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Sunday, January 12, 2014

'Once Upon A Time: S2 BD: This is Not Your Father's Disney Park

Product Details
This shamefully belated review of the Blu-ray release of the 2012-13 second season of the ABC drama/fantasy/scifi show "Once Upon A Time" relates to this set's inclusion in the awesome gift from ABC that the recent review of "revenge" S1 mentions. The promised reviews of "revenge" S2 and "Scandal" S2 will follow.

The first noticeable aspect of the Blu-ray version of "Once" is that the sharp images and enhanced sound associated with this format is tailor-made for this modern fairy tale. The spooky woods look even spookier, and the exteriors and interiors of the scenes in the small Maine town to which most characters were forcibly relocated provide a wonderfully vivid sense of being in that part of the country.

A specific Blu-ray goodie include the "season pass" feature that ABC has developed. This tool provides viewers of ABC Blu-ray titles an electronic "bookmark" that allows picking up watching an episode where they left off in contrast to most recent Blu-ray releases losing your place when you turn off your Blu-ray player.

An equally good and helpful exclusive Blu-ray treat on this set is a clip and cast member-laden special feature on the rather complex family relationships of the characters in "Once." The plethora of surprising developments in the second season make this feature especially helpful.Sarah Hyland, who plays wonderfully dopey party girl Haley Dunphy on the ABC sitcom "Modern Family" narrates this extra.

Special features that both the Blu-ray and DVD releases of "Once" S2 offer include a very amusing episode of the morning show "Good Morning Storybrooke," which has a plethora of familiar faces from the "Once" "community," and a profile of Captain Hook, nee Killian Jones.

One spoiler regarding Hook is that Colin O'Donoghue embraces that role with elan and overall enthusiasm for his role that rivals that of Kevin Kline regarding the Pirate King in "The Pirates of Penzance" and puts Johnny Depp to shame regarding his portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow in ABC-parent Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise.

The second season picks up soon after the events in the first season's grande finale places the
"awakened" fairy-tale characters in a state of confusion and tremendous anger. They direct much of their rage at Mayor/Evil Queen Regina Mills, who struggles with competing desires to win the hearts of her constituents and to rip them out and crush them in her hand.

Comprehensively discussing the almost constant significant developments from the 22 episodes in the second season would require far too much time and space. The highlights are that much of the action in Storybrooke revolves around battles with Regina and her partner-in-crime Mr.Gold/Rumpelstiltskin and with the Snow White/Prince Charming family dealing with the same issues, including onerous grandparents, that many of us face.

Other ongoing Storybrooke-based plots involve outsiders who are seeking revenge almost as vigorously as Emily Thorne of the aforementioned series of that name coming to Storybrooke, the also aforementioned Hook and a surprise companion seeking retribution of their own against Gold and Regina respectively, and Gold valiantly trying to be as good as the metal with which he shares a name.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of one of the later season two episodes provides a good sense of the drama in these 22 episodes.



The fictional, but not fairy tale, character Dr. Victor Frankenstein deserves notice only for the Storybrook name that "Once's" writers bestow on him. Identifying this character as "Dr. Whale" is a wonderful tribute to James Whale, who did so well directing the 1931 classic version of "Frankenstein" and the sequel "The Bride of Frankenstein."

An episode that is set in Storybrooke literally at the dawn of that town's creation also deserves mention because it harkens back to the first season and resurrects a character from that season. This is akin to an episode from 'revenge' S1 that returns the action to a time before Thorne's campaign ruined friendships and careers.

Other settings in S2 of "Once" include the Enchanted Forest in the period in which the Maineiacs in Storybrooke lived there, the modern-day Enchanted Forest, and even Manhattan in a storyline that has a touch of the uber-awesome Disney film "Enchanted."

All of this makes for a particular good show, and the second season episodes draw viewers into the spirit of the series so well that watching people talk about things such as Mulan and Aurora, a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty, climbing the magic vine from "Jack and the Beanstalk" or Pinocchio returning to town seems as natural and normal as watching Adam Goldberg of "The Goldbergs" fight with his mother over his school wardrobe.

The nature of the developments that unfold during this season additionally provide the same sense of the producers and writers that its audience is a little older that the "Harry Potter" books and films convey.

Much of the action is darker in literal and figurative tone, and the story lines seem a little more adult. One nice aspect of this is a burning desire to see awkward and unduly eager young Henry Mills end up in the oven of the witch from "Hansel and Gretel" easing a little in this sophomore season.

The build-up to the season finale is quite exciting, and that event leads up to the drama and action in the third season episodes that ABC is currently airing. There is no doubt that a Blu-ray version of those episodes will join the home-video collection that makes up the Unreal TV library.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Once" is welcome to email me; you can also use the "magic portal" known as Twitter to make contact by casting the spell that consists of @tvdvdguy.