My Super Awesome Cinderella Reboot Pitch

Walt Disney's Cinderella

The young woman whose life was changed forever by a first date and some pretty shoes.

[It’s a hidden gem from the MCC Archives! The following entry was originally posted on November 19, 2012, with zero awareness that Disney would someday do something new-not-new with Cinderella. Fast-forward two years, and their live-action remake is coming to theaters this Friday, March 13th. The prophecy has come to pass!

I have no plans to see their version unless someone mails me a ticket, but it’d be great if they totally followed my outline and proved me a genius out of time. Based on the last trailer I saw, they declined my pitch and theirs will instead be a Gus van Sant shot-for-shot homage with no twists allowed. This entry, then, captures the marketable joy of What Might Have Been.]

* * * * *

This weekend I revisited Walt Disney’s twelfth animated classic Cinderella for the first time since the late 1990s. Of all the numerous Disney films our family has owned in multiple formats, this is one of several that rarely saw repeat viewings even when my son was a toddler who insisted on watching every animated movie over and over again until I hated it.

As with many older Disney films, parts of it have aged better than others. I’ll admit I had trouble staying conscious all the way through. Even if I’m alone in this struggle, the film is now over sixty years old and therefore in need of a gratuitous overhaul on shallow principle. In the spirit of today’s remake-happy medium that thrives on second-hand ideas, the following notes are my suggestions to downconvert this one-time children’s favorite for the modern, unsophisticated audience that Hollywood executives so dearly crave.

Right this way for notes to make the greatest Cinderella of all times!

2014 Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts: From Best to Not-Best

Feast!

Each year since 2009 my wife and I have made a day-long date of visiting Keystone Art Cinema, the only dedicated art-film theater in Indianapolis, to view the big-screen release of the Academy Award nominees for Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film. Results vary each time and aren’t always for all audiences, but we appreciate this opportunity to sample such works and see what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences deemed worthy of celebrating, whether we agree with their collective opinions or not.

Presented below are my rankings of this year’s five Animated Short Film nominees, from the greatest to the most head-scratching. It’s my understanding all five nominated animated shorts can be viewed on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and other similar sources. Links are provided for official sites or the next relevant thing available. Enjoy!

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My 2014 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: the Year’s Least Worst

Interstellar!

“…so then I said to the bull, ‘Take the long way, huh? Thank you, Cyrus.’ So I turned my Mercury around and just kept going and going and…next thing you know, here I am.”

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Once again January is National List Month, that left-brained time of year when everyone’s last twelve months of existence must be removed from their mental filing cabinets, reexamined, and refiled in specific pecking order from Greatest to Most Grating. The final tabulations reveal I saw 19 films in theaters in 2014 and four via On Demand while they were still in limited release…

And now, on with the countdown:

Right this way for the Year’s Best Films according to some guy!

Yes, There’s a Scene After the “Big Hero 6” End Credits

Big Hero 6!

We’re gonna go save the world just as soon as this kitty is sufficiently petted.

When The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Entertainment in 2009, fans on all sides wondered what sort of corporate synergy we’d see between the two in future projects. For the most part the companies have kept their logos in separate spaces, but Big Hero 6 represents the first truly co-op experience: a Disney animated film based on a Marvel property, albeit very loosely (whose creators, Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau, later became part of the think tank responsible for Ben 10). Sharing between Disney and Marvel came easily to them this time, most likely because the characters had become instantly obscure and tossed in the back of the Marvel IP closet, upsetting maybe five or ten fans at most. If a reboot went wrong, they had nothing to lose.

Someone somewhere spotted them on a list, figured they were practically a blank slate, dusted them off, shined them up, upgraded them for a younger audience, deleted all the X-Men connections that got them published in the first place, and now here we are with the next Walt Disney Animated Classic — the all-new, all-different Big Hero 6.

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MCC Home Video Scorecard #3: Histories Rewritten

Disney's Lone Ranger!

Coming next fall to The CW: Winklevoss and Wonka! They’re loose-cannon buddy-cops, hot on the trail of Mike Teavee and the Facebook Staff!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: the recurring feature that’s me jotting down capsule-sized notes about Stuff I Recently Watched at home. In this batch: an expensive tale about Massive Explosions of the Oooold West; an epic from the end of China’s Warring States period; a World War II short story about the time they almost killed Hitler; and an animated sort-of adaptation of a famous novel about an honorary teen pirate.

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MCC 2014 Pilot Binge #19: “Star Wars Rebels”

Star Wars Rebels!

