Time to venture once again into Grown-Up Fantasy TV! Finally—a show available on basic cable! I realized my last three Grown-Up Fantasy shows (Carnivàle, True Blood, and Game of Thrones) are all from HBO. I promise that’s not the only network I watch. Grimm hails from NBC, and though it’s still best for grown-ups, it’s much more family-friendly than any of the aforementioned shows. Next to Game of Thrones it looks like freaking Scooby Doo. That’s not an insult—Game of Thrones is just very, very adult.
Grimm sparked my interest as soon as I heard about it. Obviously, I understood the show had some kind of connection to the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales, but beyond that I knew jack squat. Turns out it takes baddies from the Grimm stories and places them in modern times. So does it work? I’ve only seen season one so far, but I do think the concept is interesting, and it has potential. I’m just a little disappointed that even with the fantasy element, Grimm often feels more like a formulaic cop show than a modern day exploration of classic fairy tales.
Synopsis: “A homicide detective discovers he is a descendant of hunters who fight supernatural forces.” –Borrowed from my favorite movie site, IMDb.
The Good: The main character, Nick (David Giuntoli), is very easy to like. He’s a good cop, a good boyfriend, and a genuinely good guy whose world is turned upside down when his aunt informs him that he is a Grimm. Basically, this means he’s responsible for maintaining the balance between humanity and mythological creatures known as the Wesen (pronounced “vessin;” all the creature names are very German). And boy is Portland teeming with supernatural baddies. Poor Nick can’t seem to walk across the street without tripping over some strange new enemy. As both a Grimm and a cop, Nick feels obligated to deal with them. But to everyone else, the Wesen look like plain old humans. If Nick tried to tell anyone about it, they’d think he was bananas. Luckily, Nick is able to vent about this when he meets reformed Blutbad (aka big bad wolf) Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell). With an arsenal of dry humor and sarcasm, Monroe is definitely the comic relief, and despite many half-hearted complaints, he is almost always ready and willing to help Nick. He becomes a sort of mentor for the inexperienced Grimm, and his already awesome character is all the more awesome because of it. Some of the modern takes on the fairy tale creatures are also pretty interesting. Goldilocks and the Three Bears becomes a story about a couple breaking into the home of…well, people who can change into bears. The Pied Piper becomes a rebel kid who DJs. The tables are turned on three big bad wolves when a little pig (aka Bauerschwein) begins picking them off. It’s a cop show with a fairy tale twist, which is pretty cool. Favorite moment: Throughout the season, a nasty Hexenbiest (witch) causes trouble for Nick and his partner, Hank (Russell Hornsby). The witch (Claire Coffee) makes a batch of enchanted cookies meant for Hank, but when Sergeant Wu (Reggie Lee) sneaks one, the magic has a bad side effect: Wu gets a very unusual case of the munchies. Watching him chow down on some very inedible objects is so surprising that you have to laugh.
The Bad: Unfortunately, the show is often very formulaic. We come to a crime scene, Nick discovers a Wesen creature is involved, Nick tracks down aforementioned creature, the case is solved, the end. Hit repeat 21 times for the rest of the season. Well, that’s not being totally fair, but it can seem like that—especially if you watch several episodes in a row. And the overarching story is pretty shaky. Nick is so wrapped up in individual beasts that it’s hard to get a grasp of what’s really going on in the Wesen world and what it all means to the show. Plus, I feel like the cop aspect of the show often takes the lead when I’d prefer to see more fantasy. Nick is a cop first and a Grimm second; I’m waiting to see the reverse. Formulaic cop shows are a dime a dozen, but this world of the Wesen has potential. It’s far more interesting than anything the Portland PD has to offer, and I’m hoping the creators realize that. My only other qualm is with Nick’s girlfriend, Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch). She’s just…annoying. She’s not much of a personality, she’s ridiculously oblivious to her boyfriend’s supernatural shenanigans, and Tulloch’s acting is not fantastic. I’m pretty sure her face can only handle like three emotions. Harsh, I know, but watch it and you’ll see. Least favorite moment: When the show implies that Hitler was a Wesen. They even show footage of him transforming. Just…no. Don’t, please.
To Sum It Up: Judging this show on its first season alone is a little unfair. It will be starting its third season soon (Oct. 25th), and reviews for season two seem to be better. Based on what I’ve seen, I could believe that. Season one lays the groundwork for an interesting series. It may not be the most compelling fantasy show out there, but Grimm is fairly inventive, it utilizes witty scripts, and it’s established some fun characters (i.e. Monroe). Fantasy fans might want to give it a whirl because who knows? Grimm very well could be a rising star.
My Grade: B