Once Upon a Time (TV series)

Once Upon a Time (TV series)
Once Upon a Time
Once Upon aTime promo image.jpg
Once Upon a Time intertitle
Format Fantasy
Created by Edward Kitsis
Adam Horowitz
Starring Ginnifer Goodwin
Jennifer Morrison
Lana Parrilla
Josh Dallas
Jared S. Gilmore
Raphael Sbarge
Robert Carlyle
Theme music composer Mark Isham
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 4 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Edward Kitsis
Adam Horowitz
Steve Pearlman
Mark Mylod
Producer(s) Kathy Gilroy
Damon Lindelof
Brian Wankum (co-prod.)
Editor(s) Julie Monroe
Henk Van Eeghen, ACE
Location(s) Vancouver, British Columbia[1]
Cinematography Steven Fierberg
Running time 45 minutes
Production company(s) ABC Studios
Original channel ABC
Original run October 23, 2011 (2011-10-23) – present
External links
Official website

Once Upon a Time is an American fairy tale drama television series that premiered on Sunday October 23, 2011, on ABC. New episodes air Sunday nights at 8:00 pm ET/7:00 pm CT.[2]

On November 3, 2011, ABC ordered the back nine episodes for Once Upon a Time, bringing the first season to a total of 22 episodes.[3]



On the wedding day of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (James) (Joshua Dallas), the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) arrives and delivers an ominous threat about a powerful curse she intends to release upon them. Some time later, a pregnant Snow White is worried about the curse and visits Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle) who issues a prophecy that the Queen's curse will take them all someplace terrible where there will be no happy endings. He also reveals that Snow White's unborn daughter, Emma, will return when she is 28 years old to rescue them, thus beginning the final battle with the Queen. On advice from the Blue Fairy, Geppetto (Tony Amendola) and Pinocchio fashion a wardrobe from a magical tree which will allow one person to escape the Queen's curse. Prince Charming intends for Snow White and their unborn daughter to use the magic tree to escape the curse, but Snow White goes into labor and gives birth to Emma just as the wardrobe is about to be completed. On the day Snow White gives birth to their daughter Emma, the Queen's curse strikes. Prince Charming places their daughter in the magic wardrobe, but is grievously wounded battling the Queen's henchmen. The Queen stands triumphantly over Snow White and Prince Charming as the curse takes them to "someplace horrible."

In present day Boston, Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) lives a lonely existence working as a bail bondsman and bounty hunter. On her 28th birthday, Emma is approached by a ten year old boy who identifies himself as her son, Henry, whom Emma had given up for adoption as a baby. Not wanting a relationship with him, Emma agrees to drive him back to his home in Storybrooke, Maine. Along the way, Henry shows her a large book of fairy tales, insisting that all of the stories in it are real. When they arrive in Storybrooke, Henry informs her that everyone in town is in reality a fairy tale character, exiled by the curse and with no memory of their real identities. This includes his therapist, who is really Jiminy Cricket, and his teacher Mary Margaret Blanchard, who is really Emma's mother Snow White. He claims that time is frozen in Storybrooke and the people are unable to leave, but that the curse will be broken by Emma since she is the daughter of Prince Charming and Snow White. A skeptical Emma returns Henry to his adopted mother, the town's mayor who is really the Evil Queen. When Henry soon runs away again, Emma finds him and decides to stay in Storybrooke temporarily. This decision causes the hands of the town clock, previously frozen, to begin moving again. Emma finds out that due to the Evil Queen's curse, her father Prince Charming is in a coma and has no memory of who he is.

