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Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 21, 2013 by  



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Captivating, addictive and in my opinion, one of the best drama series on television at this time, “Once Upon a Time” is a unique, well-acted, well-written drama series that will win you over instantly.   It’s that good! “Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2013 ABC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season

TV SEASON AIR DATE: 2012-2013

DURATION: 946 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:78:1, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 2.0 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: abc studios

RATED: TV PG LSV

Release Date: August 13, 2013

Directed by Dean White, Ralph Hemecker, David Barrett, David Solomon, Milan Cheylov, Gwyneth Horder-Payton

Written by Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, Jane Espenson, David H. Goodman, Andrew Chambliss, Ian B. Goldberg, Robert Hull, Christine Boylan, Daniel T. Thomsen, Kalinda Vazquez

Produced by Samantha Thomas, Kathy Gilroy, Christine Boyland, Robert Hull, Kalinda Vazquez

Co-Producer: Brian Wankum, Andrew Chambliss, Ian B. Goldberg, Daniel T. Thomsen

Executive Producer: Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, Steve Pearlman

Co-Executive Producer: David H. Goodman, Liz Tigelaar

Associate Producer: Stephen Judge

Supervising Producer: Lauren Gussis

Music by Mark Isham

Cinematography by Stephen Jackson

Edited by Geofrey Hildrew, Mark Goldman, Scot J. Kelly, Richad Glazerman, Joe Talbot Hall

Casting by Veronica Collins

Production Design by Michael Joy

Art Direction by Cheryl Marion, Greg Venturi

Set Decoration by Mark Lane

Costume Design by Eduardo Castro

Starring:

Ginnifer Goodwin as Mary Margaret Blanchard

Jennifer Morrison as Emma Swan

Lana Parrilla as Regina Mills

Josh Dallas as David Nolan

Jared Gilmore as Henry Mills

Raphael Sbarge as Archie Hopper

Emilie de Ravin as Belle

Lee Arenberg as Grumpy

Robert Carlyle as Mr. Gold

Meghan Ory as Ruby

Eion Bailey as August W. Booth

Beverly Elliott as Granny

Giancarlo Esposito as Sidney Glass

Anastasia Griffith as Kathryn Nolan

Keegan Connor Tracy as Blue Fairy

Colin O’Donoghue as Hook

David-Paul Grove as Doc

Mike Coleman as Happy

Jeffrey Kaiser as Dopey

Barbara Hershey as Cora

Gabe Kouth as Sneezy

Michael Raymond-James as Neal Cassady

Jamie Chung as Mulan

Sarah Bolger as Princes Aurora

Greg Mendell as Ethan Embry

Sonequa Martin-Green as Tamara

Relive every thrilling moment of the fairy tale-inspired series when “Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season” casts its tantalizing spell onto Blu-ray/DVD. The curse is broken, magic has arrived, and there’s no telling what – or who – will be unleashed! Now the exiled fairy tale characters must grapple with a flood of awakened memories as they come to grips with their new “reality.” Old loyalties will be tested, new heroes will emerge, and vengeful villains will wreak havoc. Amidst the backdrop of previously unexplored lands and a newly magical Storybrooke, love and sacrifice will set the stage for the ultimate battle between good and evil.

From Storybrooke to Fairy Tale Land and beyond, experience all the mystery, romance, action and adventure of the second season of “Once Upon a Time.” Featuring all 22 remarkable episodes and exclusive bonus features, this must-own, five-disc boxed set is pure enchantment on an epic scale.

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“Once Upon a Time” season one left viewers on the edge of their seats with a season finale which gave everyone of Storybrooke memories of their past.  Season two kicks off where the last season left off, as many are angered that Regina (the wicked witch), has made their lives quite horrible.

But as Regina was the key antagonist of the first season to protagonists Emma Swan, Snow and Prince Charming, new antagonists join season two.  And if you thought Regina was bad, wait until you see someone much more evil than her, her mother…Cora.

Watch as Emma and Snow with the help of Mulan and Princess Aurora try to escape the Enchanted Forest as they are being pursued by Cora and Hook, what happens when Mr. Gold cashes in on the deal he made with Emma and new antagonist are in store, and they want nothing more than to destroy Storybrooke.

All this in “Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season”, now available on Blu-ray!

What is “Once Upon a Time” about?

From the creators of “Lost” and “Tron: Legacy” writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz comes a new fantasy-drama television series known as “Once Upon a Time”.

