'Grimm' EPs Reveal 4 Things That Make a Fairy Tale Ripe for Adaptation (Exclusive Photos)
With every episode of the NBC series featuring one or more myths, writers and executive producers David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf tell THR what they're looking for.
NBC’s new drama series, Grimm, combines the myth of fairy tales rehashed into a police procedural. On every episode, Brothers Grimm descendant, homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), is charged with protecting others from real life fairy tale creatures, along with his partner, Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby). There are hundreds of tales to pick from, but the show’s producers and writers have definite needs when it comes to which ones can be adapted for the series.
“Obviously, we just like to tell a good story,” Executive Producer and Writer David Greenwalt tells The Hollywood Reporter. “But I do think there’s a certain power in the genre that you don’t always have in regular drama, because you can exaggerate things. You can make the killers be a little more extreme. You can make the metaphors a little more extreme.”
“You also get to create a little bit more than you do on a regular show,” Executive Producer and Writer Jim Kouf adds. “We’re allowed to vamp and fantasize a little more than normal shows.”
The EPs say there are specific characteristics that they look for in the myths that ultimately make it on to the series. Here are four things that make a fairy tale ripe for adaptation.
1. Fairy tales that include a crime.“We look for something where there could be a crime and that we can really twist it,” says Greenwalt. Being a procedural, each episode needs some foul play as its basic story line, such as in the pilot episode that adapts the classic tale, “Little Red Riding Hood.” Nick and Hank are called to investigate after the remains of a college student wearing a red hood is discovered in the woods and they realize it seems to be a part of a string of similar crimes. The EPs say there has to be a “criminal element,” such as “Hansel and Gretel,” which the series tackles next year. But not all tales have one, though that doesn’t mean a fairy tale can’t be used. That brings us to characteristic No. 2.
2. The tale lends itself to modernization.On Thursday’s special airing, the series tackles “The Pied Piper.” “There’s something fantastic [there] that can translate to our world today like how would somebody get wronged and want to seek revenge using rats? How would you modernize that story?” says Greenwalt. For example, the guys explain that their version of the story will take place in a high school and the musical element will switch between techno (which the students party to) and classical music (what they have to play while at school).
3. There’s a character or detail that stands out.“Not all the stories have crimes. But sometimes there’s a character that is interesting enough and other times it’s a setting,” Kouf tells THR. In the episode airing Dec. 16, the series takes on “Rapunzel.” And what fascinated them about the tale was her hair and how it could be used as a weapon. In another example, the guys point to a story they’re still working out.
“One story has a bunch of suitors caught in a hedge of thorns,” Greenwaltsays. “And they die and they’re caught in this hedge. And we love the idea of doing the hedge that surrounds the castle that catches all the people that try to get through it. It’s a little tough to figure out how to move that into a modern context without getting too fantastical or too magical, but we’re working on it.”
4. A story can be retold from a different point of view.Many times, the series looks to myths, including popular ones, and tries to re-imagine them from a different perspective. “The Three Little Pigs,” which appears on Friday’s episode, is one example.
“Well, everybody knows the story of ‘The Three Little Pigs,’ but this particular story is ‘The Three Bad Wolves,’ ” Kouf explains. “And there’s a twist in the story of pigs actually getting revenge, or trying to get revenge, on wolves that have hunted them for all this time. So, it’s the fun of turning a well-known fairy tale on its head.”
This week, NBC is airing two new episodes of Grimm on Thursday at 10 p.m. and at its regular day and time, Friday at 9 p.m.
Watch a preview from Thursday's episode below.
Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro