HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Once Upon A Time : The Complete Fifth Season
HTS Overall Score:77
I can’t believe it’s actually been 5 years since I was exercising at the gym and watching trailers for a show based upon Grimm’s fairy tales. I was completely expecting a cancellation in the first season or two, but the show has endured a full 5 years and has ANOTHER season along the way. Simply put, I wouldn’t start the show in the middle of the series, as the show tends to be a bit serialized over the long haul, but rather start with season one and move forward. So for those new to the series you might want to check out my review of the previous seasons. Season 5 follows the same format of the last several, and moves along with the standard split story arc seasons, and that has gotten OLD fast. So old that season 5 got the most critical hatred yet and the ratings were so low that even fans were surprised when it got picked up for a 6th season.
This time around we have a bit more going on. In fact a LOT more going on this season. We have more Disney characters added in to the point where the season feels VERY overstuffed. We have Emma (Jennifer Morrison) turning into the Black Swan (which was actually pretty cool for a while), and Dark Hook, who turns out to be one of the best additions to the show. His arc was wickedly cool that was only marred by having a bit of a copout revival sequence near the end that undermines the whole arc of Emma becoming at peace with his demise. King Arthur and his knights of the round table were hyped up for the previews, but sadly ended up falling a bit flat in comparison. Not to mention that we really didn’t need 9 episodes dealing with the underworld, the knights etc. Although having Hades make an appearance was rather nice, as this was the first time an ACTUAL god made shows up. I was a bit saddened to see him killed off so easily though. His story of how he came to be was actually rather good.
Of all the things that “Once Upon a Time” has done right, then wrong, then right, then wrong again, is the story of Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle). Having them redeem his character and turn him into a hero was a bit annoying, but once again he shows his true colors and rebounds back to being a bad guy once more. Basically invalidating much of what happened in his character arc over the last several seasons. It seems like the powers that be can’t seem to find a way to keep him interesting WITHOUT messing with his motivations. Merida (Amy Manson) was a nice little addition and all, but her story was definitely shoe horned in so that they could stuff in one more one character to the show. Something that has become almost a tradition over the last several seasons.
With all of these new characters (ooo, did I mention we get to see Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?) the show just feels like it’s literally bursting at the seams with very little payoff by the end of the series (the finale is probably the worst it’s been for the whole series), but the introduction of more evil characters and more twisted tales like Hades and Dr. Jekyll makes it start to dip a little bit into the “Penny Dreadful” realm. I mean, hey, we get the evil queen back in power, and Rumpelstiltskin is back to being his twisted self, which has to count for something right?
As much as I was frustrated with the direction of the 5th season, I’m really hoping that the powers that be find a way to pull the show out of the doldrums and leave the split season pattern in the dust, getting back to the more cohesive storyline of the first couple of seasons. With the ratings being as low as they are right now though, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if season 6 was the final year that the show is allowed to go on. That is unless it can find a more stable story and pull back the lost viewers once more. Either way, I know I’ll be sticking around for this next year, as I can’t seem to pull myself away from the TV when watching, despite the frustration and disappointment that the last year or two has been for this reviewer.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=77226[/img]I feel like I'ma broken record here, but ABC’s 1.78:1 AVC encoded transfer for season 5 looks just as amazing as the prior 4 seasons. 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. The sequences that involved Hades and the underworld tended to suffer in the CGI department, but that was to be almost expected due to the overwhelming costs that it would have taken to spruce that up after all the time that was spent there. Overall a very VERY nice looking picture by ABC/Disney
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=77234[/img]Containing a very similar audio experience as the last season, Season 5 is a rather impressive audio track with a few minor flaws with the 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio . Yup you got it. the track is naturally a bit front heavy, but it manages to to keep a solid front sound stage and not feel too cramped. Dialog is crisp and clean as always, and the more fantastical elements like the underworld and King Arthur's realm adds some nice activity for the surrounds . . Sound detail and clarity are impressive, with small noises like doors opening and shutting and footsteps replicated beautifully in the echoey halls of the castle, or reverberating off the underworld cave walls. LFE is impressive, as always, 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 the battle effects seem to be a bit more polished this time around. "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 track's front heavy nature keeps it from being as good as it could be, but that's nothing to do with the encode, but rather a design of the show itself more than anything.
• Tales from the Underworld: A Knight with Cruella
• Merida in Storybrooke
• The Fairest Bloopers of Them All
• Deleted Scenes
• "Once" Celebrates One Hundred
• Audio Commentaries
I have to say that “Once Upon a Time” is a strange mix of entertainment and frustration (especially in the last 2 years). The first few seasons were amazing, but then the show got into sort of a rut that happened once they switched over to a split story season format that has persisted until now. On the other hand, the series has not hesitated to push boundaries and bring in new and fascinating characters to the mix and play with the lore a little bit. It’s refreshing, and sometimes annoying, but almost always entertaining by the end of the day. Audio and video are exemplary, as always, and the extras follow the same pattern of “commentary, deleted scenes, bloopers” that make for good popcorn entertainment. While the series has seemingly started to flail a little bit, fans of the show will want to check it out to find out what happens next and prepare themselves for the upcoming season 6.
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: 989 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: August 16th, 2016
Buy Once Upon A Time: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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