Having spent a little time both in Portland, the decision to set the supernatural crime-fighting show Grimm in the Rose City seems a logical one. To be sure, the reason why Portland stays weird is likely more to do with things other than the introduction of mythical creatures among its citizenry, but it does not hurt. As for Grimm itself, it grows remarkably comfortable in just its second season to what it does and how it goes about doing it.
The show is created by three people: Stephen Carpenter, who may not be familiar to television fans, but he brought the idea to another network before the plug was pulled due to the writers' strike of 2008. Carpenter is joined by Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt, who worked together on Angel, a spinoff of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and something otherworldly in its own right. It should be noted at this point that Carpenter Nick Burkhardt (David Guintoli) works as a police detective in Portland alongside Hank (Russell Hornsby, Lincoln Heights). Nick has a rare gift where he is able to spot animals hidden as people, walking among the fine folks of Portland, and he helps protect the people from any violence the creatures may inflict. People with similar gifts are called "Grimms." Nick lives with Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch, Lakeview Terrace) and they have a solid relationship, though the beginning of the season finds her without her memory and wondering about who Nick is and what he does. With the help of Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell, Flags of Our Fathers), who is a creature that works at a spice shop which serves as a medical station of sorts for creatures and victims of cast spells along with his girlfriend Rosalee (Bree Turner, Just My Luck), and the show helps Nick serve and protect while ensuring that creatures do not come along and take over Portland and thus, the world.
If one could not tell by the show's title, it is inspired by the Grimm Fairy Tales, using real-life storytelling. The show's first season found Nick dealing not only with the creatures, but the shady ulterior motivations of his captain, Sean Renard (Sasha Roiz, Warehouse 13). Season Two still has those motivations lying in wait, but the writers decided to expand the universe for the characters. The Rosalee character was elevated to a full-time cast member, along with Adalind (Claire Coffee), a creature who has bad intentions for Nick in the first season and a seemingly grander plan in the second. And Danny Bruno appeared in one episode in the first season but was given more screen time in the second as Bud, a Constanza-esque lovable creature who works somewhat peripherally with Nick and Monroe to help provide information on beasts in the neighborhood.
These casting decisions along with some creative decisions helped raise the game for Grimm in its second season. The show decides to get rid of a big thing that was prevalent throughout the first season, and it does so to set up a larger journey that can introduce more players to the ensemble and can span over several seasons should the show get to that point. The show is not without its standalone episodes that include some supernatural, some procedural, tossing in a mix of familiar faces during the season. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (The Perfect Storm) appears as Nick's presumed long-deceased mother at one point in the season, and Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand And Fog) makes for a perfect touch as a character impacting Adalind's future.
The ensemble handles the story and the season well for the most part, but there is something about Guintoli that I cannot put my finger on which bothers me. Maybe it is because he appeared on the MTV touchstone show The Real World, but the guy seems to have the same general expression no matter what situation he finds himself in. Not only is it fascinating to watch, but the fact that a few of the supporting cast…well…support the star is disconcerting at a minimum. With that said, the show adeptly illustrates the fairy tale demons despite their television budget and production grind, and those demons are the main feature for many. Despite the show's bouncing around to no fewer than three different weeknights during Season Two, it not only managed to retain, but increase viewership from Season One. Whatever it may be doing that I may have missed, it is working.
And when someone has a good thing going, there is little to get in the way. While problems exist with the range of some of the show's key players, the story manages to make the viewer forget them and get swept up in the mythology and the eccentricities nicely. NBC has quite the cult favorite on their hands and in an understated manner, and to the credit of the writers they shift the balance of the show well with some smart decisions. Grimm does not appear to be fading away; in fact it appears to be getting weirder.
22 episodes (with the option of an extended episode) for Season Two, spread over five BD-50 discs, and all are presented in 1.78:1 widescreen using the VC-1 codec. Black levels are razor sharp and presents a better than expected contrast in most sequences. The show possesses a solid amount of image detail in the foreground and in wider exteriors, the Oregon greens are given their due justice when viewing. This is one of the better high-definition presentations for a television show that I have witnessed recently.
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 for all episodes, which not only was impressive, but a pleasant surprise from the original broadcasts. Dialogue is well-balanced in the center of the soundstage, and the subwoofer engages frequently and with good effect. The show tends to pay off the more dynamic stuff though, as more subtle, quieter scenes lack any real ambience to make the entire listening experience feel immersive. The show definitely sounds good, but could have been used more effectively.
Most of the extras for the show are on the fifth disc, though there are some deleted scenes on every disc as well. The deleted scenes appear on a little more than half of the season's episodes and run 38:26 in total, most are pretty quick though there are a few that flesh out more of Adalind's character. The remainder of the extras are on Disc Five, starting with a gag reel (5:11) that is overwhelming. "Myths, Monsters and Legends" 10:23) recaps the first season and looks at the second with the cast and creators, and the differences between Season Two and Season One. A tour of Nick's trailer with prop weapons is included, and favorite creatures are shared, and how gradual the show's success has been. "Creatures and Chaos" (2:59) is a montage of the creepy crawlies, while "Monroe's Best Moments" is 2:18 of Mitchell's scenes. "Bad Air Day" comprises four webisodes (8:39) set in the shop where Monroe and Rosalee spend their time, while "Grimm Guide" is an interactive look at the monsters in Season Two.
The second season of Grimm gets into an effective and popular groove and while it may not be the best show out there, it does well with the hand that it is given. Technically the show is pretty damn good, though from a bonus material perspective lacks a little bit. Knowing the concept coming in helps but is not necessary to experience what goes on in Season Two, and is a nice change of pace for television viewers.