Genre: Fantasy | Action | Drama
Creators: Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis
Run time: 946 minutes (22 episodes) plus bonus features
Release date: August 13, 2013
Relive every thrilling moment of the fairy tale-inspired series when “Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season” casts its tantalizing spell onto Blu-ray/DVD. The curse is broken, magic has arrived, and there’s no telling what – or who – will be unleashed! Now the exiled fairy tale characters must grapple with a flood of awakened memories as they come to grips with their new “reality.” Old loyalties will be tested, new heroes will emerge, and vengeful villains will wreak havoc. Amidst the backdrop of previously unexplored lands and a newly magical Storybrooke, love and sacrifice will set the stage for the ultimate battle between good and evil.
“Once Upon a Time” stars Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White/Mary Margaret, Jennifer Morrison as Emma Swan, Lana Parrilla as Evil Queen/Regina, Josh Dallas as Prince Charming/David, Emilie de Ravin as Belle, Colin O’Donoghue as Hook, Jared S. Gilmore as Henry Mills, Meghan Ory as Red Riding Hood/Ruby and Robert Carlyle as Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold.
Once Upon a Time fans, you know you’re going to get this set. It has every episode, and that right there is enough for you. I’m here to talk to those of you who enjoy the show but are slightly less diehard than the fully committed fan. You want to know if this series is worth the price of the Season 2 set. The short answer? It absolutely is.
First, it’s twenty-two episodes. A twenty-two episode season used to be pretty standard, but it is becoming less and less common. For a good show, it is a gift. It is a big – 5 disc! – set, and will see you through many days and nights of marathon viewing.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: watching a series without commercials (and I mean without even having to fast forward through commercials) is the absolute best way to watch. You never lose the rhythm and flow of the episode, and cliffhangers – at least those that occur before the end of a season – are resolved more quickly and satisfactorily. Sure you can get that on streaming services, but with those services you’re unlikely to get the exceptional vibrance and clarity of a Blu-ray presentation.
Second, the costumes in Once Upon a Time are amongst the most beautiful and intricate of any on television right now, including a couple of epic subscription cable series that I could mention. While you may have noticed them during the broadcast of this season, Blu-ray does the biggest favor to the exceptional work of head designer Eduardo Castro and the members of the wardrobe team. These costumes pop pop pop. They. Are. Stunning.
Third, and the biggest selling point for me, are the bonus features. This set has at least one bonus feature on each of the five discs. For discs one, two, and three, the bonus feature is a commentary for one of the episodes on the disc. For disc four, there are commentaries for two episodes. For disc five, there is a commentary, deleted scenes, a gag (bloopers) reel, and four featurettes (“Girl Power”, “Sincerely, Hook”, exclusive-to-Blu-ray “A Fractured Family Tree”, and “Good Morning Storybrooke”) on the Blu-ray set; there are only three featurettes on the DVD set.
The commentaries are amongst the best I’ve seen in any set. Here’s the breakdown:
Disc 1 – “Broken” (season premiere) with commentary by actors Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White/Mary Margaret) and Josh Dallas (Prince Charming/David)
Disc 2 – “Queen of Hearts” (midseason finale) with showrunners and writers of this episode Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, and actor Lana Parrilla (Evil Queen/Regina)
Disc 3 – “Manhattan” – with showrunners and writers of this episode Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, and actor Robert Carlyle (Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold)
Disc 4 – “The Miller’s Daughter” – with writer Jane Espenson AND “Welcome to Storybrooke” with writers Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss
Disc 5 – “And Straight on ‘Til Morning” (season finale) with writer David H. Goodman and actor Colin O’Donoghue (Hook)
What makes the commentaries so good is that in each one, though no formula is followed, the commentators point out the intricacies of the plot within that episode and how they tie in to others throughout the season and the series; they explain the motivations of the characters; and they reveal some cool behind-the-scenes tidbits. They never babble. They clearly really care about the episode.
In short, each commentary gives me everything I look for in a commentary. They have in fact given me an appreciation for the show that I never had before, and by themselves are, to me, worth the price of the set. In all honesty, I have never been a fan of the dialogue in this show, to the point of being distracted away from the storylines. These commentaries give me a real feel for some of the very involved interweavings of characters and plots that I had hoped for when I first learned that two former Lost writers were creating a new series. They have won me over.
But what of the other bonus features? Deleted scenes usually are throwaway items to me, but there aren’t many of them in this set and they’re all quite interesting. Some of them are referred to in the commentaries, a nice tie-in. The gag reel, “The Fairest Bloopers of Them All”, has some laugh out loud moments, and is genuinely funny and sweet, if a little too short. But I much prefer a short gag reel to one that includes a lot of things that just aren’t really that funny, so, well done again.
The “Girl Power” and “Sincerely, Hook” featurettes are both charming (not to be confused with Charming, of course) celebrations of their subjects, even if they don’t add much in the way of new information or insights, and “A Fractured Family Tree”, exclusive to the Blu-ray set and narrated by Sarah Hyland of (ABC’s) Modern Family, is a fun rundown of all the interrelationships that have been revealed to date.
There is, unfortunately, one featurette that is so awful that I suggest you just not watch it at all, though I know that it’s likely because of my narrow taste in comedy. It’s a parody on morning shows and it’s called “Good Morning Storybrooke” and it is to me about as funny as … well, nothing. There is honestly just nothing funny about it. But even excluding the commentaries, the other featurettes more than make up for this one misstep.
Back to the good stuff. There are little touches that also make this set special. The menu screens change if you watch for long enough. There’s a spoiler alert on the menu screen for the commentaries, which I consider a lovely public service. The slipcover to the box set has a motion card front – you know, the kind of picture that changes depending on how you tip it. And they made the wise choice to not stack the discs; each disc has a separate side and hub. The set is simply beautifully well presented, inside and out.
This content-rich and lovely Blu-ray set is wholeheartedly recommended for both the dedicated and the casual fan of Once Upon a Time. Diehards, get it for the marathon rewatch(es) in your future. Casual fans, get it for the absolutely terrific commentaries and you may find yourself stepping up into that diehard category.
I give Once Upon a Time, The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray] Five out of Five Stars.
Once Upon a Time, The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray] is available from Amazon right now! Here’s the link: