Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pilot Review: Grimm

Grimm (Fridays at 9:00 on NBC; Premieres October 28)

I know that I'm going to hold an upopular opinion when it comes to this new series... but I absolutely loved the first episode of Grimm. Early buzz among critics has been largely negative, with some middle-of-the-road responses as well. But from my point of view, it's a great time.

Grimm wastes no time setting up a creepy atmosphere as a girl jogging in a red hoodie (get it?) is torn to pieces by an unknown creature. The detectives on the case are Nick Burkhardt (Dave Giuntoli) and his partner Hank (Russell Hornsby); they discover human footprints nearby, but no animal tracks. As Nick arrives home, he is surprised by a visit from his dying aunt Marie (Kate Burton), who passes onto him a family legacy: he is the last surviving Grimm, a group of hunters who kept the balance between humanity and mythical creatures of folklore. She is put into a coma by one of these creatures, and Nick begins to contemplate this new responsibility as he tries to solve the kidnapping of a little girl in a red sweatshirt by a supernatural creature popularized as the "big bad wolf."

I completely and totally understand the negative response to Grimm. It's not all that original, borrowing elements from comic books, fairy tales (obviously), and other TV shows (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural, Night Stalker, Haunted, etc.), but it's a totally engrossing 43 minutes. The writing is snappy and more subtle than most of the other drama pilots this season (there are some snort-worthy puns, but they're not played big enough to be obnoxious). The world created right off the bat is eerie and dark, set in a perpetually cloudy Portland, Oregon. The cinematography is complemented perfectly by Richard Marvin's creepy score. The special effects, especially when Nick sees people as creatures, are a little rough but not distractingly bad. So far the performances are nothing to write home about either. Dave Giuntoli, a former reality star turned actor, is particularly bland but shows signs of life that could develop into something better down the line. Russell Hornsby and Kate Burton are having fun, but there is very little in the way of character for anyone to work with. This first episode was built around establishing the premise and little else, but there are plenty of opportunities for character development once Nick's family history is established, his relationship with his girlfriend is tested, his relationship with Hank is explored, etc.

What it all comes down to is that there's nothing about Grimm that you haven't seen before. It takes a popular storyline of a chosen person inheriting a birthright to protect the balance of good and evil and adds the slight twist of the Grimm fairy tales being based in truth. You'll know from that description whether or not Grimm is for you, but I'd welcome you to give it a shot. You'll have a good time, probably moreso than you did watching any of the other drama pilots this season.

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