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Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season(TV) (2012-2013)
Emma Swan gets the surprise of her life when Henry, the son she gave up 10 years ago, arrives on her doorstep. Returning the boy to his adoptive mother becomes complicated when Henry reveals a stunning theory to Emma. Everyone in Storybrooke, Maine is a fairytale character under a curse, and Emma - as the long lost daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming - is the one who can save them all. The story unfolds; interweaving scenes of the drama in the sleepy New England town and the the inhabitants' past lives in the world of fairy tales. The timeless battle of good vs evil is ready to begin again.
For more about Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season and the Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray release, see Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on August 14, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Lana Parrilla, Jamie Dornan, Josh Dallas, Jennifer Morrison, Jared S. Gilmore
Director: Victor Nelli Jr.
» See full cast & crew
Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review
The series is still stuck in a rut. The second season AV presentation is not...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, August 14, 2013
When last we left Storybrooke, Maine, Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) had broken the curse that caused the residents to forget their true fairytale identities, her parents Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) were reunited, young Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) had been brought back from the brink of death, and evil queen Regina (Lana Parrilla) and Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) were vying for control of... well, everything. As Season Two begins, magic has begun seeping into the real world, and a whole new breed of curse -- and string of foes, ne'er-do-wells and rogues -- are thrust into the mix. Emma isn't alone in her fight, though, and soon draws more allies to her side, standing among them a man who could be friend or foe: Killian Jones (Colin O'Donoghue), better known by his more colorful moniker, Captain Hook. To offer much more would require a near-endless unraveling of an at-times infuriatingly dense plot; one that's rather digestible when taken in episode by episode, but one that remains unmistakably, and I'd argue unnecessarily, convoluted.
(Spoiler alert: The following review assumes that the reader is familiar with Season One of Once Upon a Time. If you have yet to finish Season One, proceed at your own risk. A review of the first season Blu-ray set can be found here.)
Fortunately for ABC, series addiction is a vicious monster, as any fan of sprawling fantasy, sci-fi or supernatural television shows will attest. And it's an addiction that isn't easily shaken. With a solid viewership whittled out from the masses, Once Upon a Time is charging down a path blazed by Lost and many others before it, cranking out delicious mystery after delicious mystery, tasty cliffhanger after tasty cliffhanger, until said viewership is happy with whatever crumbs -- whatever answers and resolutions -- fall from the series table. Hopping into Once Upon a Time mid-season would bewilder and eventually lose most any newcomer, while issues that would be apparent to anyone objectively approaching the show will be completely overlooked by those caught up in the high of each new episode. Thankfully, the characters fans fell in love with from Day One have plenty to offer and plenty more to do this season, even if some of it is weirdly innocuous. The return of the heroes and villains' memories is a boon for the series, and much to their great credit, the writers plow ahead where many others would not. (Most shows would have delayed reversing the curse for several seasons, if not the very end of the series.) Few stones are left unturned, almost every take on an iconic character or fairytale is at least an interesting one, and Fairytale Land is finally given a bit more to do than appear via flashback. Not that the series' patent-pending flashbacks are going anywhere.
Season Two may as well be declared the season of Rumpelstiltskin and Hook, though, no matter how little screentime the charming cutthroat pirate captain is initially afforded. The once and future mortal enemy of the Pan pillages and razes every scene he graces, claiming each one as his own. Scratch that. O'Donoghue eventually steals episodes by the shipload, and practically commandeers the entire series by Season Two's Jolly Roger endgame. Not that anyone should complain. With Snow, Charming and Emma losing much of their edge over the course of a season already mired in tear-stained melodrama, Hook is exactly what the show needed, and exactly what keeps the second season as agile and magnetic as it is... well, when it's at its best. How far-reaching is his spell? Killian's legion of fans -- who call themselves, I kid you not, Hookers -- are insatiable, a reality that's reflected by season's end when it's abundantly clear the good captain isn't going anywhere. Carlyle's Rumpelstiltskin plays a key role in that regard as well, regularly swiping the Crown of Villains from Parrilla's Regina and Barbara Hershey's Queen of Hearts. And he does so by transforming his intriguingly complex sorcerer into a creature that's far more fascinating a baddie than first suspected. Granted, the many, many, many threads involved in the ensuing schemes tend to tangle the already tangled fairytale saga further, but the wicked mysteries and revelations that await those patient enough to follow along are well worth the investment.
