The major networks are getting their butts kicked by cable
stations when it comes to quality dramas.
While the broadcast channels have been cutting costs by airing a
slate of reality shows, some of their non-broadcast competitors (led by
have been investing time and money into solid hour-long dramas that
production values that come close to those in feature films (True
Blood, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad,
Supernatural, and Dexter leap to
mind). NBC wasn't going to be left in the
dust though, and last year they aired Grimm,
a show that was part supernatural horror, part police procedural. Created by two writers who worked on the Buffy spin-off Angel, David Greenwalt
and Jim Kouf the show has a great premise
and an excellent pedigree. That's why
it's equally surprising and disappointing that the show doesn't work
than it does.
Homicide Detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) gets
quite a surprise when his cancer stricken aunt Marie (Kate Burton)
his home unexpectedly. Though she only
has weeks to live, she's made the cross-country journey with her camper
Nick something important: He's a Grimm. One of the few descendants of the Brother's
Grimm, he has the ability (which only manifested itself once his aunt
to die) to see creatures and monsters that look human to everyone else. It turns out that all the fairy tales that
are told to children are true. The
original Grimms were just chronically events that really happened.
Marie also informs him that his hereditary job is to hunt
down and kill these evil creatures.
They're not all just sitting around waiting to be killed
one such creature has followed Marie and attacks her.
She lives, but just barely, and Nick gets his
first good look at what he's up against, collectively known as Wesen
He decides not to confide in anyone, not his girlfriend that
he's living with, Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch), nor his partner on the
Police Force Hank (Russell Hornsby). The
only one who really knows he's a Grimm is Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell
from Prison Break and My Name is Earl),
a reformed Wider Blutbad (or Big Bad Wolf as the
original German has been corrupted). Monroe knows a
the Wesen and he aids Nick in his struggle to solve the crimes
these supernatural creatures. The only
other help he gets is from the chronicles of previous Grimms, centuries
that are stored in Marie's trailer. Each
week Nick is presented with another crime/mystery that's somehow
related to a
fairy tale. He encounters a Pied Piper,
trolls, a Rapunzel, a Bluebeard, and the like.
This is an episodic show, though there is a little
continuity involving the larger world of Wesen, in particular those
that hunt Grimms,
and largely plays out as a monster-of-the-week program.
That's not bad; there are some great shows
that fall into that category such as Buffy
and Supernatural. The
problem with Grimm is that it's trying to be too many
things and excels and none
The weakest aspect of the show is the detective-drama
part. Each episode starts out with a
crime involving a Wesen that Nick needs to solve and the steps he takes
sometimes absolutely ludicrous. In the
pilot episode Nick and Hank kick down the door of a man's house without
warrant and then shoot him in the back four times (killing him) as he
run away. Their reason?
The man was humming a top 40's hit by the duo
Eurythmics that was on the iPod of a murder victim.
In another episode Hank finds a sliver of
glass outside a house, and since a rape victim had put her hand through
window he decides that's 'probably cause' and breaks into the building. Haven't the writers ever watched CSI
or Law and Order?
While most of the premise is laid out in the pilot episode,
it doesn't explain everything, which makes it hard to get a handle on
Nick is supposed to do as a Grimm. Most
of the Wesen he encounters are totally harmless and blend in with
makes clocks for a living and others work as rat catchers and appliance
repairmen. They're all initially afraid
that Nick, being a Grimm, has come to kill them even though they
anything wrong. The Grimms seem just as
wicked as some of the Wesen they kill.
It's not all bad however.
The production values are pretty high for a network TV show, and
where the show shines. The sets are very
convincing and atmospheric and the CGI, though it won't win any awards,
decent enough. The program does manage
to create a spooky atmosphere in several episodes and it works best
and Monroe are walking through some fog filled forest looking for a
that's also looking for them.
Some of the stories are quite good too, with a new and
interesting twist on old folk stories.
One of the problems with adapting fables is that everyone knows
end, but the writers change things around just enough so that everyone
what the inspiration for the tale is (well, most of them) they're
that the finale isn't a foregone conclusion.
What's more, the series does get better as it progresses. The pilot, surprisingly, was one of the
weakest episodes in the series. If you
hate the show after the first couple of installments, don't give up, it
The acting is pretty hit-or-miss too. The
two leads have very little chemistry on
screen, with David Giuntoli being particularly bland.
On the other hand, the supporting characters
are fantastic, and much more interesting than the leads.
Silas Weir Mitchell steals just about every
scene he's in, playing the reformed Big Bad Wolf with just the right
humor so that his character is fun and gets laughs without being silly
buffoon. Likewise Reggie Lee's Sgt. Wu
is light and entertaining and the show's most enjoyable when he's on
screen. It's just a shame that the main
characters couldn't be as charming.
The 22-episodes that make up season one arrive on five
Blu-ray discs housed in a rather awkward fold-out case.
I thought TV shows had realized that
consumers don't like having to unfold 2 ½ feet worth of container to
access a 5
inch DVD. Unlike some of the better
fold-out cases, this on holds the DVDs in thin pressboard pockets to
ensures the data side of the disc will be rubbed every time someone
replaces a disc. I really dislike
that. On the plus side, they did put the
inside of the case to good use, printing both a list of episodes for
with a short synopsis, but also a "Wesen Dictionary" that translates
creature names from German and gives a definition.
That was pretty cool.
The show arrives with
a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that sounds quite nice.
Being a recent show this doesn't come as a
surprise. There's good use made of the
entire soundstage and the sub kicks in effectively during the actions
scenes. The overdone music has a nice
range and fills the room, even if you wish it didn't do it so
Filmed in HD, 1.78:1 1080p, VC-1 image looks very good
too. The level of detail is quite high
and fine lines are easily discernable even in the low light scenes,
common. The colors are stable and strong
and there are no compression artifacts.
A solid looking show.
The disc comes with a fair amount of extras, though it feels
like they cut corners in that department.
There aren't any commentary tracks and the video bonuses are
feel like they were going for 'cheap' rather than 'definitive.'
There are a good number of deleted scenes sprinkled over the
five discs, none of which add much to the various episodes though it
that they were included. Grimm
Guide is an interactive 'book'
that gives some information on the creatures featured in the show and
five audition tapes (in SD) made by the actors who were selected for
characters. The main video extra is The World of Grimm a ten-minute
behind-the-scenes docu which is shorter than it should be, and Grimm: Making the Monsters which gives viewers
a six-minute peak at how the creature makeup was created.
The bonus features are rounded out with three
short highlight reels.
This is a show that's okay, but should be a lot better.
Half supernatural horror show, half police procedural,
it falls sort of the mark in either genre.
The horror elements are not as scary and suspenseful as it
should be and
the mysteries are pretty lame and the police work is laughable in parts. That's not to say it's a bad show. The program is somewhat entertaining and get
better as the series progresses. Here's hoping it improves with season
that's scheduled to start on August 13, 2012.
This one gets a mild recommendation.