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Blu-Ray Review: ‘Once Upon a Time Season Two’

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The season two Blu-ray release of Once Upon a Time hits the streets Tuesday, August 13, and it is a real treat for fans of the series. Of course, all 22 episodes are included, but the real value of the set is in the extras. With a hilarious blooper reel (better than last season’s I think), numerous deleted scenes, a funny and informative “Fractured Family Tree” featurette, which deconstructs Henry’s rather complicated family, and  additional features on Hook’s origin story and the show’s “Girl Power,” the Blu-ray also features the full-length version of “Welcome to Storybrooke,” the parody morning chat show introduced at this year’s Comic-Con, complete with adverts from Granny’s and Gold’s Pawn Shop, breaking news from the boy (Husband’s Brad Bell) who cried “wolf!” and more:

Six of the episodes also include commentary tracks by writers and cast members: Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White) and Josh Dallas (Charming) on the season premiere “Broken,” “Queen of Hearts” with Eddy Kitsis, Adam Horowitz and Lana Parrilla, “Manhattan”  with Eddy, Adam and Robert Carlyle, “Miller’s Daughter” with Jane Espenson, “Welcome to Storybrooke” with writers Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss, and “Straight On Till Morning” with writer David H. Goodman and Colin O’Donoghue.

Robert Carlyle in

All of the commentaries are insightful, diving into backstory and character/plot development, whether hearing Lana Parrilla’s take on the Evil Queen’s relationship with Cora in “The Evil Queen,” or Colin O’Donoghue’s thoughts on his conflict with Rumple in “Straight on ‘Till Morning.” But the best, in my opinion were the “Manhattan” and “Miller’s Daughter” tracks. Hearing Jane Espenson’s writer’s process is always a treat, but getting into her head about “Manhattan” (without fear of spoilerage) is a gift.

As well, listening to series creators Horowitz and Kitsis dig into both Rumple’s state of mind with Carlyle, gives us a unique perspective on both the character and the brilliant actor who plays him. I especially enjoyed hearing about the scene in “Manhattan” after Rumple returns from the Ogre War to face his wife Milah, and Carlyle’s thoughts on the scene with the newborn baby — fascinating.

Season two certainly had its ups and downs. The insertion of the Mulan/Aurora/Phillip storyline in modern Fairytale Land was at the expense of the established narrative and character arcs, and would have been fine had it only not lasted so long.  However, the season as a whole, watched without commercial or lengthy interruptions between episodes really makes a difference, and I was reminded how many outstanding episodes aired in season two, and how strong the season turned out.  Emma’s story deepened over the season with the discovery of her inherent magical powers, as well as her reunion with Neal (who turned out to be none other than Rumple’s son, Baelfire). I feel she really came into her own as a heroic character and Jennifer Morrison really grew into her role. We can see her transformation into a magical being, comfortable finally in her role as warrior princess of sorts.

We learned a lot more about Rumple/Mr. Gold with such standout episodes as “Crocodile,” “The Outsider,” “Manhattan,” and “The Miller’s Daughter,” which was a Once Upon a Time Classic, pushing forward the stories of several characters, including Cora, Regina and Emma. “Miller’s Daughter” also gave Snow While a new dimension when she (spoiler alert) killed Regina’s mother, Cora.

Although Rumple and his beloved Belle (Emilie de Ravin) were reunited at the start of the season, they were kept apart either through circumstance or the cruel actions of Hook (Colin O’Donoghue). And then finally brought together on the brink of disaster at season’s end, once again they were pulled apart as Rumple embarked with Emma, the Charmings, Regina and Hook on a quest to save the kidnapped Henry (Jared Gilmore).

Other outstanding episodes in season two included the gorgeously shot “In the Name of the Brother,” in which we learned much more about Dr. Whale and his Gothic beginnings and Regina’s backstory; “Tiny,” with a great guest turn by Lost’s Jorge Garcia as Jack-in-the-Beanstalk’s Giant, “Child of the Moon,” in which we begin to understand Red’s (Meghan Ory) complex backstory as the Werewolf.

Watching a series like Once Upon a Time in Blu-ray is almost a necessity. The saturated color palette, exquisite costuming, the magical effects, and the detail of the sets like Mr. Gold’s Pawn Shop come through beautifully. The series’ detailed soundscape and Mark Isham’s rich score are made even better by the flawless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.

The season two Once Upon a Time Blu-ray release (it’s also available in DVD) is a perfect way to wait out the remaining weeks of summer and early autumn until season three premieres September 29 on ABC. It is available in Blu-ray and DVD versions August 13, 2013.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.