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Once Upon a Time: Good, Meet Evil

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Ah, the fairy tales of our youth! Fond images of handsome princes and beautiful princesses, fairy godmothers and enchanted forests spring immediately to mind in innocent recollection of animated tellings rendered in spectacular Technicolor. But, of course those fairy tales are anything but innocent. Evil queens, witches that serve up children right along with the gingerbread, wicked stepsisters, and menacing wizards are the rest of the story, of course.

Far from mere child’s play, fairy tales are commentary on often very adult themes—horror stories more appropriate for Halloween than a Saturday play-date matinee. So, it’s not surprising that the new ABC fantasy series Once Upon a Time has its share of bad guys along with Prince Charming and Snow White.

The series premise begins, appropriately enough, with a curse. The beautiful, but vain and evil Queen (You know, of “Mirror, mirror on the wall…” fame?) from the Snow White story (Lana Parilla) cast a spell on the residents of the Enchanted Forest. Cursed to live in the modern New England town of Storybrooke, the characters have forgotten the magic, and cannot remember who they (really) are—or where they come from. Vowing to destroy the happiness of Snow White and Prince Charming, she is just as manipulative as Storybrooke’s mayor as she is evil as the Queen.

courtesy ABCAnd then there’s Rumpelstiltskin, or if you prefer, Mr. Gold. The name makes quite a bit of sense (or “cents” if you prefer). You may recall that Rumpelstiltskin (from the Grimm fairy tale) has the ability to spin straw into gold, which saved a certain miller’s daughter some embarrassment (and the miller, his head); however, there was a price to pay. In Storybrooke, Rumpelstiltskin’s alter ego Mr. Gold is an ordinary enough looking guy (and played by the wonderful Scots actor Robert Carlyle), but beneath the surface, he’s a creepy (and perhaps somewhat deranged) character.

Ultimately a story of the battle between good and evil, Once Upon a Time still embodies all you might want in a classic fairy tale, says Ginnifer Goodwin who plays Snow White (turned into an insecure young teacher Sister Mary Margaret). In a promotional interview for the series, Goodwin noted that the series has “hope, love, fantasy, adventure, and mystery.”

Tune in every Sunday evening on ABC beginning October 23 at 8:00 p.m. ET/7:00 CT. Here’s a sneak peek to tide you over until next Sunday:

(Photos courtesy ABC)

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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.
  • Mandy Southgate

    Robert Carlyle as Rumplestiltskin!!! I loved that story as a child!! I am definitely going to watch this one.

  • sara

    Thank you, Barbara.

  • Barbara Barnett

    Sara-my pleasure :)

  • Brighid45

    Robert Carlyle as Rumplestiltskin–what a truly inspired bit of casting. He’s my favorite character to date. Robert’s having great fun chewing the scenery as Rumple and then giving us another opportunity to assess the character via Mr. Gold.

    My maternal grandmother gave me a beautifully illustrated copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales when I was eight. The deep fantasy, darkness and beauty of those stories delighted me no end, but I really loved characters like Rumplestiltskin the most. He’s a classic Trickster figure, like Coyote or Fox in Native American stories–not good by any stretch, not exactly evil, but definitely a source of chaos and change.

    Looking forward to more of Robert’s portrayal and also to more good episodes. Thanks for the post Barbara. :)