This year’s fall season isn’t going to soar to great heights, but Post TV critic Hank Stuever has landed on a handy way to sort the new shows, with one simple question: Better or worse than dead-average “Pan Am”?
Once Upon a Time
Sunday, Oct. 23, 8 p.m., ABC
An elegant surprise that stirs fond memories of Sunday-night Disney TV shows of yore, meant for grownups but suitable for older kids, toggling between the present day and legendary fairy tales. When the handsome prince marries Snow White (“Big Love’s” Ginnifer Goodwin), the Evil Queen crashes the wedding to cast the mother of all spells, banishing everyone in the magic kingdom — including the Seven Dwarves, Gepetto, Jiminy Cricket, Rumpelstiltskin and even the Evil Queen herself — to “somewhere horrible,” where happy endings don’t exist and the characters have no memory of who they once were, trapped in humdrum lives.
That horrible place? Maine. Where young Henry (Jared Gilmore from “Mad Men”) escapes and runs off to Boston to find his birth mother (Jennifer Morrison from “House M.D.”). She doesn’t yet know it, but she’s Snow White’s adult daughter; Henry hopes she’ll help him break the spell and restore the kingdom. That’s a lot to take in, but “Once Upon a Time” is a smartly crafted reward for fans of light fantasy, with the right mix of cleverness, action and romance. Grade: A