Sunday, July 8, 2012

Media Musings Part 3: Once Upon a Time

Finally, here's the third and final post in my Media Musings series.  If you'd like to see the first two, click HERE for "The Avengers" and HERE for "The Hunger Games". :)

My Belle and Rumpel collage, made with's new-ish collage option.  I'm thrilled to have a collage option once again, but I'm wishing it was a little more user-friendly, like Picnik's was.  I'll save that discussion for another post, though.  Right now it's time for...

I know, I know...I already did a big post about this after the Rumpel and Belle episode, and then apologized for mentioning the series after the next episode.  But I just thought I'd say a few final words since I did end up watching the rest of the season (come on, I had to find out if Rumpel ever discovered that Belle was still alive!). ;)

While I haven't been a fan of everything they've done with the series (you can read my previous thoughts HERE and HERE), I have to say that the scenes with Rumpelstiltskin and Belle in the episode "Skin Deep" were some of my favorite moments of television...ever! (Which is why I kept my footer picture of these two on my blog, at least for now.) ;)  Part of it was my love of all things Beauty and the Beast (and it was so fun noticing all of the Disney Beauty and the Beast references!), part of it was the originality of the storyline, and part of it was just the amazing acting of Robert Carlyle and Emilie de Ravin.  When I mentioned the subtlety of facial expression in my first Media Musings post, I was totally thinking of these two.  I just have to share a clip that illustrates this point.  Watch Rumpelstiltskin's face in THIS CLIP.  It makes me tear up every time I watch it.  Notice especially the way he quickly jerks his head when Belle re-enters the dungeon, and the way his eyebrows twitch just slightly when she says, "You're going to regret it...forever" (although you pretty much have to go full screen to catch it).  And of course, the slow, miserable way he slides his eyes closed at the end, as if he realizes his mistake, even though he's not brave enough to admit it.  Pure genius.  It's the little details like this that make a performance stand out.  Belle's got some beautiful acting in this scene as well. [Side note here:  there's a link to a blog listed under the video that does have some swearing...I would have used a different user's clip, but this was the best quality one I could find.  Just wanted to forewarn all of you!]

Why do I like this episode (minus the annoying Mary Margaret and David parts), and in particular this scene?  (Besides my obvious admiration for the acting, of course!)  Well, aside from my love for Beauty and the Beast, there are two other things I really love.  First, this episode is the first time that we see a softer, more vulnerable side of Rumpelstiltskin after his transformation.  I've already discussed some thoughts on Rumpy and redemption in my previous post (the first "HERE" above), so I won't go into that again.  Suffice it to say that you see him in a different light after watching "Skin Deep", and it gives a bit of hope for his future...if he can just manage to make the right decisions.

I also really admire Belle's character.  Here's a girl who sacrifices her freedom and happiness to save her kingdom, even though she doesn't know what will become of her.  We learn from her later that she "always wanted to be brave", and she figured "do the brave thing, and bravery would follow."  This, by the way, is a very interesting contrast to Rumpelstiltskin, who is constantly acting in response to his own cowardice and his obsessive desire for power (something which Belle recognizes in the scene you just watched...if you clicked the link, that is). ;)  Granted, almost everything he does has the motive of SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER! finding his son Baelfire again, but his cowardice and power-hungry nature definitely shine through. END OF SPOILER

Belle is mature enough to see past Rumpelstiltskin's shallow, wickedly cheerful facade to his loneliness and vulnerability.  She even unexpectedly starts to fall in love with him, and is willing to try to break his curse through true love's kiss.  But when he turns on her and accuses her of working with the Evil Queen (and then locks her in the dungeon and smashes a bunch of his stuff), :} things don't work out exactly as she'd hoped.  She tries to convince him of her sincerity, but to no avail.

Then, in the scene I linked to above, Belle is asked to leave.  She is obviously hurt by Rumpel's apparent indifference, but wisely sees the real reasons for his reaction.  She stands up to him and, although she still loves him, is strong enough to leave him behind.  And we see in later scenes that she definitely made a lasting impression on Rumpelstiltskin (who knew a chipped cup could become such a priceless heirloom?).