Cast and characters


Season Episodes Originally aired DVD release date
Season premiere Season finale Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
1 22 October 23, 2011 (2011-10-23) N/A N/A N/A N/A


The pilot episode was watched by 13 million viewers and received a 4.0 rating in Adults 18-49.[4] It was the season's #1 rated drama debut among Adults 18-49 and ABC's biggest debut in five years.[5][6] The show's next three episodes have had consistent ratings every week with over 11 million viewers.[7][8][9]


Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis conceived the show in 2004, prior to joining the writing staff of Lost, but wanted to wait until that series was over to focus on this project.[10] The script was picked up to pilot on February 4, 2011.[11] ABC commissioned a series, airing from fall 2011 on Sundays at 8/7 Central.[12]

In May 2011, Jane Espenson was added as a co-executive producer and Liz Tigelaar was brought on as a consulting producer.[12] Damon Lindelof served as a consultant on the show's pilot. Kitsis described Lindelof as his and Horowitz's "godfather", while Horowitz said that Lindelof's "name isn't on the show, but his DNA is in it," and that he will continue to advise the two.[13] They also noted that Disney has allowed them access to their fairy tale characters for use in the series. "They've given us license," Kitsis said. "I could be wrong, but I think this is the first time anyone's shown Snow White with a sword, or pregnant."[13]

Both Horowitz and Kitsis later emphasized that the series will focus more on the characters themselves and won't feature a "complex" storyline, which reportedly was the primary focus. "We don't want this to be a mythology show," said Kitsis. "It's about characters and characters first."[14]

On September 27, 2011, the producers made some changes in the casting department, with Kristin Bauer van Straten replacing Paula Marshall as Maleficent after revealing that it was going in a different direction. Marshall was originally tapped for the role in June 2011.[15]

The show also has a similar premise to Bill Willingham's comic series Fables, to which ABC bought the rights in 2008, but never made it past the planning stages.[16] Horowitz and Kitsis have "read a couple issues" of Fables but state that while the two concepts are "in the same playground," they believe they are "telling a different story."[16] Comic-book reporter Rich Johnston, on his column on his Bleeding Cool site, called the series a "rip-off" from Fables. The storyline also seems drawn from ABC's own 1987 sitcom The Charmings and the Disney film Enchanted, and is also reminiscent of The 10th Kingdom, a 2000 Hallmark Entertainment mini-series produced for NBC, as well as in the Sisters Grimm series. The story book owned by Henry, depicting the events in the fairy tale world is illustrated in watercolors by Marvel comic-book artist João M. P Lemos.


As a nod to the ties between the production teams of Once Upon a Time and Lost, the new show contains allusions to Lost, and is expected to be a continuing theme throughout the series.[16]

The show, as a production of Disney-owned ABC, contains multiple allusions to the Disney versions of the stories that form the basis for the series. Snow White's dwarfs, unnamed in traditional versions of the story, here have the names they were given in the Disney film. Similarly, Sleeping Beauty was cursed by an individual named Maleficent, again the Disney name for the wicked fairy godmother that lacked a name in other versions. In the pilot episode, Leroy (the real world counterpart to the dwarf Grumpy) whistles Whistle While You Work, a song written for the 1937 film. Gepetto's fairy friend is called The Blue Fairy as in the 1940 Disney film, rather than The Fairy with Turquoise Hair and Jiminy Cricket rather than "the Talking Cricket," as in Carlo Collodi's novel. It should also be noted that the princes from Snow White and Cinderella have been given the names of "James" and "Thomas" respectively. They were unnamed in their original Disney films and traditional versions of their stories.

Critical reception

Several critics who saw the pilot reviewed the series positively. On Metacritic, it was given a score of 66 out of 100 with "generally favorable reviews".[17] E!'s Kristin dos Santos cites the show as one of the five new shows of the 2011–12 season to watch.[18] Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe gave the show a "C+" grade commenting "From a pair of Lost producers, this is a love-or-hate proposition. The ambition is impressive, as it asks us to imagine Goodwin’s Snow White and Parrilla’s Evil Queen as moderns. But Morrison is a wooden lead, and the back stories—a random collection of fairy tales—don’t promise to surprise."[19] In a review from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, TV critic Gail Pennington hailed it as one of the "Most Promising Show of The Fall", and unlike Gilbert, had high marks for Morrison.[20] USA Today's Robert Blanco has placed the series on its top ten list, declaring that "There's nothing else on the air quite like it."[21] Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times compared this series to another fairy-tale themed drama, Grimm, and preferred this series over the other, citing that the premise takes its time building up the charm and that the producer "has that part nailed". She also gave excellent reviews for Morrison's character: "Her Emma is predictably cynical and prickly—fairy-tale princess, my Aunt Fanny—but she's sharp and lively enough to keep audiences begging for 'just a few more pages' before they go to bed."[22]


It has been nominated for a 2012 People's Choice Award for "Favorite New TV Drama". [23]

International broadcasts

The series has been picked up for international broadcasts in these countries:

Country Channel Premiere date Timeslot
Canada Canada CTV October 23, 2011 7 pm & 10 pm[1]
Spain Spain Antena 3 TBA TBA
Australia Australia Seven Network 2012 TBA[24]
Brazil Brazil Globo 2012
Greece Greece Star Channel 2012
Israel Israel Yes 2012
New Zealand New Zealand TVNZ 2012 TBA[25]

^1 Canadian broadcast: The series will air at 7 pm in all regions except in Saskatchewan and Winnipeg, where it will air at 10 pm. All times local time.[26]


  1. ^ "Once Upon A Time". VancouverFilm.Net. July 22, 2011. http://www.vancouverfilm.net/2011/07/once-upon-time-october-23-2011.html. 
  2. ^ Seidman, Robert (June 27, 2011). "ABC Announces Fall Series Premiere Dates: Late Starts for 'Once Upon a Time,' 'Man Up'". TV by the Numbers. http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2011/06/27/abc-announces-fall-series-premiere-dates-late-starts-for-once-upon-a-time-man-up/96596/. Retrieved June 27, 2011. 
  3. ^ "'Once Upon a Time,' 'Last Man Standing' Get Full Season Orders at ABC". Hollywood Reporter. November 3, 2011. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/once-a-time-last-man-257327. Retrieved November 3, 2011. 
  4. ^ Gorman, Bill (October 25, 2011). "Sunday Final Ratings: 'Once Upon A Time' Adjusted Up + Final Ratings For World Series Game 4 & Saints/Colts". TVbytheNumbers. http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2011/10/25/sunday-final-ratings-once-upon-a-time-adjusted-up-final-ratings-for-world-series-game-4-saintscolts/108354/. Retrieved October 25, 2011. 
  5. ^ Gorman, Bill (October 24, 2011). "ABC's 'Once Upon a Time' Opens as the Season's #1 New Drama". TVbytheNumbers. http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2011/10/24/abcs-once-upon-a-time-opens-as-the-seasons-1-new-drama/108234/. Retrieved October 25, 2011. 
  6. ^ "TV Ratings Broadcast Top 25: 'Sunday Night Football' Beaten By 'Modern Family' & 'Two and a Half Men' In Week #5 Among Adults 18-49". TV By The Numbers. October 25, 2011. http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2011/10/25/tv-ratings-broadcast-top-25-sunday-night-football-beaten-by-modern-family-two-and-a-half-men-in-week-5-among-adults-18-49/108305/. 
  7. ^ "Sunday Final Ratings: 'Cleveland Show' Adjusted Up; 'Pan Am' Adjusted Down + Unscrambled CBS Shows & 'Sunday Night Football'". TV by the Numbers. November 1, 2011. http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2011/11/01/sunday-final-ratings-pan-am-adjusted-down-unscrambled-cbs-shows-sunday-night-football/109135/. Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  8. ^ TV ratings: 'Once Upon a Time' solid again Sunday, NFL scores for NBC
  9. ^ TV ratings: Patriots-Jets gives NBC a Sunday win, 'Once Upon a Time' steady for ABC
  10. ^ Levine, Stuart (October 28, 2010). "EXCLUSIVE: 'Lost' exec producers Horowitz, Kitsis sell pilot to ABC". Variety. http://weblogs.variety.com/on_the_air/2010/10/exclusive-lost-exec-producers-horowitz-kitsis-sell-pilot-to-abc.html. Retrieved August 2, 2011. 
