As I’m a huge fan of the crime procedural as well as sci-fi/fantasy elements in TV, Grimm seemed right up my alley. It starts like all crime shows, with the height of the crime flashing by in the opening minutes. Then the police team is called in to investigate and decide their next plan of action. However, main character Nick is seeing things a little differently. Within the first five minutes, he’s seen two people whose faces morph into something otherworldly as he passes by. Having no prior experience with the secret of his family, it’s kind of freaking him out, which I think is understandable. His terminally-ill aunt, a well-known and highly-feared Grimm, comes to visit and tells him that he has to end things with his girlfriend, and as he questions her, a monster jumps out and attacks them. She beats the tar out of him, but not without great cost – though Nick shoots and kills the attacker, his aunt winds up in a coma in the hospital. Hence his jump-start into the Grimm family history, which doesn’t let up as he must immediately start using his powers to find a kidnapper/murderer.
I’m going to go ahead and say right now that this is one of the smartest and most airtight pilots of the new season – if not of the entire multi-network TV season as it stands. Convincing acting, smart writing, excellent cinematography, and everything else you could ask for – there wasn’t much more I wanted from this show.
The whole show had a very noir feel to it, with lots of shadows, late nights, fog, mystery and the fact that everyone has a little bit of bad in them. That combined with the crime procedural aspect and Portland backdrop makes for a show unlike any I’ve seen in a while, and one that matches with the Friday 9/8 time slot (Fringe – Fox, Supernatural – CW). Really, the major problem with this show is that it’s on at the same time as both Fringe and Supernatural – Friday night is genre night, indeed. If this doesn’t get moved, though, there are going to be even more ratings problems – basically only because the audiences who would be drawn to these shows is made of all the same people. This is a show made for thinkers, for lovers of mystery and fantasy, for those who will look up the Grimm fairytales online and learn the lore for the show. Even the pilot is unapologetic in its expectations for viewers, which is unusual for a pilot. This isn’t a show that’s going to give you all the answers, and I appreciate that more than I can say. I suppose that’s why I’m such a fan of crime shows.
Within the confines of a typical crime procedural, the connection between the red shirts probably wouldn’t have worked, but because of the fact that Nick is grappling with understanding himself, he was able to see the connections. There was definitely a Red Riding Hood connection here, since the enemy was another Blutbad (Big Bad Wolf) – this is one of the retold Grimm fairy tales, so I was pleased to see it here. Also, for two such serious crimes within such a short time span, I don’t really see why any potential connections aren’t worth exploring – within a television show. It seemed very true to the lighter end of the genre, in that regard – much like Castle, Rizzoli and Isles, etc. The comedy crime procedural, if you will.
Giving Nick the advantages of being a cop will add to how he views the cases. I expect they’ll address this in episodes to come. While other Grimms, like his aunt, faced the same challenges, they had a harder time gaining access to all the information necessary. Perhaps this will make it easier on Nick, in some regards, but I also anticipate him coming up against some obstacles due to his line of work.
I would be remiss in not comparing this to Once Upon a Time. While entirely different shows, they do have so much in common and do request comparison. Suffice to say, the special effects of Grimm are much more fulfilling than those of OUAT. Also, I appreciate the underlying meaning in the narrative more in Grimm than OUAT; while Grimm has a more monster-of-the-week feel than does the latter, this gives Nick more of an emotional grounding. As he’s learning about his family history and discovering the ledge he’s being pushed off, he’s making the choice to propose to his girlfriend and launch into a new part of life – all pretty scary things. The outline of the show gives it further grounding, too, when you realize that there are over 200 possible episodes laid out, if you only put one Grimm fairytale with each episode. That’s some plot security if I’ve ever heard one, since a traditional American show season covers 100 episodes with almost five seasons (which then opens it up for syndication on other channels). So while I think OUAT has a lot going for it, I predict Grimm to be the one with real staying power.
As far as casting went, I was pretty happy with it all. As Nick Burckhardt, David Giuntoli was convincing as both a TV cop and a Grimm – and he has those Disney prince good looks that lend themselves to a fairytale-centric show (albeit a dark one). Bitsie Tulloch as Nick’s fiancee Juliette Silverton was likable, though not very present in this episode, as was Russell Hornsby as Hank Griffin, Nick’s partner in fighting crime. Silas Weir Mitchell as Eddie Monroe aka a Blutbad aka A Big Bad Wolf is, as of now, the comedy bit of the show, though you know his darkness lurks just below the surface. I was hoping for a little more diversity in the casting, but maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised as the show continues.
And boy, what a cliffhanger at the end. I really don’t relish having to choose between this and Fringe. Sweet dreams are made of these, indeed.