Grimm, the fantasy/horror/detective show hybrid is the sort of show that’s just entertaining enough. If Breaking Bad, or The Wire, or whatever else elevates television to a great art form, Grimm is more in line with serials in that it keeps you coming back for more, even if momentum is more important than how the pieces fit together. David Giuntoli starts the show finding out he’s a Grimm, a legendary hunter of mythic creatures, who – surprise – are living amongst us. Our review of season one of Grimm on Blu-ray follows after the jump.
The pilot sets up what you need to know: Detective Nick Burkhardt (Giuntoli) is about to propose to his girlfriend Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) when he starts seeing weird things. His aunt returns to him then – dying of cancer – and lets him in on a family secret: he’s from a long line of hunters of werewolves, fire breathers, etc. He doesn’t tell anyone else about this at first, until he’s on an investigation of a missing person and suspects Munroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), who’s actually a reformed and (mostly) vegetarian werewolf. Because he can’t tell his cop partner Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby) about it, he develops a second partnership with Munroe through the series. What Nick doesn’t know is that his captain Sean Renard (Sasha Roiz) is also a part of this world, though his role is left mysterious.
Part of the fun of the season is that Nick doesn’t know everything, and though there’s a lot of people who say things like “we’ve never met a Grimm like you before” you do get the sense that Nick is finding his own way through this and that’s the fun of the show. Unfortunately, perhaps the biggest problem with the show is that you have a girlfriend character (and his partner) who must be kept in the dark all the time, and it leads to scenes and episodes that feel obligatory to the performers. The show also does and doesn’t want to put Nick in situations where he could be outed for his gifts, but then the show will walk away from anything that revelatory. There’s a sequence toward the end of the series where Munroe has to give something to Hank that should have had more impact than a scene in the next episode where Hank says something like “what a coincidence!”
But the show works, and works best when it’s about the discovery of this culture when Nick is partnered with Munroe. It’s fair to say the show wouldn’t work without Silar Weir Mitchell’s performance, and the guy plays it as a nerd who’s into what keeps happening. He likes being sucked into mysteries, and I hope that in the second season they pay off his interest in another character (played by Bree Turner).
As the season ends it sets up a bigger world, and gets into some of the mythologizing they’ve been doing about Nick’s dead parents, and about having to reveal his gifts to his girlfriend. They leave all the heavy lifting for the start of the second season, which you hope they pay off smartly. So far it’s a clever show that’s just good enough, but depending on how dumb or weird it gets, it could sink quickly.
Much of the framework of the episodes is based on Grimm’s fairy tales, so there’s a pied-piper episode where someone is eaten by rats, a three little piggy’s episode where there are three wolves hunted by a pig, and most of the creatures are based on humans with animal-like qualities. This also leads to good cameos by talented performers, so you get episodes with Titus Welliver and Danielle Panabaker.
The cop show elements of the film keep it humming along, and there’s enough of a sense of building mythology to make it feel like the show is going somewhere. They’ve been playing footsies with that all season, so it will be interesting to how the second season goes (which starts Monday August 13). But I have to say part of the fun of the show for me was that it takes place in my hometown of Portland Oregon, and many of the locations in the show are familiar to me from living there. When they go to 20th and Belmont, they actually go to 20th and Belmont, and that adds another layer of interest.
Universal presents the show on Blu-ray in widescreen (1.78:1) and in DTS-HD 5.1 Master audio. It’s a television show, and it looks pretty great. The twenty-two episode season is spread out over five discs, with the majority of supplements on the fifth disc. Disc one offers deleted scenes from the pilot (4 min.), while disc two offers deleted scenes from four episodes (13 min.). Disc three offers deleted scenes for four episodes (5 min.), while disc four offers deleted scenes for three episodes (6 min.).
Disc five has deleted scenes for the series finale (3 min.), a gag reel (3 min.), an interactive “Grimm Guide” that goes through the types of creatures and magic that’s been in the show to date, the making of “The World of Grimm” (11 min.), and then there’s “Making Monsters” (7 min.) which highlights the practical make up and digital effects of the show, five audition tapes for Guintoli, Tulloch, Mitchell, Hornsby, and Reggie Lee (11 min.), a VFX Progression that shows the evolution of the effects (2 min.), and three highlight reels (6 min.) that focus on different repetitive elements of the show.