It is beginning to seem like the majority of film and TV projects getting produced right now are all falling under the category of “a reboot” or “recycled trash”, as some would call it. A pattern is occurring where such tales seem to be repelling modern audiences more than they attract. Every now and then we see reboots of classic stories such as Snow White or even The Brothers Grimm, appropriately enough. So we ask ourselves, why should I pay attention to this retelling when I know exactly what to expect? After watching the pilot for NBC’s upcoming Grimm at Comic-Con, I’m happy to report that many of you will be pleasantly surprised by this dark and twisted Fall show. Brought to you by the minds behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and The X-Files, the story revolves around a cop in Portland who begins seeing strange things (demon faces, basically) and stumbles across truly horrendous crimes, only to find that he is a very important piece to the puzzle.
Rather than taking the classic tales we’ve grown up with and simply giving the Big Bad Wolf a sawed-off shotgun in an attempt to “modernize”, the producers and writers of the show are clearly focusing on turning these stories on their heads. How are they doing that? Hit the jump to find out.
As I said before, the creators are trying to evolve the old stories in a way that surprises you while still paying homage to what’s familiar. We will not be watching the stories that our mother told us where nobody gets hurt and everyone hugs it out in the end. Instead, the creators promise an unforgiving cop drama where brutal crimes are solved within the context of the Grimm fairy tales. If the rest of the season is anything like the pilot, which began with a college girl getting tackled and ripped to pieces in the woods, then it will remain true to the dark and gritty tone of the original German tales.
The pilot opens with said college girl as she begins an innocent jog through the woods while “Sweat dreams are made of these” blasts on her Ipod. She’s wearing a red jacket, so we already know it’s a Red Riding Hood tale. Everything seems peachy clean until she is violently killed. The tone is perfectly set as a twisted dark comedy, but as the episode continues, the lack in chemistry between the actors as well as inconsistencies in the strength of the dialogue begins to compromise the continuity. Thankfully, the comic relief offered by a couple characters and the strong plot carry it through until a very suspenseful and fulfilling conclusion that left me wanting more.
Here’s what I watched in detail. Our hero, detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), runs into his dying aunt Marie who raised him since his parents died in a mysterious accident. She tells him that he is one of the last remaining living descendents of the Grimm family: a group of hunters whose task has forever been to stop the crimes of supernatural creatures. In a run-in with a suspected culprit who turns out to be a friendly “big bad wolf” named Monroe, Nick learns that most of what he thought about the fairy tale was wrong. Monroe does have a heightened sense of smell and goes wild whenever someone passes with red clothing on, but he’s really just a wisecracking vegetarian who favors palates over the spilling of innocent blood (His character is hilarious and by far one of the highlights of the pilot, and I am very eager to see how his relationship with Nick unfolds). On his hunt to find a missing girl, Nick finds the real culprit who is holding the girl hostage and has plans to kill her. I don’t want to give too much away, but the pilot ends in a twist that left me in anticipation.
After the screening, the cast and executive producers sat down for an especially delightful Q and A headed by Anthony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). The show’s creator, David Greenwalt, mentioned that we should be expecting all kinds of creatures to pop up; some deriving from the Grimm universe, and some not. They emphasized the fact that they will be drawing from many fairy tales that do not only originate from the Grimm fairy tales. They already have plans to write retellings of classics like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the Three Little Wolves (instead of pigs), as well as a new twist on the Cinderella classic. When asked what order they will arrange the fairy tales with the episodes, Greenwalt joked “We’ll pull it out of our ass”.
Overall, I walked away from the screening very pleased with what I saw. Though the acting lacked a certain flow at times, I know the chemistry will build as the show has more time on the air. I am curious to see what happens with Nick as the surviving Grimm descendent, and I am also eager to learn why there are so many monsters in Portland, Oregon, of all places. Be sure to check it out when it airs on NBC on October 21st at 9 pm.