'Once Upon A Time' gets 'Lost' in a fairy tale

Fans can look for mysterious clues in this series, too


Maybe it was the hope that show creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (and moderator David Lindelof) might finally explain how polar bears got onto a tropical island, but many of the fans present for the "Once Upon A Time" presentation at Comic-Con seemed more interest in dwelling in the past than embracing a new TV series.


While reaction to the screening of "Once Upon A Time" was warm, there were certainly a few fanboys who whipped out their cell phones to amuse themselves rather than dive into the pilot, which introduces the idea of what happens when fairy tale characters are, through the curse of an evil witch, stuck living out mundane lives in small town Maine. The pilot was solid but, if fairy tales make you groan or are just too Disney-ingrained for your taste, it's likely a hard sell. The "real life" fates of characters like Snow White and the evil witch are certainly clever (and performances are strong across the board, especially from Lana Parrilla ("24"), Jennifer Morrison ("House") and Robert Carlyle ("The Full Monty"), even the clever little touches (a bowl of apples on the modern-day evil witch's table, for example) are perhaps already too familiar. For the fanboy-heavy audience, though, fairy tales (even by the "Lost" guys) may have been just a little too girly. Blame Disney princesses.


After the screening, the creators discussed how the project came after they were briefly unemployed following "Felicity"'s cancelation. "Our agent said, 'you need a new sample.' And we started to think about fairy tales. We liked them, and they're like a lottery ticket. You buy them and you think your life will change," said Kitsis.


The pair didn't bristle (too much) when several fans mentioned similar TV and comic book projects that cover the same terrain, including the 2000 miniseries "The 10th Kingdom. "As we said, we had this idea from 2002 and to be fair, I never saw the 2000 miniseries, but now I want to to see what I can steal from it," Kitsis joked. 


The creators both praised Lindelof, Kitsis joking, "[He] helped us out of an eight year writer's block and got us out of crying on his sofa that we had no ideas left."


It seemed that playing fairy tale characters was an easy sell for the cast. "I told my agent, 'I'll take it,'" recalled Ginnifer Goodwin. "And he said, you need to read it. And I said, seriously, I'll take it. It really didn't take much.


Morrison, who plays Snow White and Prince Charming's daughter, doesn't get to be part of the show's flashbacks to fairy tale land, but that doesn't mean she doesn't like the costumes. "I'm jealous," she said. "It would be fun to wear the pretty outfits. but It's exciting to play a character who's brand new, a new fairy tale character."


While the creators (and Lindelof) said they wouldn't answer "Lost" questions, they did offer an enticing draw for the new show. "We hope this is a show you can watch and relax and enjoy, but if you're looking we want to put out things there for you to find."


Kitsis added, "You can either get into your slippers or get out your magnifying glass." 


But don't expect any huge "Lost"-like jumps out of the fairty tale arena. Prince Charming (and his modern version) are here to stay. "One of the great things is everyone knows these stories, and that's why they keep getting told," Horowitz explained.


Kitsis added the more practical reality:  "That, and they're public domain."  

Liane Bonin Starr is an author, screenwriter and former writer for EW.com. Her byline has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Variety and a lot of other places. Her last book was called "a scandalously catty, guilty pleasure" by Jane magazine. Expect the same from Starr Raving.