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November 2, 2011 / mandalaymai

…happily ever after, part 2

So, yesterday we reviewed ABC’s ‘Once Upon A Time.’  Today we are talking about the other folklore-inspired offering this season, NBC’s ‘Grimm.”  Right off the bat, this struck me as a less than traditional take on the storybook elements it employs.  Our protagonist, Nick, is a small town cop who learns that his family has a mystery about it.  They are Grimms, or warriors of a kind who fight against ‘The Big Bad Wolves,’ in this case, literally.  His aunt comes to town and is attacked by a demony, wolfy creature.  Nick has to shoot it and it turns back into a human before the cops (the other cops) arrive.

Nick learns through his aunt that there are such monsters as exist in fairytales and that they aren’t merely stories.  She has been fighting them a long time and she has come to tell Nick, in part because his gift has begun to manifest.  He has begin to see behind the human masks these creatures wear.  The parallel plot involes various missing Little Red Riding Hoods and another Big Bad Wolf who is responsible for their abductions.  Nick uses his gift and a sidekick he picks up along the way to solve the case.

Arguably the best part of the show is Silas Weir Richardson (who I mostly know as creepy Donny Jones from ‘My Name is Earl’ and Haywire from ‘Prison Break’), who plays a reformed Big Bad Wolf who gets roped into helping Nock track down the missing Little Red Riding Hood.  A very bizarre, left-of-center character that provides some irreverant comic relief.

The show was put together really well and felt stylistically like ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ which makes sense since it is produced by some Buffy alums.  With ‘Grimm’ they have left themselves a loose mission statement and consequently any number of fairytale beasties can be vanquished, as well as human foes, either on their own or in league with such creatures.  Think EvilAngel, the Mayor, Faith (bad Grimm anyone?  could be totally Five by Five).  This series is’t set in highschool so it might lack that Whedonesque lingo and insouciance, but come on!  We have Nick the newbie and the sufficiently bad-ass, yet tragically wounded and / or dying aunt to serve as a mentor / Watcher or whatever the Grimm equivalent would be.

All in all it may  seem that ‘Grimm” has the weaker premise, but, in contrast to ‘Once Upon A Time,’ I think the broadness of this premise and the open-ended nature of what will become the protagonist’s mission leaves a lot more open to interpretation than the finite curse-breaking mission that needs to happen in ‘Once.’  On ‘Once’ I feel like the curse either needs to be broken or we delay through various plot devices the resolution of that goal.  That could be sustainable for a while, but we could easily be all yelling at our screens for them to, “get on with it already!” just like Ted and the Mother.   Additionally, while ‘Once’ exists in a pristine ABC Disney bubble, ‘Grimm’ will be much more in the real world.  While ‘Once’ literally states that the clock has stopped, that time has stood still until the conflict with the Evil Queen can be resolved.  The time stopping-bubble-fantasy land device is analogous to the island in ‘Lost;’ it keeps everyone cut off and keeps the curse front and center.  ‘Grimm,’ on the other hand tries, to the extent that a fantasy series can do, to take on the real world as it is, adding an additional flavor to the story.

In the final analysis, I will continue to keep my eye on both for the forseeable future.  These two are so far apart stylistically and in tone that it does not at all seem like you are watching two of the same kind of show.

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