Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Don't Fear the Reaper

I understand it's easy to dismiss Grimm; I did it myself when the show first premiered. This time last year, NBC's fairy tale project was little more than "the other one" after ABC's media-blitz and buzz-building shenanigans for Once Upon a Time. NBC also chose to debut their monster tale on Friday, the elephant graveyard of television, signalling to the audience a subtextual message of "Don't bother, it won't be around long."

Partly because of these underwhelming expectations, Grimm was assigned to the intern (moi!) for recaps on Entertainment Weekly's website, Ideally, I wouldn't have spent (nearly) every Friday of my 5 months in New York City at home watching television, but since I was partly antisocial and the few friends I did have didn't start their tom-foolery until the wee hours, it ended up working out for the best.

The show's pilot is actually one of the best of this year's freshman offerings. After that, the show took the typical 4-5 week period to figure out what it was and find its voice. The ratings sagged, as they are wont to do, and my weekly recaps were cancelled just before the show hit creative maturity.
Released from my Friday night bondage, I let the show pile up in my Hulu queue for a few weeks. Then, on an off day, I clicked in for a catch up and ended up burning through everything I had missed fairly quickly. Grimm had arrived, both guns blazing, as a creatively confident mythologically-heavy thriller. It has both playful lightness and twisted noir and uses some of the most beautiful cinematography on broadcast television.

The ratings stabilized, then grew, and in short order Grimm became the rare show to find a healthy, loving home on Friday nights and (against all odds) is arguably NBC's breakout hit of the 2011-2012 season. (Good riddance, Are You There Chelsey).

Once Upon a Time and Grimm may have walked through the same woods at their inception, but they parted ways quickly when the roads diverged; OUAT to the light and Grimm to the dark. Both, however, have taken the road less traveled by.

For the uninitiated, the show follows Portland homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (former Road Rules cast member David Giuntoli) as he discovers that he is the last in family line of "Grimms," who hunt mythical creatures hiding among us as regular people. He is aided in "secular" police business by his partner Hank, and filled in on the inner-working of the magical underground by his friend Monroe, a reformed Werewolf.

Silly? Yes. Fun? Even more so. The show follows a freak-of-the-week structure familiar to anyone who grew up on X-files or even Smallville, but in the back half of the season began introducing serial plotlines that dive further into a hidden mythology. There are dark forces swirling about Portland, and Nick begins to realize that living his double life may not only be difficult, but also dangerous for the people he cares about.

Grimm will be back in the Fall, anchored in its unfortunate (but working for now) time slot. Because of the nature of Friday nights, if you don't seek out Grimm, you'll probably never even realize it's on.
Find it and give it a few episodes before you make a decision.

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