This is a tricky one. On one hand, this season of Once Upon a Time is actually ten times better than the series has been for the last few years. On the other hand, you got rid of 66% of the beloved cast, and there are people that are very upset. That being said, the ratings are in the toilet. Can Once Upon a Time recover from this? I don’t know. I’ve seen it done before. Sometimes, fan favorites, regardless of how crappy their numbers are, get the renewal anyway. This will come down to if ABC really wants to invest. Of course, with the graveyard slot it, seems like the network’s faith in the fairytale drama is fading.
The material the Once Upon a Time writers have is great; the characters they are developing have a lot of potential. The new actors that have come on board this season are doing an excellent job. The series’ latest episode, which focused on the new characters, was actually pretty well written.
The idea that Rapunzel turns into Lady Tremaine and showing why she has such an animosity towards one daughter…This was good stuff. This was season-one good. Had this been its own show without the blanket of Once Upon a Time, it may have been the spin-off that could have worked — unlike the major failure that was Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. But the creative team didn’t do that; they tried to continue on with a show that is completely different, yet parading around with the same name. And viewers are upset.
Now, this can work in some situations. Grey’s Anatomy, for example, has four regulars that have been around from the get-go but continuously brings on new players. It’s an ensemble show similar to Once Upon a Time; however, Shonda Rhimes didn’t axe 66% of her cast in one go. She did it very slowly by gradually bringing on new characters… and killing off fan favorites. She made it work. Seriously, who thought that show would survive the death of McDreamy?
So, this kind of shake-up can work — but not by totally axing your current group and bringing in new blood. There continue to be a lot of people who are upset with this change. Will that make a difference? Yeah. The numbers speak for themselves.
Personally, I don’t see Once Upon a Time getting another season, which sucks because it could have actually been pretty good. Friday’s episode was an example of that. They managed to produce an episode that was entertaining, well-versed, and had a spin that was out there without fan-favorite Lana Parrilla — I know, insane.
Historically, the episodes without much Lana have been total crap, and I’ve mentioned my thoughts on that before. BUT this one wasn’t. I was pleasantly surprised by that.
Because this isn’t the same show. Nobody is trying to force Captain Swan down your throats in lieu of actual storylines. Instead, the writers are giving viewers good storylines. They had it in them. These are the same people that turned out the start of the series.
Decisions regarding Once Upon a Time‘s fate will probably not be official until Upfronts. Until then, Rebecca Mader is back next week for the winter finale, to kick ass with her sister.
Once Upon a Time winter finale airs Friday, December 15 at 8:00PM on ABC.