For example, Glee followed up a stellar first season with a lackluster second that lost at least one viewer (me). Even one of my favorites, Fringe, stumbled starting from the second season block, abandoning its direction to maneuver back on a strong course, and why not?
After the first season, you’ve hit your stride. You’ve told a story. You’ve come to a conclusion. More than starting the first time, starting all over again is hard.
In contrast, Once Upon A Time hit season two running. Curse is broken. Things are moving.
Once Upon A Time hit its stumbling point in season one. The show seemed aimless, turning into name dropping, introducing new characters each week while the original narrative spun out of control. By adding some new voices to the team, OUAT was able to turn around and close with an amazing finale.
Did they go full dragon? Yes. Yes, they did.
So, what makes the second season strong?
How about a mob marching on the queen? A few new characters are snuck in, some in our parallel universe. The most curious new character came in at the very beginning. I refuse to conjecture at this point. On top of that, a new Evil is unleashed in the wraith.
But what’s a big source of conflict? A bunch of suddenly self-actualized fairy tale characters are trapped in a town, each individual seeking their own happy ending. It’s a clash of storytelling. Everyone has the potential for conflict, even without being an evil queen or corrupted immortal.
Which brings me to the “bad guys.”
In Regina, our evil queen, Once Upon A Time has given me the villain I want to root for. They muddied those waters by giving her a weepy backstory (I don’t need my evil queens to have backstory; just make them kick ass and I will be pleased). She’s not misunderstood. She’s not trying to simply create her own happy ending. She has power and it has corrupted her. She’s smart and manipulative. Chillingly evil. I love it. She foils those annoying do-gooders and it looks like a team-up is on the way.
By the end of the episode, our smart, spunky modern girl is transported to fairy tale world with her same-age mother. So, like Revolution, we’ve fallen into another commonly used YA trope, but at least we’re dealing with grown-ups this time, right?
While I still think Once Upon A Time is an advertisement for Disney movies (Whistle While You Work is not from the Brothers Grimm; Pongo is an overt reference to 101 Dalmatians), it’s still doing wonderful things for the fantasy genre in making it accessible and acceptable to the masses. If you haven’t seen Season 1, it’s out on DVD and available through Netflix. Catch up and we can talk about it.
Are you watching? What are your thoughts? If not Once Upon A Time, what should I be watching?
I have returned to The Fantastic World of Barnes & Noble (or the Nobley, for you who are savvy to the lingo). I’ve worked at B&N for upwards of three years, alternating between seasonal employ and full time. The last stint was a solid two year, full-time block that ended January 2nd of this year.
Let me tell you, I was ready to leave. I had a new job at a startup that looked promising, I was flexing my creative muscle to the point where my words were appearing on television (yeah, promos!). It was thrilling. I refused to enter my local bookstore for several months, holding on to my experience as only the righteously indignant can. I had my Nook. I had the library. I didn’t need to visit a store. Then, a friend of mine had a booksigning at a different but reachable B&N.
Since I’m so altruistic (insert chortle), I swallowed my foolish pride, pulled up my big girl panties, and stopped acting like a total wad.
It’s funny how often I need to do that.
Regardless of the burgeoning Texas heat, the door handle was still chill to the touch, promising an over-cooled environment on the inside. My moment of hesitation was short-lived, as a short, middle-aged man on the other side had no interest in waiting for me to rip the door open. I took a deep breath and entered. The dusky smell of thousands of pages washed over me, caught on the breeze of the air conditioning.
As I entered the B&N, a dribble of drool rolled down my chin as I stared at the shelves and shelves of books. That same old feeling started at the base of my spine and worked its way up into my brain. No matter how fast I read, no matter how much I tried, I would never, ever be able to read all these books. It was like the first time I ever entered a bookstore, but, somehow, so much more.
You see, back in the old days, I was trained in every department. Nook, music, even receiving in the back room. It was like I had returned to my home country. I knew this place, I fit in here, I could wax idiotic with the staff and they recognized me as a familiar traveler, if not a native of their local village. But, something was (and still is) missing. If this was the hero’s quest, what elixir had I returned with? Had a gained some knowledge in the last few months? Did I bring hope to the ones on the inside? I had missed an essential step in personal character growth and made a misstep along my journey.
As it is wont to do, my financial situation became increasingly unstable. While I hadn’t locked my future into a startup, I had hoped it would provide a stable source of income for a year until I had saved up enough to move on.
Ho ho, not so. The time came when I realized I had to get a second job in order to stockpile any money. I cooked up a big humble pie and reapplied to my old job. They were more than happy to welcome me back into the fold.
Sometimes I think my life is a sitcom. It’s funny, it’s tragic, and nothing ever changes.
But, what if I want the hero’s journey? When does this girl get to leave the farm to pursue her destiny? Why am I so upset that real life doesn’t work out the way stories do?
It’s not too late to begin my epic quest, and it’s not like I don’t have options. But, it feels like I had almost hit the main road with my questing companions, only to realize I had to turn back because I forgot to pack my magic sword.