offer our ever witty commentary, and complete coverage on what I like to call:

TV’S FAIRY TALE FALL BRAWL!!!

(Cue Boxing bell ding)

In one corner, we have ABC’s Once Upon a Time.  The Sunday night slot isn’t too shabby for a new show, sandwiched between AFV and Desperate Housewives (which I understand are shows that people are still watching).  The show is the new project of the makers of Lost, which gets my intrigue juices flowing.  However, the seemingly cheesy storyline and the far-fetched premise make it seem out of touch with an inability to relate to the average human being.  Could this show make it on clout and reputation alone?

On the other corner, we have NBC’s Grimm.  Produced by the same people who worked on Buffy and Angel (not Joss Whedon), it clearly looks like the better show.  The story focuses around Nick Burckhardt, a homicide detective who can see fairy tale characters.  I have high hopes for this one, however, there are a few things working ominously against it.

  1. It may have trouble settling on an audience depending on how they play it.  I don’t know many men that love fairy tales, and I don’t know many women that love gore.  The smart thing to do, considering ABC has got the fluffy fairy tale thing covered, is to outright target a male audience.  The trailers at first seemed to be focusing on creatures that are ugly and murderous, but lately they’ve been shots of dead princesses.  They may be tempted to straddle that line, and it may end up working for them, but it also may not.
  2. The time slot sucks.  Friday night is where prime time goes to die, with very few exceptions to this rule.  Not to mention, it’s competing for air time with Fringe, which is going to be a tough competitor.
  3. NBC has put out some real stinkers lately.  Their show cancellation count is already up to two, and it’s only October.  Also, Grimm was already pushed back once.  Not a good sign for movies, not a good sign for television.

Back to the brawl…

ROUND ONE: Once Upon a Time Pilot (INCLUDING SPOILERS)

This pilot did everything a pilot is supposed to do.  We know who the characters are with an appropriate amount of back story, and we know what the mission or objective of these characters is going to be.  We are introduced to the lonely Emma Swan as she gets an unexpected house call from the boy she gave up for adoption ten years prior.  As she drives him home, Henry talks about a fairy tale books he’s reading.

In this book, Snow White and Prince Charming have married, and are under the threat of a curse from the evil Queen.  As Snow White is giving birth to a daughter, the Queen’s curse hits the castle.  Prince Charming is able to save his daughter, Emma (yes, the same one) by placing her in a magic wardrobe that will transport her to safety, and then 28 years later she will save everyone according to Rumplestilskin.  I swear I am not making this up.

Anyway, the characters are all transported to a horrible prison, the worst place ever, planet Earth, where there are no happy endings.  They all live in Storybrooke, Maine, which is where Emma takes Henry; who’s adopted mom just happens to be the evil Queen.

 So now we see what everyone is up to in our world, where they have no memory of being anything or anywhere else.  Now all we need is for Emma to swoop in and save the day.

I actually kind of liked it, I’ll be honest.  While a little hokey at times, it kept me interested, told the story well, and didn’t lag.  The pilot sets up a nice story line that seems like it could well carry a season, if not longer.  There are the old  school fairy tale elements – a curse that needs to be broken, a love unrequited, and evil to overcome; but the way these old elements bleed into our world and blur the line between fiction and reality was almost refreshing.

I don’t think the show will have a large male following.  I could be way off base here (men, let me hear you shout if I am).  But I think the placement before Desperate Housewives was intentional.

I’m curious to see where the writers will take the show from here, now that the foundation has been laid.  Once Upon a Time serves Grimm a solid uppercut to the face with its appropriate pacing and a one-two punch of good set-up and likeable characters.  Then it slipped and fell on Ginnifer Goodwin’s haircut, but recovered quickly.

I give this pilot 3.5/5 bears.  We’ll see how Grimm does in Round Two on Friday!

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