So I sort of always suspected that my interest in Once Upon a Time would be a mortal thing, prey to the waves of time. And, you know, that's okay: it gave me plenty of entertainment during my last semester of college and may yet have more to spread when the third season starts up in the fall.
I gave my thoughts on Season 1 already; you can read those here. It's odd to try and compare the seasons. While there are areas where it felt like the season grew with experience, there are also places where it seems like the writers were trying to stretch ideas out too thin. So there are some things that I liked more about Season 2, but others that felt better in Season 1.
At certain points in Season 2, it felt that the storyline no longer revolved around fairy tale stories like before; the characters just happened to have fairy tale names. We had less of the interaction with the themes and characterization that are distinctive to the individual stories. But just when I wondered if the show had abandoned that angle, they would add something back in--like the wonderful episode "The Miller's Daughter." So I suspect that the writers and/or producers have been trying to simultaneously make space for the plot to continue after this season while also making it such that viewers wouldn't be left dangling with zero resolutions if the show hadn't been renewed. Which is sort of weird to me: once I started in on Season 1, I thought the show had a good premise, but now it seems like it isn't as flawlessly planned out as it used to seem to be. Now it's starting to feel just like any other TV show with mixed up timelines and a twisty plot.
Which brings me to the spinoff that will also be starting in the fall, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Although I hear that there will be crossover between the two (which might turn out nice), I tend to think that it would be better to focus energies on one show and develop, expand, or change it as necessary rather than try to spread the universe out too much too soon. Maybe the spinoff will turn out to be a good decision, but I only imagine it making the Once Upon a Time franchise's success more complex and difficult to keep up.
Or maybe I'm just asking too much of a show that I originally said I appreciated for providing "both diversion and thought." What works well about this show is that it is family friendly without being flat as paper, it evokes memories of fairy tales while still offering something new, and it is simply entertaining to watch while also giving you something extra to ponder between episodes. If we as the audience sometimes ponder too much, imagining that the story will turn out more complex than it actually does, then that's out fault--not the show's. And as long as Rumplestiltskin and Belle are in the story, I'll keep watching.