I think cinema, movies, and magic have always been closely associated. The very earliest people who made films were magicians. -Francis Ford Coppola
It was a chance viewing of a random episode of Once Upon a Time that started it all. We were getting ready to leave Lynnette’s parents’ house in Vegas and I turned the tv on. Once Upon a Time was on and so were Frozen’s Anna and Elsa. “Leave it!” Madison shouted when I cued up the tv guide. OK, then. So without any other context (we had never seen a single episode of the show despite the urging of friends and family who were in on it from the start), we sat through the remainder of the episode which featured I think Captain Hook, Kristoff, and Dr. Cameron from House. They were set to be drowned and someone made an allusion to a mermaid or fairy or something. There was also some urgent talk about a curse. I didn’t give it a second thought.
And then Madison and I were home alone one day and I didn’t want to watch Pokemon and she didn’t want to watch Law and Order, so we agreed to start Once Upon a Time on Netflix. We blew through four episodes that day before getting Lynnette in on it. Now? We watch between three and four episodes a night before bed. It would be more, but one of us has to work in the morning. Boo!
Last night was the most fun we’ve had as a family with our new tradition. We hit an episode featuring Mulan. She’s always been one of Mad’s favorites – there was a time in her life when she watched the movie constantly – and Mad made Lynnette and I both laugh when one of the characters actually called her character “Mulan.” Madison lifted her right leg and shook it vigorously, an attempt to expend her excitement. Lynnette also enjoyed seeing Mulan (Jamie Chung) appear on-screen so she could say “Daddy likes Mulan, too…because she’s Chinese.”
Once Upon a Time is the first show that all three of us actually want to watch together. Most times, it’s 2-out-of-3, or some compromise, or someone’s turn. One of the best parts of our binge-watching is observing Madison learn the beats of television shows. She is starting to understand when a commercial is coming. Though she does not have a clock, she feels when the show is in its second half, and holds her breath, hoping the name BRIAN WANKUM doesn’t appear on the screen, indicating the end of the episode. Sometimes, we can hear her whisper Please don’t be over or C’monC’monC’mon.
The absolute best part, though, is after the third episode, Madison and I quickly hold Lynnette’s glasses to her face. If she takes them off, that means she’s going to bed. It only stands to reason that if she can’t take her glasses off, she can’t go to bed, and we can watch another episode. The first time I did this, Lynnette actually laughed out loud. “That’s terrible,” Lynnette said. But she watched another episode, so it couldn’t have been that terrible.
We just started season 2, so no spoilers, OK? The show isn’t great by any means, but it checks off a lot of boxes on the list of personal preferences: teams, literary allusions, pop culture references, Jamie Chung, and it’s basically a fairy-tale version of Lost. Also, Once Upon a Time features just a staggering amount of good-looking people. I could never be on the show because I am male, but cannot grow stubble and do not own a single leather jacket. Sigh. On the female side, well, let’s just say Storybrooke, Maine has the highest hot women-to-guy ratio this side of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Not complaining, just saying.