HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Once Upon A Time : The Complete Third Season
HTS Overall Score:80
It seems that fantasy and superhero TV shows are certainly the rave these days as hard line fantasy like “Game of Thrones” and supernatural fantasy like “True Blood”, “Once Upon a Time” and the like dominate the TV in ways that was unheard of a decade ago. “Once Upon a Time” reminds me greatly of what “The 10th Kingdom” was trying to accomplish, but with less camp and more seriousness. I still remember working out at the gym when the trailers for the show first aired and thinking there was no way this show would last past a season and low n’ behold we have a 4th season airing soon and a fan base who adores the show. The first season was arguably the best season, but the latest two seasons have still kept an incredible amount of diversity and charm to it, creating a very stable viewing experience (which is rare as so many TV shows just are so uneven from season to season).
Storybrooke is back once more with another season that’s surprisingly split into two separate story arcs, the first half dealing with Peter Pan and the second with the introduction of the wicked witch. As the season starts out Hook (Colin O’Donoghue, easily a fan favorite from season 2) are back to Neverland to hunt down a kidnapped Henry (Jared Gilmore) while Neal (Michael Raymond James) travels through the enchanted forest with Mulan (Jamie Chung). Before I go on I’m going to have to be a bit vague as the plotlines that start to unfold are best revealed during the story and the series is just ripe with spoilers. I have to say that the one really cool twist that I CAN reveal is that “Once Upon a Time” loves playing with characters and they turned the most interesting character of Rumpelstiltskin and turned him into a weird sort of anti-hero. Not only that they ran with the idea of Peter Pan and had Rumples’ long departed father turn out to be the boy who never wanted to grow up and turn him into the villain. It was certainly inventive and had me coming back for more.
All being said and done the first half of the season is fun, but still flawed, as they spent WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much time trudging through Neverland. It was a dual edged sword, for as long as they trudged, and trudged, and trudged the boredom was offset by watching the characters bond and form friendships that was obviously shaky in season 2. Peter Kaye played Peter quite well, but he’s rather limited with his source material as Peter is kind of a one note character, and we get to see the good side of Mr. Gold (Rumpelstiltskin) for once, which plays a nice character point for what happens later on in the show.
If the Neverland plotline had gone on much farther I would have said that the show jumped the shark, for it was pushing it as it was with that story arc, but with the 2nd set of 11 episodes we have a new villainess in the form of the Wicked Witch. Rebecca Mader just made this part as she just reveled in her role as the evil Witch of the west. She’s over the top, a little crazy and just so deliciously evil that you would watch her with a rather twisted glee. Her backstory as jealous of Regina had me raise my eyebrow but I really liked what they did with her relationship to Glenda and her other sisters, it gave her a much more relatable rage.
Interestingly enough the introduction of someone evil as the Wicked Witch creates the perfect opportunity for Regina to come to the side of good and nudge her towards reconciliation as she’s the perfect power to take on the Witch blow for blow. It’s kind of an obvious choice, considering her level of power, but it works well in the show and sets up a gleeful final battle. With two witches at play you can bet your boots that the curse are going to be flying, not only the curses, but the counter curses and the all that entails as well, with collateral damage stacking up. I mean what would “Once Upon a Time” be WITHOUT a good curse or two? And to make matters more interesting we have some time travel with either erases a few characters or completely resets motives and memories. “Once Upon a Time” is a bit of a dense show and sometimes it hits you with complication overload, a show that you REALLY don’t just jump into midseason. However, what makes it special is the huge cornucopia of characters that Disney has at their disposal and the intertwined and rather complicated relationships they share in the show. Rumpelstiltskin is still trying to deal with his rocky relationship with Belle and I have to say, Robert Carlysle is just pure gold in the series. I’ve always loved him and he’s easily the best character, even beating out Zelena, Wicked Witch of the West.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=25113[/img]ABC’s 1.78:1 AVC transfer 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=25121[/img]Like last year’s Season 2, Season 3 is a rather impressive audio track with a few minor flaws with the 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio . The show is definitely front loaded, that’s for sure, very similar to the last season (and still a solid upgrade over the lackluster first season’s audio). However, 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 front runner) is perfectly legible at all times. Overall, it’s a solid track that does everything that’s thrown at it quite well, just not to perfection.
• Inside The Writer's Room
• Deleted Scenes
• Wicked Villains
• The Tale of Ariel
• The Fairest Bloopers of Them All
• Audio Commentaries
The biggest compliment I can give “Once Upon a Time” is that it’s more of the same. While it doesn't grow to something fantastically amazing, or will break records on Television for the next “Game of Thrones”, but it very religiously gives solid entertainment that keeps up with previous seasons in terms of quality. Each season has self-contained story arcs that will wrap up each season, but add a little meat to the bones of the overarching world building that all 3 (and soon to be 4) seasons. I’m sure all of your Disney nuts will be excited as season 4 has been heavily spoiling the fact that Elsa and Kristoff and Anna from “Frozen” will be central in the upcoming season. With the solid audio and video this is another recommendation as the show continues to impress and draw in the fans. 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
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Runtime: 946 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: August 19th, 2013
Buy Once Upon A Time: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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