With two of 2011’s most buzzed about yet divisive films, Joe Wright’s Hanna and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, citing the Brothers Grimm as either a direct or indirect influence, it was only a matter of time before something Grimm-related made its way to primetime television. On the heels of ABC’s like-minded Once Upon a Time, a generally lighthearted take on fairy-tale mainstays transporting themselves into the real world, comes Grimm, a similarly genre-focused but less kid-friendly show that combines police procedural with supernatural drama.
Grimm begins on a relatively promising note, with a fluidly choreographed scene featuring a young female jogger clad in a bright red hoodie and listening to the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” on her iPod, being suddenly mauled to death by what we can only assume is a werewolf or some permutation thereof. As soon as we’re introduced to the casual back-and-forth investigative skills of clean-cut homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) and his wise-cracking partner, Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby), though, it starts becoming clear that Grimm is neither a very strong police procedural nor a supernatural drama, as it sacrifices the intelligence required to construct smart, puzzling crimes in order to spend more time attempting to enunciate its fantastical elements, which aren’t all that fantastical, with amateurish CGI.
As Nick finds himself experiencing the blooming signs of his abnormal sixth sense, the ability to see the faces of random people on the street momentarily morph into snarling creatures, his primary reaction is an annoyed double take. Giuntoli’s performance should entice the audience into forgiving the show’s been-there-done-there-that premise, but it never ventures beyond a boilerplate good-cop routine. Even when his aunt and surrogate mother, Marie (Kate Burton), reveals that he’s “The Last Grimm,” and that he must assume the role of a mythical beast hunter upon her passing, Nick responds not with a thousand questions, but by studiously rummaging through his aunt’s mysterious, trinket-filled trailer, gazing at ancient weaponry stored in a portable wardrobe and drawings of all kinds of mythical creatures without so much as a second thought. Not enough of Nick’s backstory is laid out prior to the discovery of his familial origins, and thus, as he starts to come into his own as a monster-battling Grimm with little to no personal struggle or moral compassing, any potential roundness to his character is flattened to a straight line.
Just as Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis have infused very Lost-like vibes into Once Upon a Time, Grimm borrows liberally from its spiritual predecessor, co-creator David Greenblatt’s Angel, to the point of derivativeness. Grimm does possess some clever moments, however, like Nick’s comical bonding scenes with a reformed werewolf (Silas Weir Mitchell) who assists him on various cases, as well as the initials of a wannabe Big Bad Wolf’s final victim being R.H. (as in Little Red), but these are few and far between, and simply not enough to pull the series from the grave it has swiftly dug itself into.