Category Archives: Once Upon A Time

Once Upon A Time Character Review: Mr. Gold/ Rumpelstiltskin

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have still not seen the previous seasons.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In the tradition telling of Rumpelstiltskin, he is a magical imp who spins straw into gold for a young woman in return for something she will give him. One of the catchphrases of Once Upon A Time is “magic comes with a price”. The character of Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold is initially introduced to the audience as the show’s male villain. He loved nothing more than trading favors with mortals in return for something precious to them.

Then the characters of Belle (Emilie de Raven), his second wife and Neal/Baelfire (Michael-Raymond James), his first-born son were introduced. Both Belle and Neal/Baelfire forced Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold to face his own demons, his choices and his past.

To sum it up: A few years ago, when asked to describe where his character was at, in terms of the character arc, Robert Carlyle described Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold as having an addiction to magic. Like any addiction, it often superseded his relationships with his loved ones. Addiction can often break relationships, but if the person addicted is willing to do the work, the addiction can be conquered.

When writing about characters wrestling with addiction issues, it is our job to explore how addiction can potentially break families and destroy lives. If the addiction is written either lightly or over-dramatically, the audience will not believe that the character has their addiction. Written about an addicted characters is not easy, but if it is done right, the audience will follow along on the character’s journey.

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Filed under Beauty and the Beast, Character Review, Fairy Tales, Once Upon A Time, Television

Once Upon A Time Character Review: Belle

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have still not seen the previous seasons.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

For many female movie fans (especially those of a certain age), Belle from Beauty And The Beast is and will always be a revelation. Unlike her predecessors, her end goal was not finding a man and living happily ever after. She was more concerned with her books and taking care of her widowed father.

Halfway through the first season of Once Upon A Time, Belle (Emilie de Raven) was introduced to the world of OUAT via the episode Skin Deep.  This Belle is similar to the animated Belle in that she is smart, kind, loves books and agreed to go with the Beast aka, Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) in return for sparing her father’s life.  But while the animated Belle has almost a simple, almost predictable character arc, the OUAT Belle has a much more complex character arc.

For most of the series, Belle and Rumple have an up and down relationship. Their mutual love is obvious, but so is her will to completely change him that she ignores the fact that he and will forever be The Dark One.  This roller coaster, is of course, not helped by Rumple’s addiction to magic, but that will be discussed in detail next week.

Their relationship is only truly healed when Belle realizes that as much as she loves him, Rumple will never change completely. After their son, Gideon is kidnapped and raised by the Black Fairy (who also happens to be Rumple’s mother), Belle realizes that the Beast and the man are one and the same. She cannot love one or the other. She has to love both.

To sum it up: Romantic love is not as simple as the fairy tales make them out to be. Even the best of couples have their moments and their disagreements. The key to writing a romance is balancing the reality of being in a relationship with someone while including the expected plot points of the narrative. The OUAT version of Belle is both the traditional romantic heroine, but her relationship with Rumple, as it often is in real life is complicated and sometimes difficult. This version of Belle stands out because the writers successfully walked the very thin line of writing a romance, but with the real life pitfalls of romance. It’s not easy, but when it is done well, the audience or the reader truly appreciates the romance and the romantic heroine.

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Filed under Beauty and the Beast, Books, Character Review, Fairy Tales, Feminism, Once Upon A Time, Television

Once Upon A Time Character Review: Zelena

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have still not seen the previous seasons.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In 1939’s The Wizard Of Oz, Margaret Hamilton’s The Wicked Witch Of The West left an indomitable mark on our culture. She was the ultimate baddy, taking Toto from Dorothy and using her monkeys to terrorize the residents of the land of Oz.  In Once Upon A Time, the character of Zelena (Rebecca Mader) appeared to be a direct cut from that same cloth. But in usual Once Upon A Time fashion, there is a twist to the character and the narrative.

Zelena is Regina/The Evil Queen’s (Lana Parilla) older half-sister. Abandoned by their mother and raised without the luxury or the access to the magic that was part and parcel of Regina’s childhood, Zelena grew up to be spiteful and angry. Arriving in Storybrooke, Zelena made it her goal to get back at Regina for everything she never had. She also manipulated Robin Hood to believe that she was his late wife and became pregnant by him.

Giving birth to their daughter (also named Robin) changed Zelena. No longer seeing life in terms of black and white,Zelena  started to change. She became close to her sister, but she fell in love with Hades (Greg Germann), who also fell in love with her, but she chose her sister over Hades. Unfortunately, Robin was lost in the battle.

To sum it up: When a character is written properly, her or she can easily transcend the archetype that is the skeleton of that character. A good writer is able to flesh out a character, giving them dimensions, failings and complications. Zelena may have started out as the archetypal Wicked Witch Of The West, but she grew into a woman who was more than her archetype. As writers, we have to remember that archetypes are fine,  just as long as we remember that the archetype is only the skeleton of the character. We need to add more to the character than just what is expected. If we don’t do that, then the character is just an archetype and frankly, who wants to read about an archetype? I don’t and I’m sure there are other readers who feel the same.

