Once Upon a Time: A Break Up Letter

11 Apr

Once Upon a Time on ABC: a big, teasing spiral of disappointment

Okay, Once Upon a Time.  It’s time to have a sit-down.  Because you have a really good thing here and you’re ruining it.  Actually, you don’t have “a really good thing here”.  I made that up to be nice.  What you really have is a promising premise, a handful of decent actors and an audience that desperately wants to support you.  So I guess what you have is potential.  But we’re something like 20 episodes in to Season One and you aren’t showing any signs of comprehension regarding the laws of addictive series-writing.

Now, I don’t have any experience writing episodes for television.  But what I do have is an overly critical mind, an adoration for excellent screenwriting (Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos), and  a blog.  This trifecta has been leading up to a candid and public assessment of your suckiness.  It’s time to break it down.

I really believed in you.  I thought an adult exploration of my favorite fairy tale characters being trapped in a small town and slowly

Look at Robert Carslyle bein' all like "me? the best actor on the show? why thank you."

being led to realize their true identities was a great premise.  I like complicated timelines and the potential for people’s true colors from their storybook past to show through in their boring lives in suburbia.  I like watching romances that are destined to be find a way to eek out in the midst of adversity and I really, really like Robert Carlyle as Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold.   And you even have Giancarlo Esposito! The man rocked his role in Breaking Bad and then he came to share his awesomeness with you.   If you had a modicum of understanding for the concept of progressing a storyline, you could throw the entire thing on their backs and they could carry it away with ease, even while surrounded by the face-bashing awful performances of almost everyone else.  But you don’t.  

Listen: you have to stop introducing new character backgrounds.  Just for a few minutes let us get a handle on things, would you?  You’re flipping back and forth between fairytale land and reality, you’re giving people concussions and walking us through their memories, you’re moving along the fairy tale book, the queen’s heart collection, and Emma’s realizations at a snail-like pace, and just when I think I’ve got a handle on the shape of things, you run me down rabbit trails with the secret past of side characters and subplots that aren’t even remotely related to the reason I tune in.

Why? Why are you doing that?  Do  you not understand what your central story line is?  II’s your favorite part of having a series delving into complex backgrounds of supporting characters?  Or do you genuinely just not understand that I don’t want to tune in once a week to learn about something completely unrelated to the main plot line that doesn’t look like it has a tie-in for at least several episodes?  As a general rule, let’s just say that if it doesn’t progress the story line, you should probably throw it away, not air it on television to frustrate grumplepuss audience members like myself.   I kept hoping you’d figure this out.  I really convinced myself to hold out for a while.  After all, the first few episodes of a show are always a little wonky – it takes time for you to realize and embrace your potential, for the actors to get a good grasp on their characters, and for everything to start working as a well-oiled machine. 

But I’ve watched eighteen episodes of your premiere season.  Eighteen!  That’s a long time to wait for a plot line to pay off.  But at 45 minutes an episode, you’ve had 13 hours to convince me you’re going to take this storyline somewhere and you’ve failed. That’s half a day.  

In the amount of time it took the Addams Family kids to be converted to optimism by watching Disney movies back to back in a remote cabin, you can’t even convert me from a supporter of your show to a devoted audience member.  I’m disappointed in you.

So it’s time for me to let go.   It’s  not because I want to.  Believe me: I really hate to come to this realization.  I don’t like to be wrong about things and I certainly don’t knowing I spent half a day watching a badly done show instead of investing that time in my life’s calling to start a Puppy Amusement Park.  Maybe if the rest of America hangs in there for you, you’ll come around about half way through next season.  But with a meth lab that’s just blown up after the Mexican cartel’s ringleaders have been taken out on AMC, and a few baby dragons that have just been born during a young bastard prince’s grasp on the Iron Throne on HBO, it’s unlikely my attention is going to be able to revert to Storybrook.

I don’t think I’ve ever gotten the opportunity to say this in a break up before.  So allow me to indulge:

It’s over, Once Upon a Time.  It’s not me: it’s you. 

Puppies and Unicorn Sprinkles,



20 Responses to “Once Upon a Time: A Break Up Letter”

  1. thesquareflea April 11, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

    I broke up with Once Upon A Time too. It had sooo much potential but it was a big wump womp for me.


    • Jackie April 11, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

      I should have used the term wump womp. Big miss on my part.


  2. Ernesto Vazquez-Belen April 11, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    I heard about this show because of the comic book FABLES (which both ABC and NBC were reportedly trying to develop this into a TV series but made Once Upon A Time and (I think) Grim instead).

