HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Once Upon A Time : The Complete Fourth Season
HTS Overall Score:78
I’m still amazed that “Once Upon a Time” has lasted this long. Not because it’s bad, not at all, but because I never expected a series based upon Grimm’s fairy tales to actually get off the ground. I was exercising on the elliptical at my local gym when I saw the first slew of trailers, rolled my eyes, and fully expected it to bomb within the first half a season. Color me surprised when the reviews came out and I found out that we had a second season coming on. Checking out the discs I had a complete blast with the series and have been on board ever since. Last season was a bit rocky for the series with the opening half of the season, but clearly found it’s footing with the inclusion of Pan for the latter half, even setting up the new characters for this season in the finale.
Like the season before it, Season for of “Once Upon a Time” has two main arcs, with the first half dealing with a heroine that came about because of countless little kids singing “Let it go”. Yes that means we have Princess Elsa (Georgina Haig) coming to Storybrooke. Once back they encounter the mysterious “Snow Queen”, who is completely obsessed with Elsa for some reason. Regina has finally found love with Robin Hood and it appears that an ex villain has finally achieved some semblance of peace. That is, until a twist of fate destroys her dreams with a cruel twist of fate, sending her into another spiral of villainy.
The first arc was REALLY weak, actually the weakest I had ever seen the series get as if felt like a shameless plug for the insane popularity of “Frozen”. Disney has been trying to world build a lot lately and with this new season we get them feeding us more “Frozen” storylines in an effort to setup their eventual “Frozen 2” (which IS coming by the way). By the end of the first arc I truly though THIS was the moment that “Once Upon a Time” had jumped the shark. It wasn’t awful by any means, but the overt pushing of Elsa into Storybrooke seemed like a bad idea when they found her at the end of last season, and turned out to be a blatant plug for their major franchise as I suspected. There’s some cool workings with Regina and Emma is fantastic as always, but I could have seriously done without this entire arc.
True to form, the second arc of the series is distinctly better than the first half. Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) summons force a trio of evil Disney Queens in a twisted plot to re-write their already sealed fates. Returning with the new is Maleficent, Ursula and of course, Cruella De Ville (which made me raise my eyebrows a bit, as Cruella didn’t seem to fit in the universe, but ah well). The three of them wreak havoc upon the quite little town and certainly throw things into an uproar. To make it even MORE convoluted (the series pretty much THRIVES off of convolute), a FOURTH villain is introduced in the form of “The Author”, a mysterious character with a twisted past that is instrumental in turning one of the main good girls into a villainous (or at least partial villainous).
While the second arc of the series is a definite upgrade to the Elsa/Snow Queen arc, the second half has its own sets of weaknesses that kept season 4 as the weakest of all the seasons released so far (but not by much). The whole sub plot with Regina turning evil felt a bit funky and the Author was a villain that could have been left in the background. The trio of evil queens was more than enough villain for any sane show, but be it good or bad, “Once Upon a Time” is ANYTHING but sane.
What really makes this season work, like all the rest, are the characters. The actors really put their heart and soul into these characters, whether it be the gleefully evil/good Robert Carlyle as Rumple/Mr. Gold, or Colin O’Donoghue as the dashing (and fan favorite) captain hook. The convoluted storylines somehow seem to coalesce together in a way that only Disney seems to be able to pull off, so no matter whether you’re a fan of Disney shows or not, “Once Upon a Time” has been crafted into a solidly entertaining series that still manages to please fans years after it was presumed dead on arrival.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=52057[/img]ABC’s 1.78:1 AVC encoded transfer for season 4 looks amazing, just like last season and can be a real stunner.. Sure we still There are still some wince worthy CGI moments, but that’s due to production rather than anything inherent to the transfer, but “Once Upon a Time” looks amazing with colors that literally just POP on screen and fantastic detail. The colors are so rich and saturated that you can’t forget that you’re watching a live action fairy for a moment. Greens and reds and blues swirl together to paint a rich and luscious tapestry of color that is unparalleled in most other pictures. Detail is stunning, in both close up facials and standard shots. Contrasts are nice and balanced with pleasing skin tones. There is still a bit of a soft focus to some of the close ups, but it’s nothing wild. Blacks were deep and inky without compromising the shadow detail. Overall a great picture and one to be proud of.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=52065[/img]Containing a very similar audio experience as the last season, Season 4 is a rather impressive audio track with a few minor flaws with the 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio . Front loaded as always due to the dramatic nature, it manages to to keep a solid front sound stage and not feel too cramped in the front 3 speakers. The surrounds are used quite well when they are used and add some dimensionality to the battles and ambient forest noises. Sound detail and clarity are impressive, with small noises like doors opening and shutting and footsteps replicated beautifully in Storybrooke. The ambience is just “richer” and “fuller”. LFE is rather impressive, with some deep weight behind the score and overall just a nice low end throughout. Its dynamic range is smooth, without any dips or peaks that stand out as being unbalanced and dialogue (which is the show’s main focus) is perfectly legible at all times. "Once Upon a Time" does a great job for a TV show budget, giving us a very solid 5.1 experience with a lot of nuances. The overly front heavy track keeps it from being truly great, but the experience is still excellent. Solid A-
• Defrosting Frozen
• Deleted Scenes
• Behind the Magic Tour
• Three Who Stayed
• The Fairest Bloopers of Them All
• Audio Commentaries
Season 4 had some out of the gate troubles that almost threatened to kill the show, but thankfully was able to pull itself up by their own bootstraps and recover gracefully enough by the end of the second arc. Love it or hate it, “Once Upon a Time” has proven that it has staying power and with a 5th season on the horizons I have to agree with that assessment. Fans of the show will be pleased, as it continues to deliver much of the same comfort food story tropes that drove the first 3 seasons, and with the inclusion of some of Disney’s greatest villains, may REALLY enjoy the second arc. Audio and video scores are on par with the 3 previous seasons, which shouldn’t surprise anyone considering ABC’s handling of the last 3 Blu-ray sets. Recommended.
Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Robert Carlysle, Josh Dallas
Created by: Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DD 2.0
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Runtime: 950 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: August 18th, 2015
Buy Once Upon A Time: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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