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
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,