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"Once Upon a Time" The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review - Page 2

Once Upon a Time: The Complete First Season Blu-ray cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Once Upon a Time: Season One (2011-12)
Show & Blu-ray Details

Creators: Nicholas Kitsis, Adam Horowitz / Producers: Nicholas Kitsis, Adam Horowitz, Steve Pearlman (executive); Kathy Gilroy (producer); David H. Goodman (co-executive); Jane Espenson (consulting)

Directors: Dean White, David Solomon, Ralph Hemecker, Milan Cheylov, Mark Mylod, Greg Beeman, Paul A. Edwards, Victor Nelli, David M. Barrett, Michael Waxman, Bryan Spicer, Ron Underwood, Paul Edwards, Gwyneth Horder-Payton / Writers: Nicholas Kitsis, Adam Horowitz, Jane Espenson, David H. Goodman, Andrew Chambliss, Ian Goldberg, Liz Tigelaar, Daniel T. Thomsen, Vladimir Cvetko

Regular Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin (Mary Margaret Blanchard/Snow White), Jennifer Morrison (Emma Swan), Lana Parrilla (Regina Mills/The Evil Queen), Josh Dallas (David Nolan/Prince Charming), Eion Bailey (August W. Booth/Pinocchio), Jared S. Gilmore (Henry Mills), Raphael Sbarge (Dr. Archibald Hopper/Jiminy Cricket), Robert Carlyle (Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin)

Recurring Characters: Giancarlo Esposito (Sidney Glass/Magic Mirror/The Genie), Anastasia Griffith (Kathryn Nolan/Princess Abigail), Meghan Ory (Ruby/Red Riding Hood), Jamie Dornan (Sheriff Graham/The Huntsman), Lee Arenberg (Leroy/Grumpy/Dreamy), Alan Dale (King George/Albert Spencer), Sebastian Stan (Jefferson/Mad Hatter), Emilie de Ravin (Belle), David Anders (Dr. Whale), Beverley Elliott (Granny/Widow Lucas), Keegan Connor Tracy (Mother Superior/The Blue Fairy), Tony Amendola (Geppetto/Marco), Richard Schiff (King Leopold), Jessy Schram (Ashley Boyd/Cinderella), Tim Phillipps (Sean Herman/Prince Thomas), Tony Perez (Henry), Dylan Schmid (Baelfire), Jakob Davies (Young Pinocchio), Kristin Bauer van Straten (Malficent), Michael Coleman (Happy), Faustino Di Bauda (Walter/Sleepy), David-Paul Grove (Doc), Jeffrey Kaiser (Dopey), Gabe Khouth (Mr. Clark/Sneezy), Mig Macario (Bashful), Geoff Gustafson (Stealthy), Patti Allan (Miss Ginger/Blind Witch)

Notable Guest Stars: Ted Whittall (Mitchell Herman/The King), Gabrielle Rose (Ruth), Alex Zahara (King Midas), Brad Dourif (Old Beggar/Dark Lord), Ty Olsson (Hordor), Emma Caulfield (The Blind Witch), Karley Scott Collins (Gretel/Ava Zimmer), Nicholas Lea (Michael Tillman/The Woodcutter), Quinn Lord (Hansel/Nicholas Zimmer), Eric Keenleyside (Sir Maurice/Moe French), Sage Brocklebank (Sir Gaston), Greyston Holt (Frederick/Jim), Aria Pullman (Siren), Amy Acker (Sister Astrid/Nova), Jesse Hutch (Peter), Roger Daltrey (voice of The Caterpillar - uncredited), Noah Bean (Daniel), Barbara Hershey (Cora), Bailee Madison (Young Snow White)

Running Time: 947 Minutes (22 episodes) / Rating: TV-PG LSV

1.78:1 Widescreen / 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (English), Dolby Surround 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Thai; Not Closed Captioned
Extras Subtitled in / Season 1 Airdates: October 23, 2011 - May 13, 2012
Blu-ray Release Date: August 28, 2012 / Suggested Retail Price: $79.99
Five single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50s) / Thick Blue Keepcase in Lenticular Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($45.99 SRP), Instant Video, Instant Video HD

Buy Once Upon a Time: Season 1 from Amazon.com: Blu-ray DVD Instant Video Instant Video HD

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Show Review and Discs 1-3

Baffling murder charges put wholesome schoolteacher Mary Margaret Blanchard (Ginnifer Goodwin) behind bars in "Heart of Darkness." A young Snow White (Bailee Madison) lets out a damning secret to the Queen's vindictive mother (Barbara Hershey) in "The Stable Boy."

Disc 4

15. Red-Handed (43:05) (Originally aired March 11, 2012)
Midriff-baring waitress Ruby (Meghan Ory) gets her chance in the spotlight,
as she has to put up with the overprotective Granny (Beverley Elliott) at her diner workplace and in the fantastic past, where as Red Riding Hood, she and Snow hunt the big bad wolf (man?).

