Blu-ray Review: Once Upon a Time Season 1

Once Upon a Time Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Disney | CREATORS: Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis | CAST: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Josh Dallas, Robery Carlyle, Eion Bailey
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 8/28/2012 | PRICE: DVD $45.99, Blu-ray $79.99
BONUSES: commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes, bloopers, interactive archive
SPECS: TV PG | 946 min. | Fantasy | 1.78:1 aspect ratio | 5.1 DTS-HD audio | English, French and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Once Upon a TimePart neighborhood drama, part mystery and lots of fairy tale, ABC’s Once Upon a Time is one of the more unique and entertaining TV shows to hit the networks in the last few years.

Created by Lost executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, the television series follows the interweaving lives of the residents of Storybrooke, who used to be fairy tale characters living together in a magical kingdom. Bitter and miserable, the evil stepmother (Lana Parrilla, TV’s Miami Medical) casts a spell on the whole kingdom cursing them all to live without a happy ending — in other words, in our world. But the fairy tale characters have one hope, the daughter (Jennifer Morrison, Warrior) of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin, Something Borrowed) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas, Thor), who must find her way to Storybrooke and break the curse. The problem is, neither she nor any of the residents of Storybrooke know who they really are.

Each episode continues the story of the curse as well as introduces us to new fairy tale characters by blending the modern day action in Storybrooke with the characters’ former fairy tale lives. Among them are Rumpelstiltskin, Beauty, Pinoccio, Red Riding Hood and Granny.

Kitsis, Horowitz and the TV show’s other writers update the classic fairy tales well, giving viewers lots of surprises. They expand the characters beyond the original fairy tale in realistic ways and bring their strengths and weaknesses to very modern, human problems.

The cast is top notch all around. Young fairy tale believer Jared Gilmore (TV’s Mad Men) is innocent and adorable, Parrilla is biting and twisted, Goodwin is sweet and vulnerable, Morrison is sad but tough, and Robert Carlyle (The Unloved), as Rumpelstiltskin, is appropriately manipulative.

In Blu-ray’s high-definition, Once Upon a Time looks and sounds great, although some of the fairy tale land backgrounds show their CG origins somewhat.

The Blu-ray comes with lots of special features. Kitsis and Horowitz recorded commentaries for a bunch of episodes, and they keep the conversation moving. As well as pointing out little visual effects details, like a blue bird that was originally green, the creators talk about the characters, stories, their wants (costumes that were “fairy tale couture”) and even the little throwbacks to Lost that observant fans might notice. Actors including Jennifer Morrison, join them occasionally on the tracks.

The creators also talk about the characters in the featurette “Fairy Tales in the Modern World.” Writers, the actors and others discuss how the characters are developed with their storylines.

In “Building Character,” we follow Emilie de Ravin (TV’s Lost) as she talks with the creators about Belle and gets transformed through hair and costumes.

The real town that’s made up to look like Storybrooke, Canada’s Steveston, is explored in “Welcome to Storybrooke.” The townsfolk describe how the film crew members that transform the town have become like family.

The collection of bloopers, mostly showing the actors making funny noises and falling over, are good for a laugh. And the nine deleted scenes are brief and don’t add much to the stories.

But for fairy tale fans, the best features on the Blu-ray will be “The Story I Remember … Snow White,” with cast members telling the tale as they remember it, and “Exploring Tall Tales: True Origins,” with Prince Charming himself, Josh Dallas, explaining how five fairy tales were inspired.

The menu is also fun. Let it run without choosing an option for a while, and you’ll see characters and creators journeying through the magical forest.

Buy or Rent Once Upon a Time: The Complete First Season
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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.