November 5, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot in the spring and production of episodes for the regular season:  a writing/producing team is hired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover in the off-season) give plenty of notes, both helpful and otherwise, and critics begin to rear their ugly heads.  The results can include changes to tone, pace, casting and even story.  Here at THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular episodes of this year’s new series as well.
Previously… on GRIMM:  Police Detective Nick Burckhardt (David Giuntoli) is understandably shocked to discover that he can suddenly see some apparently ordinary people transform into their “real” animalistic or demonic faces.  His Aunt Marie (Kate Burton), now unfortunately dying of cancer, delivers the news that as she’s becoming weaker, he’s inheriting from her the mantle of “Grimm,” a descendant of the famous Brothers, who it turns out weren’t mere recounters of myths, but reporters of true events and dedicated to the hunting down and eradication of the monsters among us.  While using his powers for the first time on a case, trying to find a modern day Little Red Riding Hood, Nick develops an uneasy partnership with Eddie Monroe, a reformed “Blutbad” (Big Bad Wolf).  What none of them know is that Nick’s own commanding officer Captain Renard (Sasha Roiz) is one of the leaders of the monsters, and he’s ordered one of his minions, Adalind Schade (Claire Coffee), to murder Aunt Marie before she can tell Nick too much.

Episode 2:  In its first regular season episode, written by series creators David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf, Grimm makes clear its intent to be a supernatural procedural more than a serialized show with heavy (pardon the expression) mythology.  The virtue of this approach from a network point of view is that viewers will be able to skip episodes without missing much, but there are several problems as well, showcased in this episode.  For one thing, there’s very little in the way of mystery or suspense:  from the opening moments, when a quote from the Brothers Grimm story tells us the fairy tale of the week is “Goldilocks and the 3 Bears,” we know that when the blonde woman breaks into a house with 3 bedrooms, she’s going to be attacked and who her attackers really are.  We then have to wait for Nick to catch up with us, which takes roughly half the episode.  (The writers end up melding the Goldilocks story with the old movie The Most Dangerous Game, as the bears set up an elaborate hunt to track and kill the woman and her boyfriend.)  It doesn’t help that the episode contains maybe 90 seconds of real action, or that the big sequence where Nick and the bears are after the girl and her boyfriend ends in a dumb and inadvertently funny bear error.

The procedural mode also means that virtually all of the show’s monsters will be guest stars, or in the case of Renard and Adalind, vague villains.  (Presumably at some point the show will explain why Renard is the only monster whose true face Nick can’t see.)  The only fantasy figure allowed to be a real character is Monroe the Wolf, and Silas Weir Mitchell is currently the only reason to watch the series (it’s far from a coincidence that he’s also the only character bringing any humor to the proceedings).  This episode is badly hurt by the fact that his character doesn’t enter until its second half.  Mitchell certainly doesn’t get much help from his co-stars:  Giuntoli is either being held back by the material, or he’s a genuinely dull leading man, and Bitsie Tulloch, as Juliette, might as well be named Hero’s Generic Girlfriend.  Sadly, the hope that Monroe and Aunt Marie would get some quality time together on screen ended tonight when Aunt Marie was killed off. 

Launched, oddly enough, in the same timeslot as the similarly-aimed Fringe and Supernatural, Grimm got off to a good start in the ratings, and it held its own in its second week (albeit with no bounce from the lack of World Series competition), but currently it’s not a particularly satisfying piece of work.  The plotting and all but one of the characters are flat, and although the premise would seem to have plenty of possibility, it’s all being restrained in the name of bite-sized episodes.  The show desperately needs to find its own inner monster and set it free.
Original Verdict:  If Nothing Else Is On…
Pilot + 1:  It’s No “Fringe”


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."