WARNING:  IN THIS NEXT PARAGRAPH I WILL DISCUSS THE SEASON FINALE.  IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT YET, I WOULD SUGGEST SKIPPING THE NEXT THREE PARAGRAPHS TO AVOID MAJOR SPOILERS! ;)  So of course, after such a sad ending to Belle and Rumpy's story, I was hoping against hope that Belle would show up (un-incarcerated, of course!) in Storybrooke.  I was super excited when I heard that Belle would be reappearing in the Season Finale. :D  I have to say, as soon as Jefferson drugged the nurse at the desk and started heading for Belle's cell, I literally started jumping up and down, because I knew what was coming.  And finally, the moment came that I'd been waiting for...the moment when Mr. Gold realized that Belle was still alive.  The look on his face?  Priceless.  I was blinking back tears at their reunion.  And later, I loved the part where Belle said, "Rumpelstiltskin...wait."  The way she said it, the slow turn he did, their was all so beautifully acted!  Having their theme playing in the background made it even sweeter.  Of course, then Mr. Gold had to go and ruin things by being Mr. Power Hungry.  Sigh.  I can just see the wheels in Belle's head turning:  "Oh yeah, this was what the problem was with this relationship!  Now I remember!" ;)  Let's just say that unless Rumpel starts making some major changes, I don't see much hope for a healthy, happy relationship between these two.

I will probably start out watching Season 2, just because I really want to know what happens to these two characters (especially now that it's been announced that Belle has been changed to one of the lead characters next season!), but I may have to stop watching if the content goes beyond what my conscience can bear.

My aunt thinks I need to prepare myself for the fact that Rumpelstiltskin will never change, that he'll stay bad.  I'm still holding out hope that somehow, he'll find that flicker of goodness that he's still got buried down deep, or at least, like the Phantom, perform one redeeming act of goodness before he dies or something. :} (Hey, there is usually a death or near-death scene in all Beauty and the Beast stories, and we all know how Rumpelstiltskin's original story ended!)  The episode with August ("The Return") gave us an idea of what Rumpel was planning once he found his son again, and it was a good thing!  Way to go, August. :(  Hopefully you didn't ruin that!  Now Mr. Gold will never want to open up again!

There are other scenes and instances throughout the series that give examples of love, the importance of family, and other positive messages.  I'll just touch on one more.

I have to say that, while I'm not a big fan of Snow and Charming's Storybrooke characters, I did enjoy most of their fairy tale scenes.  One of my favorite Prince Charming parts is in this scene HERE.  (Warning:  Charming gets hit with an arrow in the shoulder and Snow White gets punched in the face by a guard in this clip, just so you're forewarned.  Oh, and there's some kissing, too.) ;)

I love this scene for its portrayal of sacrificial love.  In this episode, Snow White has taken a potion that has made her forget Prince Charming (aka James) because he is being forced to marry someone else.  As a result, the void in her heart has been filled with a determined vengeance to kill the Evil Queen.  She gets a bow and arrow from Rumpelstiltskin that is guaranteed to find its target.  The downside to the deal (that Snow doesn't know about in her enchanted, dark state) is that the person who shoots the arrow will become like whatever they shoot, meaning that Snow White will become as evil as the Queen.

Throughout the episode, Charming tries to convince Snow that this isn't the way to solve things, but she won't listen (especially since she can't even remember who he is).  He even tries kissing her, since he's been told that true love's kiss will break her spell.  Snow responds by knocking him out and tying him up.  So, in a last-ditch effort to save her from herself (after Jiminy Cricket frees him), James jumps in front of the arrow so that it hits him instead of the Queen.

Granted, the whole concept is a bit dark (which is pretty typical of this series), but James' sacrificial love in this scene reminds me of Christ's love for us.  He died so that we could be free from darkness and sin, taking the punishment that should have been ours.  And He did it "while we were yet sinners" (Rom. 5:8).  One of the things that is the most touching about this scene for me is the fact that James is doing all of this for Snow when she doesn't even remember him or care that he's alive.  How many of us would be willing to do such a thing for someone that didn't even care?  Yet that is exactly what Christ did for us on the cross.

It's just a shame that Mary Margaret and David's love in Storybrooke doesn't illustrate the same beautiful message. :(

Okay, I've gone on long enough!  Time for the summary.

