Monday, November 27, 2023

Once's Missed Opportunity: A Christmas Episode

My wife recently finished rewatching Once Upon a Time (we use it as a background show while doing chores and such). I have various opinions about the series—possibly some unpopular ones—about characters, story arcs, relationships, etc. but that’s a topic for another blog post. Today I want to talk about the biggest missed opportunity I took note of during this recent viewing. Why the heck didn’t Once Upon a Time have a Christmas episode?

My first thought was maybe the producers  were trying to evade religion or potentially controversial topics… even though they had no problem alluding to the Last Supper in the Season 6 finale. And there was David the shepherd boy who became king. But even religion aside, Christmas has become such a cultural thing and it’s been secularized for years. They could have avoided the Nativity scene altogether and just gone with the mythology of Santa. 

Even just with Santa Claus, there are so many different Santa stories they could pull from. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, The Santa Clause, etc. to name a couple. But even if you leave Santa aside for a second, there are countless Christmas classics and specials they could have  pulled from, like Charlie Brown trees or the Grinch. Heck, we already had a Victorian era England in Wonderland and the Jekyll/Hyde story, so why not do an adaptation of A Christmas Carol?

This hypothetical Christmas episode didn’t even need to be Christmas focused exactly either. They had episodes taking place on Halloween and Valentine's Day that had little to do with those holidays. There could have easily been an episode taking place on Christmas (maybe during the Frozen arc would have been appropriate) with references to North Pole magic, Christmas spirits, or Santa Claus without making it a major focus of the episode. Heck, leave the supernatural aside; with all the time jumps and everything, we had at least two or three holiday seasons we skipped over. Why couldn’t we have stopped on one of them? They were filming in Canada in the fall/winter anyway. 

Above all else, if Christmas movies and Christmas specials have taught me anything, all the “Christmas magic" basically plays into Once's themes of family, true love, etc. If “true love” is the most powerful magic of all, Christmas magic would be the most powerful version of “true love” magic. I can just imagine Emma snuggling up with Henry in front of a fire after a Christmas fairytale incident, showing us the importance of being together as a family, even in the midst of holiday chaos. 

I don’t know if a holiday episode even crossed the minds of the Once Upon a Time writers. And there’s a reason they’re TV writers and I’m not, so I’m not here to say I could have done better. But I think this could have been really cool. That being said, even without Once, Disney Plus has plenty of content for the holiday season. And now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s culturally acceptable to watch Christmas movies and listen to Christmas music (I’ve already been doing both for a month), so let’s enjoy the Christmas season, drawing close to our loved ones and away from our wish lists. 

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