Unfortunately for NBC’s ‘Grimm,’ the usually timeless appeal of ghouls and monsters can’t save the uneven, and even boring, premiere that aired October 28th.
In less than a week, two broadcast networks have shown us both ends of the fairy tale spectrum: first with the comparatively light (with a dark undertone) Disney/ABC offering, Once Upon a Time, and then with the more shadowy NBC contribution, Grimm. Unfortunately for Grimm, the usually timeless appeal of ghouls and monsters can’t save the uneven, and even boring, premiere that aired October 28th.
In what played as an unintentional cross between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Law & Order, the pilot introduced viewers to homicide cop Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), who in one cliché-riddled scene after another, discovered that he is a descendant of none other than the Brothers Grimm, and is therefore destined to hunt the legendary creatures of the macabre.
Added to the revelation of this previously unknown destiny, Nick and his partner Hank (Russell Hornsby) also investigated the brutal murder of a female runner, dressed in a red hoodie (in a cute, but also overly obvious nod to the classic Red Riding Hood). And as it turned out, the killer (Tim Bagley) they were looking for also happened to be one of the demons Nick has been charged to hunt, and already had victim number two, a little girl, tied up in his cellar.
Bagley absolutely stole the show in the only truly creepy part of the episode (he was trying to fatten his hostage up by feeding her pot pies) and his performance was probably the best part of this otherwise lukewarm premiere.
I’ll also give a nod to the retro-70’s feel of the pot-pie-making demon’s cottage, which gave a surreal, vaguely disturbing vibe to the last ten minutes or so of the episode.
But by and large, the crime procedural plot itself was paper-thin; with almost zero regard for portraying police protocol realistically; and based on that, the writers need to either seriously beef up their ‘case of the week’ research or abandon that aspect altogether and concentrate solely on Nick’s monster-hunting.
It also bears mentioning that the actual Brothers Grimm wrote and collected truly gruesome fairy tale and folklore. And the show bears their name. So while I’m not the world’s biggest fan of blood and gore, I was expecting something a lot more chilling then what I got.
More significantly, Grimm was hyped as the chilling and dark alternative to Once Upon a Time. The problem is, it wasn’t scary. Other than one twitchy moment when the red-hooded runner was snatched, there was almost zero tension, let alone any really frightening scenes. And there are already enough shows on cable to choose from that do, indeed, disturb and creep viewers out.
It may not be fair to compare the two ‘fairy tale shows’, and they are certainly more different than they are similar. But comparisons are inevitable, and fair game too, considering they aired within a week of each other. In my opinion, the Round One winner of the fairy tale wars is Once Upon a Time, by a landslide. OUAT, while far from perfect, had a layered, well-structured premiere, with characters that not only show great promise of future development, but who also already share relationships and histories with one another. For my money, that generates interest far more than another tired cop procedural, poorly disguised as a supernatural thriller.
I’ll give Grimm another episode or two, to see if the few bright spots I saw in the premiere are capitalized upon. But based on the overall quality of the premiere, Grimm rates no better than a C.