Once Upon a Time returned to our television screen last month. We shamefully finished dinner on the couch as the opening credits started, our toddler happily chowing away in the old high chair. We’d watched the first half of the season because of Anna and Elsa.
Right around the time our toddler discovered and fell for Frozen, ABC decided to pull this:
I’ve written at some length about how effective and instructive Frozen seemed to be after a single viewing. Kind of on a lark, I showed that to our toddler.
“That’s Elsa. Can we watch that?”
So, like all good parents, we tried to catch up on the show before the fall premiere. It was close. We don’t watch a lot of television and near the end it required a couple late nights. But we did it. Our toddler kept busy drawing or playing and deigned to watch when when the Of Arendelle sisters had scenes. The Frozen arc ended before Christmas and we didn’t hear anything about it.
Cut to four months later. We’ve mostly watched movies when we’ve watched anything at all. Our toddler’s developed the “Long Narrative” skill discovered during Frozen and displayed some remarkable comprehension in post viewing discussions. We were interested to see how the Queens of Darkness fared.
Things went relatively smoothly. We learned that four months of only watching movies or Netflix had created some expectations. Commercials were a particular challenge. They were met with indignation and feelings of betrayal.
“What!? Don’t turn it off!”
But we all sat together happily on the couch with plenty of hugs in case anything was scary. Toddlers can surprise you, talking constantly or being completely quiet. The episode ended and we got ready for bed.
It wasn’t until morning that we got a sense of how it was received. The editorial commentary came while walking down the stairs.
“There was no Elsa in that movie last night.”
“No, there wasn’t.”
“She was looking for Anna.”
It wasn’t immediately clear that this was a recap of 4×09 “Fall,” of course.
“But Anna was in the water.”
That seemed to be enough, I guess. And the expectation was that they’d be in the next one. This time, the commercials weren’t confusing, just upsetting. It’s pretty gratifying seeing a toddler indignant at them, to be honest.
When Maleficent turned into dragon, things got a little tense. The kid ain’t scared of much, but dragons are on the list. Our toddler covered with questions.
“Where’s Anna? Where’s Elsa?”
We had to explain that they weren’t going to be back on the show, but that we could watch the Frozen themed episodes any time. Nonetheless, the show seems like a hit. The other night I asked, “Would you like to watch Gone Girl with us?” It was a safe question. I amuse myself by asking ridiculous questions with predictable answers.
“No. I want to watch Once Upon a Time.”
“But you want to watch the ones with Anna and Elsa, right?”
A week ago I was rewatching a scene while making dinner and our toddler recognized Killian by name. We were surprised and pleased, especially because we hadn’t talked about him much. But they may have lost their youngest fan last weekend. Babies and toddlers gotta stick together, and what they did wasn’t right.