The Complete Fifth Season of the ABC TV series Once Upon A Time hits Blu-ray and DVD today with a 5-disc set containing all 23 episodes of Season 5. The season starts with the “Dark Swan” and Merida from Brave, moves its way through an “underworld” that is haunted with familiar faces, and then comes to a conclusion that will definitely change things as the show goes into Year 6.
The Episodes: As much as I love Once Upon A Time, even I would admit at times that it feels like it has been on forever and may have run its course. But an interesting thing happened while watching this set; something ABC probably would not like to be said out loud: The show is much better with a back-to-back binge. That way, you don’t have to watch for months if there’s a story you don’t like, and the resolution and reward comes so much quicker. Having the episodes on Blu-ray, they look a lot better, too. I found when watching that I definitely do still love and care about the characters, particularly the ones I started watching way back when the show began.
Season 5 is a bit of a reward for those long-time fans as certain characters all come back and some do some surprising things. Not going to get into detail so as to not spoil things, but I especially liked the surprise relationship stuff involving Mulan.
Lana Parrilla’s Regina is and continues to be the show’s MVP with her sometimes conflicted Evil Queen and her interactions being the best. This is a character who could be played as ridiculous by a lesser actress; Parrilla brings it every single time. It’s interesting to see Regina’s sister Zelena (Rebecca Mader) going through a similar journey as her sister… or does she?… becoming a little bit more sympathetic while still being somewhat wicked. A shout-out also should go out to Jennifer Morrison, the show’s “Savior” since the beginning, whose character was taken to all new places for this season. Whenever Parrilla and Morrison are on screen, especially in scenes together, you are in for a treat.
Of course, there are tropes that I wish Once Upon A Time would get away from that are still present, and I’m not totally sure how they can be avoided. I’m very much over the “so and so is in this realm, so we have to rescue them because we are separated and we always find each other” bit that has been run into the ground. I’d still love to see more focus on the original characters, in Storybrooke, rather than their new toys, though Merida was a lot of fun and perfectly cast this year, I will give them that. On the flip side, though I like Greg Germann, Hades was silly. I also don’t know how many times the show can return to the “Rumple is still bad and Belle can’t trust him” well. But, we’ll see what is coming in the future. Don’t go into this set expecting those things to not happen, though.
The Extras: There’s a really nice featurette about Merida in Storybrooke that was very well done. There’s a bit about the Episode 100 celebration, which I was there for earlier this year, and I was disappointed that that piece wasn’t longer or more in-depth. “Tales From The Underworld: A Knight With Cruella” is another of those annual Once Upon A Time DVD features that tries too hard to be funny and generally falls flat on its face, though there are some fun familiar faces on it. Deleted scenes and bloopers also populate this set; the makers of these sets do not skimp on extras.
There are commentaries, but for the life of me, I can’t tell you where they are since they aren’t labeled on the packaging. It really wouldn’t be difficult to do. Needless to say, I haven’t heard those yet.
Packaging & Design: Well, a better guide to what’s inside would be nice. The menus look good. The cover art is at least consistent with previous seasons, though not extremely exciting.
Is It Worth It? I’d have to give this a strong “yes.” Watching the fifth season of Once Upon A Time in this manner gave me a renewed appreciation and got me excited about the show again. That’s really the best compliment I could give it.