August 14, 2012



GRIMM:  Monday 9PM thru Sept 10; Friday 9PM starting Sept 14 on NBC – Worth A Look


WHERE WE WERE:  Meeting Mom.  Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) is a Portland homicide detective who’s also a “Grimm,” with the hereditary ability to see the fairy tale monsters lurking within seemingly ordinary human beings, and the duty to hunt them down.  Despite his family vocation, he’d take a live and let live attitude toward the beasts–some of his best friends, namely Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee Calvert (Bree Turner) are among them–but they mostly won’t let live.  Nick doesn’t even know that his own Captain Renard (Sasha Roiz) is one of the creatures.  Meanwhile, Nick’s partner Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby) has started to figure out that something very odd is going on in Portland, and Nick’s live-in girlfriend Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) has been magic-poisoned into a coma.  Also, Nick has possession of 3 coins that the monsters are more than happy to kill to get their hands on, and in last season’s finale he was locked in hand-to-hand combat with a vicious man-beast who wanted them, when a mysterious woman appeared to help, and–whaddaya know, she turned out to be Nick’s long-believed-dead mother.

WHERE WE ARE:  Exactly where we left off.  Mom (Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio, a wonderful actress too seldom seen) explains that she’s been in hiding for 18 years, believing that only by keeping away from Nick could she keep him safe.  Now, though, she’s more than happy to do whatever she can to make up for the years of absence, whether that means cleaning up the house or murdering mythical creatures–you know, the little things.  Meanwhile, Monroe and Rosalee are cooking up a potion to cure Juliette, which has to be delivered at exactly the right moment before she awakens with super-amnesia.  And there’s a new monster in town, sort of a half human, half tiger… but maybe worse than that, he’s French!

After a first season that spent a long time pursuing a creature-of-the-week format, GRIMM‘s second season premiere, written by series co-creators David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf, and directed by Norberto Barba, has jumped with both feet into the serialization pool.  Which is why it’s extremely strange that NBC, airing the show in a special timeslot expressly to gain some new viewers, didn’t even give them the courtesy of a “Previously On…”  The network will have to hope the newbies can absorb a whole lot of exposition delivered on the run.  Because now there aren’t just 3 magic coins that can only be destroyed, Lord of the Rings style, by burning them in the forge where they were made.  No, now there are 7 magic keys, each supposedly held by a Grimm (Nick has one of them), which together form a map that leads to a secret treasure trove where the ancient families who, back in the days of the Crusades, employed both the monsters and the Grimms, hid some secret McGuffin that can control the world.  Everyone, descendants of the ancient families themselves included, wants to get their hands on that.

Grimm has improved since it started out.  The season premiere demonstrated an upgrade in guest star quality, with not only Mastrontonio but James Frain making an appearance as the seeming Big Bad of this story arc, brutal scion of one of those ancient European families.  Building up the Monroe character and giving him Rosalee so they can have some stories of their own was smart, and while the special effects are still nowhere near paycable quality, tonight’s episode certainly didn’t stint on the bloody action.  The show’s weakness remains its central characters.  Nick is a bland, undistinctive hero, Hank and Juliette are mostly clueless, and the show has yet to figure out what to do with Captain Renard, who goes from appearing powerful in one episode to a seeming mid-level evil functionary in the next.  With such voids at the heart of the series, there’s only so much progress it can make.

Grimm was never the hit that NBC wanted it to be last season, ending up with a 2.1 average that was fine for Fridays, but not strong enough to be the building block the network desperately needs on other nights.  It should continue to hold its audience against the last cycle of Fringe (no one who wasn’t already a fan of that show is likely to start now), CBS’s weak new Made In Jersey, 20/20 and Nikita, but while it’ll get some extra sampling in this brief Monday run, it’s doubtful that many of them will add the show to their DVR playlists when Grimm returns to Fridays.  (The serialization, while helping the show’s quality, also makes it harder to lure long-term viewers.)  Of course, the good thing about being on NBC is that 2.1 counts as a thriving hit, so unless the series falters, it should be able to keep slaying monsters quite well where it is.

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."