Originally conceived before Kitsis and Horowitz were involved with “Lost”, both men wanted to write a fairtytale and the exploration of other worlds. But with their work on “Lost”, the writers had the opportunity to learn from the process, and while having some allusions to “Lost”, the series also has allusions to well-known Disney films. But the goal for both writers was to take these characters that people are familiar with and to explore the character and get to learn more about them. But most importantly, not retelling the exact same story as what people may be familiar with from the original fairy tale.

With the 22-episode series debuting in October 2011 and a season finale in May of 2012, “Once Upon a Time” was the highest-rated TV drama for Adults 18-49 and was ABC’s biggest debut in five years. As well as being the highest rated non-sports program to air on Sunday nights.

With a third season set to air on ABC later this fall, “Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season” will be released on Blu-ray in August 2013.

“Once Upon a Time” is a series that takes place in the past via the fairy tale timeline and the present timeline.

In the present timeline, we are introduced to Emma Swan (portrayed by Jennifer Morrison, “House M.D., “Star Trek”), a tough woman who works in bail bonds and is often busy that she lives alone. Her life changes when a young boy named Henry (portrayed by Jared Gilmore, “Mad Men”, “The Back-Up Plan”) arrives at her home and tells him that he is her son, that she put up for adoption ten years ago.

Emma is shocked because the adoption was supposed to be private and the boy would not be able to find her location, but Emma goes to bring Henry back home in a town known as Storybrooke.

Meanwhile, in the fairy tale time line, Prince Charming arrives to find Snow White dead. When he goes to kiss her on the lips, she is revived and the two are now engaged to be married.

During the day of their wedding, a pregnant Snow White (portrayed by Ginnifer Goodwin, “Walk the Line”, “A Single Man”) and Prince Charming (portrayed by Josh Dallas, “Thor”, “The Descent, Part 2”) celebrate the wonderful occasion with their friends. But to put a damper on the wedding, Snow White’s evil stepmother, the Wicked Queen (portrayed by Lana Parrilla, “Spiders”, “Boomtown”) wants to make sure that her daughter never has a happy ending and warns everyone that she has placed a curse on everyone and their lives will change forever as there will never be a happy ending.

Worried about their impending doom, there is one man who knows about magic that can give them information to defeat the curse… the imprisoned and vile man, Rumplestiltskin (portrayed by Robert Carlyle, “Trainspotting”, “The Full Monty”).

A man who can grant anything through magic, but to use his magic, the person must pay the price of something they cherish the most. Rumplestiltskin tells Snow White and Prince Charming that the person who can break the curse is their child.

As the curse that the Wicked Queen has cast, has now come to hit the kingdom, with magic, a portal was created for one person to escape and hopefully destroy the curse. Snow White gives birth to a baby named Emma and Prince Charming manages to take the baby to the portal before he is killed by the Evil Queen’s dark army.

In the present time, Henry tells Emma that everyone in Storybrooke is an actual character of the fairy tale and the fairy tale are true stories. Of course, Emma doesn’t believe any of it but tries to play along with what she thinks is Henry’ active imagination. But Henry insists that she has the power to eliminate the curse and the people of Storybrooke will finally remember their true identity.

She wonders why none of these people can leave town but is told that anyone who tries to leave is met with an accident.

When Emma returns Henry back to his home, we learn that his adoptive mother is the mayor of Storybrooke, Regina Mills, who happens to be The Evil Queen.

And Regina does all she can to keep Emma away from her son, but each time Emma wants to leave, Henry escapes from his home to be with Emma. And requests for her to stay at least for one week in Storybrooke and she will see how she can make things change.

And in the town of Storybrooke, Emma meets Henry’s school teacher (and the person who gave him the fairy tale book), Mary Margaret Blanchard (a.k.a. Snow White). Mary occasionally volunteers at the hospital where she reads to a man named David Nolan (a.k.a. Prince Charming), who is in a coma.

Henry is being treated by a psychologist named Archibald “Archie” Hopper (portrayed by Raphael Sbarge, a.k.a. Jiminy Cricket), the Sheriff in town is Sheriff Graham (portrayed by Jamie Dornan, a.k.a. The Huntsman) and meets more of Storybrooke’s residents including Mr. Gold (a.k.a. Rumplestiltskin), the only person in Storybrooke who is aware of what is real and has not lost his memory.

So, Emma making a promise to Henry decides to temporarily stay in Storybrooke for his sake. But Regina, will do all it takes to get Emma to leave and get her away from Henry.

In season two, with the memories of the people of Storybrooke having returned, Mary Margaret (Snow) and Charming are reunited and find out that Emma is their daughter and Henry is their grandson.  But for Emma, it’s not a happy reunion as she doesn’t understand why her mother would abandon her.

