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A wish list for Once Upon a Time in 2015: Less Disney, more central cast!

‘Once Upon a Time’ 2015 Wish List

I’ve been a fierce advocate of Once Upon a Time since the series premiered in 2011, but from the time of last year’s mid-season finale, the show seems to have lost its way (at least in my opinion). Last season’s Wizard of Oz storyline was full of promises unfulfilled. There was so much that might have been done; so many intriguing threads woven at the start of the storyline. And too many of them lay dormant for the remainder of the season.Rumplestiltskin

This season, with its emphasis on Disney’s Frozen, to me, diminished the power of what had been started in the land of Once Upon a Time, distracting us from the core characters for too much of the season. And those of us who have always seen Rumplestiltskin as a flawed, tragic character–a villain with a tortured past, there was a dearth of scenes to help us understand (at all) his turn to complete darkness (yeah, except this unexplained quest for power over love). And although it was great to see Regina in love, I really, really miss her saucy spirit, which seems to have fled along with her bad-girl persona.

As much as I may have criticized the show this season, I’m completely convincible, ready and waiting. I want to love this show again the way I did back in seasons one, two and the first half of season three! Eagerly anticipating each episode and excited to tell my readers the treat they’d be in for come Sunday night.

So my wish for season 4.5 is see a return to a focus on the core characters. Although I’m not crazy about the forthcoming appearance of Ms. Cruella de Vile (especially), the presence of three female Disney-esque villains working in tandem with master sorcerer (without his powers) Rumplestiltskin is intriguing. I’d like the villainesses, however, to be icing (pun intended) and not the entire cake.

And I look forward to seeing a possible head-to-head confrontation between these badass ladies and the Storybrooke badasses Emma and Regina. And wouldn’t it be nice to witness the spit and spice of the Enchanted Forest Snow White reappear as they battle the bad guys?

I also hope to see more backstory on Rumple’s turn away from his promises both to Baelfire and to Belle. I know we’re supposed to read between the sparse lines to assume that Rumple had been altered by his confinement by the Wicked Witch of the West, but to me that requires an awful lot of fanwanking. I’d really like to see something in his POV to let us get a little more inside his head.

I’d love to see more of Archie (which hopefully Cruella’s presence will bring–his dog is, after all, Pongo!), Grumpy, the Blue Fairy, and the long-lost Dr. Whale and Red.

I’d love to see the writers mine Charming’s flaws and give him more of an edge, and Belle get something other to do than tend her books and make an occasional guest appearance as Rumple’s wife and baby Neal’s babysitter.

And I know I’ll be pilloried for this, but a little less Hook-the-hero, please! Like Rumple, his history has been revised to the point of unrecognizability. This is the same guy, after all, who had (before Rumple had become the Dark One) humiliated a disabled, weaker man (Rumple), stolen his Milah, his wife,  and then left him to raise their son alone. Wow, what a nice, misunderstood guy. Yeah. Love has redeemed him. I get it. But his journey is a sloppy narrative mess. Yeah, I get it it. He’s hot (despite the guy-liner) and Emma’s main squeeze. But their storyline is so on-the-nose and predictable, I long for a little bit more of the bad.

So, fingers crossed. I’m skeptical, but hopeful. I’ll be writing about Once Upon a Time once it returns from Hiatus in March, so stay tuned. In the meantime, tune into Let’s Talk TV Live Tuesday night, when I’ll be joined by two other critics for a lively discussion of this and other primetime TV, including The Walking Dead, Galavant, Downton Abbey, and more!

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called “Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton,” The Apothecary’s Curse The Apothecary’s Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books.

Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA’s HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as “The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture,” “The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes,” “The Hidden History of Science Fiction,” and “Our Passion for Disaster (Movies).”

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