Quote of the Day

"We're only here briefly, and while I'm here I want to allow myself joy. So fuck it."
- Amy, Her.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

RE:Action: Grimm


The new US supernatural/detective series, Grimm, debuted on UK screens last night (via Watch) after enjoying a good 4 month lead in the states.  The show - which features unique, modern day spins on the classic tales of The Brothers Grimm - boasts David Greenwalt as one of its creators, whose previous credits included Buffy and co-creating Angel. Good things were expected, especially with a premise like that in a time where supernatural, urban fantasy and take-a-classic-fairytale-and-put-it-in-current-context are all the rage (see Once Upon A Time, Supernatural, Vampire Diaries etc).

       However, for me I felt this pilot episode was a bit of a mixed bag. Whilst this nice blend of conventions was nice and all, the episode itself was propped up against these inspirations, often borrowing a little too much than it oughta. That may just be me going into it too comparatively with the other shows, but you've got to admit the blatant likeness to Supernatural... Although it can hardly be blamed for this, because after all, it's just trying to find a niche here and prove to the networks that they're worth the budget. And if it takes a few creative clich├ęs to get that, then so be it, at least for the beginning. But I digress...

  At the heart of the episode was Nick, our protagonist who quickly discovers he is of the Grimm blood-line, gifted/cursed with the abilities to spot the hidden creatures of myth and fairytale that murk in our humble societies. Actor David Giuntoli seems like a good fit for the "every man thrown into a world he doesn't yet understand" role, and plays it with an admiral sense of likeability. His ties with his girlfriend and cop-partner look like they could blossom, and the unlikely duo of him and reformed WereWolf, Siras, is what may give the show a true, honest rhythm and heart, as well as a few much needed comedic beats.

 But it's hard to forget the fact that the first half of the hour-long drama was rather lifeless for such a cult-induced show like this. Unfortunately, we're given some bland dialogue (how may times are you going to yell "WHERE IS SHE!"?) and cheese-ridden plot points ("Your parents didn't really die in a crash!" No sh*t...)  that whilst still hold the narrative together fine, don't have you laughing or rooting. Just watching, really. The second half, however, things picked up into a more intense, thought provoking show.

  Which brings me onto the baddie of the pilot; an obvious choice in "The Big Bad Wolf", riffing on the Red Riding Hood tale to a successful effect. The wolf, known as a "BlutBad", presents an eerie representation of the story's modern portrayal: a guy kidnapping a little girl and keeping her in a basement, bordering on grooming her. This slight connotation of paedophilia was a unique angle, and a ballsy one at that, which thankfully paid off in execution. The guy doesn't dress as Grandma, he acts like her; a feminine man in touch with his delicate sensibilities, providing plenty of frightful ideas. And when we see the cop duo go in to take him down, the show amps up the tensions and puts audience on edge in the suspense and terror of it all.
Not so hot... Good make-up though!
The final few scenes give us an indication of some possible story arcs (the Police Chief's a villain, the blonde woman a haggley thing, etc) and reminds us that Grimm has got a 22 episode season ahead, regardless of what went wrong earlier. We see that Nick is a flawed protagonist in the way he jumps the gun in the Hospital and earlier in the arrests, so his character definitely has mileage on it.

Let's also not forget that for a limited budget pilot, the whole thing still looked pretty damn good. Granted, the monster transformations were a bit goofy, but the tranquil woodland house and its interiors were marvellously bright and full of wonder. This fairytale aesthetic which managed to transfer from page to screen creates a neat juxtaposition to that of the gritty police department scenes, serving the show a uniqueness in that respect.

 I think that as long as Grimm can rectify the script/dialogue issues, slowly fleshing out the show's conceivably deep mythology into that of a living, breathing world, then it should see itself well into the next season at least. This wasn't by any way a bad episode, and maybe I was a little too scrutinizing, it's just that for the whole project to survive, it needs to fall away from the crutches of Angel and Supernatural, find its own swing and really shine as an individual programme.

The potential is there; it's got some fresh ideas, gorgeous looks and great action/thriller/horror attributes. So now it's just up to the next few weeks to see whether Grimm can take hold of itself and thrive upon its own merits. Because if it can, then I sure as heck want to be there watching it...


ATR

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