Once Upon A Time: Season 5
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // Unrated // $79.99 // August 16, 2016
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted August 31, 2016
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A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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Once Upon A Time Season 5 Blu-ray Review

One Upon a Time returns with the fifth season of the ABC fantasy-drama which focuses on a world in which fairy tale characters actually exist in the real world. The series revolves around the magical town of Storybrooke and the host of characters which live there. The series is from creators and executive producers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (Lost).

The cast of characters on Once Upon a Time includes Snow White/Mary Margaret Blanchard (Ginnifer Goodwin), Prince Charming/ David Nolan (Josh Dallas), The Evil Queen/ Regina (Lana Parrilla), Rumpelstilskin/ Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle), Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), Belle (Emilie de Ravin), Captain Hook (Colin O'Donoghue), Henry (Jared Gilmore), and other characters from Disney films and classic fairy tales.  

Season 5 brings a new story arc into the mix: hero Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) has become the dark one and it's up to the town of Storybrooke to try and save her from the darkness. With darkness surrounding "Dark Swan" can our heroes find help through Merlin (Elliot Knight)? What role does Captain Hook (Colin O'Donoghue) have to play in Dark Swan's storyline? Mysteries surround the new story arc as the story unfolds in two timelines: the present in Storybrooke and the time spent in the faraway land of Camelot.

The characters are thrust into the land of Camelot this season and get to meet King Arthur (Liam Garrigan). As with previous seasons of the series, Once Upon a Time delivers many surprising twists along the course of the season's journey and the storyline involving Camelot offers many turns in the story. A Pixar hero (from Brave) named Merida (Amy Manson) also joins in on the fun this season and has an interesting sub-plot which unfolds and connects to the world of Brave.

Season 5 continues the two-arc approach the previous seasons had and splits the season into two primary storylines.  As the season progresses, another story arc begins involving the characters taking a surprising trip to the Underworld where they encounter familiar characters and brand new ones like Hades (Greg Germann). The season also brings an expanded role to Oz's Zelena (Rebecca Mader) and features prominent guest stars returning to the show such as fan favorite Ruby/Red Riding Hood (Meghan Ory) and Mulan (Jamie Chung).

Once Upon a Time features many excellent production qualities which enhance the quality of the series. The production design this season is from Steven Wolff (Grimm) and the work impresses. The quality of the set designs and productions aesthetics are notable throughout.

The costumes are all by designer Eduardo Castro (Ugly Betty). His costume designs continue to be one of the best aspects of the show's production. Castro designs excellent costumes for the entire cast and this season is certainly no different in that regard. Lavish, bold, and original.

The music is composed by Mark Isham (Once Upon a Time in Wonderland). Isham continues to offer the series great themes and a musical backdrop which enhances the magical quality of the series. The music remains amongst the many exemplary qualities of the series.

The cinematography by Stephen Jackson (V) is exceptional. The series is easily one of the best looking television shows on air and Jackson's work gives the series a filmic quality which is a wonderful aspect of the production. Jackson also creatively presents the "Underworld" in this season with a significantly different cinematography approach with darker and more surreal colors which adds a certain Twilight Zone like flair.

The series is an exceptionally directed one too. The head directors of Once Upon a Time include Ralph Hemecker, Dean White, Ron Underwood, and Romeo Tirone. Each director helps bring this fantastic series to life with great style. The entertaining direction is creative and brings the show great energy.

The series is written by creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, along with a number of staff writers such as Jane Espenson, Andrew Chambliss, David H. Goodman, Dana Horgan, and Tze Chun. The writing team for Once Upon a Time continue to find new ways to keep the series interesting and exciting this season. One of the best things about the series is easily the high quality storytelling. The writers add much depth to the storylines and always manage to create fantastic arcs. It's fitting that a series about fairy tales would have a writing team capable of bringing out so much magic from within them.

Once Upon a Time remains one of the most entertaining television series around. The writers and production team have put together more fantastic episodes of this enchanting series which blends fantasy and drama so well. Season 5 offers more surprising twists and turns and is a must-see for  fans of the series.

The Blu-ray:


Video:

Once Upon a Time Season 5 arrives on Blu-ray with a stunning 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded presentation in the original television broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. The image is clean, crisp, and vibrant throughout. Colors are excellent. This is a beautiful presentation of one of television's finest looking series. The cinematography is stellar. Once Upon a Time impresses in high-definition.

Audio:

Once Upon a Time is presented with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless audio presentation. This is a beautiful sounding series with exquisite score music from composer Mark Isham. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand.

Subtitles are provided in English SDH (for the deaf and hard of hearing), Spanish, and French.


Extras:

The release of Once Upon a Time: Season 5 comes packaged with a beautiful o-card (slipcover) and 1 of 3 collectible postcards (Storybrooke, Camelot, and The Underworld).  

Deleted Scenes (HD) are included. 18 short deleted sequences are provided from throughout the season.

Audio Commentaries:

The Dark Swan featuring creators, executive producers, and writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and actress Jennifer Morrison.

Birth featuring writers David H. Goodman and Jerome Schwartz with actor Colin O'Donoghue.

Only You featuring writers David H. Goodman and Andrew Chambliss.

Featurettes:

Tales from the Underworld: A Knight with Cruella (HD, 4 min.) is a comedic short featuring the return of Cruella.

Merida in Storybrooke (HD, 8 min.) explores the addition of the character from Pixar's Brave to the season.

The Fairest Bloopers of Them All (HD, 6 min.) offers outtakes from the fifth season of the show.

Once Celebrates One Hundred (HD, 2 min.) celebrates the series success in reaching the huge 100 episode milestone.

Final Thoughts:

Once Upon a Time continues to be one of the best shows on television. The series features an exceptional cast. The writing and production work continues to impress. Season 5 is another exciting season with the Dark Swan, Camelot, and Underworld story arcs.

Newcomers would do well to begin at the start of Once Upon a Time but established fans should consider Season 5 a must-see event. The Blu-ray offers an impressive technical presentation and an assortment of extras. This release is worth owning for fans.

Highly Recommended.



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