'Grimm': TV Review

11:44 AM PST 10/23/2011 by Tim Goodman
Scott Green/NBC

NBC tackles the darker side of fairy-tale fare with violence, special effects and an easy-to-follow concept.

 

If there can be five -- or is it seven or more? -- comedies about how modern males are too weak to be called men, then how far-fetched can it be that two new series focus on fairy tales?

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ABC's Once Upon a Time feels confident tapping into a slew of well-known fairy tales, while NBC's Grimm mines the darker tales of the Brothers Grimm. It's a high-concept hootenanny with varied results.

The producers behind NBC's Grimm get the formula better in many ways. For one, the concept is simpler and easier to follow (and execute) than Once Upon a Time because it's linear (at least in the pilot, the only episode the network could send in time for review). Portland homicide detective Nick Burckhardt (David Giuntoli) is leading a normal life with his fiancee, Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch), and his partner, Hank (Russell Hornsby). Then one day, he starts seeing bizarre things -- like a businesswoman glance at him and flash momentarily into a zombie, a perp flash into some kind of serpent and a guy out getting his mail flash into a werewolf.

Normally, you'd think his meds were way, way off. But Nick just kind of rolls with it -- a momentary fault in the series until his cancer-stricken aunt shows up with an Airstream full of medieval weapons, ancient storybooks and a wary killer's look in her eye. He's having these crazy visions because he's next in line -- the next Grimm, "charged with keeping balance between humanity and the mythological creatures of the world," according to NBC.

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Also on the plus side for Grimm is the fact that the special effects are good. Better yet, it has a lot of scares and thrills. It's not the kind of show you'll want to watch while sipping wine in bed -- at least, not red wine. In that way, Grimm seems more grown-up in its approach than Once Upon a Time because it's more violent and less hokey.

Plus, hey, it's a procedural.

The Grimm pilot is creative and scores points for having a reluctant, reformed werewolf (or "Grimm creature," as NBC likes to say, probably because the network has introduced a zombie and might take further liberties down the road) named Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) who decides to help Nick navigate the bizarre world he's about to encounter. Mitchell nails the comic elements, which leaven the tension, while convincing us he's a "Grimm creature" trying to be good.

One episode isn't enough to declare whether Grimm will have a future. But it's a genre show on a Friday night -- the best place for them, though it's getting mighty crowded with Fringe and Supernatural in the mix. It has chills and humor and the ability to take a procedural story and twist it. (If there's an opt-out moment here, it's simply the realization that something like Kolchak: The Night Stalker and certainly The X-Files were more fun.)

Airdate Grimm 9 p.m. Fridays (NBC)

Email: Tim.Goodman@THR.com

Twitter: @BastardMachine

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