  11. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 4, 2011). "UPDATE: ABC Loads Heavy Drama Guns, Orders Pilots From Marc Cherry, Oren Peli, Darren Star, 'Twilight' Producers, Mark Gordon And 'Lost' Alums". Deadline.com. http://www.deadline.com/2011/02/abc-picks-up-marc-cherrys-hallelujah-pilot/. Retrieved August 2, 2011. 
  12. ^ a b Goldberg, Lesley (May 31, 2011). "Jane Espenson, Liz Tigelaar Join ABC’s Once Upon a Time". The Hollywood Reporter. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/jane-espenson-liz-tigelaar-join-193496. Retrieved August 12, 2011. 
  13. ^ a b Martin, Denise (2011-08-07). "Once Upon A Time Producers: Damon Lindelof's DNA Runs Through Our Show". TV Guide. http://www.tvguide.com/News/Damon-Lindelof-Once-Upon-A-Time-ABC-1036165.aspx. Retrieved 2011-08-26. 
  14. ^ "'Once Upon a Time' execs: 'The show is about character'". Digital Spy. August 26, 2011. http://www.digitalspy.com/tv/s181/once-upon-a-time/news/a337329/once-upon-a-time-execs-the-show-is-about-character.html. 
  15. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Paula Marshall to Work Her Magic on 'Once Upon a Time'". AOL TV. June 27, 2011. http://www.aoltv.com/2011/07/27/paula-marshall-to-work-her-magic-on-once-upon-a-time/. 
  16. ^ a b c Webb Mitovich, Matt; Masters, Megan (2011-08-07). "Real Truths Behind ABC's Once Upon a Time (Including That Pesky Fables Comparison)". TVLine. http://www.tvline.com/2011/08/5-real-truths-once-upon-a-time/. Retrieved 2011-08-26. 
  17. ^ Once Upon a Time - Season 1 Reviews, Ratings, Credits and More at Metacritic
  18. ^ dos Santos, Kristin (August 29, 2011). "Five Fall Shows We Love: Once Upon a Time Is Magic. Period.". E!. http://www.eonline.com/news/watch_with_kristin/five_fall_shows_we_love_once_upon_time/260139#ixzz1WYRkZS5u. 
  19. ^ Gilbert, Matthew (September 4, 2011). "Which new fall series make the grade?". The Boston Globe. http://articles.boston.com/2011-09-04/yourtown/30113340_1_bunnies-concept-rachel-bilson/7. Retrieved September 14, 2011. 
  20. ^ Pennington, Gail (July 24, 2011). "A sneak peek at the fall TV season". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. http://www.stltoday.com/entertainment/television/gail-pennington/article_5094a078-95af-576b-b934-1cf3dec5e73f.html. 
  21. ^ Blanco, Robert (September 8, 2011). "Fall TV preview: The new season's top 10". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/news/story/2011-09-08/Fall-TV-preview-The-new-seasons-top-10/50329044/1?csp=obinsite. 
  22. ^ McNamara, Mary (October 22, 2011). "'Grimm,' 'Once Upon a Time' reviews: Fairy tales all grown up". Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2011/oct/22/entertainment/la-et-grimm-and-once-20111022. 
  23. ^ "The People's Choice Award TV Nominations". Ology.com. http://www.ology.com/tv/peoples-choice-award-tv-nominations. Retrieved November 8, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Once Upon a Time Episode Online". TV Tonight. October 24, 2011. http://www.tvtonight.com.au/2011/10/once-upon-a-time-episode-online.html. 
  25. ^ "TVNZ's 2012 TV Lineup" from Yahoo.com (November 3, 2011)
  26. ^ "Once Upon A Time". FallTVPreview/Channel Canada. http://falltvpreview.com/show.php?id=1143. 

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