Published July 30th on Vancouver is Awesome
How big a hit is Once Upon a Time? The rookie fairy tale series was American TV’s second biggest drama hit (in the prized 18-49 demo) last season, below veteran Grey’s Anatomy but above veteran NCIS. And that’s put the fictional town of Storybrooke, Maine, on the map. Filmed in metro Vancouver, pieces of Storybrooke can pop up anywhere from Steveston to North Vancouver to New Westminster to Fort Langley, but Main Street is usually Moncton Street in the village of Steveston and sometimes Glover Road in the village of Fort Langley, 50 kilometres away.
In last season’s jam-packed finale, a couple of things happened: the curse was broken so all the fairy tale characters trapped in Storybrooke for 28 years now know who they really are and soon after, magic swept through the town courtesy of Rumplestiltskin. And what a mess that magic has made in season two, as we see from on-location shoots in Steveston last week and Fort Langley the week before for episode two. Crew turned two blocks of Moncton Street in Steveton into a disaster zone, with a big green-screen hole in the Storybrooke Hardware & Paint sign, uprooted ashphalt, overturned and smashed-up cars, a downed telephone pole, blown-out windows, and the hull of a boat near the main intersection. Over on Glover Road in Fort Langley, the windows in the Storybrooke Town Hall (Community Centre) were boarded up, posters of The Missing covered the town boards, a fire truck and fire fighters were on hand and the populace was in relief mode handing out blankets, bottles of water and toilet paper.
Fortunately, fans in both locations got to see main cast alive and well amid the destruction and to meet them too, with a couple of big exceptions: Ginnifer Goodwin’s Snow White and Jennifer Morrison’s Emma Swan are nowhere to be found in Storybrooke. What’s happened to them?You can bet Josh Dallas’s Prince Charming is looking for his loved ones. Dallas was on set in both Steveston and Fort Langley, acting a lot more like take-charge Charming than wishy-washy David now that the curse is broken. Every scene seemed to be of him running: either down Main Street chasing a magic hat or running to the Storybrooke Town Hall to lead a charge of fairy tale characters dressed for the real world. The Seven Dwarfs — bounding through the scene with their pickaxes — made me laugh each time ( I wish I could have photographed them in action).
Lana Parrilla’s Evil Queen is another fan favourite, especially with young girls. Here she is (below) coming off the destroyed Main Street set in Steveston with Lee Arenberg’s Grumpy of the Seven Dwarfs. The actors are great friends; their characters are not. Once Upon a Time’s new security guard Rick immediately set up a photo op with fans, some of whom raced past me to get to the Evil Queen. Rick had to quietly admonish them and change the setup for the next meet-and-greet to an orderly line. Rick, hired for last season’s finale shoot in Steveston, is a great big, intimidating guy for those deemed unwelcome but couldn’t be friendlier with the fans. At these big public shoots in Steveston and Fort Langley, he and crew arrange photo ops and signings for fans with cast whenever they’re on a break from filming. I don’t know how Once Upon a Time can film so many scenes and manage the hundreds of fans who flock to their Storybrooke sets all day and evening long
So what of Rumplestiltskin? Tbe one responsible for bringing magic to Storybrooke. I overheard savvy teen fans in Steveston calling him out: “This is all his fault.” Robert Carlyle spent last Tuesday afternoon and evening inside Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer filming scenes first with Lana Parrilla and then with Josh Dallas. Carlyle then met with fans waiting outside on his way to and from set. Next to me, a teen holding a skateboard phoned his Mom to tell her Carlyle was on set. I asked why he didn’t mention Charming? “Oh she’s in love with Mr. Gold. I tell her he’s ‘hideous,'” he said with a laugh.
I mis-timed seeing Robert Carlyle in Steveston but did catch another fan favourite, Jared Gilmore’s young Henry, in Fort Langley, along with Meghan Ory’s Ruby/Red Riding Hood (with blankets), Raphel Sbarge’s Archie/Jiminy Cricket (with a clipboard), Tony Amendola’s Gepetto, Keegan Connor Tracy’s Blue Fairy and Beverley Elliott’s Granny in the crowd gathered at the Storybrooke Town Hall.
And for the first time, I spotted David Anders in the mix, photographed next to Lee Arenberg. We’ll find out who Anders’s fairy tale character is this season.
In Steveston, fans got an unexpected treat when Sebastian Stan arrived on set for a scene of him running from Charming, who believes the Mad Hatter has information on the whereabouts of his family, the missing Snow White and Emma Swan.
With the town a disaster zone and so many missing, it seems “Happily Ever After” remains elusive for our friends in Storybrooke, except perhaps off screen. Jennifer Morrison and Sebastian Stan (Emma Swan and the Mad Hatter) recently went public with their relationship, following the example set by Morrison’s TV parents Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas (Snow White and Prince Charming), who’ve been together for months, but didn’t take their romance public until April.
Maybe that Singlebrooke online dating service (gag reel) shown at Comic-Con really works.
Once Upon a Time’s season two premiere airs Sunday, September 30th, at 8 p.m. on ABC in the U.S. and at 7 p.m. on CTV in Canada.