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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Don’t reap ‘Grimm’ yet: Grant it a second chance

Published: November 4, 2011
Section: Arts, Etc., Top Stories

If we’ve learned anything from the Grimm fairytale “Little Red Riding Hood,” it’s that strange men are wolves out to destroy the innocence of wayward young girls. Unfortunately the writers of NBC’s new series “Grimm,” which premiered last Friday, did not receive this lesson, making their pilot episode’s villainous big bad wolf a man who loses control of his supernatural side when he sees red.

Regardless, “Grimm” has real potential. Perhaps, as the show develops, it will delve into the life lessons enmeshed in the old German fairytales rather than focusing on the blatant personifications used to frighten generations of young children.

The show focuses on Nick Burckhardt (David Giuntoli), a young police detective for whom everything is going well … that is until he begins to see demons. Through a few somewhat confusing and rambling explanations, we learn that Nick is descended from Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, the two men who collected the German folktales referred to today as Grimm’s fairytales, and, due to this, he has the ability to see demons where normal humans cannot. It now falls to him to maintain the balance between the human world and the world of the demons that inhabit our worst nightmares. Sadly for him, he has very little experience with this and will have to learn as he goes along.

Throughout the episode we are introduced to the cast of characters and, honestly, most of them are underwhelming. Giuntoli’s Nick was somewhat yawn-inducing and blank-faced. He just is not cute enough to get away with that. With some better writing, however, Giuntoli could certainly step up to the plate and deliver a spectacular performance; he just did not have any lines that made me sit up and take notice.

That is really the main problem; the writing just does not let the characters shine. Russell Hornsby as Nick’s partner fell into the archetypal black sidekick mold and he could be so much more. (I am not even going to tell you his name because he was so trivial that I couldn’t remember it from scene to scene.) Nick’s almost-fiancee, played by Bitsie Tulloch, was much the same. Every scene with her was almost instantly forgotten once it had ended. She was given no interesting dialogue and seemed to be more of a prop than an actress.

That being said, the writers did score a home run with the character Eddie Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell). Monroe, a blutbad (a kind of werewolf, if you will), had fun and engaging lines and was expertly portrayed by Mitchell. I am already a Mitchell fan due to his work as Donny on “My Name is Earl” and as the bumbling arms dealer Seymour on “Burn Notice.” He continued his trend of being the funniest man in the room on “Grimm.” Not only was he given funny lines to say (unlike the other characters) but he delivers them all in this genuine manner guaranteed to make the viewers smile.

The biggest problem with this show is the lackluster script. I am aware that I only saw the pilot and a lot of shows have rocky pilots, so I still have hope that “Grimm” will improve. When I first heard about the show I was ecstatic. I love supernatural shows and am always on the lookout for my next paranormal fix. I was especially thrilled when I heard that producer David Greenwalt would be working on it; he worked on the fantastic “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and its thrilling spinoff “Angel.”

Unfortunately, the producer has nothing to do with the script and the main genius of “Buffy” was its scripts, written by Joss Whedon, Jane Espenson, etc. The “Grimm” writers are clearly trying to emulate Whedon and Espenson (now the main writer for SyFy’s fun and wacky “Warehouse 13”) by writing a supernatural dramedy. Sadly however, these writers are not as talented and are having trouble finding the right mix between drama and comedy. One minute we hear Monroe make a joke that cracks us up and the next we see the little girl who was taken by the big bad wolf crying, making us cringe in horror.

While shows like “Buffy” and “Supernatural” prove that this duality can be achieved, “Grimm” has not hit the right balance yet. By trying to do both, neither is done to perfection.

All this being said, “Grimm” should definitely be given a second chance. It is an interesting premise and I look forward to seeing where it will go. With more time, the writers may develop the characters more and grow more comfortable writing for them. When I first tried to watch “Supernatural” I did not like it; it took time for me to see what a great show it is. I am hopeful that the same will happen with “Grimm.”

Give “Grimm” a second chance with me and tune in to watch it on Fridays at 9 p.m. on NBC.