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.
And 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.