Review: Grimm 1×1

Are you amused by the derivative big bad wolf?

Grimm on NBC

In the US: Fridays, 9/8c, NBC
In the UK: Not yet acquired

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Fairy tales are really real. They’re part of our world. Now a non-fairy tale character has found out and is having to deal with this strange circumstance.

Yep, it’s Once Upon A Time, over on ABC. But it’s also Grimm on NBC.

Now, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, too. “Into each generation a Slayer is born. One in all the world, a Chosen One. One born with the strength and skill to fight the vampires, to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their numbers.”

Yes, that’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Except if you cross out ‘Slayer’ and replace it with ‘Grimm’ and cross out vampires and replace it with ‘fairy tale monsters’, you’ve got Grimm on NBC.

So already, Grimm is not looking too hot on the old originality front. Add in the fact that the cop gets all his arcane knowledge from books given to him by a librarian, that he has help from a reformed creature of the night and that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and you’d wonder when the first of the copyright suits would arrive – if it weren’t for the fact that Jim Kouf (Angel) and David Greenwalt (Buffy and Angel) are the exec producers.

Yet, despite all these inauspicious omens, Grimm isn’t half bad – and it’s certainly better than Once Upon A Time. Here’s an incredibly spoilery trailer – with the wrong music. The Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’ was used in the actual episode.

A new drama series inspired by the classic Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Portland homicide Detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli, “Turn The Beat Around”) discovers he is descended from an elite line of criminal profilers known as “Grimms,” charged with keeping balance between humanity and the mythological creatures of the world.

As he tries to hide the dangers of his new found calling from his fiancé, Juliette Silverton, (Bitsie Tulloch, “quarterlife”), and his partner, Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby, “Lincoln Heights”), he becomes ever more entrenched in the ancient rivalries and alliances of the Grimm world.

With help from his confidant, Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell, “Prison Break”), a reformed Grimm creature himself, Nick must navigate through the forces of a larger-than-life mythology, facing off with Hexenbiests, Blutbads and all manner of ancient evils, including royal lines dating back to the original profilers themselves, The Grimm Brothers. Reggie Lee (“Persons Unknown”) and Sasha Roiz (“Caprica”) also star.

Is it any good?
Even if you didn’t watch that trailer, as you watch the episode, you’ll pretty much be able to guess everything of importance in the main plot before it happens – there are almost no surprises to the show in that sense.

However, at the b-plot level, the show does have a number of surprises, with character revelations, a decent sense of humour, characterisation and some reasonable fight scenes. We already have hints at a deeper mythology, story arcs and more. Grimm lacks the pop culture of Buffy but replaces it with a more interesting question: Buffy can kill vampires et al, everyone can see they’re vampires and they’ll disappear. But what if you were the only one who could see they were vampires? What if you had to prove everything, investigate crimes, gather evidence, etc, and couldn’t just kill the monsters? What if you needed a search warrant before entering their layer and what if you didn’t have to invite them in?

In contrast to Once Upon A Time, which points its finger and shouts, “This is Snow White!”, “This is Sleeping Beauty!” whenever it can, Grimm is a little subtler: while episode one is full of nods to the tale of Red Riding Hood (a big bad wolf, girls who are abducted wearing red hoodies, a ‘grandmother’, a fairy tale cottage, the initials RH and so on), the show never actually has a character say “Oh, this is like Red Riding Hood”. It also twists things, so that “big bad wolves”, for example, aren’t literally wolves, leaving the viewer at least a little fun at guessing what the fairy tale is and how it’s been changed.

Unfortunately, the lead character, Nick (David Giuntoli), is the show’s weakest link. He’s solid enough as an actor, but that’s kind of the problem: his character lacks humour and Giuntoli brings little to the role beyond solidness. His partner is marginally better and Russell Hornsby (Lincoln Heights) is a better actor, but ultimately it’s (spoiler warning) reformed big, bad wolf Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell from Prison Break, et al) who steals all the scenes he’s in and gets the best lines.

As with virtually every NBC drama, Grimm isn’t bad but there’s nothing to it that really hooks you in. It’s nice enough, it’s fun enough and for a Friday night show, surprisingly dark. With a different lead, this could have had a lot more potential once it found its feet. But it’s not the slam dunk NBC was probably hoping for and I’d be surprised if it lasts more than a season.


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.