Sunday, June 3, 2012

TV Series Review: Grimm

As I mentioned two weeks ago with Once Upon A Time, when the fall crop of American tv shows premired it seemed like everyone was expecting one or both shows to kill each other, taking sides, and that's not what happened. I've been watching a bit of Supernatural recently and that seems more Grimm's "rival" than Once and frankly Hulu had the right idea of trying to promote each show to viewers of the other and they've both gotten renewed for a second season so it seems like it all worked out. However, while both of them ended on a cliffhanger for the second season, one of them did it better than the other....


Summary: Nick Burkhardt is a police on the homicide beat in the Portland Police Department and is more than a little surprised when his aunt, the one who raised him after his parent's deaths, shows up on his doorstep and tells him that he is the latest in a line of "grimms" people who can see the supernatural as it walks among us. Soon enough Nick is seeing strange creatures everywhere he goes and his life has taken a dangerous turn.

The Good: While Grimm certainly borrowed themes from dozens of classic fairy tales, such as Cinderella and Rapunzel, it had interesting takes on them and many times it didn't even use a fairy tale as a basis for the story and instead introduced just a legendary creature instead. Since the vast majority of fairy-tale inspired stories I've seen lately have been merely retellings this was nice and I especially enjoyed the aforementioned two stories for their creativeness. On the more human side of things, I've joked that if Once had all the female leads that Grimm was lacking that Grimm seemed to make an effort to have multiple People of Color characters with large roles that weren't stereotypes. Actually, Hank (Nick's police partner) and Monroe (a "blutbad" that Nick ends up becoming friends with) were much more likable characters and Monroe at least seemed like a more well-rounded character as well (although considering how uneven Nick's character "growth" was and how even his actor wishes that he would be a bit more active next season that's not necessarily saying much).

The Bad: Once also ended on a cliffhanger but where that one gave some closure to that season's "arc" this one provided a completely out of the blue twist with no foreshadowing, one so sudden I was convinced that this show was going to have a 23 episode season instead of 22*. Also, in the end this show didn't have an over-arching arc/theme to tie together all the episodes together (which shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer regularly employed to create a sense of cohesion) and since this is a story ideally every episode included should have fleshed out the characters, a plot, the setting (or been a red herring about one of these) and I could point to each episode and say "that is the reason why this story was included." It's true that television isn't always that tightly scripted but thinking back I really can't tell why a lot of these episodes were included since they did nothing overall and I didn't get that nice pay-off in the last episode of seeing a story through to the end. The show has created a good sized cast of major and minor characters so I can see why those characters all got so much screen time but again, in the end there wasn't even a reason tying together the whole season so I still feel like all that time carefully building up that side cast was all for naught.

The Audio: Much like Once (and apologies I've had so many comparisons to it, this should be the last one), while Grimm did have some distinct themes, both for the opening/ending credits and in the background, I can barely recall any of them only about two weeks after the show ended and that's not a good sign. I don't recall any specific instances where the music didn't fit the mood reasonably well (and I would have recalled that) but perhaps I've just been spoiled by all of the anime and movie soundtracks I've heard which are much more memorable.

The Visuals: The story was filmed as well as set in the green city of Portland and loves to show off it's scenery with many scenes shot in the woods and it does look rather pretty. But the big thing about this series is the copious amount of CGI is used to morph the actors into the various creatures which by and large seemed to work well. It helps that the characters generally look monstrous for only a few seconds at a time, both for the fact that there's less time for the audience to think it's weird and so they can spread out the budget overall, and again I would say that overall the effects were well done (except the part where Monroe sometimes looked more like a deranged ape than a were-wolf but oh well).

So, I will not be catching the second season of this show when it airs (I believe the trailers said late summer, August perhaps?) since in the end the first season didn't go anywhere and that cliffhanger reaaally ticked me off. Plus, I have multiple seasons of Supernatural on Netflix plus friends to discuss it with so if I want normal-ish people hunting down supernatural baddies I'm all set!

*the best comparison I have is that it's almost the exact same twist as the ending of the first season of Tegami Bachi/Letter Bee which only worked because I had read past that part in the manga so I knew what was coming next.

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