Four Great TV Shows I Almost Ignored

2.) Once Upon A Time

Okay, this show took a lot of convincing to watch. When I first heard of this show, I thought that this was another attempt to imitate the popular concept of the graphic novel Fables: Legendary Exiles. Once Upon  A Time bears the same concept as Fables wherein fairy tale characters are transported into the real world. Actually, I was more skeptical of the fact that it looked like it was going to be cheese served to young women instead of the gritty realism treatment it deserved. I didn’t expect this to do well but after the first season ended, people on Twitter were going crazy about the show. Since I always indulge my curiosity, I gave in and popped the pilot up on my Netflix queue.

Let me start by saying that yes, the show is cheesy at times but it has the right to be since it revolves around the fairy tales. There are times when I go like: “Really? That line?” but then that’s just one complaint among a stack of things I love about this show. I think the real life conter parts of each fairy tale character suits their past lives really well. It’s not the typical counterparts you’d expect, since the writers found a way to seamlessly integrate these characters into a modern setting. The narrative is great simply because the fairy tales don’t stand as their own. They’re all connected to each other like for example, the story of Snow White interweaves with Cinderella or how Mulan’s story is related to Sleeping Beauty’s. It shows that the story was well-crafted from the very beginning. Robert Carlyle is brilliant as Rumplestiltskin. He definitely redefines and adds depth to the villain. Sometimes it’s hard to hate him, especially when you unravel key information about his character throughout the story. Another evidence of great writing and acting at work.

I admit, I’ve shed a lot of tears and bellowed a couple of laughs watching the first season. It’s refreshing and funny to see how fairy tale characters behave in their day-to-day lives since Disney usually portrays them as ideal characters. You see them react to everyday problems in their fantasy world, and even to the problems we face in our world. Yet, I’ve cried because the characters are really fleshed out. It’s not just the heroes but the villains as well. From the ideal pedestal of perfection, these characters have become people you can sympathize with. You feel their joys and pains as they journey to return to their home where they truly belong.

Once Upon A Time is on ABC and the second season just started so there’s not much catching up to do. You can watch the first season on Netflix. So, if you’re looking for a gritty take on fairy tales then this isn’t for you. However, if you’re a fan of fairy tale adaptations in general then you will find Once Upon A Time quite enjoyable.

  • Sean Fast

    “I’m into a very particular sub-genre of science fiction with the likes of Inception, In Time, Gattaca and Blade Runner. I’m not really sure what you call it, let me know if you do.”

    Inception maybe is an outlier, but most of those are “dystopian” scifi. That’s what a lot of people refer to it as. Also, “cerebral” scifi is another term that encapsulates them, as like, the “thinking man’s scifi movie”.

  • trashcanman

    The best term is “conceptual sci fi”, I believe. It focuses on actual concepts and possible realities and is designed to make you think whereas “space operas” and the like are just “x in space”. Anyways, pretty brave listing Spartacus, Mr. Bedlam. I think the sex and especially the profanity becomes extremely comical in it’s over-the-topness (what with featuring a roomful of men chanting “MY COCK RAGES ON” and all), but at the end of the day that is a damn fine show. Almost like a more shameless Game of Thrones.

  • Draugr

    When I saw Once upon a time come up I though, ‘uh okay’ then Spartacus came up and I stopped reading.

  • jaromir

    I seen “Once Upon a Time” then read the comments…Draugr hit the nail.

  • Thanks for defining the genre guys, now I know how to properly look for the comics, movies, and television shows.

    I remember that episode of Spartacus where they sing that. There was one where Gannicus was singing it while he was on the edge of a cliff. Yes, I try not to take the sex and profanity too seriously… I simply take it as tongue and cheek entertainment. Oh, it’s Ms. Bedlam actually… but people just call me Benny.

    Well, these are the television shows that I personally liked. Just thought I’d share my two cents on why I enjoy them.

  • Postal

    Benny, thank you for this. I enjoyed reading it precisely because it suggested something a bit different. I have learned to enjoy a number of new shows, games, etc… because I read about them on this website. I don’t always agree with the author’s conclusions here, but I appreciate suggestions by people who are entertained by some of the same things that I am.

  • Thanks Postal, I appreciate it! I enjoy reading different view points. All of the shows mentioned above took a lot of convincing for me to watch. At first, I didn’t agree but in the end I walked away with new shows that I thoroughly enjoy!

    Which shows from my recommendations are you most willing to give a try?

  • Blake

    I’ll probably try Revenge, but I don’t agree with your statement about Revenge being better than Arrow. When Arrow is just in its 1st season series trial run with only 3 episodes so far. Arrow has taken The Green Arrow mythos and adapted it into a more potentially edgy show.

    Love Spartacus, RIP Andy Whitfield, not for the sex and violence but for the realism and the “us against the world” persona.

    And if anyone would like some recommendations for tv shows to watch, then I would have to highly recommend watching: NBC’s Grimm, Showtime’s Homeland, Starz’s Camelot, and of course “EVERYTHING” on AMC except Small Town Security.

  • I would just like to go on record and say I love Spartacus precisely for the sex and violence.

    Benny, great read! I agree with every single one of your choices. I, too, rolled my eyes at most of these and was pleasantly surprised to find them thoroughly enjoyable. Downton Abbey though, that I knew I’d like.

  • @Sara

    Thanks Sara! Didn’t know you were a fan of Spartacus as well 🙂

    Yeah, I love it when you come in watching a show with neutral expectations and get blown away!

  • Krunk

    If you liked Downton Abbey, you might just enjoy Pride and Prejudice (not the movie). That’s where Colin Firth hit it big, and he’s not even the best actor in that show (although, he’s close to the top).

  • Deepcover

    OMG have you not watched Strike Back? The best show never to be watched EVA and if you have watched the 4 shows mentioned above but have not watched Strike Back you need to get right on to this as it is beyond awesome and has already gone down as the best show in my recent history.

  • Charlie Ward

    I know for a fact that at least two of these shows are. . .not my cup of tea, we’ll say. Makes me nervous about the other two.

    And shut yo’ mouth ’bout Arrow.