Once Upon A Time

With the arrival of Phoebe, I haven’t been able to do a huge amount of reading. She strongly prefers sleeping on me to anywhere else, especially if she’s going through a growth spurt or a developmental leap, but flinches at the sound of a page turning so my tablet and Netflix subscriptions have been life savers for long feeds.

I’m typically late to the party again, but The current series I’m watching on Netflix is ABC’s Once Upon A Time which aired on Channel 5 a few years ago in the UK. To be honest, I wouldn’t normally have given it a chance but needed something to keep me awake during sleep deprived nights breastfeeding and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by it.

Set in a town called Storybrooke, characters from popular fairy tales have been ripped from the Enchanted Forest and sent to modern-day Maine where they have been robbed of their identities by the Evil Queen, Regina, who having failed to kill or destroy Snow White decides to curse everyone and tear away their happy endings. However, as in many good stories, there is someone who can defeat the curse and save them all, but our heroine is a somewhat dysfunctional 28-year old who doesn’t believe in fairies and has been lured back to the town by the son she gave up for adoption when he was born, who, as luck would have it, was taken in by the Evil Queen.

Everyone knows that I love a fairytale and Once Upon a Time is a pretty impressive mash-up of fairy tales , novels and films. True, the fairy tales nod a little too strongly to Disney at times (Sleeping Beauty is Princess Aurora, the Little Mermaid is Ariel and Snow White’s dwarves have the names of the characters from the film- I would love to know what licensing they have agreed with Disney) but I suppose that is what the majority of viewers would expect and it doesn’t stop the programme subverting our expectations of the stories to create new character origins, redeem traditional villains (or at least inject a little more complexity into their characters)and blacken the names of a few storybook heroes.

Far and away the best thing about the series is Robert Carlyle’s Rumpelstiltskin who is by turns demented, monstrous, hilarious, human and touching. (Dis)Honourable mention also has to go to Captain Hook, played by Colin O’Donoghue who since his arrival has balanced out some of Snow White and Prince Charming’s irritating insipidness in the present day scenes. In her flashbacks, Snow White is kick ass… it’s a pity that she couldn’t stay that way after remembering her happy ever after. Good may always win, but it’s not nearly as much fun as mild evil.

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