Friday, May 20, 2011

Fairy Tales and Heavenly Bodies - An Early Look at Once Upon a Time and Charlie's Angels coming to ABC This Fall.

Occasionally, a blogger catches wind of something. I write about entertainment, in general, and the types of entertainment that people with my particular geeky tastes enjoy in particular. That said, I was excited to get access to a preview of Once Upon a Time, which will be coming to ABC this fall. Packaged together with that preview was another early release trailer for Charlie's Angels, which returns to TV in a sort of “reboot” of the 1970s classic. I'll likely spend a little more time talking about the former, as I think it appeals more directly to me (and most of you), but they both warrant a mention.

If the finished show is half as good as the trailers, I'll be following this one weekly.

Once Upon a Time is a dark fantasy dramatic take on classic fairy tales and their unusual connection to a small community in New England. The writing team is comprised of the same folks that brought us LOST, which I watched from start through the finale, so my interest was already piqued. It appears from the early trailer that a device similar to the “flashbacks” in LOST will be used, breaking up sections of drama in the “real” world. Instead of a flash to the past (or future, or “sideways”) however, we'll be treated to glimpses into the world of the fairy tale, with each character in the town of Storybrooke appearing as a fairy tale alter-ego... some of them familiar names.

Jennifer Morrison (of House fame, only she's gone blonde) is starring as Emma Swan, a young woman drawn to Storybrooke when she is contacted by the son she gave up for adoption, now 10 years old. The maternal instincts of the bail-bondswoman kick in, and she uses her professional skills to find her estranged child, who she hasn't seen since he was an infant. He confesses that the reason he contacted her begging for help is a little unusual, as he believes that the world in his book of fairy tales is real, and that Emma is the only hope for that world. Even though she doesn't believe him, she can sense that something is a little... off about the town of Storybrooke, so she sticks around.

Normally, when a brunette or redhead actress goes blonde, I don't care for it. It kinda works for her.

The setup is interesting, but the dark fantasy visuals of the Fairy Tale world are what drew me in. The show looks like it could have been pulled directly from the pages of Neil Gaiman's work on Sandman, where magical worlds lurk behind our own and they affect each other in interesting and sometimes creepy ways. We have an Evil Queen, dashing princes on horseback ready to cross rapiers with any who stand in the way of their quest for romance and justice, and more unusual magical beings, all of whom seem to forget who they are and settle down for small-town New England Life, even if some of them look sad, but don't seem to know why.

Of particular interest is the casting of Robert Carlyle (best known for his work in Trainspotting and The Full Monty,) who plays Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin. His delivery is creepy, subtly menacing, but also cheerful, not unlike a re-imagination of Puck from a Midsummer Night's Dream. It is hard to tell from the limited information that has been released, but early videos seem to indicate that there may be more to Mr. Gold than meets the eye, and he may know more about what is going on than the other residents of Storybrooke. I will not at all be surprised if he turns out to be my favorite character, even if it turns out he's a villain.

A long way from a Scottish comedy about being a male stripper to playing Rumplestiltskin.

While Once Upon a Time mainlines a bunch of elements that are big draws for those of us that are into comic books and/or fantasy, if action movies are more your thing, the return/reboot of Charlie's Angels might be more what you are looking for. The classic action/spy television show from the 1970s got a major shot in the arm with the movies in 2000 and 2003 starring Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore. The new television show uses the format of the classic series, but seems to owe more to the films.

This isn't all that surprising, as Drew Barrymore has a producer credit on the new TV show, and any modern action show (or movie, for that matter) will have benefited from over three decades of technical achievements in filmmaking since Farrah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith were Angels. The setup is the same, three women hired by the mysterious benefactor “Charlie” working in an agency of sorts helping people in need, which means James Bond style subterfuge, car chases and more than a few fight scenes. The new Angels, played by Annie Ilonzeh (Kate Prince, former crooked Miami Police officer), Minka Kelly (Marisa “Eve” Valdez, an illegal street racer) and Rachael Taylor (Abby Sampson, a rich girl turned master thief/con artist) are, as should be expected, extremely attractive young women.

They are hot, they can kick ass... I hope they get scripts that are as well polished as the trailers.

This time around, instead of being a goofy geek, Bosley (played by Ramon Rodriguez) is a womanizing technical expert, and some eye candy for female viewers. As a goofy geek who has little use for male eye candy myself, my knee jerk reaction might be negative towards this change, but I think a reinterpretation of the character is fine, so long as all the other pieces fit into place. This is a show that is going to succeed or fail based on the execution of the individual mission scenarios in each episode. The trailer I watched showed some really cool stuff, but I'll need to see a complete episode or two to render a final verdict.

I know I'll be keeping an eye out for both of these, but I'll be particularly interested to see how Once Upon A Time executes on its interesting concept. The great casting, solid writing team and big network budget put all the necessary components for a real hit together. Either of these, or maybe another show coming this fall that has you excited? Sound off in the comments.

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Erika said...

Oh wow. I had to look up that Once Upon a Time thing. It looks awesome!

Reminds me a little of that "The Twelfth Kingdom" or whatever it was called that used to be on TV. Might have been lame but I really loved that series. Can't wait for this one!

Thanks for the heads up! Truly appreciated!


Bonjour Tristesse said...

That's a bit disappointing. I was hoping Robert Carlyle would get cast on Game of Thrones next season.

Alpha said...

I'm not so sure about Charlie's Angels.

The Angry Lurker said...

Once upon a time is a must see but Charlie's Angels, I don't know, Hawaii Five-O finished me on remakes. Walking Dead has me interested but needs to improve a lot.

Dave said...

Oh I liked Charlie's Angels.

Marian said...

i don't know what to make of this really

G said...

Sometimes I wish they would stop playing it safe with re-makes...then Battlestar came along.
Once Upon a Time will be awesome!

Patti D. said...

Very nice review, thanks for the post.

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