“Once Upon a Time,” like any debuting TV series, is under a certain amout of pressure.
After its premiere on Sunday night, ABC executives as well as television reporters and fans will study its ratings to see whether this drama — about well-known fairy tale characters like Snow White, the Evil Queen and Rumpelstilskin who become trapped in modern-day Maine — has the potential to become a hit.
But there’s an additional pressure on this show, created by “Lost” veterans Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, under the tutelage of Damon Lindelof. Because by accident of timing, it is the first arrival in what has is poised to become a pop culture fairy tale trend.
Following on “Once Upon a Time’s” fairy dust comes NBC’s “Grimm,” a darker new NBC series that debuts on Friday and is set on the opposite coast — in Portland, Ore., — where undercover fairy tale creatures wreak havoc in contemporary society. Following both of these TV shows come a pair of “Snow White” movies: director Tarsem Singh’s “Snow White,” starring Lily Collins and Julia Roberts and due in March, and “Snow White and the Huntsman,” starring Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron and slated for a June release. And then there’s “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,” which, like the first Snow White movie, also is scheduled to show up in multiplexes in March.
“Once Upon a Time” might not be the only factor determining whether this entertainment story has a happy ending for the various networks and studios behind these projects. But it could be an initial test of whether the public will invest in these this kinds of stories.
The initial reaction to “Once Upon a Time” suggests the answer is — maybe. Interest in “Once Upon a Time” was pretty high, with the show as well as the character Rumpelstilskin trending high Sunday night among Google searches.
But response to the series has been mixed. The Post’s Hank Stuever wrote a very favorable review, calling it “the fall season’s most charming and elegant surprise.” But based on other reviews and “Once Upon a Time’s” nearly down-the-middle Metacritic score of 68, the show has elicited some polarized opinions.
A “Save It or Sink It?” poll over at E! Online currently shows that 76.9% of viewers would like to see “Once Upon a Time” get canceled. (The sample size for said highly scientific poll is unclear.)
But many of the comments on Entertainment Weekly’s recap are more positive — “This show absolutely captivated me. Almost from the beginning till the very end,” wrote one reader.
Personally, I liked a number of things about the show: the gorgeous imagery, the clever riffs on fairy tale lore (I appreciated that Rumpelstilskin — played by Robery Carlyle — is named Mr. Gold in real life, given his skill at spinning straw into gold) and, of course, the very subtle nods to “Lost.” (Loved that the premiere closed with the clock striking 8:15.)
But after only one episode, I am not sure yet whether I will want to invest in these characters for the long haul, or whether the whole fairy tale conceit will soar or get old quickly.
Did you watch “Once Upon a Time”? What did you think? Are you intrigued by all these fairy tale-oriented projects? And would you want to read about “Once Upon a Time” every week in this blog, or would you prefer to focus your Monday morning TV energies on “Walking Dead?” Please weigh in with a comment.