Editor's note: The following is an e-mail conversation between CNN Geek Out's Elizabeth Landau and Henry Hanks. If you didn't watch Sunday night's season premiere of "Once Upon a Time," don't read any further. And for more analysis of the show check out Jordan Bienstock's recap.
Hanks: Liz, after watching one of the most anticipated new series of the fall, I was impressed by such an original idea for a TV series. In fact, it seemed like the setup for a great movie (not unlike “Terra Nova”).
Unfortunately, that is also a bit of a problem. I’m not sure where this series goes from there.
I also can’t help but get something of a “meh” feeling about this show. I really wanted to be excited about a series with such a talented cast and extraordinary special effects (and again, unique concept), but for some reason, I was only moderately interested in tuning in again.
Don’t get me wrong, I will give it a few more weeks. But I expected something more.
Landau: Henry, I came away from the pilot feeling way more than “meh” about it. I should confess first of all that as a kid I was really into the Disney fairytale-based movies so right off the bat I was interested to see how this show would spin classic fairytales.
As a fan of “House” it was cool to see Jennifer Morrison out of her element. I must say that I was a little unconvinced by her assertion that she has absolutely no friends whatsoever. Given how relatively easily she interacts with her son and the people in his town, it’s hard to believe that before that moment Emma Swan had absolutely closed herself off from everyone. Jared Gilmore does a great job portraying her son, Henry, who seems to be the only person, other than his adoptive mother the Evil Queen, who’s fully aware of both realities.
The special effects were great. I loved the costumes in the fairytale world and the spooky desolation of Henry’s town. The clock starting again in conjunction with Emma’s decision to stay in the town was a nice touch.
I had fun figuring out which characters in the “present day” corresponded to which characters in the fairytale world. This show has some of the writers of “Lost” so they have experience with creating multiple versions of reality and people who don’t know in which reality they truly belong. In “Once” it’s a lot clearer what the objective is, of course. Right?
During the course of the season to come, I am interested to find out who is Henry’s biological father. Could it be another lost child from fairytale land? And I hope we keep getting flashbacks from the fairytale world. I agree that it’s not clear where the show will go but I am excited to find out!
Hanks: Don't get me wrong, I am definitely on board to watch for weeks to come (especially since “Buffy” writer Jane Espenson has penned a few episodes, starting with the fifth one).
I also like Henry a lot more than, say, the kids on “Terra Nova” and other genre shows (his name isn’t bad either).
All that being said, I agree that it’s awfully convenient that Emma has absolutely no one in her life. I’m hoping that they will introduce at least one outside character in upcoming episodes.
It was also a little silly for the Queen to say that she was transporting the kingdom to “somewhere horrible,” when it actually seems like a pretty nice place to live. Yes, I understand that, like the phony reality of "The Matrix,” things are not what they seem, but details like that just didn’t work for me.
Like I said, I’m still willing to give this show a chance, but we’ll see if other viewers are willing to do the same in a crowded Sunday night TV landscape (the solid ratings for the first episode definitely won't hurt).
Landau: Yes, you’re right that their town of Storybrooke, Maine doesn’t appear to so hellish; a lonely city girl like Emma might have a lovely vacation in a sleepy coastal Maine town. But of course, the central characters’ lives are broken: Henry has an abusive(?) adopted mother and Prince Charming is in a coma, being attended to by the devoted Snow White. And of course Emma herself, who did not catch a ride with the rest of them originally, isn’t having such a great life, either.
The witch also bothers me a little because she has no clear motivation in her evil doings. Is she just “bad” and wants to see other people suffer? Or did something happen to her that made her wish the worst for Snow White’s family? I would expect that “Lost” writers would give us some backstory there to complicate matters and maybe even make us feel a little sorry for the witch. Otherwise it’s just too clear-cut.
Seems like the theme is going to be “remember where you came from,” with Emma reuniting with her son and parents.
This is definitely a show to keep an eye on this fall!