Positives:  Excellent acting and writing (for the most part...aside from most of  David and Mary Margaret's Storybrooke scenes...although I guess that's more the morality behind the writing, not the writing itself or the acting!); examples of self sacrifice, bravery, loyalty, love, and the importance of family and people in one's life; bad or impatient choices are shown to have bad consequences ("All magic comes with a price, Dearie!"); the overlying message is hope, and that good will triumph over evil

Negatives:  Sex before marriage is implied and excused (in the modern part of the TV series); an extra-marital affair is portrayed as something acceptable because the characters have "true love" (and are actually married to each other, even though they don't remember it); some swearing; examples of selfishness, hatred, and self-seeking motives, often portrayed in dark or violent ways (most of these show the folly of doing things this way, but still might be a bit much for some); murders are often witnessed, and while not usually done realistically are still hard to watch (for example, the Queen removing characters' hearts in a non-bloody, magical fashion or one man losing his head-literally-and living through the experience); on that note, one character ends up unknowingly causing the demise of her love interest due to a full moon and the wrong information in an absolutely heartrending scene; lots of magic (kind of necessary for this type of a story, but I know it's offensive to some), some Disney-ish, some a bit Harry Potteresque (I'm assuming...I've never seen any of the HP movies); several revealing outfits, especially as worn by the Evil Queen; many scenes would be too scary or dark for younger viewers.

Would I Recommend It?  I'd have to say that this is not a series I would be able to fully recommend.    Sadly, good acting and a few really great scenes do not erase all of the other problems.  And as much as I love the Rumpelstiltskin and Belle story, I realize that Rumpel is not the type of guy a girl should look for if she wants a healthy, loving relationship. ;)  As I mentioned in my other post, this sort of story line works great for books and movies, but it's not so great in real life.  He's definitely more of an Erik than a Mr. Knightley, let's just put it that way. ;)

I appreciate the fact that they haven't put as much content into this show as they could have (no explicit scenes and fairly low-key swearing).  Honestly, compared to much of the mainstream media out there, this show would be considered pretty clean.  However, I still wish it was cleaner and not as dark, especially since it could have been a great family show with the fairy tale aspect.  It really has some great things going for it!  It's so fun to see all of the fairy tale characters we know and love as living, breathing people.  The writers have also done a spectacular job of intertwining all of these well-known tales together.  The Disney references sprinkled throughout the show are an extra bonus for me.  I also appreciate that the overall theme of OUAT is hope, and the fact that good will eventually prevail, even when things seem at their darkest.  As a believer, I can find many spiritual parallels to that message.  But I can't excuse the dark themes that pervade much of the series, the rationale that true love is more important than marital commitment, and the attitude that sex before marriage is normal and expected.  So this one has to be an unfortunate no in general.  I think that many parts of the show would be appropriate for adults or older teens with parental involvement, but I would definitely not recommend this series for children.

Plugged In's reviews on TV shows are not nearly as detailed, but I did go ahead and put a link to their Once Upon a Time review HERE, just in case you'd like to check it out.

And just one last fun little thing I recently discovered.  Did you know that Cogsworth and Lumiere made a cameo appearance in "Once Upon a Time"?

Check out the picture'll have to click on it so that you can see it clearly.  If you look on little side table behind Rumpelstiltskin (to the right of the picture), you'll see a candelabra and a mantle clock sitting next to each other...

...just like Cogsworth and Lumiere did in the Disney movie (when Maurice first came to the castle).  The order is backwards, but it's a fun little sneaky tribute to the Disney Beast's trusty sidekicks.  There are all sorts of fun little surprises like this hidden throughout the series.

Okay, I'm done with this post now...really...I promise. ;)

I hoped you enjoyed this series of posts.  I certainly did. ;)  I've found that typing everything out helps me work through my thoughts on things I've seen...without driving my hubby crazy!  (It took me about 2 days to work through "Skin Deep"...and Hubby just wasn't interested in listening to random thoughts and factoids about Once Upon a Time for that long.) ;)

As always, comments are welcome.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this series, too. :)

P.S.  By the way, thanks for 140 followers!!!  Eep! :D


Mickey's Girl said...

Have you seen Ribbet? It's made by Picnik, just like Picnik and ithe premium options are free for a limited time. Just in case you wanted your old collage options back. ;)


beastsbelle said...

Thank you so much, Mickey's Girl! I hadn't heard of this, and it's like having Picnik again! :D

Mickey's Girl said...

You're welcome! :)

Ellie said...

Are you still keeping up with the show? What do you think of the current season?

beastsbelle said...

