May 19, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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Although both fairy-tale inspired dramas that were introduced to network TV last fall have been renewed for 2d seasons, there’s no comparison in quality between Once Upon A Time and GRIMMOnce has created a captivating, complex narrative of parallel universes and the loves and hates that reach across them, while Grimm is far less ambitious.  The series has shown relatively interest in developing a coherent mythology, and more often than not is just a creature-of-the-week thriller.


Tonight’s season finale, written by series co-creators David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf, and directed by Norberto Barba, was more concerned with continuing storylines than most of the episodes, but not in a particularly satisfying way.  Our hero Grimm, Portland homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), was on the trail of a man who’d been involved in the killing of his own parents, decades earlier and on the other side of the country, which had something to do with mysterious golden coins.  Meanwhile, recurring witch Adalind Schade (Claire Coffee), seemingly drained of all her powers in an earlier episode, showed up with a cursed cat who could scratch and thereby curse Nick’s veterinarian girlfriend Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch).  Nick had to find Adalind or at least an antidote, and as always he turned for help to his werewolf buddy Eddie (Silas Weir Mitchell).  And while all this was going on, a mysterious woman (Mary Elizaabeth Mastrontonio) was also new in town and possessed of supernatural fighting skill.

Most of the finale followed conventions of Telling The Big Secret and The Last-Second Twist.  The first came when Nick realized Juliette had been scratched by the witchy cat, and had to finally tell her that he was a Grimm and humanity was surrounded by hidden fairy-tale beasts, which he virtually alone has the ability to detect, hunt and destroy.  She, rationally enough, figured him for insane, collapsing from the curse before he could have Eddie change for her as positive proof.  The Twist concerned Mastrontonio’s true identity, which wasn’t really too hard to figure out once it was clear she had to be somebody important.

Grimm simply isn’t very compelling.  Once each episode has come up with its laborious parallel to a fairy tale or legend (The 3 Little Pigs, the troll under the bridge, dragons, Bigfoot), there’s a murder, Nick is called in to investigate,he instantly sees who the creature really is, and there’s a confrontation at the end–that’s about it.  Nick himself is a bland character, and Juliette has been even less interesting; we know that Nick’s commanding officer (Sasha Roiz) is somehow able to hide his own creature-ness from Nick, and that he’s involved in inter-species power struggles, but nothing has yet come of that storyline.  The show only perks up when Eddie is on screen (and more recently his recurring girlfriend Rosalee, played by Bree Turner), not coincidentally because they’re the only characters who bring a breath of humor to the proceedings.

Part of the reason Grimm is disappointing is because Greenwalt and Kouf come from the Joss Whedon training ground, having worked on Buffy and Angel, which would seem to be the perfect prior experience for a show like this.  They don’t seem to share Whedon’s touch for the grand narrative or visionary arc.  (Another former Buffyer, Jane Espenson, is one of the senior writers on Once Upon A Time.)  Instead, they’re content with Grimm being a procedural with some CG, wasting a promising premise.

By NBC standards, Grimm is a “hit,” which means it’s competitive in a soft timeslot.  (The plan is for it to come back in August, in order to take advantage of NBC’s Olympics coverage and air against weak summer competition on the other networks.)  The series is reliably adequate, and that seems to be all it wants to be.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."