So now that we’re up to Thanksgiving break and episode eight with Once Upon a Time’s fourth season, I feel like I’ve got a good enough handle on it to share some thoughts. Mostly, I’ll be writing this short review for people who may be holding off watching this season because of its chillier aspects. But those of you who have been watching through can feel free to weigh in in the comments.
For those of you who have been holding back: Don’t.
The show is still worth watching. We’ve gotten a decent amount of character development across the board, and the series maintains its ability to surprise you. The writers have done their best to keep the vibrancy of the OUAT world alive.
And they’ve actually done an okay job at writing Frozen in, too.
The dialogue for everyone in Arendelle is impeccable. I could easily believe that they had pulled screenwriters from the movie itself to develop it, though it doesn’t appear that they have. Connections have been created between the sisters and established OUAT characters that, while sudden, are believable, and the plot of the season revolves around much more than Elsa’s issues.
That said, Frozen in OUAT is weird.
Even eight episodes in, the feel of this combo isn’t a Reese’s chocolate/peanut butter perfect meld. It’s more like a peanut butter and banana sandwich: some people can’t get enough of it, some people hate it, and the majority of us enjoy a few squishy bites but still can’t get the thought out of our head that something is wrong here.
Personally, I think it’s because they’ve done too good a job writing the Frozen world.
Everything is exactly the same, except Olaf (who blessedly doesn’t exist in this version). Sven the reindeer cavorts with Kristoff in our flashbacks to Arendelle. Anna speaks like Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on Thirty, constantly. Elsa is still wearing that blue ice dress, despite the fact that her wardrobe as queen clearly must consist of other outfits. Even the rock trolls have been CGI’d in.
It’s impressive, but it’s not what OUAT does.
The fun of OUAT, the heart of its selling points, is that it takes the fairy tale characters Disney has made most popular and twists them into living, breathing people with various motivations and histories beyond those of the Disney-verse. Every other character in the show is his or her own person, clearly separate from the heroines, heroes, and villains of the animated movies.
Elsa and Anna, however, are just Elsa and Anna. Exactly as Frozen knew them.
It’s not necessarily bad. Elsa and Anna were good characters, or at least likable the way any Disney character can be. But it gives the whole season a fanfic sort of feel. A “what if”, that splices the plot of Frozen 2 into OUAT disturbingly well. (Speaking of which, how weird is it going to be when Disney inevitably does release Frozen 2? What will the plot of that one be?)
I still enjoy the show myself, and look forward to seeing where this season ends up. I highly recommend that those who are on the fence try it out, and see for themselves. But be ready for more Disney than usual.