Grimm Season 1 Review

Holy shit, something in the TV section! Well….yeah. This one will always be the quietest as it takes a while to watch a whole season of something and I’ll only be talking about a couple of shows on an episode by episode basis. Most of the time it’ll be whole season reviews like this one about:

Grimm.

So what’s Grimm? Lazy synopsis steal from IMDB: In modern day Portland, Oregon, a police detective inherits the ability to see supernatural creatures.

That won’t do.

Nick Burkhardt is the descendant of the Brothers Grimm, though the family history goes further back than that. It turns out that all the creatures from their fairy tales are real, but can hide from normal people. Grimm’s can see then and hunt them. They aren’t all bad, just like normal folks, and some that could be struggle against their animal natures. Nick has to deal with working out what the hell is going on with the help of his aunts trailer full of brick-a-brack and books in German, balance that with his normal cop job and his relationship. And he can’t tell anyone. Thankfully he has help from his OTHER partner, a reformed Blutbad or Big Bad Wolf.

Yeah that pretty much covers it and is only minorly spoilery. There are a number of shows that this is comparable too. Buffy, Angel, Supernatural, Lost Girl and possibly (though I’ve only watched the pilot so far) Once Upon a Time which is a fellow frosh from last years TV offerings. All have a similar “mythical creature real/guy who hunts them” thing going on. The twist here of having Nick in the normal police force (not like being a PI) and the monsters he comes across being investigated like normal crimes help it stand out. The fact that it’s very much grey on whether an individual is bad or good also helps a lot, though isn’t unique. I’m going to get a bit character by character for the regulars in a second and that’ll probably be full of spoilers, so if you want to avoid them stop reading before the gap.

Occasionally it suffers from the same thing that other genre and cop shows suffer from. “Oh that guy, I’ve seen him before so he probably did it” syndrome. Though like all shows it’s mixed up a lot so they aren’t always clearly a bad guy. And it was nice to see a few faces I hadn’t seen in a while. Nana Visitor (Major Kira from DS9), Claudia Christian (Ivanova from B5), Daniel Baldwin (not the worst Baldwin), Sebastian Roche (among other things Balthazar on Supernatural) among others all pop up for an episode or two.

If you like this kind of show, you’ll like Grimm. Bit more serious than some, though there is plenty of humour in it. I was worried they’d run out of monsters quite quickly but I think the general rule is “if there’s an animal there can be a vessen of it”. There are ongoing plot threads and character development which is great, but not so much that you couldn’t follow most episodes without seeing the ones before. Occasionally it feels like we’ve missed something because of this (not a full reset button but some issues and relationships develop a fair bit off screen) but they do save plenty for the screen. You will get pretty lost if you don’t then go back and watch from the start. Season 1 ends on a cliffhanger, but thankfully there’s a season 2. 2 just started up in the states, and in the UK Grimm is shown on Watch. I assume the run is done, but there’ll be loads of repeats and it’s out on DVD in both places. Okay, spoiler time:

I’d have to cut myself off if I tried to avoid them. While it’s a main character show, there’s obviously a regular ensemble. David Giuntoli plays Nick, the Grimm. Grimm is semi fitting for the first while too as his character is pretty serious, leaving the humour to others. Obviously he has the world on his shoulders and a lot of shit going on. The character lightens up a bit as time goes by. David has the chops to carry the show admirably. Beyond having the ability to see the monsters that the rest of us can’t it’s a bit vague what other bonuses there are to being a Grimm. Occasionally, particularly in the second half of the season, he appears to be extra strong and able to take hard hits but I’m not sure if that’s an ability thing or just TV fighting. In an earlier episode he has the shit kicked out of him so who knows. Hopefully THAT will be explored in the next season and going by the very end of the finale some answers should be coming.

