October 25, 2013

THE SKED Season Premiere Review: “Grimm”


GRIMM:  Friday 9PM on NBC

Although it’s technically in the action genre, action hasn’t turned out to be what GRIMM does best, which made tonight’s rat-a-tat Season 3 premiere feel somewhat off-brand.  Over its two years on the air, the series has transitioned nicely from a demon-of-the-week supernatural procedural with a fairly wooden lead, to a Whedon-esque ensemble fantasy adventure built around a quirky group of characters and a reasonably well-plotted mythology.  But season premieres carry a certain amount of pressure, especially this time around, where Grimm is meant to lead its audience into NBC’s theoretically compatible new version of Dracula, so the show loaded it on:  plane crash!  mass zombie attack!  zombiefied hero destroying a bar!  The scale was fairly impressive–NBC must have been generous with budget overages this week–but let’s hope the show has gotten all this out of its system.

Aside from a few B-story scenes in which pregnant former Hexanbiest Adalind (Claire Coffee) went through a fairly gross process (heart, hands, feet and eyes removed from a corpse) to regain her powers, the episode, written by series co-creators David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf, was entirely concerned with picking up where last spring’s finale had left off.  Portland homicide detective/supernatural creature hunter Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) had just been infected by the flamboyant puffer-fish-like Baron (Reg E. Cathay) with a substance that puts its victims into a death-like coma, then transforms them into murderously angry zombie-ish creatures before killing them.  The idea was that while still in the first phase of the drug’s effect, Nick could be smuggled as a dead body by evil royal wesen Eric Renard (James Frain) aboard a private plane to Europe, where he’d be a pawn in the royals’ plan to, you know, conquer the world and such.

Unfortunately for the Baron, Nick’s Grimm system reacted to the drug differently, flinging him almost immediately into the homicidal zombie phase, which led to him busting his way out of a steel coffin and attacking everyone on board, bringing down the plane (killing the Baron) and then going on a general rampage, while Nick’s back-up team of Blutbad Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), Fuchsbau Rosalee (Bree Turner), Eric’s half-brother and Nick’s boss Captain Renard (Sasha Roiz), and humans Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) and Nick’s partner Hank (Russell Hornsby) tried to track him down.

Between the Baron’s other victims heaving themselves in a frenzy, 28 Days Later-style (they move faster than the zombies on The Walking Dead), on the good guys, Nick’s eventful plane ride and, once he was back on the ground, his assault on the bar, there was precious little space for characterization, humor, or any but the most functional dialogue.  Since the glue that’s come to hold the show together is the interaction between the characters, tonight’s hour felt somewhat empty and disjointed, although director Norberto Barba stretched the TV budget as far as it would go.  There was also a weak cliffhanger that had no suspense at all, raising the enormously unlikely possibility that zombie Nick would slaughter an innocent family next week.

The expectation is that by the next episode, or at least when this storyline is done, Grimm will put away its toys and get back to doing what it’s been doing well.  The show has been one of the more reliable drama successes for NBC in the last few years, both creatively and in the ratings.  While attempts to move it to a more viewer-frequented night have failed, it garners a solid rating in the mid-to-high 1s on Fridays, a very decent level on a night where nothing goes over a 2.  Assuming that the show returns to form, it should remain a relatively steady sign of hope in the morass that is NBC’s non-Voice line-up.


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."