Grimm: Season 1, Episode 1
NBC really shouldn't have moved Grimm. The show was originally set to debut a week ago, giving it an edge of two days over its main competition, Once Upon a Time. Now, with it airing nearly a week after that show premiered to huge ratings, and on the night of game seven of the World Series (and ALSO on a Friday night), this show doesn't have much chance of finding an audience, at least not right out of the gate. I'm not sure if NBC did this because it lost faith in the show and hopes to shunt it to an early grave (slating it on Friday doesn't indicate a lo of hope for its success) or if this is just more bad luck on the show's part, but it starts out at a disadvantage.
It's inevitable that every review out there will mention Once Upon a Time, due to the "Fairy tales are real" conceit both shows share, yet Grimm is a very different show. Where Once Upon a Time wants to be an epic in the mold of Lost, this show, in its pilot at least, has much smaller ambitions. Grimm is, in effect, a police procedural with monsters, a premise that isn't all that original, but also isn't all the unappealing. Coming from David Greenwalt, who was a writer and producer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a co-creator of that show's spin-off Angel (which, for its first season at least, was basically a detective show with monsters), Grimm seems content to build its atmosphere and establish its tone. If Greenwalt is following the method he used on Angel, I imagine this show will function as a procedural out of the gate and slowly develop into a serialized show with larger ambitions.
Grimm has another advantage over Once Upon a Time, in that I wasn't curious by the end of the pilot if this show would be able to sustain itself in the long term. The masterplot of Once Upon a Time sets it up to either move incrementally (just like Lost) or run out of ideas within the first season, or possibly both. Grimm is keeping it simple, teasing out some mysteries, but basically setting itself up as a show where Detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) will track down the monsters living in our midst and protect humanity from them.
The biggest problem with Grimm at this point is that Nick isn't all that compelling. He's basically white bread, a good guy cop who loves his job, his aunt, his girlfriend, and his life. Most of the other characters around the edges are kind of boring archetypes as well, with the exception of Eddie Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) who has a lot of fun as a reformed Big Bad Wolf who agrees to help Nick track down one of his less reformed brethren. The show doesn't make it clear whether the two will become partners in solving supernatural crime, but the fact that Mitchell is in the cast leads me to believe we will get more of him in the future, and this is a very good thing. A lot of Angel fans never loved David Boreanaz (I tend to think he was pretty good), yet warmed to the show because of its diverse and well developed ensemble, and while Grimm doesn't have that right out of the gate, Eddie Monroe is a good start.
There is a lot of critical hate being directed at Grimm, which advance reviews lead me to believe would be just about the worst thing I'd seen on television in a long time. And it isn't. It isn't even the worst thing I've seen on television this pilot season. Don't mistake me. Grimm isn't very good. It's kind of dull, the lead is boring, and it could easily become just another procedural show. Yet it does a good job of establishing its tone and atmosphere, and it introduces some directions the show will go in when it starts to become more serialized. It isn't clear yet if any of those directions are all that interesting, but at least the show has room to move.
I tend to cut David Greenwalt a lot of slack here, especially because of how much this pilot resembles the pilot of Angel, which was a fine episode of television but definitely nowhere near the heights the show reached in its later seasons. Grimm is a show that needs time to grow, and to find its feet. I can't tell you whether to stick around, as the show might never get better. But I'll probably check back in to see how it develops over the next few weeks, and I'm hoping the show will work out the kinks and become something more watchable, or at least less boring, than it is right now.
-While I gave both shows the same grade, I have to say I actually liked Grimm as a pilot more than Once Upon a Time. The latter show is a big enough hit that it will be around for a little while at least, but I hope Grimm gets a chance to find its feet as well, even if it never gets much better.
-The pilot went to the shock cut well too many times. I hope this show develops other ways to scare people, if that's what it aims to do.
-Robin Howe...Riding Hood...Get it? At least this show does the "wink wink" reference less often than Once Upon a Time.
-"Where is she?" Giuntoli was clearly channeling Christian Bale's Batman voice here...
-"Do you want a chicken pot pie?" That was creepy.
-"Do I need something like silver bullets?" "What are you, an idiot?" It seems like the monsters in this show die just like regular people, which is kind of...boring...
-The soft lighting in the cabin was a nice choice. How many times do we think the bad guys will live in a cabin in the woods on this show?