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Filed under Character Review, Fairy Tales, Once Upon A Time, Television

Once Upon A Time Character Review: Robin Hood

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the previous seasons.

*I am choosing, for the purpose of this post, to only focus on FTL/Storybrooke Robin, not the AU Robin that appears in the 6th season.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Robin Hood is one of the noblest characters in our culture. He is the selfless hero who takes from the rich and gives to the poor. He always does what is right, without question.

But what if doing what is right was not so easy? This was the question posed by the Once Upon A Time version of Robin Hood. Played briefly by Tom Ellis and then played by Sean Maguire for the remaining seasons, Robin is the soul mate of Regina Mills/ The Evil Queen, teaching her how to love again years after the death of her childhood sweetheart. But there is a catch.  Up until a certain point in the narrative, Robin was presented as a single father grieving the loss of his wife, Marian (Christie Lang). It took some time, but Robin broke down Regina’s walls and it seemed like they were headed for their own happily ever after.

Then Marian returned and Robin had to choose between his family and the woman he loved. But Marian was not Marian, she was Zelena (Rebecca Mader) and she was also pregnant by Robin. In the end, Robin gave his life to save Regina, proving that it is possible to do what is right and follow your heart.

To sum it up: sometimes a character’s journey can be boiled down to the question of what is right or what the heart wants. In life, this is often a murky question. The best writers are able to manipulate this question into a narrative that forces the character to go on the journey to answer that question. That journey, when presented properly to the audience, can not only take them on a ride, but also teach them how to answer what can be a very delicate question.

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Filed under Character Review, Fairy Tales, Once Upon A Time, Television

Once Upon A Time Character Review: Regina Mills/The Evil Queen

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the previous seasons.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

No one goes through life without heartache.  The question is, do we let the heartache consume us or do we let it fade into memory? In the world of fairy tales and Snow White in particular, The Evil Queen is the female villain we love to hate. Her main goal is to kill Snow White, she will stop at nothing to see Snow White dead. On Once Upon A Time, The Evil Queen or Regina Mills as she is known in Storybrooke, is played by Lana Parilla.

As with the original fairy tale, The Evil Queen hates her stepdaughter, Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and will like nothing more than see Snow White in the ground permanently.  But in this version, The Evil Queen/Regina Mills goes beyond the 2D character we think we know.

Regina does not hate Snow for her youth or her beauty, but blames Snow for the death of her first love and her forced marriage to Snow’s widowed father. We are introduced to Regina as she interrupts Snow’s wedding to Charming (Josh Dallas) and curses all of the inhabitants of the realm. Their memories are wiped clean, they remember nothing of their lives before the curse.

But as everyone who watches Once Upon A Time knows, “magic comes with a price”. The price, for Regina is her inability to move forward with her life and not let the past hold her back. She will eventually find love again, with Robin Hood (Sean Maguire), but not before facing her demons and confronting her past. She will also become the mother to Henry (Jared Gilmore) that she was unable to be when she was consumed by anger and grief.

 

 

To sum it up:  The reason that fans have latched onto Regina’s character arc over the first six seasons is because despite the world she lives in, we can relate to her. No one is all good or all bad. A good writer is able to flesh out a character in such a way that both the good parts and the bad parts of the character’s makeup are given the chance to be in the spotlight. While Regina has done some bad things in her life and made some mistakes (and truth be told, haven’t we all?), she has proved to be loyal and loving to those who knew her best. That is why we love her and that is why we remember her.

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Filed under Character Review, Fairy Tales, Life, Once Upon A Time, Television

Beauty And The Beast 25th Anniversary

This year marks of the 25th anniversary of Beauty And The Beast.

Loosely based on the fairy tale of the same name written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740, Belle is the odd woman out in the small town in rural France that she calls home. She prefers books and spending time with her father instead of loosing her mind over Gaston, the town hunk.

Miles away a prince has spent the last ten years the form of a beast. Cursed by an enchantress for his selfish ways, he has ten years to mend his ways and find a woman who will love him enough to see past the exterior image. The enchantress left him a reminder of the time he has left, a magical rose that wilts. If the last petal falls and the prince has not changed his ways, he will forever remain a beast.

The catalyst to the meet cute of these characters is Belle’s father, Maurice, who is not the brightest bulb in the box. He gets lost in a storm on the way to a fair and finds shelter in the beast’s castle. The rest is movie history.

Among Disney heroines, Belle was and still is unique. I adore Ariel because she is my animated ginger sister from another mister, but Belle I get. She is smart, capable girl who is not looking for prince charming. She may get her prince charming in the end, but there is no version of “someday my prince will come” in Beauty And The Beast. She is also, compared previous Disney heroines, mature and level-headed.

Belle is to Anne Elliot as Ariel is to Marianne Dashwood.

Her other half, Beast, is also a mess of complications. He is deep down, a decent guy, but has allowed his anger and grief to overtake him and let him emotions match his external image. Sometimes, when we let grief, anger and self hatred overtake us, it’s hard to let the better qualities that we know are inside of us shine through.

In Belle, I see a Disney proto-feminist. While she is not reading The Feminine Mystique or Fear Of Flying, she has inspired multiple generations of girls to be strong, courageous and to simply be themselves.

