Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time debuted four years ago on ABC and proved that not only can a series about fairy tale characters be popular, but also spectacular. Many believed it couldn’t last beyond a single season, but as we approach a chilly-looking fourth season debut on September 28th, it’s time to relive all of the magic from season three on Blu-Ray.

Most ABC shows are released exclusively on DVD, no matter how much fans want them in a high definition disc format (I’m looking at you, Scandal). Lost and Once Upon a Time have been the rare exception to this rule, which is great for fans because these special-effects-heavy shows are worth seeing clearly.

Season Three of Once Upon a Time had two complete story arcs that made it feel like two seasons in one. Following the cliffhanger finale of Season Two, Emma, Snow, Charming, Regina, Rumplestiltskin and Hook sail to Neverland to try and rescue Henry. Peter Pan has kidnapped Emma’s son to save himself from a mystery that only he and Rumple know about. It’s a race against Pan to save Henry and bring him back home.

Part two of Season Three finds the town of Storybrooke forgetting a year of their life spent in the Enchanted Forest. A new girl in town seems well meaning, but when they learn she is behind their missing memories and may have a wicked connection to one of their resident villains, it will take every ounce of magic they can muster to send this verdant visitor back where she belongs.

If you missed Season Three on ABC, shame on you (and don’t wait too long to catch up!). If you’re like me and you tuned in every Sunday to find out what happened next, than you may want a refresher before the Season Four has us letting go of Season Three (wink). I’m a binge watcher, and there’s no better way to do it than on Blu-Ray.

Video

Once Upon a Time Season Three looks better on Blu-Ray than it did on TV. Being an effects-heavy show on a TV budget, some of the special effects look less impressive in higher definition than HD cable can support, but it doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the season. There is so much detail in the worlds and costumes of this series that it deserves every pixel packed on each disc.

Audio

The series is presented in a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Score and sound effects fill the rear speakers and action sequences will give your subwoofer a workout. The only other audio option is English 2.0,

Bonus Features

  • Audio Commentaries – Episodes with commentary are “Lost Girl” (disc 1), “Think Lovely Thoughts” (disc 2), “The Jolly Roger” (disc 4) and “There’s No Place Like Home” (disc 5).
  • Wicked Villains – This 12-minute featurette uses talking head interviews with cast and crew to determine what makes a villain so wicked.
  • The Tale of Ariel – The creatores share their desire to bring Ariel to the series and the details they put into her in this 7-minute featurette.
  • Inside the Writers’ Room – 3 minutes of footage from the writers’ room shows their comical side while discussing who should be the next Disney villain in season 4.
  • The Fairest Bloopers of Them All – This 2-minute blooper reel features the cast making lots of silly faces at the camera and dancing merrily.
  • Deleted Scenes – 9 deleted scenes are presented with a Play All option: Mr. Van Winkle, A Helping Hook, Father of the Bride, Thank You Note, Baby Gift, Force Fed, Connected, Princess Leia, and Liar Liar. These total 12-minutes and are roughly cut without final lighting, audio, or effects.
  • Comic-Con Meets Ariel – This reel was put together to tease Ariel’s entry into Once Upon a Time at San Diego Comic Con in July 2013 (1:25).

While not listed as a Bonus Feature, “Season Play” is a feature that has been used on Blu-Rays for past seasons, as well as Lost. It allows your Blu-Ray player to keep track of where you are while watching the series. It gets even cooler when you realize it can let multiple members of your house use this feature separately on the same player.

Packaging and Menus

Season Three of Once Upon a Time is housed in a Blu-Ray case capable of holding all 5-discs on their own spindle while maximizing space. The artwork that slides into the case is double-sided, revealing photos of the cast and an episode listing through the interior’s blue plastic. An insert advertises other ABC TV home video releases and the WatchABC app. This case slides into a metallic-looking red slipcase with a lenticular cover. Turning it reveals photos of the cast inside Regina’s apple.

Each disc has transparent disc art that highlights characters in front of the moon. The menu on each disc recreates the wooded opening of the series, with symbolic items from episodes on that disc making an appearance. Disc 1 opens with ads for Maleficent, Sleeping Beauty Diamond Edition, Frozen Sing-Along, and Disneynature Bears.

Final Thoughts

Once Upon a Time Season Three is even more magical on Blu-Ray than it was on TV. A spectacular presentation, fan-pleasing packaging and worthwhile bonus features make this release a must-own for fans of the series.