16. Heart of Darkness (42:57) (Originally aired March 18, 2012)
Arrested on suspicions of murder, Mary Margaret hires Mr. Gold as her lawyer. Meanwhile, not her usual good-natured self, Snow White wants the Queen dead.

17. Hat Trick (43:03) (Originally aired March 25, 2012)
Emma is abducted by a sketchy individual (Sebastian Stan), who you'll recognize as The Mad Hatter of Wonderland.

18. The Stable Boy (43:05) (Originally aired April 1, 2012)
The Evil Queen's animosity for Snow White is traced back to Snow's childhood when young Snow (guest Bailee Madison) inadvertently gets in the way of true love via the Queen's disapproving mother (Barbara Hershey).

Geppetto (Tony Amendola) gets his wish as his wooden son Pinocchio (Jakob Davies) becomes a real boy. Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) and David (Josh Dallas) brace for the purple CGI smoke coming their way in the first season finale.

Disc 5

19. The Return (43:05) (Originally aired April 22, 2012)
Mr. Gold believes he may have found his long-lost son, as the corresponding tale from Rumplestiltskin's past is shared.

20. The Stranger (43:04) (Originally aired April 29, 2012)
A version of Pinocchio sheds light on the until-now mysterious nature of August (Eion Bailey). Regina warms to David.

21. An Apple as Red as Blood (43:04) (Originally aired May 6, 2012)
The Queen's poisoned apple stunt is recalled, as Emma tries to negotiate visitation rights from Regina.

22. A Land Without Magic (42:49) (Originally aired May 13, 2012)
Having taken a bite from the poisoned apple turnover, a hospitalized Henry has his life hang in the balance. Charming tries to find Snow White.

Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Red Riding Hood (Megan Ory) team up to solve the mystery of the big bad wolf in "Red-Handed."

VIDEO and AUDIO

"Once Upon a Time" boasts exceptional picture and sound quality on Blu-ray. The beautiful 1.78:1 widescreen presentation even bests that of hi-def broadcasts with its immaculate element, vibrant colors, and perfect sharpness. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio adds to the sensory delight, providing the kind of kick you expect more from films than television. Dialogue is always crisp and substantial. Atmosphere is moderate but appropriate. Volume levels fluctuate a little more than desirable. And subtitles are provided in six languages, three more than the standard ones mentioned on the case. A Dolby Surround 2.0 mix is also provided, presumably for those who have upgraded to Blu-ray but still lack a 5.1-channel home theater.

In a library (or a library set), Josh Dallas hosts "Once Upon a Time: Origins", a featurette detailing five fairy tales' histories. Dwarfs get directed on a green screen set in "Fairy Tales in the Modern World."

BONUS FEATURES

An audio commentary is supplied on one episode from each disc. In what is a first to me, the commentaries are all kindly accompanied by disclaimers
warning that future episodes in this season could be spoiled by the discussion.

Creators/executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz speak on the pilot, discussing casting, their influences, the show's fashions, production design symbolism, subtle "Lost" homages, and introducing the ideas they will be dealing with throughout the season. Actors Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas talk on "7:15 A.M.", focusing largely on their appearances, their actions, and the small details of props. Actor Robert Carlyle and writer Jane Espenson team up to discuss the Beauty and the Beast episode "Skin Deep." Carlyle discusses developing his character, while Espenson sheds light on minor touches of meaning, their different perspectives covering a good amount of ground.

Kitsis and Horowitz return and are joined by actress Lana Parrilla to comment on Disc 4's "The Stable Boy." Their chat focuses on characters and how they progress. Jennifer Morrison joins Kitsis and Horowitz to talk on the season finale "A Land Without Magic", a track that largely allows them to pass praise back and forth. Morrison gets to share her greenscreen experiences

Disc 1's "Orchestral Suite" (4:05) plays a composition from the series over a static title screen. This fun and unusual inclusion is a promotional taste of a full score album.

Disc 5's all-HD video extras begin with "Once Upon a Time: Origins", a feature hosted by Prince Charming portrayer Josh Dallas. Comparing them to similar older myths, he gives us the history of five fairy tales: Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, and Rumplestiltskin. The counter is disabled for the illusion of interactivity (so is rewinding, unfortunately), but each short runs about two minutes for a total of twelve and change, counting an introduction.

"Fairy Tales in the Modern World" (20:27) employs cast and crew interviews, abundant clips from influential Disney animated movies, and behind-the-scenes looks at filming. It's a good general making-of featurette that sheds light on characters and confirms everyone's appreciation for Disney.

Costume designer Eduardo Castro comments on a look planned for Belle (Emilie de Ravin) in "Building Character." The storefront makeover of Steveston, British Columbia into Storybrooke, Maine is profiled.

"Building Character" (7:20) shows the development of Belle, from the creators meeting with actress Emilie de Ravin to her trying on outfits for the costume designers. Seems like there should have been more to the process to warrant this featurette, but de Ravin fans will appreciate seeing more of her.

