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Tim Phillipps

BIG READ: ONCE UPON A TIME is Fall TV’s Biggest New Drama Hit

Published December 9, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome

Modern fairy tale series Once Upon a Time is American TV’s biggest new fall drama, putting the fictional town of Storybrooke, Maine, on the map. Normally played by Moncton Street in the village of Steveston, pieces of Storybrooke can pop up anywhere in the Vancouver area from Fort Langley to New Westminster to North Vancouver. For its October 23rd debut, the freshman show commanded an amazing 13 million American viewers and the next three episodes stayed steady at 11 milliion. On the American Thanksgiving weekend, an episode held its own against Sunday night football. And while last Sunday’s Prince Charming episode marked a series low, the hashtag #OnceUponaTime topped worldwide trending on Twitter during the broadcast. So it’s much more than a family show — the 18-49 demos are great too. Tune in this Sunday for the Fall Finale.

Created by Lost writers Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, Once Upon a Time airs on ABC, whose Disney parent company owns the rights to most of the world’s fairy tales. That’s essential since the show mixes reality and fantasy from present-day-but-frozen-in-time Storybrooke to flashbacks of a fairy tale world lost when the Evil Queen cursed all the fairy tale characters to spend their lives in the real world without getting happy endings or even knowing their true identities. Prince Charming (Josh Dallas of Thor) and Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin of Big Love)’s daughter Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison of House) has grown up in the real world without knowing her fairy tale parents. When Henry (Jared Gilmore), the son Emma gave up for adoption a decade earlier, finds her and begs her to come back with him to Storybrooke to break the curse. things start to change — but not too quickly we hope.

In a delicious twist, the Evil Queen happens to be Henry’s adoptive mother and Storybrooke mayor Regina (Lana Parrilla) in the real world, someone who does not want Henry’s real mother in town at all. I have watched a few Regina vs Emma confrontations being filmed already, the latest in an epic windstorm at Garry’s Point in Steveston last month. Henry’s castle had been damaged and I’m not alone in suspecting Regina is behind it. Be warned: there are mild to medium spoilers throughout this post.

I wrote about the filming of the Once Upon a Time pilot and Evil Queen-centric second episode for my YVRShoots series in the summer. I’ve since learned more about how the fairy tale world scenes are created using revolutionary Z.E.U.S. visual effects technology. If you looked through the camera lense or on the director/producer monitors during filming of the wedding of Prince Charming to Snow White in the pilot, you’d have seen a detailed ballroom wedding scene rendered in real time while elaborately-costumed Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin performed on a mostly empty green screen stage with costumed extras. Read More »BIG READ: ONCE UPON A TIME is Fall TV’s Biggest New Drama Hit