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F(l)o Show: NBC's cop/fantasy show Grimm dukes it out with rival network's Once Upon a Time

By Florence Lau | March 2, 2012

From talking with people who have seen neither Grimm nor Once Upon a Time (OuaT), there seems to be a common misconception that Grimm, NBC's new mishmash of dark fantasy and cop procedural, is the same thing or extremely similar to OuaT.

I'll admit that I was quite confused at first as to why there would be two fairytale-based TV shows starting their first seasons at the same time. Don't let the fairy tale aspect of Grimm mislead you. They are worlds apart. Comparing Grimm and OuaT would be like comparing apples and oranges.

Unlike OuaT, Grimm has absolutely nothing to do with fairytales, save for stealing a random quote from various Grimm's fairytales that is presented as the story each episode is trying to emulate (to various degrees of success). This show, as already mentioned, is more cop procedural than fairytale. It focuses on Detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), who discovers that he is the last of the Grimms. What are the Grimms, you ask?

Well, they appear to be some sort of criminal profilers of creatures which we humans believe only exist in fairy tales. The Grimms are able to see these creatures' true forms, even when they hide in human society, and traditionally, they have been in charge of hunting down these creatures and stopping them from harming humans.

But while these creatures are familiar in the childhood stories we all know and love, they have completely unfamiliar names: The wolf-like ones are called "blutbad" (AKA the basis for the Big Bad Wolf), pigs "bauerschwein" (the basis for the Three Little Pigs) and bears "jagerbar" (Goldilocks and the Three Bears), just to name a few.

And that doesn't even cover the creatures which have no mythological basis — the fox-like "fuchsbau," the snake-esq "lausenschlange" and more.

Knowing that your supposedly safe and organized world was filled with creatures that like to harvest your organs while you're still alive (the "geiers" are notorious for this, and in case you're worried about the state of your spleen, they look like vultures and hide in trees — lock your windows if you're on the second story of your building or higher) would be enough to make anyone run far away.

Unfortunately, Nick's got to step up to the job because, quite inconveniently, after his aunt dumps all this information on him, she just off and dies.

I mean, really, the least she could do was guide him through this. But no, she's dead, and Nick is left with a secret trailer containing weapons, suspicious vials of who-knows-what and a big book listing all the known creatures with pictures.

The job of keeping the human race is on his shoulders, and all Nick gets is a picture book.

As you can probably imagine, this makes Nick's job as a police detective quite a bit difficult, especially when committed crimes involve things like "siegbarstes." After all, he can't just say that an ogre killed this or that guy without having the guys in the white jackets call on him. Luckily, he has his own "blutbad" friend (remember, they're the wolf ones), Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), to be his guide in this new fairytale world.

If being a fairytale creature profiler isn't enough, the creature world is beginning to realize that Nick poses a threat to their existence, and they're gearing up to take care of this little problem.

While the premise to this show is an interesting concept, the execution didn't quite live up to expectations. Giuntoli's acting is very "in-your-face"; there's none of that subtlety that gives a character depth.

Whether that's a character trait, an acting choice or inexperience on the part of the actor remains to be seen, but the fact that it's not clear speaks to Giuntoli's talents.

Mitchell is a little bit better, but the whole time, I can only get irritated with his character for letting Nick basically use him (even though they are supposedly friends). In fact, none of the characters are especially likable. They're not dislikable, but I don't feel any strong bond with any of them.

I normally really love cop shows that take traditional aspects and twist them, but the problem with Grimm is that there's no logical reason for some of the twists. I mean, why not just call the Big Bad Wolf by his name? Why call them "blutbads?" And so on and so forth.

Granted, the show is interesting, and it's always fun to see how they take a traditional Grimm's fairytale and twist it around or adapt it to the real world. Some of the worlds they explore are quite rich, and the attention to detail is commendable. That, and it's also just fun to guess where the quote at the beginning of every episode comes from.

Overall, Grimm makes for an entertaining hour of television, but it doesn't have that hook that grabs me and keeps me wanting more immediately after finishing an episode.

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