A few years ago, my niece was all about princesses. Anything that had to do with gowns and crowns was So. Exciting. Now that she's almost 8, her fascination with princesses has given way to any tween who has a show on the Disney channel. For those girls like my niece who feel a bond with Cinderella and company, moving on from the princess stage is a natural shift as they develop their tastes. Some will revisit the image on their wedding day and many will relive the excitement (or sigh and shake their head) as their daughters discover princesses for themselves. Like it or not, princesses are an iconic part of popular culture and now thanks to ABC, they are part of prime time in the new series “Once Upon a Time.”

A few years ago, my niece was all about princesses. Anything that had to do with gowns and crowns was So. Exciting. Now that she's almost 8, her fascination with princesses has given way to any tween who has a show on the Disney channel. For those girls like my niece who feel a bond with Cinderella and company, moving on from the princess stage is a natural shift as they develop their tastes. Some will revisit the image on their wedding day and many will relive the excitement (or sigh and shake their head) as their daughters discover princesses for themselves. Like it or not, princesses are an iconic part of popular culture and now thanks to ABC, they are part of prime time in the new series “Once Upon a Time.”


The princess in question and so far, the only one, is Snow White. The series opens with Prince Charming's kiss and cuts to their wedding. The evil queen crashes the party and declares that every fairy tale creature in the kingdom will be cursed and sent to a terrible place where they will forget who they are. It takes awhile for this curse to kick in, about nine months to be exact, since it happens when Snow White is about to deliver her first child. Fearing for the baby's life, she places the child in an enchanted tree so that she will disappear.


The “dark hell” the queen sends everyone to is the present day town of Storybrook, Maine. The only person who knows the truth is a little boy named Henry, who persuades bail bondsman and loveable loner Emma Swan, who may or may not be Snow White's daughter, to come to town. Henry believes Emma is the key to lifting the curse. Emma believes Henry has an active imagination but she's curious.


Whether you're curious enough to get past the first episode depends on how you like your fairy tales. In this version, characters from the enchanted forest are given back stories that explain for example, how Snow White and Prince Charming met and how the queen became evil. These back stories are combined with the present-day plot that centers around Emma's suspicions, the queen's villainy and Snow White's search for true love.


Having fairy tale characters deal with real world problems gives the show a sense of fun — the queen has a monologue on the sacrifices of single motherhood, Little Red Riding Hood is a rebellious teen who argues with grandma — but I'm not sure it's enough to sustain my interest. Do I really want to know why Grumpy is angry? Do I care?


While the show is creative in its re-imagining, it does stick to one traditional fairy tale notion: the idea of the happy ending. All the characters are seeking their own version. Whether you want to give this show a happy ending, however is another story.


“Once Upon a Time” premieres on Sunday, Oct. 23 at 8 p.m. EDT.


Melissa Crawley credits her love of all things small screen to her parents, who never used the line, "Or no TV!" as a punishment. Her book, “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television's 'The West Wing,’” was published in 2006. She has a PhD in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at staytuned2011@hotmail.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.