Last night NBC debuted Grimm, its own fairy tale-inspired show, one that is decidedly darker in tone than Once Upon a Time. Based on the previews alone, I would've assumed that I would've been nuts about Once, but Grimm, looking much darker, was an iffier proposition. So I was somewhat surprised to find that I thought Grimm was really a brilliant debut, turning fairy tales and police procedurals on their head, a glorious match-up that's creepy, compelling, and perhaps most surprisingly of all, really quite funny.
Detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) is on top of the world. The recently minted homicide detective happily endures some good-natured ribbing from his partner Hank (Russell Hornsby) about believing in "happily ever afters" since he's about to propose to his girlfriend Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch). His good mood is shaken when he sees an employee of a local law office, Adalind Engel (Claire Coffee), transform into a hideous witch-like creature before his eyes. He carries the unsettling vision with him to a horrific crime scene, where they discover the dismembered (and largely consumed) body of a college student -- and no paw prints, only the impression of a boot.
Later that day, Nick is receives a surprise visit from his Aunt Marie (Kate Burton), frail and nearing the end of her life. She drops several bombshells on Nick -- he's the last of the Grimms, legendary "monster hunters" if you will, able to the disguised creatures for who they really are -- wolves, witches, etc. Nick's parents didn't die in a car wreck, they were murdered for being part of this ancient Grimm bloodline. Before she can explain further, they're attacked by a monstrous creature, and Marie whips out some incredible fight moves before Nick shoots their attacker dead (who then transforms into a perfectly normal-looking man).
When a little girl goes missing -- suspiciously wearing a red shirt like the murdered jogger -- Nick is thrust headlong into a world he never suspected existed, a world where the Brothers Grimm fairy tales are very real warnings of very real and ancient dangers. In his quest to save the latest "Little Red" from becoming a murder victim, Nick meets Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), a reformed "Blutbad," or "Big Bad Wolf," who controls his natural urges with a strict regiment of diet, drugs, and pilates. Monroe is Nick's "in" to the supernatural world he now faces, proof that not all the creatures the Grimms' chronicled are evil. (Side note: Robin, the missing girl, is played by Sophia Mitri Schloss -- and when she's rescued and hugs Nick's neck, the adorable factor was positively off the charts!)
Despite the fact that the premiere episode was centered on "Little Red Riding Hood," which is like my least favorite fairy tale EVER (disgusting story warning about child predators, ick!!), I really enjoyed the Grimm debut. If I had to describe the style of this show with one phrase, I'd have to say film noir -- no, it's not black and white (ha!), but the camera angles, close-ups, the way the scenes are cut to build suspense, all of these elements work together to recall the style of classic film noirs from the 1940s and 1950s. Grimm is all about SUSPENSE and things that go "bump in the night," and on that score the premiere succeeds brilliantly. The use of light and shadow, darkness and color (especially the greens -- they are so brilliantly enhanced it lends the setting an eerie, otherworldly look -- a heightened reality, if you will).
Besides the dark, fairy tale undertones to the hour, I loved the relationships established between Nick and his investigative partners. Nick and Hank have a great "buddy chemistry" vibe between them, a solid friendship, and I look forward to seeing how Nick attempts to juggle his partnership with Hank and his newfound "creature sighting" ability. (Random aside: was anyone else besides me distracted by how much Giuntoli looks like Clark Kent?? His resemblance to every other actor who has ever played Superman is positively eerie!) Nick's "Grimm partner," Monroe, is HILARIOUS. I love how the reformed Blutbad is so deliciously droll and matter of fact about everything that is blowing Nick's mind sky-high. Mitchell's character brings some much-needed humor to the show, and I look forward to seeing how he gets roped into Nick's investigations.
If you're going to turn the typical police procedural crime show on its head and insert classic fairy tales, I don't think you could've asked for better than this premiere. They needed to go "dark," but for my money it wasn't too dark -- the show's mood and suspensful atmosphere was nicely reminscent of the "creepiness" factor found in the traditional Grimm stories. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE making the Grimms criminal profilers -- that is the perfect background you need to make your hero an investigator. Nicely done.
One more casting note -- Nick and Hank's boss, Captain Renard, is played by Sasha Roiz, fresh off a season three stint on Warehouse 13 as one of the show's big bads over the past summer. When the closing scene reveals that he's in league with the Hexenbeist (sp??), a.k.a. witch-woman Adalind, I am eager to discover what "grim" secret the seemingly conscientious and nice police chief is hiding.
After yesterday's pleasant surprise, I'm eager to see where Grimm goes next week! If you watched the premiere I'd love to hear your thoughts!