Monday, 31 October 2011

Review: GRIMM, 1.1 - "Pilot"

Monday, 31 October 2011
Sometimes it feels like certain writers so enjoyed working on a defunct TV show that they rush to get behind a new one with a similar concept. David Greenwalt was a key figure behind Buffy spin-off Angel, about a detective with superpowers (he's a vampire) investigating a world full of monsters. Grimm concerns a detective with superpowers (he can see the true form of creatures posing as humans), and his investigations into this veiled world of monsters. As the second series with a fairy tale basis this season, the other being Once Upon A Time, Grimm is noticeably darker and less imaginative, but by attaching itself to a cop show backdrop I can envision it lasting longer. But that's not necessarily a good thing, because I'd rather have short-lived inventiveness than protracted formula.

To clarify the setup, Portland homicide detectives Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) and Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby) find themselves chasing a killer who murdered a red-coated jogger, before Nick starts having frightening hallucinations of people's faces turning monstrous. It's not long before his bald Aunt Marie (Kate Burton) reveals Nick's one of the last remaining "Grimms"; people who can see the true form of creatures that co-exist with humans, whose existence prove the Brothers Grimm based their fairy tales on reality. For instance, the Big Bad Wolf from Red Riding Hood was in actual fact a "blutbad" creature, and one appears to be preying on girls wearing red clothing once again...

Grimm isn't as terrible as I was expecting, but it's also one of the many US fantasy shows that simply isn't trying very hard. I wasn't a fan of Once Upon A Time's pilot, but it was at least fairly creative, whereas Grimm's just another "cop show with a gimmick". My taste is more of fairy tales to be treated with an undercurrent of horror, so I'm pleased that Grimm's tone is more in that vein, but that doesn't really ameliorate its other weaknesses. Giuntoli is terribly flat and boring as the lead actor (having a facial resemblance to Brandon Routh that extends to his acting abilities), and I'm just not very excited by the concept.

Unexpectedly, Grimm's pilot worked best once Eddie Monroe (Prison Break's Silas Weir Mitchell) was introduced as a reformed "blutbad" who's learned to curb his killer instincts and live in harmony with people. Mitchell's the highlight of the show and the episode regained some life once Nick was partnered with Eddie for a brief period. It makes you wonder why they bothered with the Hank character and just partnered Nick with Eddie, as it wound be instantly more entertaining those two were working cases together. Maybe future episodes will find a way to at least have them working as a trio, with Eddie as the "Huggy Bear"-style figure, but I'd love to know why they opted to have two human males as the leads. If you have an actor as wooden as Giuntoli as your star, you really need to ensure his co-stars help take the edge off. The casting is generally very unbalanced, with the always fun Reggie Lee as Sgt Wu and Caprica's Sasha Roiz as Captain Renard—both actors who deserve to be much higher in the pecking order. I'd prefer this show with them as the leads, in fact.

Overall, the outlook for Grimm is best-described by its own title, but there's certainly mileage in the concept. But that's because shows of this nature are created every year on US TV, and they very rarely offer audiences anything new. I'm sure diehard fans of the genre will stick around for awhile, and likewise people with a sense of loyalty to Angel alumnus, but I can already tell that Grimm doesn't offer anything creative enough for me. There are too many better shows around right now, and I just don't see understand why you'd want to waste your time on the likes of this.

written by David Greenwalt & Jim Kouf (story by David Greenwalt, Jim Kouf & Stephen Carpenter) / directed by Marc Buckland / 28 October 2011 / NBC