    FABLES is amazing to me. I refused to touch either one of these TV series because neither one of them were this comic book (even though I’m pretty sure they were both inspired by what this comic did over the years). Not sure if you’ve heard of it (maybe you have, it’s the internet after all).



    • Jackie April 11, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

      I haven’t – but thanks for the edu-macation!


  3. cpick27 April 12, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    They’ve been advertising Once Upon a Time since last year in Australia, and they still haven’t released the date its going to air on TV. It looked really interesting, but after reading your post, I’m not to sure anymore.


    • Jackie April 19, 2012 at 12:05 am #

      Seems rude to advertise and not deliver. I watch it on Hulu and this comment made me google restrictions on Hulu in Australia. I found this post but I don’t know if it’s too intense/would work/is ethical http://www.kristi-barrow.com/watch-hulu-australia 🙂 But like I said – it goes nowhere fast. Maybe by the time they actually release it there, something will be happening in the current season.


      • cpick27 April 19, 2012 at 3:00 am #

        That’s good to know thanks 🙂


  4. wtfhappenedtomyreallife April 12, 2012 at 12:31 am #

    Honestly, I still love it. I know that it is going to turn into something big and I am patient. I watch it on Hulu though, so I am not tied to any particular time to watch it. I also watch Grimm which I think is also taking a while to get to the point but still seems to be making progress….but which is really trying me with not knowing what the Chief is.

    If you like, I can let you know when they finally get around to the big battles. I know they have to be coming. They just have to be…right?


    • Jackie April 19, 2012 at 12:02 am #

      Please do tell me. Because I thought we were going somewhere and then we weren’t, and then we were, and…

      If they ever come anyway 😉


      • wtfhappenedtomyreallife April 19, 2012 at 9:35 am #

        I will once there are new episodes. This season has been hard on a lot of shows because the episodes have all been so damn sporadic.


  5. Jules April 12, 2012 at 12:45 am #

    Looks like I’m not missing anything.
    I’ll be over here instead, catching up on The Walking Dead season 2.

    Brains, it’s what’s for dinner.


    • Jackie April 19, 2012 at 12:00 am #

      oooh you’re one of several recommendations in the Walking Dead category. I might have to check it out since I’m officially dropping this.


  6. Taylor April 12, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    I’m sticking it with it until (at least) the season finale. I was so excited! They casted Lost alum Emilie de Ravin as Belle – are you fricking serious? YES! And that story line made go – huh? HE’S the “Beast?” And the Queen referenced having a problem with a certain mermaid. So, maybe I’m waiting around for them to ruin her, too, I don’t know. But, you are most certainly not alone in your frustration.

    And by the way, I HATE the Queen. Or maybe I can’t stand the woman who plays her, I’m not sure. Right, the Evil Queen would defeat Maleficient – I don’t think so.


    • Jackie April 18, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

      I can’t figure out if it’s the character or her portrayal that I hate. Part of me thinks it’s very one-note and the other thinks it’s what it needs to be. I guess I just wish there were a little more vocal variety. She says everything the same way. And HOW CAN HE BE THE BEAST HE’S ALREADY RUMPELSTILTSKIN IM SO CONFUSED.

      You stick with it. Let me know if it comes back around and I’ll tune in.


  7. pegoleg April 12, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    It’s NOT you. It’s them. I also loved the premise and hung in for a few episodes, but it was just, too, too confusing with all the twists, and not that exciting. I hope they sign you on to do creative CPR on the show.


    • Jackie April 18, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

      Man, if landing jobs that awesome were as easy as writing a disgruntled blog post, you and I would be the coolest cats with the best resumes around.


  8. Ro April 12, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    I watched the first episode and considered continuing with the series to see how it goes, but I trust your judgement and will therefore not. Plus, I’ve never been a fan of Ms Never Smiles. You know who I’m talking about. May I recommend my fave: Merlin (BBC). It’s wonderful. AND, to satisfy your yearnings, you get to see the characters “slowly being led to realize their true identities.” It’s lovely. And there are many goodlooking men with accents in period garb. WIN!


    • Jackie April 18, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

      Ms. Never Smiles. Merlin…. there was a Merlin on years ago that I was into – a little miniseries thingie. I think I might give yours a go. The accents and garb locked it in for me.


  9. SmileAwhile242 April 15, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    I did this about 9 episodes ago. The story line was amazing, but the acting was SERIOUSLY getting on my nerves. Well said!


    • Jackie April 18, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

      Ugh I wish I would have done it that early on. I kept checking back every once in a while, thinking “eeeeh maybe this is it.” Pat yourself on the back for hours saved, my friend.


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