The bar was set high in 1968. Since then, very few books about individual television shows have come close to the standards set by Stephen E. Whitfield’s groundbreaking title, The Making of Star Trek. Its combination of behind the scenes action and in-depth analysis of the original Star Trek series has never been paralleled.
But there are other ways to create a tv show book, especially if you’ve got a lot of photos, art, and large pages to fill. That’s what makes Once Upon a Time: Behind the Magic so fun. With photos, illustrations, trivia, interviews, and assorted factoids and sidebars, this is a very crowded book–and one that is perfect for fans of Disney’s weekly storybook fantasy.
Once Upon a Time: Behind the Magic is a solid companion to the show, covering its production and storylines through Season 2. And although the creators try to emphasize that they came up with the original premise for Once Upon a Time, I strongly suggest that the show’s true genesis came from the success of Fables, a DC comic book series that took classic fairy tales and placed them in the modern world. Fables began in 2002…coincidentally, the same year that the creators left their then-current show, Felicity, and started thinking about a new series that would take classic fairy tales and place them in the modern world.
The book offers a highly detailed episode guide and a lot of fascinating sidebars–for instance, I had no idea a Season 2 episode was inspired by Universal’s classic Frankenstein films. There are interviews with the cast members and the creators, and the book really goes in-depth with production designs and special effects, including looks at the ornate props and costumes.
The photos and art included here are visually stunning. Once Upon a Time: Behind the Magic is indispensable for true fans. No, it’s not as insightful as The Making of Star Trek, The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book, or The Twilight Zone Companion, but the wealth of photos and the creative graphic design make up for it.
Once Upon a Time is a fun show that’s pulled in a lot of Disney fans–or have made tv viewers new fans of Disney’s magical kingdoms. Now, if only Disney would develop a Haunted Mansion series that is a little bit funny and a LOT scary…