Tuesday, August 15, 2017

TV on DVD Review: Once Upon a Time - Season 6

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Wonderfully developed characters in a still magical story
Cons: So far, magic covering any cons
The Bottom Line:
Magical intrigue
Characters continue to
Grow in great season

“I Killed You.”  “Did You Really Think It Would Be That Easy?”

When asked my favorite TV show currently on the air, I answer without hesitation Once Upon a Time.  Yes, the show has changed significantly since it started, but all good shows of this kind need to grow and change.  I still find the show, well, magical, and season six was no exception.

If you are new to the show, you will be lost here.  There’s no way to avoid it with a show of this kind.  The basics?  Every fairytale character you know is real and is currently living in the town of Storybrooke, Maine.  They originally arrived there via a curse, and they’ve faced several more over the years.  As they have faced multiple threats, families have grown and relationships have changed.

And, honestly, that’s one of my favorite things in the show.  These characters are growing and are not the people they were in season one.  That adds a richness to things that makes every moment mean so much more.  And it’s another reason not to jump in here.  You won’t fully appreciate what we do get to see this season.

As the season opens, our heroes are trying to welcome a lot of new visitors to town.  The residence of the Land of Lost Stories have arrived, and are now getting on with their lives and their stories.  At the end of last season, Regina (Lana Parrilla) tried separating herself into her two halves, Regina and the Evil Queen, before crushing her Evil Queen part.  It didn’t quite work out as she has planned, and it isn’t long before everyone learns that the Evil Queen is back, ready to exact her revenge on Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) and David (Josh Dallas).  Naturally, their family, including daughter Emma (Jennifer Morrison) jump in trying to keep that from happening.  However, Regina’s half-sister Zelena (Rebecca Mader) is drawn to the Evil Queen side and might not prove to be an ally to our heroes.

While the season still aired in two parts, the season didn’t have two distinct story arcs.  Some characters from the Land of Untold Stories would pop up for one episode, some for more, and some would play a large piece in the overall arc.  This season, we get to meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Hank Harris and Sam Witwer), Captain Nemo (Faran Tahir), and Aladdin (Deniz Akdeniz) and Jasmin (Karen David) as well as a new version of Jafar (Oded Fehr).  (No connection to the Jafar of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, unfortunately for fans of that show.)

The season had actually opened with Emma getting a vision of her impending death, something that begins to play out more in the back half of the season as we get a new threat.  Honestly, I had negative flashbacks to another show when this storyline was fully introduced for the mid-season cliffhanger, but the way it played out was actually well done and erased my concerns as the show built toward the ultimate battle between good and evil.  Who will survive?

I already gave you my big draw to this show – the characters.  I love them, and I love spending time with them.  This show sucks me in each week, and when things are over, it’s hard to believe it’s been an hour already.

Of course, the storylines help with that.  I still find them compelling.  Yes, they are repeating themselves at times, never more so than in the season finale, but I still enjoy it.  I even get what they were trying to do with the season finale, but it still felt like too much of a retread to me.  My only real complaint for the season.

The actors are at the top of their game, and I love watching them on screen.  They have these characters and their relationships down, and the chemistry between them no matter who is on screen in wonderful.  Praise, as always goes to the two standouts – Robert Carlyle, who plays Rumpelstiltskin, and Lana Parrilla.  She is clearly having a blast playing both halves of Regina this season.

Before the season is over, we get a musical episode.  I will admit it took me a couple of times to fully enjoy it, but it works, and it certainly works well in a series about magic.

Speaking of magic, this show is filled with special effects.  There are usually a couple of episodes a season where things don’t work, but for the most part I buy what they see.

Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, the creators of the show, felt that the journey for most of the characters ended here at season six, so the season finale feels like a series finale in many ways.  It does wrap things up in a wonderful way for everyone…until the final few minutes which set up a season seven that will be missing much of the cast we know and love.  I am intrigued by this new direction.  I am withholding full judgment until I actually see it, and I hope my faith is rewarded.  If not, we will have to pretend the final few minutes of this season didn’t happen because I really could have lived with this as a series finale.

All 22 season six episodes are included in this set.  Naturally, they are in wide screen and full surround as are most shows today.  Extras on the set include deleted scenes, bloopers, one audio commentary, and a behind the scenes look at creating the musical.

For me, the magic and fun of Once Upon a Time have continued in season six.  Any fan of the series to date will continue to enjoy watching their favorite characters in these episodes.

Season Six Episodes:
1. The Savior
2. A Bitter Draught
3. The Other Shoe
4. Strange Case
5. Street Rats
6. Dark Waters
7. Heartless
8. I’ll be Your Mirror
9. Changelings
10. Wish You Were Here
11. Tougher than the Rest
12. Murder Most Foul
13. Ill-Boding Patterns
14. Page 23
15. A Wondrous Place
16. Mother’s Little Helper
17. Awake
18. Where Bluebirds Fly
19. The Black Fairy
20. The Song in Your Heart
21. The Final Battle Part 1
22. The Final Battle Part 2

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