But both Emma and Mary Margaret will have a lot of mother and daughter time as they are stuck in the Enchanted Forest thanks to Regina and must find a portal back home.  But also stuck in the Enchanted Forest is Cora, the evil mother of Regina who has the power to destroy but mimic anyone she wants via magic.  Both Emma and Mary Margaret with the help of Mulan and Princess Aurora must find a new portal, not knowing that Cora is pursuing them, with the help of the infamous pirate, Hook.

Meanwhile, Henry wants to see the good of his mother, Regina, can she really change and show that she really loves him or will she remain an evil person?  Also, the people of Storybrooke learn that if they leave the city, indicated by a red line near their home, they will lose all memories.  But what happens when Mr. Gold needs to search for his son…in Manhattan?

And as the people of Storybrooke must deal with the threat of Cora and Dr. Hook, new antagonists threaten the people of Storybrooke.

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VIDEO:

“Once Upon a Time” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). The picture quality for this series is fantastic. With its high production value, one expects a lot for this series and for an ABC drama series, one of the few that has been given a Blu-ray release.

Closeups are very good, showing excellent detail from skin pores to the grime on people’s faces. The location shots are breathtaking, especially during the fairytale sequences and costume design also showcase excellent detail. Skin tones are natural, black levels are nice and deep and I didn’t see any problems with banding, especially during the scenes which featured a lot of orange or red.

Overall, picture quality for “Once Upon a Time: The Complete Season” was fantastic!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Once Upon a Time” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 2.0 Dolby Digital. The series is crystal clear when it comes to dialogue and music. While the series is center and front-channel driven, I did like how surround channels were used at times during the action sequences but primarily you hear the musical score through the surround channels. I wished it was bit more immersive when it comes to its lossless soundtrack but the dialogue and music is crystal clear.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “Broken” by  actress Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas.

DISC 2:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “Queen of Hearts” by co-creators/executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and actress Lana Parrilla.

DISC 3:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “Manhattan” by co-creators/executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and actor Robert Carlyle.

DISC 4:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “The Miller’s Daughter” with writer Jane Espenson.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “Welcome to Storybrooke” with writers Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss.

DISC 5:

  • Good Morning Storybrooke – (12:10) Featuring a comedy, faux news show about Storybrooke.
  • A Fractured Family Tree – (7:08) Narrated by Sarah Hyland of ABC’s “Modern Family”, the cast are interviewed about their character’s family tree.
  • Sincerely, Hook – (5:24) Actor Colin O’Donoghue talks about playing the character of Hook.
  • Girl Power – (13:05) Creating independent, strong female characters and interview with the female cast.
  • Fairest Bloopers of Them All – (3:13) Outtakes from “Once Upon a Time” season two.
  • Deleted Scenes – (10:33) A total of eight deleted scenes.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary for “And Straight On Til morning” with co-executive producer David H, Goodman and actor Colin O’Donoghue.

EXTRAS:

“Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season” comes with a lenticular slipcover case.

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Unique, captivating and wonderful… ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” continues to be a groundbreaking drama series on primetime television.

High production value, featuring talented writers that come from hit shows such as “LOST” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and utilizing fairy tale characters, the potential is pretty much unlimited of how far the writers can go.

And what adds to the efficacy of season two of “Once Upon a Time” is its talented ensemble cast, cinematography, set and costume design and overall direction.

With so many fairytale stories that have been created, the characters and the potential of new lands are quite endless.

And for season two, the series begins with the Enchanted Forest and introduces characters such as Prince Phillip, Princess Aurora and Mulan.  An interesting love triangle between the two until they are confronted by a wraith which consumes Prince Phillip’s soul.  As Mulan promised to protect Princess Aurora, in the modern world, both Emma and her mother Mary Margaret (Snow White) are sent to the Enchanted Forest thanks to Regina who used the Mad Hatter’s Hat.

The first few episodes are quite intriguing as they introduce Cora, the evil mother of Regina and how her mother will do whatever it takes to leave the Enchanted Forest.  Meanwhile, we learn of how Snow and Charming were married and how Snow White was cursed.

The first half features the adventures of Emma and Mary Margaret going through various adventures in trying to find a portal in going back home, while Cora tries to find a magical compass in order to find a way to reunited with her daughter Regina.  And she teams up with the mischievous Captain Hook, with a goal to kill Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin).

As for the wicked witch, Regina, she is torn because she never wanted to be evil like her mother but we see through her flashback how she was driven to her current life.  But with her adopted son Henry wanting to see how she has changed and see the good within her, does Regina have any positive in her heart?  But what happens when she comes face-to-face with her mother?