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…the Keystone Kops were alive and well and still wearing useless helmets.

Star Wars Rebels is the first of two animated pilots on the project list, and one of the very few that my wife and I had planned to try anyway. She’s a longtime dedicated Star Wars fan with an Expanded Universe emphasis, as are some of my oldest internet cohorts. Together we watched nearly every episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars until its abrupt cancellation. We number among the many thousands of fans waiting impatiently and vainly for closure on the life of former Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano. Regardless, we’d look and feel weirder if we didn’t give the new show a try.

Far as I can tell, nearly everyone who’ll love any media product with the words “Star Wars” on it has given the show an A for existing. So far to me, it’s Firefly for kids. There’s some good and some less-good in that.

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Gen Con 2014 Photos, Part 5 of 6: Last Call for Costumes

Khal Drogo!

Not taking Khal Drogo seriously would prove to be his last mistake. After the scene of carnage, his friends divided up the contents of his pockets between them.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife and I attended Gen Con 2014 and took pictures as usual.

Parts One through Three were the Costume Contest winners and contenders. Part Four was cosplay in the exhibit hall, the other halls, the other rooms, out and about, and wherever. Part Five: more of those, but the last usable ones in our collection. If you’re not shown here, either our destinies didn’t cross on that fateful Saturday, or we crossed at mistimed moments (really sorry I missed Pirate Harley Quinn), or we have a tragically blurry pic of you that’s not worth anyone’s upload time. Better luck next year, maybe?

For those who know every fictional character ever invented, this entry shall be your geek-culture playground, as it contains the largest number of “WHO DAT” cosplay moments. If you recognize any of the unnamed folks in these pics, now’s your chance to label them with pride.

Right this way for the last of the famous international cosplayers!

MCC Q&A #6: Captains Courageous or Otherwise

Captain Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp

Captain Jack Sparrow. Just because a reader asked.

I rarely trumpet this service, but Midlife Crisis Crossover maintains an open policy of Ask Almost Anything, which extends not only to regular readers and commenters, but also to constant Likers, silent Followers, and fleeting passersby. If you have a question, a suggestion, a comment that’s constructive or Dadaist, or a listicle request that the mainstream media refuses to attempt, simple reply here or to any other post of the vaguest tangential relevance, and our trusty MCC staff will be happy to escalate it into a Main Topic for a future entry and explore the subject further in depth. Or I might just reply to your comment, who knows.

Every so often we also review queries and curious sentence fragments from passing search engine users, because even the silent, fleeting passersby deserve to be heard, even if they’re no longer around to find the answer they needed. Because I need a break from movies and I’m working six days this week, a quick dive into the ol’ mailbag feels like a nice way to relax for a few minutes.

* the real life of capatian jack sparrow/ not the movie

Few moviegoers realize the character of Captain Jack Sparrow is based on the exploits of real-life pirate Jakub Sperovicz, a pirate from Warsaw who was renowned for his lifelong battle with rum addiction, his eventual arrest on multiple counts of boatjacking, and his CG monkey. During his heyday Sperowicz was in his mid-60s and suffered from chronic psoriasis. His story was tweaked a tad for typical Hollywood purposes.

More questions, more answers…

2014 Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts: a Brief Rundown

Mr. Hublot

Behold the complex world of Mr. Hublot.

Each year since 2009 my wife and I have made a day-long date of visiting Keystone Art Cinema, the only dedicated art-film theater in Indianapolis, to view the big-screen release of the Academy Award nominees for Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film. Results vary each time and aren’t always for all audiences, but we appreciate this opportunity to sample such works and see what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences deemed worthy of celebrating, whether we agree with their collective opinions or not.

Presented below are my thoughts on this year’s five Animated Short Film nominees. Shorts International, which masterminds these theatrical releases, strongly discourages the nominated filmmakers from posting their works online for free, but it’s my understanding they’re available on iTunes, Amazon, and/or Video On Demand. If you live in a large city where they’re playing in theaters, this year you’re treated to silly framing sequences starring an animated ostrich and giraffe who work as stand-ins during Oscars ceremony rehearsals. Voices are provided by Red Dwarf alumni Kerry Shale and Mac McDonald.

Enjoy where possible!

And the nominees are…

My 2013 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: the Year’s Least Worst

Matt Damon, Elysium

The Bourne Upgrade. District 18. Green Zone 3000. Good Will Exploding. And so on, and so on.


Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Once again January is National List Month, that magical time of year when everyone’s last twelve months of existence must be dehydrated, crammed into enumerated little packets, and lined up on the shelf in subjective order for re-inspection. The final tabulations reveal I saw twenty-five films in theaters in 2013 and one via On Demand while it was still in limited art-house release…

And now, the countdown concludes:

13. Elysium. Some say the 99%-vs.-1% feud will end in negotiations; some say in explosions. Neill Blomkamp’s sophomore extrapolation of the effect of humanity’s self-hatred on its own future stops asking questions halfway through and solves nearly everything with chases and showdowns between Matt Damon’s everyman underdog imperfect sinner Average Joe antihero and Sharlto Copley’s cyborg Snidely Whiplash. In some respects this deserved to be ranked a lot lower, but something about Blomkamp’s vivid underclass aesthetic and leftover District 9 effects cachet boosted it a tad unfairly over the other popcorn-film competition.

This way for #12 through #1…

Yes, There’s a Scene After the “Frozen” End Credits

Queen Elsa, Idina Menzel, Frozen

Disney Princesses beware: here comes Elsa, Disney Queen.

Last week animation writer Paul Dini gave a candid podcast interview in which he divulged numerous depressing details about his recent experiences with Cartoon Network executives who expressed in no ambiguous terms their current disinterest in courting a female audience for their action-adventure cartoons because boys buy more action figures.

I wish I were kidding. Part of this illuminating interview has been helpfully transcribed for the podcast-reluctant. Nothing short of jaw-dropping.

Such a shame, then, to see Walt Disney Pictures fly in the face of Cartoon Network programming logic and gamble on a theatrical release like the action-heavy Frozen, in which the humor isn’t locker-room crude, the animation sets new standards, and the main characters are two sisters who pass the Bechdel Test cum laude. Sure, it’s quality entertainment, but if the girl power in a cartoon overwhelms the manpower, why even bother? This cartoon chick flick will be lucky to make more than twenty bucks at the box office. And you can forget about merchandising sales.

…oh, wait. As of its fourth weekend, the movie’s cleared $160 million domestic so far, and it’s still in the #2 box office spot and barely slowing down. How’d that happen? Conspiracy, maybe?

Nope – it’s genuinely impressive…

Star Wars Episode VII and the Joy of Arbitrary Deadlines

C-3PO, Star Wars, exhibit

One of the many lessons we learned from the Prequels Trilogy: C-3PO wasn’t built in a day. (Photo taken at the “Star Wars: Where Science Meets the Imagination” traveling exhibit, which my wife and I saw during its stop in Indianapolis last spring. That exhibit wasn’t built in a day, either.)

Thus the head honchos at The Walt Disney Company have decreed, and thus it is written: Star Wars Episode VII shall be released to theaters on December 18, 2015. Despite pleas from director J.J. Abrams and hopefully any level-headed supporter in earshot, Disney has set this date in stone and insists that, come what may, there will be Star Wars product on the big screen no matter what.

(As a side experiment along this vein, I’m experimenting here with a timed entry. I have sixty minutes to crank out this entry from start to finish, and whatever state it’s in when minute #60 strikes, I hit “Publish” and there will be an entry about this subject no matter what. Fortunately my special effects needs are minimal and rarely outsourced.)

How many thoughts did I complete? Let’s find out!

Yes, There’s a Scene After the “Monsters University” End Credits

Monsters University, Disney, PixarHonest truth as of this evening: Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Monsters University “the Best Film of the Year”! So far. Yes, the year is young. Proclamation subject to change without notice, possibly during Oscar preseason.

Seriously, though: looking back at my last several summer action blockbuster spectacular experiences, this Disney/Pixar reboot of Revenge of the Nerds requires less forgiveness of plot holes; boasts characterization truer to the original cast; doesn’t overwrite wide-scale urban destruction with perfunctory offscreen-slapdash-reconstruction happy ending; refuses to play bait-and-switch with its antagonists; and, like Toy Story 3, is a surprisingly top-notch sequel with its own topic to explore rather than acting as a hollow, superfluous extension of the original.

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2013 Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts: From Best to Not-Best

Walt Disney, PapermanEach year since 2009 my wife and I have made a day-long date of visiting Keystone Art Cinema, the only dedicated art-film theater in Indianapolis, to view the big-screen release of the Academy Award nominees for Best Live-Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film. Results vary each time and aren’t always for all audiences, but we appreciate this opportunity to sample such works and see what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences deemed worthy of celebrating, whether we agree with their collective opinions or not.

