• Sigrid Ellis

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    Sigrid Ellis is co-editor of the Hugo-nominated Queers Dig Time Lords and Chicks Dig Comics anthologies. She edits the best-selling Pretty Deadly from Image Comics. She is the flash-fiction editor of Queers Destroy Science Fiction, from Lightspeed Press. She edited the Hugo-nominated Apex Magazine for 2014. She lives with her partner, their two homeschooled children, her partner’s boyfriend, and a host of vertebrate and invertebrate pets in Saint Paul, MN.
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Once Upon a Time season three begins

No spoilers for plot of character development. Some talk of costumes and acting choices.

There are some shows I watch where I get the strong impression — from interviews, promotional materials, and the text of the episodes themselves — that the show have a clear vision of what it means to do, and is executed by a united creative team. Sherlock is a great example of this sort of thing. In interviews with the writers, actors, and other creative staff, everyone seems to be more-or-less on the same page. And the show more-or-less seems to come off as moving in a clear direction.

Downton Abbey is another show that I feel knows what it wants and where is it headed. Sometimes where it wants to go is RIDICULOUS (Pamuk, I am looking at you,) but the show OPENS with the sinking of the Titanic. Never let it be said that Downton lacks scope and ambition.

And then there are shows like Glee, or Once Upon a Time.

These shows, you can tell they are made by committee. In interviews the cast, costume designers, writers, and everyone else, they say slightly different things. Candid video of cast members at conventions has them saying things that are not supported by showrunner interviews. Everyone involved has the version of the show that they are working on, whatever the writer intended for a scene.

I think of this as the Aliens vs. Alien Resurrection conundrum. James Cameron’s Aliens is a straight-line blast of a movie. It’s very nearly John-Carpenter-esque in its focus and momentum. Alien Resurrection contains everything a sci-fi action flick might desire in its secret heart. Great actors. A solid set-up. A budget. And it just … doesn’t emerge. You can see the seams, you can see places and moments in which everyone involved was working on a slightly different movie, and the whole thing never comes together.

I find that fascinating.

Once Upon a Time has a lot going on in this first episode of season three. A lot. It … it’s already kind of a hot mess. But I am enrapt. I want to see what happens. I want to follow the version of the show that a handful of the creators involved are CLEARLY making, the version that plays inside my head.

I cannot in any sort of conscience recommend OUaT to anyone. I just can’t. But I expect I will enjoy it anyway.

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