Grimm Debut – Viewers who want a more straight-forward drama with a fairy tale overlay might prefer NBC’s “Grimm,” which will make its debut tonight. It seems less interested in character development and more concerned with procedural, case-of-the-week police investigations.
Set and filmed in Portland, Ore., with a damp, woodsy look to prove it, “Grimm” follows homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) as he and partner Hank (Russell Hornsby, “Lincoln Heights”) investigate the murder of a college student last seen jogging on a forest trail while wearing a red hoodie (think: Little Red Riding Hood).
Around the same time, Nick starts seeing some humans shift into creatures as he passes them on the street. Then his ailing aunt shows up to tell him fairy tales are based in reality and he’s the latest in a long line of creature hunters called Grimms.
Why Nick just started seeing beyond peoples’ facades to their inner demons is unclear but it appears this development might screw up his future plans with the woman he wants to marry, Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch, “quarterlife”).
“The misfortune of our family is already passing to you,” Nick’s aunt tells him, adding that Juliette isn’t safe and he needs to dump her. His aunt, full of cheerful news, also tells Nick his parents didn’t really die in a car crash.
The first half of the “Grimm” premiere is atmospheric and dark, visually and tonally. Then Nick meets Monroe, a reformed Blutbad (Silas Weir Mitchell, “Prison Break”), which is a creature “vulgarized as ‘the Big Bad Wolf’ by your people,” Monroe explains.
This new character gives “Grimm” a lighter tone that’s inconsistent with the show’s first 25 minutes. NBC declined a request to make future “Grimm” episodes available for review. So, it’s impossible to say whether the show intends to be scarier or more jokey moving forward.
In addition to the show’s case of the week, each based on a fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, the closing moments of the premiere reveal that the show has a continuing arc involving forces out to stop Nick’s work as a Grimm.
Compared to so many other crime procedurals, “Grimm” offers a twist on the usual. It remains to be seen whether that twist will be superficial or substantive.