March 3, 2013

THE SKED @ PALEYFEST2013: “Once Upon A Time”


Cheers to ONCE UPON A TIME, which rushed through the PaleyFest preliminaries at this afternoon’s session and was able to screen not just tonight’s entire episode, but next week’s first act as well.  Tonight’s show does the usual deft job of switching among present-day Storybrooke, present-day New York (even if the latter looks a bit like Vancouver) and backstory–this time for Snow White–in story book land, while our glimpse of next week indicates that Rose McGowan is a surprisingly apt choice to play the young Barbara Hershey.

In fact, while they hoarded their deeper secrets, series creator/showrunners Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and the seven cast members present were pleasingly willing to provide some hints about where the season is going, which is to say that mild SPOILERS follow.  The episode airing in 2 weeks will be a flashback to the characters’ first week in Storybrooke following the inception of the curse in 1983, and the 2-part season finale episodes will bear the titles “Second Star To the Right/And Straight On Till Morning,” whose Peter Pan reference may tie in to the producers’ disclosure that before the season is over, the story will take us to an as-yet unseen realm.  (This other realm will point to a famous character who we won’t actually meet until Season 3.)  In terms of character, the show’s sometimes blurry line between good and evil (or at least its willingness to accept the adage that everyone has their reasons) will become fainter still as Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) taps into her dark side (asked whether ABC’s parent company Disney had any problem with that, the response was that the show was pretty much allowed to do what it wanted), and we learn more about Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) and Belle (Emilie de Ravin).  Guest star characters like the Huntsman and Pinocchio will also make appearances.  There was, naturally, the promise of a vague but huge-scale occurrence in the finale–and since this is a show that blew up its own original premise in last year’s season finale, these guys have more credibility than most. Kitsis & Horowitz also took the opportunity to deny online rumors that the Mad Hatter was being recast because of Sebastian Stan’s admittedly busy schedule.

As Tolstoy never quite said, casts of hit shows are all alike (well, until contract renegotiation time), and the Once group, if they were hiding their own secrets, did an above-average job of suggesting that they genuinely enjoy each other’s company.  The literally multi-dimensional scope of Once, which as de Ravin noted essentially allows everyone to play multiple characters, may be part of their fun.  They also clearly enjoyed the wild adulation they got from the PaleyFest crowd, which made the receptions for Revolution and even Walking Dead seem mild.  In any case, they seemed to savor the twists the show has in store over the next 7 episodes, as we make our way to May.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."