Presented below are my rankings of this year’s five Animated Short Film nominees, from the greatest to the most head-scratching. Unlike last year, all five nominated animated shorts can be viewed online for free…as of today, at least. Links are provided for each, but may be subject to change without notice. Enjoy!

Paperman: You should’ve already seen this in front of Wreck-It Ralph. If you didn’t, it was unique in its use of Disney’s new CG/2-D hybrid system called Meander. The blend worked wondrously, and the meet-cute romance was sweet-hearted.

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The Star Wars Spinoffs You’ll Never See

Star Wars, Ice Cream Maker Guy

Not coming soon: “Star Wars Origins: Ice Cream Maker Guy”

From the Department of Completely Expected Developments:

This week Disney confirmed they have plans afoot to initiate aesthetic strip-mining and merchandise-driven IP expansion for their latest acquisition, the world-renowned Star Wars universe. We already knew director J.J. Abrams had signed on to captain the ostensible Star Wars Episode VII for release in 2015, but Disney has no moral imperative to stop there. At the very least, we’ve been duly notified of two proposed film spinoffs in the works: one based on Boba Fett, because chicks dig guys who act tough and die quickly; and one based on young Han Solo, which will hopefully be more action-packed and less educational than The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.

Expect many more theoretical projects to be announced in the days ahead as assorted Hollywood professionals shelve their own original ideas and instead spend all their waking hours competing for a turn at being a cog inside Disney’s newest money-making machine. Odds are the following proposed spinoffs will not be a part of any future PR announcements:

* Star Wars Origins: Ice Cream Maker Guy — If you blinked at the wrong moment during the Bespin sequence in The Empire Strikes Back, you missed the fleeting seconds of screen time that comprised the complete career of Willrow Hood, more affectionately known to sarcastic fans as Ice Cream Maker Guy. Last seen (and only seen) carrying a large white cylinder through the crumbling halls of Cloud City, Hood’s meaningless presence has taken on a life of its own in recent years, with enough apocryphal trivia accumulated to support a Wookieepedia entry several hundred words too long. Every single sentence of that entry will be tossed out in favor of an origin story written from scratch. The ideal actor for this role, in my flexible mind: Community‘s Danny Pudi. (It does not have to be Donald Glover. Don’t be racist.)

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Notes for a “Cinderella” Reboot Nobody Needs

Walt Disney's CinderellaThis weekend I revisited Walt Disney’s twelfth animated classic Cinderella for the first time since the late 1990s. Of all the numerous Disney films our family has owned in multiple formats, this is one of several that rarely saw repeat viewings even when my son was a toddler who insisted on watching every animated movie over and over again until I hated it.

As with many older Disney films, parts of it have aged better than others. I’ll admit I had trouble staying conscious all the way through. Even if I’m alone in this struggle, the film is now over sixty years old and therefore in need of a gratuitous overhaul on shallow principle. In the spirit of today’s remake-happy medium that thrives on second-hand ideas, the following notes are my suggestions to downconvert this one-time children’s favorite for the modern, unsophisticated audience that Hollywood executives so dearly crave:

1. We need to believe that Cinderella’s dad would have good reasons to want to marry the wicked stepmother. As drawn and acted, she’s a horse-faced harpy. Was she, once upon a time, a gregarious looker? Were they married for so long that her looks and demeanor have simply deteriorated over time? Was the marriage that hard on her? What does that say about dearly departed Dad? Cinderella’s trauma at his loss means he wasn’t an unlovable tyrant, so the only other sensible option is that he was a spineless doormat forced into marriage by this conniving harridan. Clearly we need copious non-linear flashbacks to Dad and Stepmom’s deceptively happy wedding day before it all went wrong, when he turned into Walter Mitty and she became Miss Hannigan from Annie.

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The “Wreck-It Ralph” Easter Eggs You’ll Never See

Disney, Wreck-It Ralph, Fix-It Felix Jr.In this day and age where moviegoers can wait until the home-video release before watching a movie multiple times, how often are we willing to devote extra time and money to encore presentations of a theatrical release? The case agreeing to my second showing of Wreck-It Ralph tonight consisted of two winning bullet points:

1. My son and I really, really liked it the first time we saw it. This is the first year for new Pixar and Disney Animated releases in which we liked the Disney film better.

