Why Is Grimm so Grim?

I started off excited to watch this paranormal show. It sounded grittier and less girly than the similar-themed Once Upon a Time. Writer/Producer David Greenwalt of Buffy, Angel, and Miracles fame is involved. Good to go.

But after four episodes, this one falls in the category of “Why am I still watching this show?”

Once, the fairy tale show featuring a whole town under an evil spell, is holding my interest much better. The evil queen kills her own father to bring about the spell and then he’s reborn in the new realm as a boy named Henry, whom she adopts? That’s some dark juju magumbo right there.

The truth is, what Once has going for it that Grimm lacks is a sense of fun. It’s possible to be violent and fairy-tale disturbing and still have that deliciousness, that ‘I can’t wait to see how this plays out.’ It’s the difference between The X-Files and Millenium. Both shows were dark and had damaged leads investigating paranormal phenom, but Millenium was a total downer.

Then there’s the elephant in the room. The lead.

The guy’s cute. Unfortunately, he’s a cute block of wood.  He falls in the butch, not-very-rangey school of acting. (David Boreanaz overcame it on Angel; so far Paul Wesley has not on The Vampire Diaries.) Pretty much everyone–his partner Hank, the good blutbad, his aunt, the monsters, the dog–everyone is more charismatic than this guy. There’s no easy fix when your protagonist doesn’t spark.

Then there’s the writing. All I ask of paranormal TV is that it pull me in and make me forget to be analytical. But I constantly notice the writing and logic flaws on Grimm, starting with the pilot.

  • Why did his aunt wait until she was almost dead from cancer to tell him of his birthright as a Grimm? Maybe give him a heads-up that he’ll have to start battling supernatural monsters? Uh…hey, auntie? You suck.
  • Then there was the one about how the sick auntie throws some mad kung fu at the attacking monster, ancient fighting sticks her only weapon. And then Nick pulls his police revolver and shoots the monster dead. Uh…hey, Auntie You Suck? Get a gun! [/Scott Evil].
  • Speaking of plot devices, having Auntie Info Dump go into a coma, wake up just to tell our hero a few more juicy pieces of exposition, and then the doctor kicks Nick out of the ICU because the writers couldn’t think of any better way to Stop the Signal, and then later she tells him some more stuff, lather, rinse, repeat, was astoundingly bad writing and I don’t know what’s got into David Greenwalt. Why didn’t they just kill her in the first episode and leave him adrift with only the Airstream Trailer of Backstory to guide him?

World Building. I’m very unclear about Nick’s ability and why and when it works. The rules seem to be based entirely on the Roger Rabbit school of plot timing:

Eddie Valiant: You mean you could have taken your hand out of that cuff at any time?
Roger Rabbit: No, not at anytime. Only when it was funny.

Nick only seems to be able to see the dark creatures when the plot calls for it. Otherwise, his ability doesn’t give him much of a leg up in solving crimes. The writers aren’t really using the paranormal aspects of the show, and that’s deadly for those of us who flock to the creepy TV.

NBC has ordered more scripts of Grimm, but has not given it a full season pick-up. I’m guessing it’s doomed. There are some things you can retool, but how do you work around a bland lead and spotty writing?

Do you like to bag on innocent TV shows that have never done anything to you? Join the snark at Television Without Pity. Here’s the Grimm thread.

This entry was posted in Characterization, Commentary, Plot, Reviews, TV, Writing Craft and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Why Is Grimm so Grim?

  1. j.a. kazimer says:

    Damn it, you’re right about everything, and yet, I still am loving the show. I suck is what it is. Pick a bad show and I love it. The most annoying part of Grimm for me is the lead. He is hard to take. Then Eddie comes in, and I no longer care. The big bad wolf is carrying the show! Plus he can touch my goodies anytime 🙂

    I love Once Upon a Time too, but I’m worried it’s turning into Desperate Housewives, fairytale version. I don’t want another nighttime soap that ABC loves to force on us. Anyone else over Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, and there remakes in Revenge and Pan Am (grey’s with flight attendants rather than doctors)?

    Be that as it may, I love that fairy tales are making such a big splash. I promise you that CURSES! is better written than Grimm. 🙂


    • Chris Devlin says:

      Oh, I KNOW Curses is written better than Grimm! And I totally get liking a show even when you can’t really justify it. And liking a show because of just one element or character.

      Yeah, I got over most of the soapy night-time ABC shows. Though I do really like Revenge–it’s deliciously soapy. Nolan is my favorite! Sort of Mark Zuckerberg with better hair.

      I hope for your sake Grimm survives, and they do something creative to work around the lead. I’m grumpy because Once Upon a Time has been bumped tonight for football. Boo!


  2. Pingback: TV Shows at Mid-Season: An Update | Chris Devlin's Blog

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