Thursday, October 20, 2011

A "Grimm" look at the world around us

NBC
"This is no fairy tale. The stories are real. What they wrote about really happened."  
Aunt Marie (Kate Burton), revealing to nephew Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) that he is one of the last of the Grimms, who are able to see creatures that no one else can and who's ancestors chronicled their existence in the famous fairy tales.
I adore stories that mix the modern with myth and explore the idea that there is a fantastical world about us full of beings and powers that exist in rich layers just out of sight—and how once a character encounters that, they are changed and never see the world the same again. It echoes a deeper truth we find in Scripture about those rich, full, dangerous and magnificent layers of the reality around us. Like the characters in these stories, encountering that changes the way we see the world and the choices we make.

So, you can see why the above scene a few minutes into the pilot episode of NBC’s Grimm snagged me. The question is, can the series overcome its flaws and flesh out its strengths?

Grimm is the latest in a long line of stories on both the big and small screens that have taken on this idea of a fantastical and often ancient world amidst the modern—among some of my favorites including Lost, Hellboy, Spiderwick Chronicles, HavenAngel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Speaking of latter two, I would have loved to see what Joss Whedon would have done with a premise like Grimm’s—but alas, it is not Whedon at the helm.

NBC
And so we get to the weaknesses in pilot. Unfortunately, the strongest actors and characters are either on their deathbed like Kate Burton’s Aunt Marie or in supporting roles, particularly Nick Burkhardt’s detective partner Hank (Russell Hornsby) and Captain Renard (Sasha Roiz, who was fabulous in Caprica). I couldn’t help but wish that Hornsby or Roiz were playing Burkhardt's role instead of David Giuntoli, who played the police detective like a deer caught in headlights most of the way through the pilot. (Granted, that might be the fault of the writers who crafted the character, but if so, that’s not a good thing either.) Burkhardt has no depth and, quite frankly, he’s uninteresting. This man who lost his parents at 12 years old shows no evidence of having suffered at all; he is without wounds or brokenness. Truth be told, I think a wounded but good man would make a more interesting character here than this cardboard cop-with-a-heart-of-gold. (And you’re telling me that this guy had no clue something’s up or wrong with the world having grown up with an aunt like Marie!? Right.)

On the other hand, however, I loved the refresh of fairy tales—and the dark grimness of them. The villain is creepy and disturbing. And if the pilot is any indication, the twists on and deconstruction of the old tales have the potential to make some of their meanings and themes relevant to the present—which would definitely bring God-talk into these open spaces. In addition, the pilot had a slight hint of an Army of Darkness flavor and humor, probably supplied by reformed “big bad wolf” creature Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), who reminded me just a bit of Bruce Campbell in this role.

So, there’s definitely some potential here. Whether or not that potential will be realized is yet to be seen. 




If you weren't one of the Twitter followers who's seen the pilot online, you can catch the Grimm premiere on October 28.

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