Saturday, October 29, 2011

Grimm "Pilot" Review

I'm pleasantly surprised that at least 6.4 Americans tuned into Grimm's premiere last night. Critics sounded the death knell when the Cardinals staged their epic comeback (twice) in Game 6 Thursday night, forcing a Game 7, which was a serious threat to NBC's premiere night. Critics, in general, thought the series was complete trash. I, however, enjoyed the pilot. I liked the humor, the characters, and the procedural element. A procedural with fairy tale characters is infinitely more interesting than a procedural set in Manhattan or Miami with gritty cops and one-note characters.

Genre television appeals to me because the writers always have something substantial to say about the human condition. Years ago, I tried to express my affection for ANGEL's ability to cut the core of humanity on a message board but my youth hindered me, and it ended poorly. I'm older now, more equipped to explain why genre television, with its supernatural aspects, provides windows into the souls of every man and woman. On a conference call, Grimm creators Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt, succinctly stated Grimm's purpose--to explain bad behavior by people through fairy tales. Those few words are enough to keep me engaged and interested in this story.

The "Pilot" is every inch a traditional pilot episode. The world and its characters are quickly established. Nick Burkhardt receives a hero's introduction. By that, I mean he's a committed man--to his work and to his woman. Nick bought an engagement ring early in the episode, an act that symbolizes the character's stability and contentment. Nick and his partner work well together, uncovering tracks and clues that their colleagues don't find. The case in this episode involves the abduction and murders of people wearing red hoodies or jackets. The abductions and murders confound the detectives because the violence suggests an animal attack; however, boot marks suggest that a human's guilty of the violent murders. Fortunately for Nick, his aunt drives into town to reveal a family secret--he's a Grimm and he sees things no one else can.

Nick noticed the transformation of people's faces on the streets. A beautiful woman's face transformed into the ugly visage of a demon before reverting back to the more pleasant face. I liked how Nick acted with calmness to his aunt's news. I understand someone's criticism of Nick's casual attitude to the news because the setting's the real world, and people wouldn't react calmly to the news his Aunt Marie brings him; however, I'm tired of characters who resist their calling and who need 2 or 3 episodes to embrace the life they've been brought into. Once in awhile, it's nice to see a character receive the news, shrug, and get to work. And that's what Nick does. The knowledge is a gift. Aunt Marie warned her nephew about the dangers to come, but she's in a coma for the most of the episode so I don't need to deal with the dangers of Nick's family calling. Without the knowledge of his Grimm ancestry, he'd never save a little girl's life that was taken by the Big Bad Wolf, or a blutbad.

Nick's ability to recognize the fairy tale folk amongst the ordinary citizens of earth leads him to a weird partnership with Eddie, a reformed blutbad and big bad wolf. Eddie's initially a prime suspect in the abduction/murder case until no evidence ties him to the crimes. Nick can't let Eddie go, though, so he stalks Eddie. Eddie tires of the stalking and introduces himself to Nick. It turns out that Eddie's a wolf who attends church and no longer indulges in his baser blutbad instincts. The character's a example of the diversity of the fairy tale characters we'll meet in the episode. None of them will be painted with black and white strokes. Instead, some could be good then be bad; others could be bad then good; others more could be all bad or all good. I liked the way Eddie interacted with Nick--their exchanges reminded me of early ANGEL when Angel relied on various demons.

I liked the main character because he lacked the traits of other leading men in procedurals. If Nick had a drinking problem or fidelity problem, an estranged wife or child, or if he was loathed in the office, a loose cannon or a wildcard, I might feel differently. I've been conditioned to expect those types of leading males in a procedural format. Nick's different. I already wrote about his stability and contentment. I made mention of his easy acceptance of Aunt Marie's truths. Tortured and complicated leading males are trendy. I'm glad Greenwalt & Kouf realized there's room in television for a light-hearted main character with a sense of humor.

Grimm films on location in Portland, Oregon. The Portland setting gives the series a lush and whimsical look. There were beautiful scenes in the pilot episode, such as the march in the stream towards the isolated log cabin in the woods where the big bad wolf held little red riding hood captive. The interior of Marie's trailer had an airy quality because of the lighting. The atmosphere's great for Grimm. The daylight scenes had an overcast quality but that quality didn't dwarf the scene. The Killing suffocated its narrative with its use of rain whereas Grimm used an overcast atmosphere without harming the tone of the show. What is the show's tone? Well, it's dark, sometimes scary, with instances of humor and light-heartedness. It resembles the tone of early Buffy and ANGEL, when Greenwalt had significant influence.

I look forward to future episodes. I'm glad the show performed so well because Grimm was one of the series I looked forward to most. I'm glad it didn't disappoint.


No comments:

About The Foot

My photo
Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.