2. We had free passes.

I had hoped to catch more details and Easter eggs this time around. Regretfully, I am old and the film’s background characters are spry. We managed to see a few items we missed the first time around: the other three Pac-Man ghosts; a mounted ostrich from Joust; the resemblance of the TurboTime cabinet design to that of Rally-X; and graffiti on a wall reading “Aerith Lives”. That list is too short. I’d also hoped to catch additional Easter eggs and overlooked scenes more to my liking, including but not limited to:

* A sign in Tapper’s bar reading, “Now Hiring Waitresses”.

* An autographed photo of Fix-It Felix Sr. bearing a strong resemblance to Alec Baldwin.

* The monsters from Rampage standing on a street corner outside the Niceland apartments, just staring and drooling.

* A traffic jam outside the terminal whose gridlocked commuters include the Moon Patrol rover, the OutRun Ferrari, an Armor Attack polygonal tank, an ExciteBike, and Nathan Drake in a Jeep. All sport the same license plate: “RIP G4”.

* A Grand Theft Auto thug being arrested by Mappy.

* A terminal convenience shop run by a Moogle and selling movies on DVD with titles such as Citizen Liu Kang, Disney’s Knights of the Old Republic, Wolfenstein 3D in 3D, and Galaga vs. Gyruss.

* A sidekick barbershop quartet with Clank, Daxter, Sparx, and Luigi.

* Pac-Man throwing a fit at Felix’s party because all the snacks are fruits, and for decades he’s been dying to have just one lousy steak.

* An inter-game prison populated with Leisure-Suit Larry, PaRappa the Rapper, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

* A political-activist poster advocating a unilateral ban on all Minesweeper mines.

* Alternate end credits with the big-head Journey avatars singing the same thirty-second snippet of “Separate Ways” over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

…but I guess that’s what cutting room floors are for. Those, and the dreams of over-the-hill gamers who can imagine a film with three times the budget and none of the legal hassles.

The Joy of the “Wreck-It Ralph” End Credits, and the Extra-Special Movie Attached to Them

John C. Reilly IS Disney's Wreck-It Ralph!Important things first: Wreck-It Ralph is the best non-Pixar Disney film in years, proof positive that both divisions are up to the task of delivering solid results when the right talents are lined up and the marketing department is kept in check. The end credits confirm Ralph was wrangled by four different writers, two of which are omitted by IMDB — Jim Reardon and director Rich Moore, both veterans of the glory days of The Simpsons. (Of the other two, one, Phil Johnston, was responsible for last year’s indie Midwest comedy Cedar Rapids.) From where I sat, I couldn’t see the seams.

Academy Award nominee John C. Reilly is an unloved palooka who chafes in his day job as the villain of Fix-It Felix, Jr., one of several old-school cabinet games at Litwak’s Family Fun Center (elderly owner voiced by Ed O’Neill). Ralph’s major beef isn’t necessarily that he hates his job, but that he hates how shabbily he’s treated because he does it so convincingly. Even when Litwak’s is closed and all gaming characters are allowed to go home for the night, Ralph’s coworkers — the titular hero Felix (30 Rock‘s Jack McBrayer) and the townspeople he saves every day — relax and party in their high-rise apartment building while poor Ralph is forced to live and sleep outside on a mound of loose bricks. Perversely, in their neighborhood Ralph is the 1% and the well-to-do are the 99%. The manufacturer clearly didn’t program these civilians to recognize the sight of homelessness.

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Disney Acquires Lucasfilm, Announces “Star Wars: Episode VII”, Steals Headlines from Horrible Hurricane Whatsitsname

Disney + Lucasfilm = $$$$$$$The Internet cracked in half Tuesday afternoon when the Walt Disney Company announced it would be spending $4.05 billion on the acquisition of Lucasfilm Ltd. lock, stock, and blaster barrel. Compared to the $4.24 billion that Disney paid for Marvel Entertainment in 2009, Lucasfilm was quite the sweetheart deal. Though many legal approvals and compliance processes are still underway, Disney sweetened the deal by announcing plans to have Star Wars Episode VII in theaters by 2015, just in case government officials needed more incentive to permit the existence of a Disney/Marvel/Pixar/Lucasfilm supercorporation.

The Internet has already spent hours brainstorming the potential ramifications of this creative business arrangement. The usual social networks instantly lost interest in the upcoming election and any major death-related news events. Any long-dormant Star Wars message boards just received a massive defibrillator shock they never saw coming. Within a month or so, expect the mainstream media to hop on the bandwagon and regurgitate all our online blurbs.

