Once Upon a Time: Season 4
Is has always been true that in order for the TV series to retain his popularity over the course of many years it has to achieve a very difficult goal. With each new season the writers are faced two objectives that all too often seem to be mutually exclusive. They have to embrace the elements of the show that led to its initial success changing the situations and characters in order to maintain its novelty. One series that has been exceptionally successful in maintaining a synergy between these two objectives is one of the better offerings in the ABC primetime lineup, ‘Once upon a Time’. Crucial to all of this is the corporate hierarchy. The ABC network is owned by the Walt Disney Corporation and as such has access to one of the largest repositories popular characters ever. Since 1939 parents have been flocking to the theaters with your children to experience the latest Walt Disney feature-length animated movie. You can make a reasonably accurate guess as to the age of the person from them telling you which the Disney cannon the first remember watching. The show ‘Once upon a Time’ it began as a high concept program; a woman, Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) from the real world stumbles into a town completely populated by Disney characters rare of their real identities. The only one who has a clue what’s going on was the town of Storybook’s mayors Regina Mills (Lana Parrilla), who just happens to be the Evil Queen from the Snow White story. Every season it looks as though they resolve the main mystery and a happy ending is just about to take affect but a powerful villain from another Disney fairytale movie makes an appearance. This is an ideal situation to meeting the bifurcated requirements for series longevity. The only potential limitation is in the number of characters held in reserve. Considering they are drawing from the Disney cannon that has been built up over the last 75 years thereinafter in no danger of running out of heroes, villains or magical situations. Initial season scratched the surface with such longtime standards Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin), Mulan (Jamie Chung), Robin Hood (Sean Maguire) and the Little Mermaid (JoAnna Garcia Swisher). If you don’t see your favorite appearing on screen displayed a few episodes be disappointed.
Some fans have complained about the characters used introducing new storyline to the ongoing saga of Storybrook. A beautiful young woman long platinum blonde hair light blue gown named Elsa (Georgina Haig) appears and is looking for her sister, Anna (Elizabeth Lail). Irate at not finding her the young woman proceeds to make a snow trying to attack the town and finally surrounds it was an impenetrable wall of ice. She did not however start singing a rousing version of ‘Let It Go’, but it was very obvious that this season was going to cash in on the phenomenal success of the latest Disney Princess films, ‘Frozen’. Disney Company has never been above blatant commercialization force marketing their various endeavors. A number of people have openly criticized co-opting the ‘Frozen’ characters but I suspect that they did not watch the complete storyline unfold. In the previous seasons the main villains, even green Regina and Mr. Gold otherwise known as Rumplestiltskin have turned from being the main villains into allies of the central group of heroes that group has remained the same adding some consistency to the ever-changing landscape of series. Magical means Emma is the daughter of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) and her biological son is Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) who had been adopted by Regina is the grandson of Mr. Gold. Gold has another nom de guerre that he goes by that is always there to add a twist to the proceedings. He is the ultimate source of all dark magic in the epitome of evil the Dark One. Storyline was an efficient and entertaining Ray of disrupting the idyllic conditions that followed the season three finale. They brought a new main villain, The Ice Queen; Ingrid (Elizabeth Mitchell) also possesses absolute control of ice and snow. She wants me the latest to condemn this small town in Maine to a spell that will destroy it.
What is always been very entertaining about this series is how it can take something that seems to be repeating the same storylines over and over each time gives it just enough of a unique twist to reinvigorated. For example the character of Ingrid is introduced as having been in Storybook the entire time as the proprietor of the local ice cream shop. This character is also used to provide previously unseen back story for Emma. It turns out that Ingrid had been cast out of her realm in to ours some years ago and wound up being teenage Emma’s foster mother. The story of two loving sisters, Elsa and Anna echoes to the back story of Ingrid and how she became the dastardly Snow Queen. These stories are blended with such expert care that a side plots concerning Regina falling in love with Robin Hood is presented in such a fashion that is quite easy to accept. Incredibly this holds true when one of Robin’s married men, Will Scarlet Michael Socha), just happens to be the same character (and actor), who appeared in the short-lived spinoff ‘Once upon a Time in Wonderland’ As the Knave of Hearts. The use of different realms as alternate universes permits a cross pollination of characters and storylines. Those who feel that they are stretching the elements of some of these stories too far just remember the House of Mouse holds the copyrights for all of them.
Admittedly this season did come across as a little overcrowded, cramming into many different fairytales into one elongated story. The final main story has Mr. Gold trapped in the outside world on from returning to Storybrook. To force his return he assembles the queens of evil calling on some buildings that have been seen in the past; Maleficent (Kristin Bauer van Straten), Ursula the Sea Witch (Merrin Dungey) and a newcomer, Cruella De Vil (Victoria Smurfit). Although it bears noting that the male canine lead of ‘101 Dalmatians’, Pongo was a recurring character in season one. By uniting all the most evil characters from the magical realm the plans on invading the town and regaining control of the magical dagger that is the source of his power and the only thing that can control him. This runs concurrently with another storyline of Henry trying to find the offer of the illustrated storybook that served as the catalyst the entire series. It contains the stories of each of the characters determines how the heroes will be rewarded in the villains punished. Reformed villain Regina is desperate to get a hold "of ‘The Author’ as he could change her story allowing her happy ending. The series remains as robust and entertaining as ever with sufficient changes occurring on a regular basis ensuring there is always something of a surprise just around the corner. There is a whimsical delight, or at least a guilty pleasure and watching our favorite characters from our youth engaged in different situations and brand-new adventures. Disney is drawing from a very deep well of characters that have a built-in fan base. If handled properly this series to go on for considerable amount of time.