I had the pleasure, many years ago of seeing the Broadway adaptation of Beauty and The Beast. I also adore the relationship on Once Upon A Time known as Rumbelle. I am eagerly looking forward to the new live action adaptation of Beauty And The Beast that will be arriving in movie theaters next March.

Not that we need reminding why we love this movie, but I give you the original trailer and a reunion of most of the cast the filmmakers.

Writing this, I feel old. Happy Sunday and have a good week.

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Filed under Beauty and the Beast, Books, Fairy Tales, Feminism, Jane Austen, Movies, Once Upon A Time, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Television

You Might Be A Lost Fan If….

You might be a Lost fan if…..

  • You appreciate the following sequence of numbers, especially when it comes to playing the lottery: 4 ,8, 15, 16, 23, 42.
  • You watch Once Upon A Time and remember when Emilie deRaven, Elizabeth Mitchell and Rebecca Mader were known on screen as Claire, Juliet and Charlotte, not Belle, Ingrid and Zelena.
  • You rank the sex scene between Sawyer and Kate in the cage as one of the hottest television sex scenes.

  • You want to attend a Drive Shaft concert and know the lyrics to “You All Everybody”.

  • You have a new outlook on air transportation.
  • You still feel like many questions were left unanswered, especially from the finale.

  • It was the most irritating, entertaining shows on television that kept you begging for more.
  • You watched the finale with a box of kleenex to wipe your eyes and a pad to write down the limitless fanfiction ideas /questions that entered your mind.
  • You want to visit or have visited Hawaii because of Lost.
  • When the reruns are on, you still sit down to watch.
  • And finally, you still question the wisdom of the final pairing of Jack/Kate and Sawyer/Juliet.

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Filed under Fanfiction, Once Upon A Time, Television, You Might Be A Fan If....

You Might Be A Once Upon A Time Fan If….

You might be a Once Upon A Time fan if…..

  • Unless there is a dire emergency, Sunday night at 8PM, you are home, watching OUAT.
  • You ship one of the following relationships: Rumbelle, Captain Swan, Snowing, etc.
  • You have read or written Once Upon A Time fanfiction.
  • You look at the previous Disney adaptations of the fairy tales with new eyes.
  • You wait with baited breath for the footage and the interviews from comic-con.

 

 

  • You  have a new appreciation for Lost (if you don’t have one already).
  • You thank Adam and Eddy for writing strong, smart, capable female characters.
  • You follow the actors on the various social media platforms.
  • And finally, you are counting down the days until September 27th, when season 5 premieres.

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Filed under Fairy Tales, Fanfiction, Feminism, Once Upon A Time, Television, You Might Be A Fan If....

San Diego Comic Con Once Upon A Time Season 5 Previews

The lovely people behind Once Upon A Time gave fans two small, but tantalizing clips to wet our appetites for season 5.

All I can say is that simply based on these clips, it’s going to be a good season, especially with the addition of Merida.

Happy Wednesday!

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What Message Does Beauty And The Beast Really Send?

In July, a very interesting interview appeared on youtube that has very recently brought up a question that I think needs to be answered.

At the San Diego Comic Con,  a reporter asked Robert Carlyle (Mr. Gold/Rumplestilskin in Once Upon A Time) about the impending hallmarks of domestic abuse that appeared to her in Skin Deep, the episode that introduced Belle to the Once Upon A Time Universe and launched the onscreen couple moniker that is Rumbelle.

Some might argue that the story of Beauty and The Beast has not only the signs of an abusive relationship, but also of Stockholm syndrome.

Stockholm syndrome is defined as:  a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with them.

I can see where the argument is valid. However, if one was to examine the fairy tale genre, they would discover that the messages that these stories are sending to girls are the same. They are just packaged differently, depending on the story.

Let’s examine a few of them:

  • Snow White is the victim of her stepmother’s jealousy.  She is being taken care of, first by the dwarves and then by her prince, who whisks her away to a life of luxury and royalty.
  • Sleeping Beauty is the victim of Maleficent. It is, again, the prince who kills the sorceress and wakes her up from her sleep. It is then that her life is complete.
  • Cinderella is the victim of her stepmother’s jealousy (Am I sensing a pattern here?).  After she runs from the ball, she does not go the palace and announce that she is the young woman that the prince is seeking. She has to wait for him to find her.

What I like about Beauty and The Beast is that these characters seem the most human of the leading romantic characters in the genre. The Beast’s emotional wounds and extreme external appearance could be considered as an allegory for the emotional scars we have and the mistakes we wish we could undo. Beauty is the most active of the fairy tales heroines.  She is no one’s victim, and certainly not waiting for some prince to rescue her.  She takes her life into her own hands and makes her own decisions.

The overall problem is that fairy tales are part of our culture. Feminism has certainly helped to alter the way that girls see themselves and their futures. But change does not happen overnight.

To answer the question, what message does Beauty and The Beast send? I would say that, if told properly, proves that we can change and move on from what was holding us back.

 

 

 

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Filed under Beauty and the Beast, Fairy Tales, Feminism, Once Upon A Time