Once Upon a Time: Season 4
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // Unrated // $79.99 // August 18, 2015
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted August 25, 2015
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Once Upon a Time - Season 4 Blu-ray Review

Once Upon a Time is a fantasy-drama television series with the concept that the characters and stories of fairy tales exist in the real world. The series returns with its fourth season. The ABC series remains an inventive and fun combination of fantasy and magic and it features a variety of Disney characters and storylines mixed into the series. The series was created by executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis (Lost, Tron Legacy).

In Season 4, Frozen has come to Storybrooke. The first half of this season focuses primarily on telling a Frozen story arc and brings the characters from the popular Disney animated film into the series universe: Elsa (Georgina Haig), Anna (Elizabeth Lail), and Kristoff (Scott Michael Foster). Season 4 also focuses on the story of Ingrid (Elizabeth Mitchell), who is the fairy tale character known as the Snow Queen.

The second half of the season introduces the "Queens of Darkness" with Maleficent (Kristen Bauer van Straten), Cruella De Vil (Victoria Smurfit), and Ursula (Merrin Dungey). These characters come to Storybrooke seeking the writer of the fairy tales. This story element becomes a big focus of the season and involves many lead characters from Once Upon a Time.

The series revolves around a wide cast of characters (many of them based on fairy tales) which includes: Mary Margaret Blanchard (Ginnifer Goodwin), otherwise known as Snow White. David Nolan (Josh Dallas) is Prince Charming. Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) is their daughter and Henry Mills (Jared Gilmore) is her son. Captain Hook (Colin O'Donoghue) becomes the love interest to Emma Swan and is one of the good guys.

Regina (Lana Parrilla) began as the evil queen but now spends her time helping Snow White, Prince Charming, and Emma. Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle), otherwise known as Rumpelstiltskin, continues to cause problems for Storybrooke and helps bring Maleficent, Cruella De Vil, and Ursula into the town this season as they search for the author of fairy tales so the stories can be rewritten. Mr. Gold has a complicated relationship with Belle (of Beauty and the Beast) French (Emilie de Ravin). As with every season of Once Upon a Time there are cameo appearances and supporting characters based on famous fairy tale characters.  

This season of Once Upon a Time takes a new direction by adding the Frozen characters. This is the most recent film and storyline to be adapted into the storyline being told on the show. The writers did an excellent job of bringing these characters into the universe of the series. It's not like a sequel or a live-action remake but instead they used these characters as another integral part of telling the main story. The end result worked remarkably well and should please those who are fans of both Once Upon a Time and Frozen.

The overarching story arc in Season 4 of finding the writer of fairy tales is a fascinating and incredibly well done story that culminates in the two-part season finale. The writers did an incredible job with this aspect of the season. The finale was one of the best episodes produced during the season and it left several cliffhanger elements for the next season.

The production quality of Once Upon a Time is remarkably high. The series cinematography by Stephen Jackson is beautiful and features wonderful colors. The series production design by Michael Joy adds to the high-quality style of filmmaking. Costume Designs by Eduardo Castro (Ugly Betty) are some of the best around in television. The music score composed by Mark Isham adds to the series sense of adventure and magic.

The directing on Once Upon a Time remains impressive in Season 4. Ralph Hemecker, the head director of the series, continues to make the show an exciting and impressive production. Ron Underwood (Tremors) continues to be a great addition to the directorial team. Season 4 also includes several episodes directed by Romeo Tirone. Each director brings something to the production.

The writing on the series remains one of the best elements of the show. The creators, Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, created a great high-concept series which continually grows and develops. The writing is exciting and Season 4 succeeds triumphantly with the Frozen story. Everyone on the writing staff helps to make this one of the best written series on television.  

Once Upon a Time remains every bit as entertaining in its fourth season and a lot of this is because of the quality writing. The addition of more Disney characters this season was also something that worked quite well.  Once Upon a Time is one of the best series on television. Fans will continue to enjoy this engaging series in it's wonderful fourth season outing.

The Blu-ray:


Video:

Once Upon a Time: Season 4 arrives on Blu-ray with a stunning quality 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded High Definition presentation. The series looks impressive and lush with great color reproduction, clarity, and definition. This is a well-produced series with a sleek modern sensibility and excellent cinematography.

Audio:

The series is presented with a lossless quality DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound presentation. The series sounds excellent with quality dialogue reproduction and fidelity. Featuring an immersive sound design and a great score by composer Mark Isham, this presentation is impressive and satisfying.

Extras:

Audio Commentaries:

"A Tale of Two Sisters" with Creators and Executive Producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, and Actor Jennifer Morrison

"Family Business" with Writers Kalinda Vazquez and Andrew Chambliss

"Poor Unfortunate Soul" with Director and Executive Producer Steve Pearlman and Actor Colin O'Donoghue

"Sympathy for the De Vil" with Executive Producer David H. Goodman and Co-Producer Jerome Schwartz

"Mother" with Writer Jane Espenson and Actor Lana Parrilla

Featurettes:

Defrosting Frozen (9:46)

Behind the Magic Tour (9:58)

Three Who Stayed (5:23)

The Fairest Bloopers of Them All (4:56)

Deleted Scenes (26:00):

Time Will Tell, Friends Forever?, Just Like Everyone Else, Chasing Happy Endings, Laundry and Teacakes, Magic Cake, Camp Site, Good Boy, Things Can Change,The Lonely Author, The Babysitter, The Ice Cream Lady, No Deal, A Cow Named Nan, Empty Chairs at Empty Diners, and We Can Fix It!

Final Thoughts:

Once Upon a Time remains one of televisions best series. The series is full of great storytelling, imagination, and magic. This season does an excellent job of bringing in the characters of the Frozen film into this series universe. The new storylines are superb and continue the series excellent stride. The season finale ends the season on a high note.

Fans of the series will want to pick up this excellent quality Blu-ray set for their collection. This is another well-done season. Season 5 of Once Upon a Time premieres Sunday, September 27th 2015 on ABC.

Highly Recommended.



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