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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

‘Grimm’ offers new take on a classic concept

Published: September 21, 2012
Section: Arts, Etc.

When one thinks of a police drama, perhaps “Law and Order,” “Miami Vice” or “The Shield,” gritty portrayals of police work and criminality almost immediately come to mind. “Grimm,” however, is a rather atypical member of the police-drama community because it focuses on one detective who is forced to manage and combat magical occurrences in both murder cases and his personal life. The show takes place in Portland, Ore., where Nick (David Giuntol) initially enjoys his stable career as a detective and his longterm girlfriend, Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch). This all changes, however, when his Aunt Marie Kessler (Kate Burton) comes to town. On her deathbed, she tells him that his family is a line of “Grimms,” or creatures that exist to protect humans from Wesen (fairy-tale creatures) who only reveal their true nature when under emotional duress, and only to those who can see them (chiefly Grimms and other Wesen). The show’s summary reveals to the audience that these creatures are largely based off of the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, so there is already a sense of belonging among the menagerie of Wesen in the series. Shortly after this, Nick begins to encounter Wesen all around Portland, including in his murder cases. He must find a way to balance his newfound responsibilities as a Grimm with his police work, as well as protect his friends and loved ones from the aggression of different Wesen. Along the way, Nick is able to make use of Aunt Marie’s trailer, which is a storehouse for all of the equipment she used in her time as a Grimm, as well as a library of information on Wesen. He also becomes friends with Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) a “reformed” species of Wesen called a Blutbad (a wolf-like creature) who helps Nick understand the intricacies of Wesen society. While “Grimm’s” plot alone is enough to make the show stand out, the relationships between its characters are also a quality factor of the show. Recurring characters are extremely well fleshed out, and almost always contribute something significant to each episode. The friendship between Nick and his partner Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby), for example, quickly morphs from the typical “cop-buddy” relationship to one in which Nick struggles desperately to keep the existence of Wesen secret from Hank for his own protection. He even goes so far as to cover up evidence in murder cases that involve Wesen. As Hank becomes more suspicious as the first season progresses, Nick finds himself misleading Hank on a more frequent basis. In an attempt to avoid being seen, Nick had shot a Wesen that was determined to kill Hank, and then never admitted his role in saving his partner’s life. Monroe also serves to show how Nick’s priorities are forced to change with the realization of his true identity, even by his character’s simple existence. As a Wesen who has renounced his brutal ways and now endeavors to control them, Monroe represents the best of both worlds for Nick—a Wesen who can help him understand the incredibly complex world he’s been forced into, but also a friend who can relate to keeping his identity a secret. Because of this, the two quickly become good friends, to the point where Nick consults with Monroe on nearly every encounter with a Wesen, as well as confides in him about major life issues, such as the tension between him and Juliette or his difficulties in keeping the truth from Hank. This is not to say that Monroe only exists as Nick’s friend—there have been several episodes that feature him prominently, as other Blutbad have come to Portland with intention of seeking him out, including his ex-girlfriend. Nick’s relationship with Juliette is also a major issue throughout the series. As Nick devotes more and more time to his duties as a Grimm, Juliette feels he is growing distant and their relationship is strained. As Nick agonizes over when and how he could possibly explain what’s been happening to Juliette, he begins to find that the cost of living a double life is greater than he anticipated. Despite this, he refuses to heed Aunt Marie’s words and leave Juliette, fighting to both keep her safe and maintain their relationship. “Grimm” also delivers a level of special effects that is rarely seen on primetime television these days, with the Wesen’s transformations becoming more and more impressive with each new species; as of right now, 33 species of Wesen have been portrayed on the show, but as Aunt Marie’s books shows, there are many more that have yet to be revealed. As what appear to be ordinary humans transforming into exotic creatures, such as the dragon-like Damonfeuer or the snake-like Lausenschlange, the audience cannot help but be awed by the fantastical creatures. The blood-spattered crime scenes also develop in intensity as the show goes on, and as of the second season, have turned into “Dexter”-esque bloodbaths. The scenery of the show is simply gorgeous. Filmed in Oregon, the state’s natural forests lend their own sense of rustic beauty to the series, as well as providing a backdrop for a number of Nick and Hank’s cases. Additionally, the quaint neighborhoods of Portland help to emphasize how fragile the relationship between Wesen and the general public is, and how easy it would be for a single malicious Wesen to induce harm. The wide variety of murder cases take Nick and Hank to locations ranging from abandoned factories to well populated resort towns, which serve to keep the show’s background from stagnating and boring the audience. In nearly every aspect of the show, “Grimm” proves itself to be a significant deviation from the standard police drama. While it may be a bit harder for the audience to believe in Wesen, as opposed to the serial killers and kidnappers “Law and Order” have exposed them to, the innovative concepts behind “Grimm” help to make it a popular member of the fall primetime season, and it is a must-see for any fan of police or legal shows, as well as the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm.