Once Upon a Time : Season 1

  • Network: ABC
  • Series Premiere Date: Oct 23, 2011
Season #: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Metascore
66

Generally favorable reviews - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26

Where To Watch

Stream On

Critic Reviews

  1. 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.
  2. Reviewed by: Mark A. Perigard
    Oct 21, 2011
    83
    Once Upon a Time gets off to a bewitching start.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. People Weekly
    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]
  10. Reviewed by: Rob Owen
    Oct 24, 2011
    60
    In its pilot, Once Upon a Time succeeds on charm but comes up short on logic.
  11. 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).
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Reviewed by: Troy Patterson
    Oct 28, 2011
    40
    The series, fueling itself with folklore, proceeds as if no characterization is required.
  16. 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).
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    Oct 21, 2011
    80
    There's gorgeous fun to be had here.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 457 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 58 out of 97
  2. Negative: 26 out of 97
  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 isThere 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. Oct 25, 2011
    10
    I loved the concept of the show its different from what's on television at the moment and it makes you want to watch it and the cast does aI loved the concept of the show its different from what's on television at the moment and it makes you want to watch it and the cast does a fantastic job! I can not wait to continue watching the show and see how the storyline develops. Full Review »
  3. Feb 19, 2013
    2
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Okay... where to begin. First of all let's kill a certain cliche that claims all women like this show. I didn't, and that's because I found it pretty boring and poorly written. It's an interesting idea that all the fairytale characters are put in the real world, but it has been done before, so I expected something original. All I got were plot twists that were unreal and characters I didn't find interesting at all. For example the protagonist, Emma, she's supposed to be some kind of detective or people finder or whatever and one day her kid Henry (that she left for adoption after he was born) pops up at her door and says she has to help him. So she finds herself in a small town called Storybrooke (ugh what a lame name) and it's run by a mayor who is really the Evil Queen from Snow White and her curse brought every fairytale creature in there so they could suffer and she could have a happy ending. I don't get it. Where is the suffering or the happy ending. Just a lame town with lame people. And suddenly Emma and Regina(the Queen) start to fight over Henry. Their dialogue is just ridiculous, like in Days of Our Lives or something. Also the huntsman who was supposed to kill Snow but didn't and then the Queen got mad and took his heart so she could make him her bed slave and then he kisses Emma and starts to remember and then the Queen kills him by crushing his heart while him and Emma make out??? I mean what? Why? And why is Red Riding Hood a slutty waitress? The plot is just awkward, there's so many things missing and so many things that need not to be there. It reminds me of Pirates of the Caribbean movies or the Hobbit. Too much but at the same time too little. In the series even the costumes remind me of how sentimental it is. What I wanted was the world of forgotten fairy tales. Myths all over the world. What about stories we don't hear often? And there could have been a world more like in Snow White and the Huntsman (even though it wasn't a great movie it was visually awesome, more darker and stranger). Finally, there was only one character in the series that I liked and that was Rumpelstiltskin/Mr. Gold (I'm from Finland so here it's "Tittelintuure"). Mostly I think because he was played by Robert Carlyle who is one of my favorite actors. I'm truly disappointed and hope that the Grimm will be better, starting to watch it now. Full Review »