Once Upon a Time: There's a Reason Disney Makes Cartoons
We begin in two very different places. The first is a classic fairytale setting involving the immediate aftermath of Prince Charming's kiss to wake the comatose Snow White. At their wedding, the evil queen, Snow's stepmother, delivers an ultimatum that she will destroy everything they have ever loved, in a monologue that makes Al Qaeda threat videos sound like nuanced arguments.
Later, as Snow gives birth to her daughter, the evil queen's curse takes effect, and the fairytale world is destroyed.
Meanwhile, in the real world, or at least the one that looks like ours does, at any rate, Emma Swan, a 28-year-old orphan bail bondsperson, comes home from a long night of recapturing a bond skipper to be confronted by Henry, the son she'd given up for adoption ten years earlier. Henry persuades Emma to drive him back to his home in Storybrooke, Maine, all the while telling her that the town is actually under a curse that stops time and renders the inhabitants unable to remember their histories as the classic fable characters we're so familiar with.
Despite not believing a word Henry says, Emma is struck by the boy's honesty and faith, as well as the behavior of his mother, the mayor and evil queen in disguise. The mayor threatens Emma if she attempts to rejoin Henry's life, but Emma promises Henry she will stay a week in Storybrooke. The episode ends with a clock that has been permanently stuck at 8:15 moving a single second.
The lengths to which ABC has gone to build a fantastical realm are truly astounding, with castles and fairies and the goblin-esque Rumpelstiltskin all coming to life with a very genuine quality. However, rather than deal with these characters as they originally appeared, every single effort has been made to connect them more with their contemporary Disney interpretations.
That's not necessarily a bad thing... after all, how many of us in this day and age met Cinderella and Pinocchio through the Disney films before finding them in the pages of a book? Still, the end result is somewhat forced, and rather than building a cohesive universe where the characters all interact and live, you feel as if you are watching George Lucas shove every cameo character he can into his Star Wars prequels.