If Sunday’s record low ratings are any indication, we’re not the only TV addict who thinks ONCE UPON A TIME may have lost a little magic over the course of the first half of its seconcd season. And while we’re not prepared to jump off the bandwagon by any stretch just yet [Editor's Note: We're still watching HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER!], we did think now might be as good a time as any too offer up five suggestion that co-creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis might wish to consider moving forward.
WIth serious apologies in advance to the hard-working and honest townspeople of Storybrooke, who let’s face it, haven’t had the greatest string of luck these past twenty-eight years being cursed and all, ONCE UPON A TIME’s most pressing problem is one of over-population. A problem that plagues many sophomore shows when showrunners inexplicably decide to introduce a slew of entirely new characters in an attempt to conjure up drama at the expense of some much-needed screen time for the original ones that fans have come to know and love.
Simplify the number of story lines
The second most pressing issue plaguing ONCE UPON AT IME this season are the sheer number of simultaneous story lines. Take Sunday’s episode for example. Between Red/Ruby’s two predicaments, David juggling his continued effort to rescue his wife and daughter while at the same time having to defend his position against an angry mob of townspeople riled up by Spencer (aka King George) and Henry/Princess Aurora’s concurrent nightmares, we counted no fewer than six plots being mixed into forty-four minutes of show. Which, in case you’re wondering, is a lot to keep track of while our brain attempts to reconcile the fact that Sunday marks the end of a wonderful weekend and the start of a very busy work week.
Tone down the special effects
Despite the fact that co-creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis have gone on record in stating that they’ll never let a lack of visual effects budget or time temper their story-telling ambition, they should. Seriously. While we’re hesitant to be the type of TV Addict to quash any showrunners vision, there comes a point when a writer’s room has to get realistic. Unlike REVOLUTION, whose lack of visual effects as a result of the whole unexplained blackout phenomena continues to work in the show’s favor in terms of creator Eric Kripke’s promise of delivering a mini-movie every week [Editor's Note: Did you see Monday's epic episode?!], ONCE UPON A TIME’s often laughable effects do little more than completely remove us from what otherwise would be a very compelling story. Which is an absolute shame for a show that we’re sure has hundreds of people working around the clock to deliver the best possible product.
Remember the Format
Last season, one of the most appealing aspects to ONCE UPON A TIME was the slightly predictable nature of the show in that each episode generally shone the spotlight on a characters’ dual predicament in both the Storybook and Fairytale worlds. With one or two plot points, episodes were interesting enough to keep this generally anti-procedural type of TV Addict interested, yet simple enough to provide the hallmark of a good story that is a beginning middle and end. By contrast, this season has done a bang up job of introducing story, yet not so solid when it comes to finishing them.
Having learned under the tutelage of LOSTerminds Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, it’s understandable that the talented twosome that are Horowitz and Kitsis want to do nothing less than shoot for the stars by crafting and equally compelling world filled with good and evil character, not to mention life and death stakes. Unfortunately, the one thing that really seems to have gotten, well lost this season is the fun. In other words, when you’re responsible for writing a show about handsome princes, damsels in distress, witches, fairy-godmothers, etc… it would be nice if an episode could go by that doesn’t involve a grisly murder or loss of limbs. Translation: Where’s our happily ever afters?
ONCE UPON A TIME airs Sundays at 8PM on ABC (7PM on CTV in Canada) Catch up on past episodes you may have missed for free online at clicktowatch.tv