NBC’s new, fairy-tale based drama, Grimm, may be a source of confusion to many viewers. The show’s dark and sinister feel bears no resemblance to the fairy tales Disney fed us as children. The criminal orientation of the basic plot more greatly resembles a standard procedural than a fantasy epic. The cast features few recognizable stars to headline any advertising campaigns.
However, these are all things that help to make Grimm work.
Grimm tells the story of Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), a young police detective who suddenly begins to see monsters roaming the streets of his everyday world. Soon, Nick learns that he is a “Grimm,” one of a line of monster-fighters with the ability to see the often-violent creatures lurking inside. The detective is a little surprised by all of this — and understandably so — but soon realizes that his knowledge and abilities can help to solve some truly horrifying crimes.
Where do the fairy tales fit in? Grimm‘s explanation is that the original Grimm Brothers, instead of just collecting folk stories, were actually profilers of monstrous creatures. Their stories were meant as warnings, not light entertainment. Thus, monsters like the Big Bad Wolf appear in Grimm, stalking young girls in bright colors.
Want to see Grimm for yourself? Click here for an extended preview of the pilot episode.
Grimm works by clinging to its police-procedural frame, even in the midst of supernatural insanity. Nick’s job is to catch bad guys. That those bad guys are, in fact, monsters is almost incidental. The world of Grimm is likewise an odd combination of the extraordinary and the mundane. Nick’s girlfriend, Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch), and partner, Hank (Russell Hornsby), have no clue why the detective suddenly has a new take on his murder cases. Meanwhile, Nick can only explore the dark, fairy-tale world with the help of a “reformed” and beer-drinking Big Bad Wolf by the name of Eddie (Silas Weir Mitchell in a scene-stealing role).
While it is a good and dark piece of entertainment, Grimm is not perfect. The pilot moves slowly at times as it sets up the characters and mythology of its fairy-tale world. A few of the characters (like Juliette and the sinister police captain, Renard (Sasha Roiz)) appear, in the pilot anyway, as mere shadows passing through their scenes. And sometimes the show’s signature darkness, while absolutely essential to its excellent air of mystery, is just a little too dark. These are, however, small quibbles about a high-quality program.
Don’t be fooled by its fantasy premise. Grimm is nothing like the Technicolor fantasies that most of us know as fairy tales. It is instead a sinister procedural drawing on the darkest aspects of our society’s creepiest stories.
But, like the stories on which it is based, Grimm is better than any cheerful knockoff.
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Grimm premieres on Friday, October 28 at 9pm on NBC.
(Image courtesy of NBC)