Wait a minute; I’m sure you’re thinking. That’s not how it goes. Shouldn’t there be some dwarfs in there? This isn’t the plot to your usual fairytale story however; this is American sitcom Once Upon A Time, which has recently arrived on Channel 5.
Once Upon A Time revolves around Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), who is drawn to a town near Boston called “Storybrooke”, where every storybook character you know lives, yet doesn’t remember who they are. This means you’ve got the evil witch as town mayor, one of the seven dwarfs as an alcoholic and Red Riding Hood, oddly enough, as a slutty waitress, as well as many more.
The show cuts between modern day drama in Storybrooke, where dwellers live their lives unaware they are under an evil curse, and flashbacks of their previous lives where the characters were their true, magical selves.
In these flashbacks we see adapted stories that show everything from Jiminy Cricket trying to get rid of his parents to Grumpy the dwarf trying to pull a fairy-godmother wannabe, as well as plenty of clips of Snow White and Prince Charming trying to get it on, as these star-crossed lovers are the central focus of the fairytale world.
The show provides luscious levels of drama throughout as we uncover why the town is cursed, who is behind it, and the characters’ memories slowly begin to jog. This is overshadowed however by the gripping time spent in the story world, where, excellent costuming and special effects add to the twisting tales and unexpected turns as each character’s story reveals it’s self.
The one driving factor taking the drama from just “good” to “epic” however is Robert Carlyle. Carlyle stars as Rumpelstiltskin, an all powerful imp in the story world and sinisterly rich antihero Mr. Gold in Storybrooke.
Carlyle’s character features in nearly every episode, making deals with characters that always end badly for those involved. The Scottish actor unleashes a brilliant blend of insanity and charisma as the cunning creature and his top performance brings the programme up a whole level.
At most occasions the show avoids a cheesy turn, although this issue does arise occasionally. Nevertheless, the murky issues in the show outweigh any cheese and it is certainly worth a watch for anyone who loves their drama. Just don’t expect a happily ever after.