Grimm – Pilot review

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

Other reviews
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.

The Upfronts: NBC

What’s out
The only show that I actually watch on NBC is Friday Night Lights and the end of the show has been planned for a while, giving plenty of time to wrap it up in a satisfying fashion. I adore the show, think it’s superb, but have to admit that I haven’t quite had the emotional strength to watch the last season yet, knowing it’s the last actually made it harder.

There are plenty of new shows that won’t be back, most of which never got off the ground at all – The Cape, Chase, The Event, Law & Order LA (which couldn’t be rescued even by a complete overhaul mid-season), Undercovers, and several sitcoms. Not a good year for NBC.

What’s back
Chuck has been renewed for a final half season wrap up, for a show that’s been bubbling since it started, 5.5 seasons seems like a bloody good run. But I don’t watch it so I can’t really say.

Harry’s Law is one that I wanted to like, but the more I thought about it, the more troubling I found the tone of the pilot. I may investigate whether it got better and go back to it as it will be returning next year, slightly surprising given that I haven’t heard any critic say anything about it in months and the ratings weren’t spectacular.

Parenthood is a show I keep meaning to catch up on, initially staying away from it because I didn’t want to fall in love with it as it seemed doomed to early cancellation. Now that’s just been renewed for season 3 so I guess that excuse has worn out.

Other things I don’t watch that are returning – 30 Rock, Community, The Office, Parks and Recreation and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, although there seems to be the suggestion that they might be making big cast changes (if anyone reading this cares).

What’s new
Awake – Hello to Jason Issacs! You seem to have landed yourself a pretty amazing looking show.

Bent – I like Amanda Peet and the rest of the thing isn’t horrific, although it all looks a bit unremarkable.

Grimm – Kind of Supernatural meets Criminal Minds from the looks of it, sounds interesting, but I wasn’t massively impressed with the trailer.

The Playboy Club – This could end up being the kind of show that you tell people to ignore the title and the blurb and just watch because it’s superb. Or it could be horribly sexist and offensive. The trailer leaves me optimistic.

Prime Suspect – I’ve not watched the UK version, but this doesn’t look like Helen Mirren. I like Maria Bello a lot and this doesn’t look half bad.

Smash – Hey, Glee is massively successful right, why don’t we do a show about musicals?! Frankly I’m amazed that every network isn’t belting out show tunes at me. This looked… all right, not sure how they’re going to make it a series rather than just a tv movie though.

Up All Night – I actually chuckled a couple of times at this!

Free Agents – Damnit, I chuckled a couple of times in this one too. I hate myself.

Whitney – I did not laugh. I feel better about myself.

Are You There Vodka? It’s Me Chelsea – dear god in heaven, this is possibly the most offensive and horrific thing I’ve ever seen labelled as a comedy. Drinking and driving… so funny!

Also a TV adaptation of The Firm (coming next Jan, so there’s no trailer for me to label as boring yet) and something called Best Friends Forever which seemed awful from the only clip I could find.

Links: The TV Addict, The Futon Critic, TV Squad.