Meanwhile, Mr. Gold cashes in on his deal with Emma and that is to find his son Baelfire who is living in New York.  Unfortunately, for most fairytale characters of Storybrooke, stepping outside of city limits will lead them to losing their memory.  But hopefully Mr. Gold has found a way to prevent that from happening.  But what happens when Emma finds out that Baelfire, is a person that she knows quite well.

And the final episodes feature two new antagonists that intend to cause problems for Storybrooke and destroy the town.

So, the second season never wanes in quality.  Production and set design, especially costume design are fantastic.  The writing for the characters continues to be magnificent and while “Once Upon a Time” has been compared to “LOST” because of its two timelines, “LOST” had its limitations as everyone was stuck on an island and writers could go only go so far with its ensemble cast. With “Once Upon a Time”, you’re dealing with the small town of Storybrooke, many characters that can be introduced with each episode, characters that can have an impact on another character’s modern and fairytale storyline.

As a viewer, you root for the underdogs, which are Emma, the main protagonist and young Henry. You are captivated by these two characters because Emma is strong, intelligent but she is also alone. And to have her son that she gave up for adoption wanting her, needing her and accompanying her, it’s rather touching. But then you have this sci-fi side to the story through the multiple adventures featuring Emma and family/friends.

The acting is magnificent. Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas as Snow White and Prince Charming have wonderful chemistry and their scenes are quite demanding as they require a lot of action sequences, having them in many costumes and fighting evil anywhere in the forest or via green screen (or not) near rocky cliffs. The series also brings a new dynamic to these characters beyond what many of us have read or seen in a Disney film. Snow White is more authoritative, a go-getter not this character that loves to sing and play with birds. Her depiction in “Once Upon a Time” is fantastic, while Prince Charming is your banal swashbuckling hero.

But Ginnefer shows her emotional side as a woman who is reunited with her daughter and also having to deal with a daughter who is distant because she feel that she was abandoned.  But also how her birthday is a difficult day for her.  We also see the more emotional side for actress Jennifer Morrison.  Emma is still in action/adventure mode but there are more emotional scenes for season two.

Then you have Lana Parrilla as Regina Mills/Evil Queen. The actress is able to play the evil character wonderfully, with this scheming look on her face and evil grin. Casting was on the mark for this character and instead of being an older woman queen, the Evil Queen is given sex appeal and becomes one of the more interesting characters in the series.  But if you thought that Regina was bad, wait until you see Barbara Hershey as her mother, Cora.  Definitely a much more evil woman and fascinating antagonist for season two.

And Robert Carlyle, a man who is evil but also a mystery if he can be good or just a person that marches in the beat of his own drum and you don’t know whether or not you can trust him. His character of Rumpelstiltskin may seem a bit weak towards the beginning of the series but you begin to realize that this grimy imp is far from being weak, in fact, he may be the most powerful antagonist of the series but also an antagonist that can either aid the side of good and evil. Or neither, but himself. A character that you just don’t know what he will do and constantly surprises the viewer by his actions. Carlyle does an amazing job in playing this character, may it be the psychotic Rumpelstiltskin or the cool and calm Mr. Gold.

The latest character to make an impact in season two is Colin O’Donoghue as Hook.  A man who also goes by the beat of his own drum….antagonist/protagonist, suffice to say, he does cause significant problems for Emma and others.

And last, the supporting talent are well-done as well!

Another big plus is the cinematography and location shots. From the beautiful location of shooting in the forest for action sequences to shooting in Vancouver for Storybrooke, you get a combination of beautiful location shots along with small town America. The fairytale storyline is what is most appealing because of its high production value, action sequences and costume design.

And last but not least, the writing of this show is phenomenal. I’m a big fan of Jane Espenson’s work but to also have a few of the writers, especially series creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz of “LOST”, another series that I enjoyed immensely is a major plus. Both men had this vision prior to “Lost” and it’s great to see this type of series on ABC.

The writing is captivating, amazingly well-done and definitely a lot of potential for exploration of other characters which can be utilized whenever. But with the way that season 1 has ended, it will be interesting to see how things go for season 2.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is amazing while lossless soundtrack was crystal clear when it came to dialogue and music, I was hoping for it to be a bit more immersive in utilizing the surround channels and LFE a bit more during the more action-driven scenes. As for special features, you do get several audio commentary included with season two.

Overall, “Once Upon a Time” has turned out to be a fantastic sci-fi drama series. So many positives can be said of the show and I can’t really think of any negatives. I loved season two as much as I loved season one and I’m looking forward to another thrilling season three.

Captivating, addictive and in my opinion, one of the best drama series on television at this time, “Once Upon a Time” is a unique, well-acted, well-written drama series that will win you over instantly.   It’s that good!

“Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season” is highly recommended!

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