Oy...that's a hard question to answer in a comment. I actually have a post in draft with some of my thoughts on Season 2. I kind of have a "love/hate" relationship with the show right now. I've invested in the characters and want to know what's going to happen to them, but I don't appreciate some of the story and content choices they've made along the way. :(

I'm kind of keeping up with it just because there are some similarities between OUAT and the books I'm working on, so I want to make sure I'm not "copying" them without realizing it. :{

I will say that I'm liking this portion of Season 3 much better than Season 2 and some of Season 3's beginning.

Could I recommend it with a clear conscience? No.

Maybe I'll do another post about OUAT and share some of my thoughts in the future. :)

Jessica said...

Have you continued to watch the show? If so, I am sure the end of the first half of season 4 had to really hurt you. lol I only started watching the show recently when I found it on Netflix... and I am ashamed (?) to admit I wound up binge watching it first there, then Youtube, and finally ABC's station so that I am caught up on the latest. I liked Fairytales okay, but never thought I would like a show about them, until I saw OUAT.

I hear you on the morality issues. The show is definitely not for children. However, older teens and adults could really have some good, deep conversations on it. Like the whole Mary Margarette/Charming scenario in season 1. Because the Queen put them into a false life, they had no idea who they were, yet somehow they both knew that the life they were living was somehow off. I too did not appreciate the affair the two were having. OTOH, since they really were married, any relationship Charming had with Katherine would have been an affair, even though he didn't know it. The story is very complex and I think it did a good job of showing the conflict the characters were having with themselves by being in a situation they somehow knew was wrong, but didn't know why. There was a lot of wavering back and forth on it.

One of the things I have enjoyed the most about the show has been all the little subtle (And sometimes not so subtle) nods to Disney... hidden Mickeys and all. :) The writing and the acting is so very tight. It's no wonder the show is one of the highest rated currently on TV.

I also recently watched LOST on Netflix because I had not seen it before I had heard that there are a lot of aspects of OUAT in it. For one thing, they share many of the same characters. After watching LOST I was better able to appreciate Emelie de Ravin as an actress. Some examples are the Apollo candy bars Henry eats, were first featured in LOST. The same with the Macutcheon liquor. Those bottles come up time-to-time in OUAT. The 108 address of Regina's home comes from the LOST show as does the significance of the clock tower 8:15 time. While LOST does have a lot of Bible references in it, it is definitely not a Christian show and has numerous sexual references, language, etc. Not a show I could recommend on a moral stand point.

Anyway, if you do still watch the OUAT show, know you are not the only one who could talk for hours on it. lol

beastsbelle said...

Hi Jessica! Thanks for stopping by. I loved reading through your comment. :)

There are so many things I love about Once Upon a Time, but I did actually make the decision to stop watching it this season. It was a tough choice. I mean, Season Four had Frozen characters!! It even had an episode with Belle and Anna together! It should have been the perfect season for me! ;)

I've just been feeling really frustrated with some of the storylines and convicted about some of the content. Like you, I love the clever references to Disney and the interesting way they weave the tales together. At the same time, I'm frustrated by the murky moral ambiguity that seems to be more and more prevalent as the show progresses. I get that we need to have flawed good guys and sympathetic bad guys, but I think sometimes the writers take it a bit too far. It's encouraging that usually by the end of the season, most of the characters make the right choices. I just get so frustrated and exhausted wading through the season until that resolution.

And yes, I'll admit it. I've had a really hard time with the direction they're going with Rumple right now. On the one hand, I'm glad Belle is no longer deluding herself or clueless to his true nature, but I'm just really frustrated with the fact that he's shown so much growth, yet now it seems like he's back to square one. I do understand that that happens in real life a lot of times, but it's just painful to watch.

I think the hardest thing for me is that they make the "bad guys" so likable at times that you get invested in them, so it's so painful to see them reverting to their old ways. I feel like many of the characters are lacking integrity. I don't mind flawed characters, but I enjoy stories where they make mistakes and learn from them. I want someone to look up to, to root for.

I guess it doesn't help that so much of the drama feels like it's just there because they need another point of conflict. Watching Rumple right now is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. I just can't do it anymore. :(

Whew, I didn't mean to go on for so long. I really want to love this show, but I feel like I just have to "let it go". ;) There are other more uplifting things I'd like to focus on instead.