Even though I’m new to Fables, I am a huge fan! When I saw that ABC was starting a series called Once Upon a Time, I was wary (especially since I was not at all a fan of Lost). Sadly, it looks like my concerns were well founded.
Fans of Fables have been begging for this brilliantly written comic series to be made into a movie or television series. While Once is based on the same concept of Fables (fairytale characters trapped in the mortal world), it is nowhere nearly as well-written.
I understand that Once is not an adaptation of Fables. Still, it would be ludicrous to believe that ABC did not know about Fables when they greenlit the series. I even wonder if it was a way to not have to pay Bill Willingham (the creator of Fables). So I think a comparison of the two is warranted.
What they got right:
- The concept. Taking fairytale characters and making them into modern day characters is just plain fun. I really enjoyed seeing Gepetto as a handyman and Grumpy as a convict.
- I’ve liked Jennifer Morrison since House. Having her play the central character is a good call. I also liked that Robert Carlisle, who played Hamish Macbeth in the television series of the same title, was Rumplestiltskin.
- When the conflict is simply between good and evil, it gets pretty boring. Take Prince Charming. Making the prince an egotistic, smarmy lecher in Fables is far more interesting than the goody-two-shoes pretty boy in Once.
- Snow White as a teacher and volunteer nurse is bland.
- The Evil Queen is just a witch.
- The characters of Once are predictable and two-dimensional. This makes it difficult to become invested in any of them. For example, I didn’t care when the prince “died” nor do I hope that Snow White will wake him up from his coma.
- I like stories that are character driven like Fables. Once seems more like it is plot driven.
- Hey, writers of Lost, we do not trust you and your unending flashbacks. Oh, and the more you twist the plot, the more it feels like you are twisting our arms to watch. We don’t believe you have any real idea of a story in mind because it seems like you just make it up as you go.
The Final Verdict:
I’ll give Once Upon a Time another couple of episodes. It appears we may find out that the Evil Queen is motivated by more than just a black heart and that Snow White’s heart is perhaps not so white. I’m just not wishing upon any stars that this series will be any good.