• Network: ABC
  • Series Premiere Date: Oct 23, 2011
  • Season #: 1 , 2 , 3
Metascore
66

Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Oct 21, 2011
    70
    The pilot certainly looks great, and it's hard to imagine better choices for the leads than Goodwin and Parrilla.
  2. Reviewed by: David Hinckley
    Oct 21, 2011
    40
    To draw out the story by looping it through subplots and minidramas runs the risk of turning it into a fairy-tale soap opera--when what we really want to know is whether the tragic Snow White or the lonely Emma can in the end live happily ever after.
  3. Reviewed by: Rob Owen
    Oct 24, 2011
    60
    In its pilot, Once Upon a Time succeeds on charm but comes up short on logic.
  4. Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    Oct 21, 2011
    80
    There's gorgeous fun to be had here.
  5. Reviewed by: Matthew Gilbert
    Sep 21, 2011
    58
    The ambition is impressive...But Morrison is a wooden lead, and the back stories--a random collection of fairy tales--don't promise to surprise.
  6. Reviewed by: Robert Bianco
    Oct 20, 2011
    63
    Give ABC credit for trying something different. But next time, try harder. And better. And maybe shorter.
  7. Reviewed by: Tom Gliatto
    Oct 20, 2011
    63
    The cast would do well to have more fun, but the layered storytelling has it charms. [31 Oct 2011, p.35]
  8. Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    Oct 24, 2011
    50
    The show is a bold idea, and there's hope for the modern-world portions, but it doesn't quite know what it is (or maybe it does, but the audience won't).
  9. Reviewed by: Verne Gay
    Oct 21, 2011
    83
    What's best about Time is its ambition; it glows with a near-theatrical shine, challenging viewers to think about TV drama as something other than boilerplate.
  10. Reviewed by: Maureen Ryan
    Oct 21, 2011
    60
    There are times when the enterprise lacks a certain heft and when the fantasy realm seems a little generic. Also, some characters, especially Lana Parrilla's Evil Queen (who is also the mayor of Storybrooke), are one-dimensional in kind of maddening ways, though Robert Carlyle makes up for that with his charismatic turn as both Rumplestiltskin and a Storybrooke resident named Mr. Gold.
  11. Reviewed by: Linda Stasi
    Oct 21, 2011
    63
    Somebody should kiss a frog or something to break the evil spell and let this show be as much fun as it should be.
  12. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    Oct 21, 2011
    58
    The larger problem, though, is that unless you're deeply invested in the fairy tale characters and seeing the variations on their familiar backstories--seeing, for instance, that Snow and Charming had a very different first meeting than the one we know about--then most of the story and character work is flat, despite a cast of likable, game actors.
  13. Reviewed by: Mark A. Perigard
    Oct 21, 2011
    83
    Once Upon a Time gets off to a bewitching start.
  14. Reviewed by: David Wiegand
    Oct 21, 2011
    75
    Once Upon a Time is both family-friendly and smart enough to win viewers of any age and level of sophistication.
  15. Reviewed by: Mary McNamara
    Oct 21, 2011
    70
    Once the action leaves the overly Maxfield Parrish-ized world of magic trees and drooping pregnant princesses, things pick up considerably.
  16. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    Oct 20, 2011
    83
    Fans of the fantastical can do far worse than Once Upon A Time, which manages to both stir the pulse and please the senses with its beautifully imagined medieval times.
  17. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    Sep 21, 2011
    100
    Once Upon a Time is a smartly-crafted reward for fans of light fantasy, with the right mix of cleverness, action and romance.
  18. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    Oct 21, 2011
    70
    For now, it's an enticing cupcake, but I want to see if it's more than frosting all the way down.
  19. Reviewed by: Nancy DeWolf Smith
    Oct 21, 2011
    60
    Unfolding simultaneously in two distinct worlds, the series has an enchanting premise, even if it plods at times when it should sparkle and soar.
  20. Reviewed by: Troy Patterson
    Oct 28, 2011
    40
    The series, fueling itself with folklore, proceeds as if no characterization is required.
  21. Reviewed by: Mike Hale
    Oct 21, 2011
    60
    Watching the pilot again, though, it became harder to ignore the soap opera underpinnings and the twee sentimentality.
  22. Reviewed by: Curt Wagner
    Oct 24, 2011
    63
    Horowitz and Kitsis are clever and playful in how they insert the fairytale characters into the present day, which kept my interest even when, as I said earlier, I was chuckling.
  23. Reviewed by: Lori Rackl
    Oct 20, 2011
    63
    I don't see this fairy-tale fantasy having broad enough appeal to conjure up the kind of viewer numbers it will need to stick around.
  24. Reviewed by: Rick Porter
    Oct 24, 2011
    60
    No other new show this fall is attempting to tell a bigger story, and we're hoping the rough patches smooth out and it fulfills the potential that's there in its very strong cast and premise.
  25. Reviewed by: Mike Lechevallier
    Oct 24, 2011
    63
    The series isn't very original (at one point, it even steals Lost's now-iconic eye-opening shot), but that doesn't stop it from being relatively satisfying on its own terms.
  26. Reviewed by: Lynnette Porter
    Oct 24, 2011
    70
    In its premiere episode, Once Upon a Time offers a mix of hope and cynicism, coupled with familiar television and film allusions (not unlike the Shreks).
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 293 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 46 out of 64
  2. Negative: 14 out of 64
  1. Oct 26, 2011
    3
    There are some decent ideas here, but you have to wade through some mediocre acting and truly awful writing. Even some of the CGI is surprisingly bad. What was with the fairy godmother character floating around in one scene? She was lit incorrectly to fit in with the main scene. Just not well done.

    I was truly curious about some of the big questions in this story, but the overall vehicle is so clumsily done that I just can't give this show any more time.
    Full Review »
  2. Nov 14, 2011
    0
    This show just doesn't appeal to me. Maybe it's because I'm a guy or something, but I just can't watch it. The kid seems annoying to me and the concept of this whole town trying to get back to fantasyland doesn't seem interesting to me. People compare this show to Grimm, but Grimm is much more entertaining and more appealing to men, I think. Full Review »
  3. Oct 28, 2011
    3
    Only for kids and women. This is for people that love Hallmark channel's type of stuff. I'm surprised OUat isn't shown at 2pm for daytime tv. OUaT is less than lightweight and even though it's concept is based on imagination there is none in the writing what so ever. Lastly when I say it's written for women... I mean no disrespect. It's clearly written for the children and the female audience and makes no qualms of alienating men. So rather than writing something that everybody could watch you have a show that's kicked out half it's viewers by choice. All in all the acting is average to bad and the whole show rather ridiculous Full Review »