Always down for a good horror series, I like to pass judgment on the newbies myself. As genre fans, do we care about Nielsen ratings? We just want a good dark story we can call our own. While others fell by the wayside this past year (The River, The Killing), a miniscule few survived the network cuts. One of them is Grimm, and if you haven’t caught on yet, this horror/cop drama is imaginative and intriguing and worth your time and support.
There were days, way back when, when you couldn’t even get good horror on cable. Non theater access to Dawn of the Dead and the like was something I had always longed for in a vision of a possible future. Now we have our zombie series wet dream, The Walking Dead, and shows like Grimm that inject a welcome amount of fictional blackness into our humble homes. While Grimm plays on NBC, and can’t hold a candle to the rawness of Kirkman’s series, it’s about as good as you can expect from a public, family network. Gore, monstrous violence, and intrigue; enough to keep us coming back each week.
Grimm is a dark cop-procedural drama laced with the age old myths of The Brothers Grimm but within the modern setting of Portland, Oregon. It focuses on Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), a man who lost his parents in a car crash at an early age, and was raised by his aunt and grew up to be a law enforcer. Everything is quite normal (cop normal) in his life. He is about to be engaged to a great supportive woman in Juliette Silverton (beautiful Bitsy Tulloch) – and all is going well, until he starts to suffer from weird visions. Sporadically – normal, everyday people are starting to look like creatures to him and no one else, hiding in the open. Brushing this off as an over active imagination (or something that just can’t be actually happening), his long lost aunt shows up out of nowhere and tells him that she is dying and he is one of the last descendants of the Grimms, a family which has been burdened with the task of keeping evil at bay. Now, this responsibility is about to be passed on to him.
As crazy as it all seems, she dies (early on) and Nick soon realizes after an attempted assassination by someone with a reaper’s scythe that all of this is unfortunately real. As new to all of this as most of us are, the series takes its time introducing viewers to the Brothers Grimm folklore – discovering as Nick does, the multiple types of creatures living embedded in our society (much like They Live), and how he will have to learn to balance this great secret. He has to hide this burden from his fiance until he can find out how the hell to tell her without destroying their union or seeming insane, all the while being a level headed police officer who must extract the most evildoers from the public under the guise of investigative and evidence oriented police work. It’s a bit Dexter-ish in the way he moves about his cohorts with this great secret responsibility while trying to balance the normal life he had grown accustomed to.
A lot of shows take time to find themselves (Lost), never knowing how long they’ll be on the air, how much time there is to wrap up story lines, but Grimm pretty much lays it all on the line early in the first season, creating a firm backbone for a treasure trove of stories already written and created by The Brothers Grimm back in the early 1800’s. Back in the day, these tales were told to children in the guise of Hansel and Gretel and the like to warn young ones and parents alike of the true evils in the world and how to avoid them without overwhelming childrens’ minds with reality. In Grimm, they take out the candy coated palette pleasers and give it to you straight, as if it might fit into a modern adult world where people die, kids get eaten, dismemberments occur, and things turn out quite badly for many. In fact, it’s pretty ballsy for the NBC network.
With near 600 legends, and two hundred and something fairy tales written and created by Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm, it’s an already laid out path that has an endless supply of stories to draw from , so there is no end to what can be done with future seasons. And the actors casted are fantastic at their roles. There is a great chemistry working even when things are between “wows” – especially Silas Weir Mitchell, who plays Nick’s Blutbad partner in Grimm affairs – who pretty much locked me in early in the season. He is a shoe-in for the supportive character he plays, playing it off as good as anybody could have wanted or expected.
The only thing that may ruin this for viewers is the overused and not-so-great CGI used when Nick sees people for the monsters they really are, and these “glimpses” are sometimes digitalized. I’m in the same boat, not adhering to such makeup styles, but you get used to it. And if you can forgive this slight awkwardness, there are severed demolished body parts and practical makeup FX as well that you’ll get to enjoy and gawk at from time to time. It’s really the show’s only distraction, and it’s very minor. Besides, the practical FX are really good.
I won’t venture off much more into the stories, as I firmly believe the less you know with some things, the better, because the learning process is what locks us in to serials like this – so why should I ruin that for you? Just know that if this is your sort of thing, by the end of season one, you’ll be a mildly addicted viewer looking forward to the second.
The DVD package is nice, too. You get a couple of bubblegum style trading cards with monster types, a decent amount of deleted scenes, bloopers, and information-chocked documentary segments like “The World of Grimm” and “Grimm: Making Monsters,” which are great insight for viewers who have watched the season (spoilers for those who haven’t). Even after all of that, perhaps the best part of this modest package is the Encyclopedia of Grimm, which is printed on the enfolds of the DVD. It denotes the wide variety of creature names (which are a lot of fun to discover and learn about throughout the season) and lists them all in a very accessible and easy to understand method, much like our hero has at his disposal in that archaic book in his trailer, as provided by his aunt.
This is a total win. The new season picks up where season one left off, August 13th.
Go for it.
Season One rating: 4/5
DVD rating: 4/5