'Grimm' Series Premiere, October 28th 2011 (NBC- Fridays 9/8c)
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My Synopsis: Grimm's scary tales are real! I f'n knew it!
For those that lament the state of the oldest and greatest broadcast network they have a new offering for us! Some would say their jumping on the bandwagon by running a show steeped in monsters, special effects, and mystery. But for a network whose current best programming is limited to syndicated crime dramas, comedies, and reality competition shows, 'Grimm' could be the show that gives them back some legitimacy. Sure it's up against AMC's 'The Walking Dead,' ABC's 'Once Upon a Time,' 'Supernatural,' and countless CW Vampire et al dramas but it is the only one that brings the closest adaptation of the brothers Grimm fables into the modern world, and that is one thing I have to applaud. So how does the premiere to 'Grimm' look and is it worth tuning in to NBC on Friday, October 28th?
The premier episode pays homage to Little Red Riding Hood. Now The Brothers Grimm's tales are a collection of fables told amongst the villages in which they lived. That is to say they are stories that convey a lesson of the time in which they were created. They are nothing like the Disney bastardizations we have come to love and abhor. So what does Little Red-Cap (aka Little Red Riding Hood) teach? On the surface it's pretty obvious... little girls who walk through the woods are likely to get themselves and their grandmothers eaten by wolves if they don't prove that they and grandmother aren't craftier. There is no Hunstman in this telling and The Big Bad Wolf doesn't get to eat grandma whole and therefore have his stomach ripped open to find a living, breathing grandmother inside. Instead Red and G'ma out smart Big Bad themselves.
In this premiere we have a Red Riding Hood serial killer, no grandma, but a couple of dinner leftovers and an abduction. Our hero Nick would be the Huntsman, out to save the abducted Little Red and rid the world of one Big Bad. It is a well crafted episode that has elements that harken back to Ledger and Damon's 'The Brothers Grimm' (2005). It almost feels like Nick is a present day descendant of the hapless reluctant heroes in that movie without all the frantic slapstick. The humor that does exist is dark and surprising, like we would expected from the producers of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer.'
Now it's not quite explained why it is that all of sudden rookie homicide detective Nick is capable of seeing the Grimm monsters that live among us but his creepy aunt does offer the explanation that everything we thought were fairy tales are real. He is a descendant of the Brothers whose famous stories were actually a chronicle of the monsters and how to beat them. This is pretty close to how the Winchester brothers got started in 'Supernatural' with the exception that Grimm's stories really exist. We also find out via Eddie that many of those creatures are 'reformed,' carrying on normal human lives, and that he is pretty much the narc of the monster world. In the end, with the help of his partner, his aunts info, and the wolf-narc Eddie, this Big Bad might get caught but the episode also leaves us with a chilling realization that there is more than one non-reformed Big Bad in the world looking for Little Reds to eat. The implication being we haven't seen the last of the Red-Cap chronicles.
Based on the pilot I would say this series has great potential. At first I was impressed and pleasantly surprised by the opening ten minutes which pretty much plays out like every crime show beginning- we meet the victim, the perfect song helps to set the scene ('Sweet Dreams' by the Eurythmics) and then a murder happens. Cut to meet the detectives! I want to comment on the use of 'Sweet Dreams,' normally when it comes to Little Red Riding Hood interpretations the most commonly used song is 'Li'l Red Riding Hood' by Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs. It is a pretty creepy song that implies something a lot more illicit than murder and I must admit I expected it to be used to define the setting of this episode and would have been disappointed by the cliché. Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised, the use of both versions of 'Sweet Dreams' to open and close the episode tells so much! This episode is about Nick's transformation from the ignorant happy dreamer in The Eurythmics to the jaded and creeped out nightmares of Marilyn Manson. Kudos music department!
The episode is also visually stunning. The colors are dark and vibrant, like a fairy tale should be (this could be partly due to the Oregon setting, forget 'Twilight' was also shot there, please), and the effects don't feel strained or over done. My greatest concern with the episode is the acting. With the obvious exception of the masterful Silas Weir Mitchell as Eddie, the others seemed wooden and out of place, Especially Nick's aunt who looked and sounded more like she was reciting the Gettysburg Address than giving important background information. Upon reflection I realize I felt the same about 'Buffy,' 'Angel,' and 'Supernatural' so my hope is that, like them, with a few more episodes the actors will fall more casually into their roles and maybe grow on me more. Of course with NBC's record let's hope the show lasts long enough to get comfortable with itself!
Again, though I do see minor failings with this premiere I have great hopes and expectations for the future of the show. The premise is fantastic, anything that has to do with real life Grimm's monsters would be! In time the show could prove to be worthy of joining the ranks of its predecessors and with over 200 tales to choose from the series could easily last 5 seasons without repeating a story. So if you love closer than normal interpreted fairy tales I suggest not missing the premier when it airs on October 28th and give NBC some love in the hopes they won't shoot themselves in the foot. They have to be running out of feet by now.
As always, check out the links and I welcome comments! I may follow this show for awhile just because I think it would be fun to compare the Grimm's tales to each episode.
'Til next we bleed,
J.P. (Jeff) Hunt
For more interpretations of Little Red Riding Hood...