Fall 2011 Review: Grimm

19 Nov

Grimm starts with a college student running in a red hoodie being assaulted by some sort of creature who we can’t really see, but who tears her limb from limb.  Detective Nick and his partner Hank, investigate the crime and debate whether the killer is a human or animal until they eventually find a boot print.  Meanwhile, Nick is buying a ring to propose for his girlfriend, but starts seeing strange things – people’s faces turn into monsters’ faces for a couple of seconds at a time, almost like the way humans look like aliens when Roddy Piper wears the special sunglasses in “They Live.”  As Nick and Hank work on solving the case, a little girl goes missing, also wearing a red hoodie (Little Red Riding Hood!  I get it!) and as they investigate Nick suspects a man whose face does the weird monster transformation who lives by the edge of the park where the college student’s body was found.  Nick’s dying aunt, who apparently raised him, comes over to his house and lets Nick know some important information:  He is a GRIMM – an elite line of fairy tale monster-hunters who can see these monsters while they attempt to blend in with humanity.  As the aunt tells Nick, she hands him a key he must protect at all costs and she’s attacked by a monster, who after a prolonged fight, injures her badly, but is killed by Nick.

Nick goes to the house of the monster he saw earlier at the edge of the park, attacks him, and gets into a fight before discovering that this monster is instead a reformed monster who drinks beers, goes to church and pees to mark his territory like a normal person.  The reformed monster tells Nick a little about GRIMMs and assists Nick eventually in locating where the offending wolf-monster might be and takes him there.  Nick calls his partner, and though the partner is initially suspicious, they eventually are on the same page, and after some time kill the monster and find the girl.  Nick realizes he has a lot yet to learn about being a GRIMM, and at the end he saves his aunt, still unconscious, from an evil monster attacker, who seems like she will be part of the serial plot.

Grimm is the second fairy tale inspired show to air this year along with ABC’s Once Upon a Time, but Grimm shares more in common with Buffy the Vampire Slayer in style, if not in quantity.  I was only slightly surprised to see that Grimm, after I made that comparison in my mind, was co-created by David Greenwalt, a former Buffy writer.  There’s a number of reasons this comparison felt apt.  The main character, like Buffy, is learning to see monsters who hide in plain sight, something which only a  small and elite group of people can see (yes, Buffy already technically knows she’s a slayer at the beginning of the TV show, but more or less she’s learning).  These monsters threaten humanity every day and the protagonist now realizes he (or she) has a responsibility to the world to use his (or her) powers to protect humans, threatening to damage his (or her) personal life.  It has a procedural but serial feel similar to Buffy; there’s a monster of the week, but the potential for a slowly moving storyline; if it’s anything like Buffy, the serial plot will develop slowly at first and then become more prominent over the last few episodes of a season.  The idea of a reformed werewolf who assists the protagonist is a classic Buffy-esque touch; one of the great concepts of Buffy was that demons weren’t always evil, breaking general conventions.

Unfortunately for Grimm, it didn’t have many of the hallmarks which made Buffy so great such as  the using of demons and monsters as ways to interweave stories about the struggles of the main characters in their personal lives, the mixture of comedy and drama, and the witty and distinctive dialogue.  It’s unfair, though, to compare Grimm to seven seasons worth of Buffy; Buffy’s first couple of episodes had their problems as well.

Right now Grimm seems like, if not opened up a little bit, it could wear down to a simple spin on a police procedural where the killers are monsters.  That could still be passable, but the show could be stronger with some drawing on the mythology of the fairy tales and the Grimms and I think there’s a chance the show could go in that direction.  A tad more humor might serve the show well, as well.

As a note, it seemed odd that, at the beginning of the episode the runner who is murdered is listening to Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by The Eurythmics, and when the detectives find her iPod, it’s playing the same song.  Either they incredibility coincidentally came upon the iPod as the playlist was at the same place, or her running playlist consisted of that song repeating over and over again.

Will I watch it again?  I don’t think so, right away anyway, but I do think this show has a better chance of being good than Once Upon A Time.  From just the premises, Once Upon A Time sounded better to me.  It was more serial, had an open world with interesting questions, and Grimm sounded more like a fantasy procedural.  Those vague descriptions were accurate, but from one episode, Grimm has more potential.

One Response to “Fall 2011 Review: Grimm”

  1. Beardface November 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    My biggest problem with this show is that it’s supposed to be set out here, but it’s clearly taped in New York City!

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