On the unfortunate flipside of that dastardly devilish coin is an ever-growing cast of characters, many of whom are reduced to guest-of-the-week appearances. (The hit or miss performances that follow aren't really the problem either, even though there are some amazing hits and some awful, just awful misses.) Fans with a healthy knowledge of fairytales and their Walt Disney incarnations will find Once Upon a Time to be a breezy tour of childhood memories, beloved animated movies and well-known classics. Alas, the series relies too heavily on prior encounters with its characters and stories, staging twists and turns that are only as crafty, cunning and clear as each viewer's memory of the traditional elements being drawn upon. Yes, it's a necessary evil to some degree, and yes, I'd complain just as adamantly if episodes veered off into wastelands of exposition. But the series isn't nearly as intricate as it might seem, calling upon the imagination to do the heavy lifting the writers' room can't or won't. It's a storytelling shortcut most often found in comic books, and I can't imagine trying to leap aboard Once Upon a Time without watching it from the very start. And as seasons mount and audiences naturally dwindle, it begs questions of accessibility and sustainability no writers' room enjoys entertaining. The result? These shortcuts undermine not only the ongoing mythos and the unfolding saga, but the series' ability to live on and evolve. Once Upon a Time is being written into a very small corner and neither the talent in front of or behind the camera seems able or willing to pry it out.
Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
Once Upon a Time's flat, cartoony green-screened vistas and hiss-worthy CG doesn't hold up well under high definition scrutiny, but that's about the only criticism that can be leveled at Disney's hook-sharp 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation. The second season offers a wintry twenty-two episodes, with crisp whites and ominous blacks aplenty, and lovely skintones that seem to defy the bleakness of the palette. Deadly primaries continually pierce the chilly Storybrooke air, though, and visceral fairytale reds are out for blood. Literally. Detail is also excellent... minus shots that are slathered in CG that is, which tend to be softer, noisier and flatter than everything before and after. Edges are precise enough to slice a hair down the center, fine textures are so well-resolved that closeups become the stuff of legend, and delineation is quite good, even though minor crush creeps in from time to time. Moreover, significant macroblocking and banding are almost nowhere to be found (insert obligatory jab at the exception: the series' rickety CG), aliasing and ringing are held at bay, and little else disrupts the otherwise striking proceedings. It all comes together to even best its first season counterpart, making for a most charming followup presentation.
Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Disney's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is better than its predecessor too, thanks to more aggressive sound design and more engaging rear speaker activity. A few scenes are still more front-heavy than they could or should be, but they're very much the exception rather than the rule. Storybrooke's hospitals, city streets and town docks are supported by a welcome boost in ambience, as are the fairytales' forests, castles and kingdoms, and directionality is more involving. (Even if it shoots a tad wide on occasion.) LFE output is more assertive as well, with more startling thooms and magic booms. It helps that Season Two is more intense than Season One, but no matter the cause, the result is more exciting. All the while, Dialogue remains clean, intelligible and convincingly grounded throughout, dynamics are notable (just not extraordinary), and the soundfield is immersive enough to make the entire experience a reasonably compelling one. The Complete Second Season doesn't offer a groundbreaking AV presentation, but it doesn't disappoint either.
Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Once Upon a Time is meaner and... meaner in its second season. Leaner, though, it is not. In spite of greater focus, more riveting villainy, and a few welcome changes, Season Two is still overcrowded, convoluted and prone to awful bouts of CG, while its heroes, chief among them Snow, Charming and Emma, can't compete with the likes of Rumpelstiltskin and Captain Hook. Storybrooke is a villain's paradise, or at the very least a rogue's showcase. Season Three looks to be a season of Neverland nights, so here's hoping the writers' room can take the series to more thrilling, sharply penned worlds than these. Disney's Blu-ray release is much better, with a terrific video presentation, a solid DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, and a decent selection of special features. Is The Complete Second Season better than the First? As a Blu-ray release, you bet. As a season of a problematic show? In some ways yes, in some ways no.
Once Upon a Time: Other Seasons
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Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray (Updated) - May 16, 2013
Walt Disney Home Entertainment has officially announced and detailed the Blu-ray release of Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season. The sophomore season of the popular ABC fantasy series stars Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Dallas, Lana Parrilla, ...
• $15 Off Coupon for Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season - October 20, 2012
While ABC Studios has not set the official home video release date for Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season, Amazon is currently offering a special $15 coupon to be used towards the Season's pre-order listing. This is so far the biggest discount coupon ...
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