TV Review: Grimm
Happy Halloween!! In honor of this wonderful occasion, I’ve decided to post a review/recap of Grimm, NBC’s new Friday night action/drama/crime procedural/fantasy/horror thing. Basically, it’s a light crime procedural with a supernatural twist, in that the killers turn out to be monsters and stuff. My recap starts below, but I just want to throw up a SPOILER ALERT now in case anyone’s worried about that sort of thing.
The pilot of Grimm opens with a rather stock bit about a girl jogging who gets attacked by some humanoid creature. We’re then introduced to Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), a skilled police detective preparing to propose to his girlfriend, who has the unfortunate experience of watching strangers’ faces mutate horrifyingly for a moment before snapping back to normal. Nick is so unbelievably blase about this that I assumed he led some kind of monster killing double life, but it seems he’s just a regular police detective, assigned to investigate the aforementioned girl’s disappearance with his partner(Russell Hornsby). He returns home to find his creepy aunt waiting for him, telling him “they need to talk.” They then do an Aaron Sorkin style walk and talk outside where she throws out buzzwords and MacGuffins left and right. It turns out his parents were not killed in a car accident when he was twelve, but were instead murdered in a much cooler way. Her info dump is interrupted by a scythe wielding monster, who seriously injures the aunt before Nick manages to shoot it.
When his aunt comes to at the hospital, she informs him he’s the last of the Grimms, a line of monster hunters. This is absolutely hilarious to me. I can only hope that in a couple hundred years, a television show is produced about the last of the Standos, a race of ninjas who eat evil sandwiches before they can harm the innocent. She lapses into a coma, but not before telling Nick where to find a how-to guide on monster slaying. He after determining that the culprit of the murder and a subsequent kidnapping is a wolf creature a la Little Red Riding Hood, he sets off to interrogate one he discovered earlier.
But it turns out that this wolf, Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), isn’t a bad guy at all!! He’s also far and away the most enjoyable character in the episode, and the scenes of his interaction with Nick are great. Monroe’s indignation at Nick’s racist assumptions is hilarious, and the two have the kind of chemistry most other characters on the show lack. While shades of grey and “man is the true monster” aren’t exactly new ideas, the fact that the show incorporated them into the pilot demonstrates that they’re going to be major themes, and ambiguity isn’t utilized nearly enough in procedurals.
Nick tracks down the real baddie, a Dennis Quaid-looking wolf fellow with a creepy demeanor and dungeon in his basement, and manages to defeat him with the aid of his police partner. The episode ends with some arc-building involving a freaky-faced hottie from earlier and Nick’s police captain possibly being in on the take.
The show has a lot in common with long running franchises like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural, as well as being reminiscent of Bill Willingham’s Fables comic series. This isn’t a bad thing, but when you’re drawing comparisons to works that good, you’d better have something up your sleeve. Grimm hovers between genuinely clever and engaging and ridiculously over the top, landing in the latter category as often as the former. Some of the dialogue is particularly groan-inducing (references to “crying wolf,” as well as “this isn’t like a fairy tale,” as though fairy tales were ever anything but relentlessly terrifying), and the scary face special effects are hit or miss and not well integrated into the story.
But there are enough flashes of brilliance for me to give this show a thumbs up, at least for now. It walks the line between urban fantasy/horror well, and my main criticism of procedurals has always been a focus on technobabble over characters and recurring antagonists. Grimm avoids that pitfall, and looks like it could deliver something unique as long as it avoids pandering to current fads (this episode was about as close to werewolves as I want to get for a while, I’d much rather see old crones and other mainstays of classical fairy tales).
All in all, Grimm is a surprisingly enjoyable genre mash up. It’s not perfect by any means, but there’s enough potential there to keep me watching for a couple weeks. It airs Fridays at 9 pm on NBC, check it out.
RATING: THREE STARS (OUT OF FOUR)