Like a Mormon, Nick has 3 partners. The first is his cop partner, played by Russel Hornsby. He’s been a regular in a few shows but nothing that I’ve really watched. Hank Griffin carries some of the lighter work to start with, being a bit of a wisecracking cop to balance the serious Nick. Not in a whacky way, more one liners. He’d fit fine in a normal cop show which is important for the character. Weird shit starts creeping in though leaving him pretty baffled. Somehow, at least until the last couple of episodes, Nick is able to dance around him without him finding out about the supernatural things happening all around him. This can be a bit frustrating as the guy is his partner. Every cop show hammers home the importance of the cop partner relationship. How Nick is able to spend as much time with the guy dancing around everything he does when he ISN’T around him confuses me. And why he doesn’t start telling him, particularly when he sees a few things he shouldn’t and can’t get his head around, is beyond me.

Onto Nick’s girlfriend Juliette. She’s played by Bitsie Tulloch (don’t blame her parents, her name is Elizabeth) who’s done bits and bobs here and there. It’s a girlfriend role, but gets more focus than many do in these shows. She KNOWS something weird is happening but not what. Even after being attacked by a troll, kidnapped by a dragon and all sorts of other crazy crap. They don’t hide that she knows something is up with Nick and she does ask him but he always avoids it. Until the last episode where he has to tell her. The problem is that he does such a shitty job of it that I’d have trouble thinking he wasn’t nuts and I’ve SEEN all the crap HE has. The character sometimes shows some above the norm resiliance, and is a great shot for someone who doesn’t like guns (not in a TV way, in a “why the hell are you so good at shooting” as questioned by Nick way) so I think she may have some kind of secret. It’s that or a bit of dodgy writing.

His third partners is the one that knows the craic, what with being a Blutbad. Munroe is played by Silas Weir Mitchell, up until now a “hey it’s that guy” actor who had a few decent runs on Prison Break and My Name Is Earl, but generally just pops up in stuff. His character fills two important roles. First off he helps Nick with the various aspects of the Vessen world, otherwise he’d be completely lost. And secondly he’s pretty much the comic relief. As time goes on Nick is a lot more relaxed when he’s around Munroe, probably as he doesn’t have to hide anything, and it’s probably the warmest of the 3 partnerships. Like most shows it’s rarely the main character that’s your actual favourite, and in this one’s case Munroe is probably the one who would be missed the most out of everyone. Obviously no Nick no show, but no Munroe no….as good show.

One of the biggest twists in Grimm is Captain Sean Renard played by Sasha Roiz. Sasha will be a familiar face to SF fans as he was Marcus on Warehouse 13 and Sam Adama in short lived Caprica. The Captain is a twist as he’s a Captain in two worlds. One, the police Captain and therefore Nick’s boss, the other a Captain in one of the Royal Houses that run the Vessen world. And Nick never has any idea. What the deal is with the Captain or the houses we don’t really know through the whole season, it’s just hinted at. He runs Portland, is an important figure to be feared, but doesn’t seem to be a vessen himself. We never see another face. I’m sure it’ll be explained at some point and one day the two will have a reckoning but for now he’s a bit of a source of frustration as we don’t fully know his deal. It’s a clever wrinkle but one with a limited shelf life.

And finally, for the “I’m in damned near every episode” cast members it’s Sergeant Wu. He’s played by Reggie Lee who’s been all over the place, generally playing a bit of an asshole. Wu is a regular uniform (the main cast being detectives) who’s the guy at the scene, in the station etc etc. There’s a few other beat regulars but he’s the one that gets sucked in to the world. He starts off as the standard Reggie Lee asshole but develops in to a bit of a funny guy. Funny due to jokes falling flat and being a bit weird more than anything. He has a prominent weird shit storyline that lasts over a few episodes, but his memory is wiped by the cure so he doesn’t really remember any of it, keeping the secret safe from him. Of the “normals” in the cast I can see him dealing with finding out the best though, but it probably works better to have the character stay a bit oblivious and sarcastic. I expected to hate him throughout but you end up warming to him.

And that’ll do it. Occasionally slightly ropey effects and frustrating secret keeping aside Grimm is a great show and hopefully one that will be with us for a few seasons.

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