An unremarkable police detective suddenly finds that the world is full of supernatural monsters and that he is one of the last of a long line of monster hunters.
While watching this, all I could think of was all the things that it reminded me of, and all the things I’d rather be watching instead. I don’t intrinsically have a problem with a show taking inspiration from others that have gone before it, nothing exists in a vacuum, but I do want a show to bring something new to the ideas. That could be combining two things that haven’t really gone together before, or could just be adding some new style and flair to old ideas. The problem with Grimm was that rather than taking lots of things and mixing them into something new, it just felt like it was putting them all together and not letting them actually bond. Like putting eggs and butter straight into flour and not realising that it wasn’t going to make a cake.
The most obvious inspiration I saw was Buffy – monsters are hiding just out of sight and a chosen one must battle them. Second inspiration was Supernatural, a similar family destiny but adding an element of modern investigative techniques to the mix. The only problem is that if you’re going to invoke those giants of the genre you need to make sure that you’re bringing something of comparable quality or at least potential to the table. I spent the whole episode just thinking about the dvds I have on my shelf of any number of other shows that had done the ideas better.
The biggest problem with the pilot was ‘our hero’, who was so lacking in charisma that he rather faded into the background of his eponymous show. There should be a difference between normal and unremarkable – viewers traditionally like characters they can relate to, so they can live vicariously through these characters in fantastic situations that we’d (hopefully) never experience ourselves. But that doesn’t mean that people want to see bland dull people, no one likes to think of themselves like that. Even ‘normal’ people make jokes, lose their temper, get scared and confused and react to things. Most of my favourite characters from shows are normal people thrown into unusual situations, it’s the situations that make them abnormal not their personalities.
Thingumee Grimm however was so utterly unremarkable that I can’t even remember his name. He’s surrounded by equally unremarkable characters where the only ones that actually made any impression were the villain-of-the-week and the monster that he sort of befriends in the classic “maybe they’re not all bad after all” sidekick role.
The show has a fun idea at its heart, but it’s one that’s been almost done by a lot of other shows and it desperately needed something that would give me a reason to take a chance on this over the safe choice of dvds – it failed. I was bored by the pilot, it felt small and yet unfocussed. Even the location (Portland) felt too small to sustain a level of threat – the Supernatural boys travel the country, Buffy was on the Hellmouth, what is there about Portland that means it will need a full time monster hunter?
Maybe I’m being overly harsh comparing one pilot episode to the entire spectrum of the genre, if you’ve not seen those other shows (or indeed the far superior fairy tale pilot of Once Upon a Time) this show may well be absolutely fine in and of itself. Maybe it will gradually come to stand out from the crowd in its own way, but I’ll let other people out there slog through the early episodes and see if it’s still around for me to catch up on next summer.
Watch will be showing Grimm from March 2012
CliqueClack – ‘Grimm’ launches with a bang. And continues right on through to the last moments. Has there been a better pilot this season? No.
TV Fanatic – the premiere did offer a fun, focused, and well-paced romp through a fairy tale, quickly streamlining and integrating the story into an easy to follow procedural case.