Once upon a time, I lived in a house with my wife and daughter, surrounded by a lifetime of stuff. That time feels far away and long ago right now, but it was really only a couple weeks ago that we had that life — before our house caught fire and pretty much everything that made up that physical construct we knew as “home” was lost. Nearly my entire comic book collection, much of my Disney collectables, clothing, nostalgia, and souvenirs all being gone for good is a difficult pill to swallow — devastating actually. But as a dad, one of the worst things I’ve experienced in all of this was seeing my daughter lose all of her personal belongings, save for a few dolls we were able to retrieve from the house before it became too dangerous to go back inside. Folks in our lives have been great to us during this time, but the fact remains that living in temporary housing without our belongings has been surreal.
It might sound crazy to say that something as simple as a television show made a huge difference and offered tremendous relief in our lives this past Sunday night — but it’s true. Sunday was the Season 3 premiere of ABC’s Once Upon a Time — one of mine and my daughter Emma’s favorite shows. The show has always offered us a portal into a fairytale realm but this time on top of that we got an even greater gift — the ability to imagine we were back in our old living room watching our favorite show on the sofa together.
Why do we love watching this show so much together? It’s one of the only shows that bridges our generation gap perfectly. A 9 year old girl and me, her dad, can both identify with Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket, King Midas and Frankenstein. The show gives us a common place at the table for discussion. It is not only one of the smartest shows ever written, but it’s one that we can both honestly enjoy and makes for the perfect family experience — neither of us has to “pretend” to be completely immersed. (It also helps that the hero is named Emma.)
From the first episode we ever saw, Emma and I were whisked into this world of make-believe where characters lived with each other and their stories often were woven together into an intricate tapestry. Where else could Rumpelstiltskin also be Beauty’s beast? In what land could Captain Hook not necessarily be the bad guy? And who would have imagined that Red Riding Hood actually IS the wolf? Each twist is more exciting than the last and each secret revealed only deepens the wonder of the show. Emma and I love trying to identify what character will be revealed next from the beloved pantheon of fairy tale stories (mostly drawn from Disney’s own catalog of movies). It becomes almost a game as we watch it together. Every show has an opening sequence that hints at what’s to come if you watch carefully. We used to freeze it on the DVR and talk about what we thought would happen next.
If you haven’t been following along up to now, you can catch up on DVD and Blu Ray and find out what you’ve been missing. And in the new season, we finally meet the elusive Peter Pan…and he’s not the childhood light-hearted guy from the movies. Robin Hood is back as is Mulan and Princess Aurora. And our favorite characters are all working together in a common cause. Is it enough to pull them together? Emma and I can’t wait to find out. To top it off, a spin-off begins in just a couple of weeks as Once Upon A Time ventures into Wonderland!