While I've grown used to having 3/4ths of my anime ending in the same week I was a bit thrown when I realized that all three of the regular, American/British live action shows I was watching all ended the same week so bear with me for a few weeks guys as I sort them out. So, as per my usual strategy, first up is the first to end which was the second season of Once Upon A Time which I was super pumped up for when it started. The first season started weak but got better and ended really strongly and I was pretty curious to see where it was going next which are the best feelings to have when going into a new show/new seasons of a show. Also, something that seems to be happening more and more over here, I'll try to keep the bulk of the review as spoiler free as possible but if I really need to talk about something spoilerly in detail I'll do so in a footnote so read those at your own risk.
Once Upon A Time
Summary: Continuing from where the first season left off, Storybrooke is a little town in Maine entirely populated by fairy tale characters when their land was cursed and they were flung to Earth. For 28 long years nothing changed and they remembered nothing, until Emma, the daughter of the king and queen and the promised savior, returned and somehow lifted the curse. But the characters are confused why they are still in Maine and even though they have their memories back there are still dangers lurking around.
The Good: The show was able to flesh out a few characters which it didn't have a chance to in the first season and I liked that, rounder characters are always preferable to flat ones. And it was nice to see just how the Enchanted Forest has fared over the years, that wasn't something I expected to see nor was it something I especially wanted to see but it cleared up a few questions before I even had them which is a good thing. Oh and the show cleared up a lot of things about Henry's father, although it really had to work to make some things line up, but when it's all said and done I'm actually okay with what they came up with. Honestly it's a little hard for me to be specific for what I liked this season not because it's spoilerly but because most of this happened fairly early on in the run which was back in October. I know there are reasons for why American tv shows have such weird breaks but man it makes it harder to remember specific details when everything is all said and done.
The Bad: Here's the non-spoilerely version, I disliked Regina's character arc*. In fact, I disliked an awful lot of things about this season. I disliked the fact that it seems like the writers are prolonging the character's stay in Maine (I'm guessing now that if the cast was to ever get back to their original world for good then the story would be over) with what feel like really contrived reasons. I like that the side cast has gotten a bit more fleshed out, I don't like how the core cast is left alone for episodes at a time, I liked this show because I liked the growing dynamic between Emma and Regina, don't cut that out! Also, guys there's a limit to how much backstory any individual character can have. Yes a lot of them have lived grand and exciting lives but you can't expect me to buy that they spent all their time having adventures of sort which have a clear influence on who they are now, somehow that breaks my suspension of disbelief even faster than the CGI does. Oh and they seemed to be trying to introduce some sort of Earth based, anti-magic agency in the last few episodes which came out of nowhere and was so sloppy I wasn't even sure that's what they meant until I talked with a few friends and found that they had come to the same conclusion I did.
The Audio/Visuals: I'm of two minds here. On the one hand, the wardrobe/costuming on this show is fantastic and I love a lot of what they do. On the other hand, it seems like they spent the show's entire budget on costumes and had to settle for less than polished CGI. I know that in this day and age, and considering that there have been fantasy movies with terrific special effects lately, but when it looks like you green-screened the actors in front of a fairly simple background for no reason then I'm going to get exasperated.
So I'm giving this just 2.5 out of 5 stars and I'm jumping ship now since, if the last few minutes meant what I think they did, we're about to get wibby-wobbly timey-wimey and that reminded me that this shares several important staff with Lost which is a phrase that fills me with trepidation. I do have a number of friends who plan on still watching the show so if they say that it fixes the problems I had then great, I'll come back. Until then however I'm going to spend my time watching tv shows that I'll hopefully enjoy more.
*and now for the spoilerly version, while I was initially hesitant to see her try and become good, considering how evil she's been, the idea grew on me and I felt like as soon as I started liking it the writers dropped that idea and instead had her revert back to her evil ways. I maintain that it was illogical for her to go and help her mother, considering how much pain her mother had caused for her and what she had done to Cora as retaliation, and just could not get behind that mini-arc. Finally, despite the fact that Regina hadn't changed by the end of the series, and had in some ways become worse since she showed that she couldn't really change, the writers still had her pull the line "I know I'm bad but I really tried to change" which had me wanting to flip tables into walls, when you're that inconsistent about character development trying to evoke sympathy for it seems like the dumbest thing you can do.