Why I Stopped Recapping Grimm

Readers, you may have noticed that I haven’t recapped an episode of Grimm in a long time.  I could give a number of reasons for that.  I could tell you that I’m writing for the Kalamazoo Gazette, and that they keep me pretty busy over there.  I could tell you that a feature film my friends produced, The Day Job, premiered and that setting all that up took a significant amount of my energies.  I could tell you that I competed in, and won, a stand up comedy competition.  These are all elements.  But the truth is that I stopped recapping Grimm because it’s just not a very good show.  It’s not a very good show, no one’s paying me to recap it, and the time I spend taking notes on episodes and writing about them is better spent doing a number of other things.

It makes me sad.  Grimm had a lot of potential.  It tapped into the same urban fantasy/horror niche that made shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural so successful.  It could’ve fulfilled the appetite for weirdness shows like LOST and Fringe have helped to develop in primetime.  But it failed to tell engaging stories the kept the viewer guessing and entertained.  Grimm suffers from a severe lack of imagination.  The basic premise of most episodes is as follows:

  • Someone dies in a strange way.
  • Nick and Hank investigate suspects.
  • A suspect’s face changes into a vaguely animal shape before Nick’s eyes during an interrogation.
  • Nick looks in his books/talks to Monroe and discovers that the suspect is some sort of animal person loosely based on a fairy tale with a stupid faux German name.
  • Nick tracks down the suspect and captures him.

Grimm is devoted to sucking any possible magic or mystery out of the concept of fairytale creatures.  There are no magic powers or items. All of the creatures’ biological or cultural imperatives translate into basic kidnapping or murdering people.  Nothing is ever a surprise, because all the important characters are revealed via face change effects as they’re introduced.  It’s a procedural without the mystery, and an urban fantasy without the magic.  There’s really no hook to the show.

This isn’t to say Grimm is without redeeming qualities.  The cast is generally likeable, especially Silas Weir Mitchell.  It’s too bad the format is generally “Nick talks to this person, then goes and talks to this person, then talks to this person” because I feel like there’s some decent ensemble potential.  The episodes where the show manages to get out its own way are genuinely good too.  The “Three Little Pigs” episode, despite its painfully obvious premise, introduced the character of Monroe’s badass ex-girlfriend, who brought out different aspects of Nick, Monroe, and most importantly gave them someone to talk to.  Similarly, the episode about the ogre featured a character who gave Hank and Juliette something to do, and who had something interesting going for him besides fur.

But Grimm is also a show which has given us three separate rodent-people creatures.  It’s turned into more of a dark take on Dr. Doolittle than anything fantastic.  I haven’t watched Once Upon a Time at all, not being a LOST devotee, but I can’t imagine they suffer from the same problem.  Rather than using the two elements of the premise to allow them to tell larger stories, the writers of Grimm view it as a very limiting space to work in, a Venn diagram their stories need to take place in.

I said before that Grimm is a show that could get really good by its second or third season, and that may be true.  But I don’t think I’ll be watching it stumble its way there.  Instead, I’d recommend checking out Awake, NBC’s newest procedural with a twist, or Terra Nova, which had a gradual increase in quality throughout the season, building to a top-notch finale (and hopefully, a renewal).  There are plenty of engaging, offbeat shows out there to choose from.

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