"Welcome to Storybrooke" (6:46) tells us about how the small British Columbia fishing village Steveston is transformed into Storybrooke, Maine with changed signs and storefronts. It's an interesting topic and one that benefits from small business owners' comments on the experience.

"The Story I Remember...Snow White" (4:29) has the cast take turns telling parts of the fairy tale by memory, with illustrations bringing their sometimes conflicting words to life. It's a fun piece that shares with us the actors' personalities.

Beverley Elliott, Granny, is one of several cast members retelling Snow White as they remember it. David Anders has a laugh in one of the Fairest Bloopers of Them All.

"Fairest Bloopers of Them All" (2:20) are like any bloopers, only with their profanity bleeped. These outtakes find the cast getting tongue-tied, falling, and reacting to assorted goofs.

Nine Deleted Scenes (12:53) are presented with some unfinished greenscreen and clear context. These short cuts include alternate introductions of Rumplestiltskin
and Sheriff Graham plus a few moments that show decent qualities in Regina.

Digging around Disc 5's files, I discovered seven Easter eggs. One (3:17) profiles an episode's guest timber wolf, with behind-the-scenes footage and some comments from a wrangler and actor Jamie Dornan. Rehearsal and behind-the-scenes is shared for two swordfights, one (1:48) involving a baby and the other featuring the dwarfs (0:54). One (1:48) has Eion Bailey share a story about a joke his parents played on him as a child that sort of relates to Pinocchio. Another (1:38) shows us the procession of costumed extras arriving for a wedding scene. The actors playing the dwarfs (1:27) get made up. A car guy (1:07) talks about the vehicles used for regular characters.

Disc One opens with ads for ABC first season dramas, "Castle": The Complete Fourth Season, and Frankenweenie. These are not menu-accessible. Disc 5's Sneak Peeks listing plays trailers for The Avengers, more ABC dramas, Secret of the Wings, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit: 25th Anniversary Edition.

Target stores offered an exclusive edition with a bonus sixth disc (a DVD no matter what format you buy) featuring half an hour of footage from the show's March 2012 panel discussion at the William S. Paley Television Festival. Moderated by TVLine's Matt Mitovich, the panel consisted of series' creators and six principal cast members. Their revealing discussion covers a wide range of topics; a full 58-minute version of it can be viewed online here.

The Blu-ray's menus take their cues from the opening title logo, subtly varying their imagery based on the disc's contents.

MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray is equipped with "Season Play", a feature that adds considerable value to this set. As a 33-second video overview explains, this allows you and others to easily track their viewing progress across the five discs. You can create a profile for each viewer and each disc will remember where they left off down to the precise second of an unfinished episode. It's amazing technology, particularly from a studio that still hasn't mastered the art of resuming Blu-ray playback. This still lacks that capability, treating you to skippable logos, copyright warnings, and, where applicable, previews every time you power up.
But the disc knows what you've seen, even if that disc has not previously entered your player. At the end of each disc's viewing, a screen pops up asking questions to be answered, which a disc needn't be inserted to display.

The simple menus take their cues from the title logo, whose subtle episode-specific variations give us clues as to the content. The discs let characters and elements pop up into fixed view of the blue-tinted forest.

The thicker than usual Blu-ray case is topped by a cardboard slipcover, whose tasteful and fitting lenticular face lets you turn the lead characters and central setting from their fairy tale form to their present day (the former alone features on the case art below). The reverse side of the keepcase art displays imagery from the show and episode lists while a booklet promotes all of the season's ABC TV DVD offerings with a $10 off coupon as well as tie-in books and other TV shows.

Target's exclusive version has a unique slipcover resembling a book (but not opening like one), which elegantly places a fancy border around the show's logo, but it short-sightedly holds the bonus disc in a flimsy cardboard envelope wrapped to the back of the case.

Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) make a deal in the woods of fairy tale land.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

"Once Upon a Time" is to fairy tales what "Glee" is to pop music. If you haven't heard the original versions being reinterpreted, it will seem pretty compelling and creative. If you have, the new takes will not compare to the original. And yet, there are more than enough people who enjoy singing or fairy tales to want to keep watching anyway.

The mix of storybook fantasy with ordinary small-town contemporary ABC drama is inspired enough to be above-average network programming, but "Once" falls well short of its potential and winds up being kind of fun, kind of laborious instead of the magical television landmark you want it to be.

Disney's Season One Blu-ray is without complaint. Picture and sound are as good as they get, the "Season Play" viewing mode removes all difficulty from multiple people watching the shows at their own pace, and the extras give us ample insight into the show's creations. While I've had more complaints than commendations for the series, I'd still encourage you to see at least some of it. This top-notch Blu-ray is the ideal way to do that, but it doesn't come cheap, selling for nearly twice as much as the DVD.

Buy Once Upon a Time: Season 1 from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video / Instant Video HD


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Show Review and Discs 1-3

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Reviewed September 21, 2012.



Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011-12 Kitsis/Horowitz, ABC Studios and 2012 Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
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