Alas, without further elaboration from the parties involved, all we have as of today is unfounded speculation and a long list of questions. So many random thoughts, so little confirmation of what to expect:

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“Once Upon a Time” Season 2 Cast to Add as Many as 700 More Disney Characters

Once Upon a Time was originally written off by Internet comics fans as an alt-world version of Bill Willingham’s Fables, but felt no slings or arrows as it became ABC’s highest-rated new drama of the 2011-2012 season. The complex saga of fairy-tale characters trapped in the modern world without their memories was a nonstop roller coaster that leavened linear storytelling with non-linear flashbacks and delved into themes of identity, belief, vengeance, betrayal, and true love. The basic cast of Snow White, Prince Charming, their long-lost adult daughter Emma, her forsaken son Henry, his adopted mother Mayor Evil Queen, and her ally/nemesis/ally/nemesis Rumpelstiltskin were joined each week by a strong, nuanced supporting cast who each had a turn living out their origins and defining their roles in the scary new world of quaint little Storybrooke.

The happy news three weeks ago was that Meghan Ory’s Red Riding Hood (a.k.a. Ruby the world’s greatest detective who’d rather be a waitress) would be upgraded to full-time regular status in season 2. This week Entertainment Weekly brought announcements of two more recurring characters being added to the show, neither of whom I’ve ever watched in anything: Jamie Chung as Mulan and Sarah Bolger as Sleeping Beauty. Those two are in addition to already existing recurring characters Dr. Jiminy Cricket, Ruby’s grandma restaurateur, the Blue Fairy, Amy Acker’s other fairy, the madder-than-mad Mad Hatter, Sidney Glass the queen’s tool, August “Pinocchio” Booth, the tormented Belle, my personal hero Grumpy, the blondish doctor who has yet to reveal his true Disney name, and a handful of other one-shot Disney properties such as Maleficent and Pongo.

I trust the showrunners know what they’re doing and will be adding new characters organically as the flow of the season allows them, rather than cramming them in all at once as if the series were a virtual clown-car of corporate merchandise mascots, all suffocating each other as they vie for our attention and the approval of their Disney overlords. I can only imagine this trend taken to an extreme as we run out of princesses by season 4 and have to start scraping the Disney barrel for too many unnecessary live-action reboots. The possibilities for casting and subplots abound:

* A Hawaiian girl named Lilo with a most exotic pet.

* Chernabog from Fantasia as the season 3 Big Bad, having conquered and assumed control of Fairy Tale Land while Mayor Evil Queen has been in absentia.

* Pocahontas as a lawyer representing for Storybrooke’s minorities and/or environmental causes, switching specialties every other episode for plot needs as TV lawyers are wont to do.

* Dumbo’s mother incarnated as an overprotective plus-sized mother of Henry’s new mute, big-eared friend.

* Bob Newhart and Zsa-Zsa Gabor reprising their roles as Bernard and Bianca, now retired adventurers who bicker sweetly while their rambunctious brood carry on the family business.

* Don Novello resumes as the demolitions expert from Atlantis: the Lost Empire, except now clad in his old Father Guido Sarducci costume.

* Aladdin’s magic carpet as a hybrid sports car, purple with gold trim, and as alive as Herbie the Love Bug.

* While I’m thinking about it, Herbie the Love Bug wouldn’t be unwelcome, either.

* Zach Braff as a small, jaundiced paranoiac who won’t stop ranting about the sky falling.

* Goofy as the world’s worst sports instructor, still making that terrified “YAAAA-HOOIE!” cry that never fails to make me chuckle.

* Robin Williams as a live-action genie. If this never happens, the show and its promises are all LIES.

Of course, a cast this size would require a budget of several million dollars per episode, possibly as much as one-tenth the cost of an episode of George Lucas’ Star Wars dream show. Cuts will need to be made somewhere to accommodate producer mandates. CG effects may be toned down somewhat in favor of placards that advise the viewers at home to “just use your imagination.” More time for extra commercials may be necessary, cutting episode running times down from forty-five minutes per episode to about ten. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Storybrooke open its very first Subway franchise.

The schedule for next weekend’s San Diego Comic Con includes a Once Upon a Time panel (Saturday the 14th at 11 a.m. — note it on your SDCC calendar app!) that will no doubt shed more light on what’s in store for season two, in addition to giving lucky fans a chance to express their gratitude to the cast in person. Personally, I’m crossing my fingers in hopes of a Grumpy and the Fairy spinoff. I’d claim myself a front-row seat for that, even if it was…for a price.

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