I had been very interested about the direction this show was headed for a while, since the season finale in May we’ve known which direction that was: ‘Frozen’… (?!)
[ At this point, I was gonna go into how it appeared like management was ramming the idea down the producers throat, and how I really didn’t care for ‘Frozen’ that much, and how it couldn’t compare to ‘Beauty and the Beast’ etc., yadda yadda yadda... except for the part where I went back and re-examined ‘Frozen’ and was reminded of all the good things about it, which I had somehow forgotten completely in the few months since its theatrical run (a little scary, really). Which then, pretty much changed the direction of what I was gonna write myself, here... ]
The ‘good things’ in ‘Frozen’? Well, in part, the unconventional love story, the girl power, and… Olaf! (Olaf’s great). These strengths collectively allow some suspension of disbelief regarding a few negative aspects, including one I find quite problematic (the whole sisters’ estrangement thing). Additionally in its favor, the music and songs are much better than I recalled; apparently, there wasn’t much I actually did remember correctly…
And so, initially, it was with a sense of wariness (yet open-mindedness) that I did anticipate watching the ‘Once Upon A Time’ season premiere, and, well, even with a good degree of skepticism, it actually looks like everything’s gonna be OK.
Gotta credit the creators, cast & crew for achieving a delicate balancing act. I was dreading a kind of all-Frozen-all-the-time, but no, they spend some time incorporating enough of the ‘Frozen’ story elements such that you needn’t have actually seen the movie, yet still manage to continue last season’s story lines and begin new ones, separate from Elsa and Anna.
Of those characters, I have to say the casting is perfection. Georgina Haig as Elsa and Elizabeth Lail as Anna really embody their animated counterparts, in appearance and personality, body and soul. It continues to be a cool wonder to see the transformation characters undergo from animation to live-action, to literally fleshed-out 3-dimensionality.
Other ‘Frozen’ bits make it out of the movie, from Elsa’s snow/ice powers, to Marshmallow, to Grand Pabbie, they’re rendered into the ‘Once…’ universe intact. Seems the budget got bumped up a bit, previously some special effects were quite, um, “rustic” (sure, the Regina/Ursula had some cheesy camp value but c’mon, Once has earned at least the same amount of whiz-bang CG as Agents of SHIELD by now).
Everything considered, I would put this episode in the upper echelon of the standards already set by the show, it’s very well done. If you didn’t care for ‘Frozen’ I would suggest giving it another chance. If you loved ‘Frozen’, then obviously this is right in your wheelhouse. However, they didn’t take that for granted, thankfully, it seems they did their due diligence in trying to get it just right; so far, so good…