The characters are like old friends; you know all their stories and can recite them with ease. Now after a long absence, they’re back but with new stories. Once Upon a Time tells the tale of how our favorite fairy tale characters are unknowing victims trapped between two worlds and need to be saved by the one woman who doesn’t believe in them.

In the real world, our leading lady is Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison). She’s a lonely bail bondsman with a knack for knowing when people are lying. One evening, a 10 year old boy named Henry appears on her doorstep and claims to be the child she gave up for adoption so many years ago. Sensibly, Emma decides she needs to return Henry to his home in Storybrooke, Maine. During their car ride she notices that he is tightly clutching a book of fairy tales. Henry believes they are true and that Emma plays a crucial role in the story. He tells her that all of the people in Storybrooke are actually characters from the book that have forgotten their identities and are trapped by the Queen’s spell. Time stands still in Storybrooke, none of the characters age and they cannot leave or else bad things will happen.

Meanwhile in the land of fables, Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) and Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) have just been married when the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) barges in on the ceremony. She curses everyone in the land with the promise to destroy their happiness, especially Snow White’s. Frightened by the witch’s curse, Snow White and Charming seek the aid of Rumplestiltskin (Robert Carlyle). “Your prison, all of our prisons will be time. Time will stop and we will be trapped some place horrible. Where everything we hold dear, everything we love will be ripped from us while we suffer for all eternity.” The only hope is their unborn baby- she must be transported to a safe place so she can return to break the hex. 

Determined to save their child and everyone’s future, a magical wardrobe is fashioned to transport one person to a safe world. The plan was for the pregnant Snow White child to escape in the armoire but she begins to go into labor just as the Queen rages an attack against the castle. As soon as their daughter is born, Snow pleads with Charming to quickly put the baby in the wardrobe. The Prince is successful and when the doors to the wardrobe reopened, the child is gone. The missing infant does not dissuade the witch from casting her dark curse.

Back in Storybrooke, having returned Henry to his adoptive mother, Mayor Regina Mills (Evil Queen), Emma heads out of town. She ends up crashing her car and has to prolong her stay. The next morning, the Mayor is frantic when Henry is missing. Emma persuades Regina to hire her, to track down the boy. After some investigating, Emma finds Henry’s teacher Mary Margaret (Snow White). She tells Miss Swan to check Henry’s “castle,” a wooden play-set by the coastline, and sure enough, there he is. Henry sits and watches the town’s clock tower in hopes that Emma’s presence will begin it ticking. He desperately tries to convince her again that she is the one that can save all the people but she is still unreceptive to his pleading.

On returning Henry home, he emphasizes how much his adoptive mother doesn’t love him- that she just pretends. As he runs inside, Regina greets Miss Swan at the doorstep. She threatens Emma to leave or be destroyed. just before she returns inside, Emma asks the mayor if she loves Henry. “Of course I love him.” Something in her declaration makes Emma uneasy and she decides that maybe it isn’t time for her to leave Storybrooke. She checks into a local bed and breakfast and the town clock begins to tick.

At first, I thought Once Upon A Time was a TV movie and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was a pilot for a new show on ABC. I watched all of season one as it aired and re-watched it on blu ray. I loved every minute of it! There are some moments when the special effects are a little cheesy but you move past that as the story unfolds and more fairy tale characters are introduced. I would recommend checking it out especially before season two starts on September 30th. Special order it at your local Slackers or through iTunes here.