Review: NBC's 'Grimm' blends horror, humor and fantasy
By April MacIntyre Oct 26, 2011, 23:47 GMT
Enter Silas Weir Mitchell, a theatrically trained actor who completes Nick, and vice versa. Silas as “Monroe” is a bit of a depressed hermit, hiding his identity from neighbors, and he finds an unexpected buddy in Nick who he bonds with and eventually helps in Nick’s professional quest to solve unexplainable murders in the city.
“Grimm” is a major coup for a network that hasn’t had it easy for a few years.
The humor tinged, fantasy drama comes in the form of a proper procedural with vignette-styled one-off fairytales of yore, and entertains like nobody’s business.
Not just the fabled Grimm’s fairytales we all know and love, but other children’s fables from the world over will be woven into a truly compelling tapestry for a fantastic Friday night event perfect for family viewing (except the smallest of children).
It reminded me in many ways of the 1989-1996 run of HBO’s “Tales from the Crypt” - also a Friday night fright series that delighted.
“Grimm” has a bright ensemble cast in a city that serves as much a cast member as any of the actors. Homicide detective David Giuntoli is cast as Nick Burckhardt, who has reached an certain age where apparitions are revealing themselves to him “Devil’s Advocate” style, with morphing human/demon visages of passerby’s who all seem to know who Nick is, appearing over the lush, densely forested and beautifully foreboding city of Portland, Oregon.
Portland, for those who have never been, is a jewel Pacific Northwest big city with a small town feel, where deep rich cognac browns, earthen neutrals and vivid brick reds punctuate the clean, cool palette of every conceivable shade of green and grey in the Panatone color chart.
The walkable and bicycle friendly city prides itself in being intellectually progressive and “foodie” friendly, with craftsman architecture that is mainly wooden structures with sweeping porches and unusual steep roof lines. The famous Pearl district and all its restored late 1800s glory is on display, as the buildings were built to fit the whims of streets that narrow to slivers on a hilly terrain.
It’s gorgeous, and the essence and feral beauty of it is captured by executive producers / creators David Greenwalt ("Buffy" and "Angel") and Jim Kouf (also "Angel") and their amazing crew of mostly local carpenters, grips, gaffers, set decorators, hair, makeup, wardrobe and cameramen who know exactly how to set up each exterior and interior shot to make the action pop even more.
Unaware of his lineage, Nick does not understand why these hallucinations are happening until his terminally cancer-stricken beloved Aunt Marie (Kate Burton), who raised him when his parents’ died, appears suddenly in a frantic eleventh-hour attempt to catch him up to speed on family matters.
Specifically, the Grimm family business that Nick was unaware of is explained in great detail, and the race is on to school him in the way of survival, all while living his normal life with an astute and observant police partner Hank (Russell Hornsby) and fiancée Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) who are not in on this secret life of his. Reggie Lee and Sasha Roiz also star in this series.
"Grimm," premieres Friday, and takes the familiar and interjects horror in what we would normally not fear. A friendly, pot-pie loving mailman who collects Hummel dolls is a murderous predator called a “blutbad.” A passing beautiful blond morphs into an evil Hexenbiest (“a witch bitch,” according to Jim Kouf).
Nick must navigate through the forces of larger-than-life mythology, facing off with all manner of ancient evils, including royal lines dating back to the original profilers themselves, The Grimm Brothers.
David Greenwalt explained, “Jim Kouf and I were approached by production company Hazy Mills (Todd Milliner and Sean Haye’s company) and Todd had this script for years about a procedural involving the Brothers Grimm. Jim and I flipped for the idea of blending mythology into the modern world, with the Brothers Grimm having the history of being profilers. So we created the notion that in our world of the Grimm, there wouldn’t be a fairytale world and a real world. There would just be our world. And in our world lived these creatures that can be seen by Nick, one of the last of his kind."
There are pig men, mouse men, and all sorts of demonic entities living within an assortment of people, unbeknownst to the average observer. The mythological is humanized, and it is as varied in nature as humanity is itself. Good, bad and all degrees in-between.
Nick has the Grimm gift of seeing all for whom they really are, and those particularly bad beasties want to eradicate Nick, who now we find out is one of the last of the great Grimm hunters.
The breakout star is a blutbad who is trying hard to reform his normally murderous ways. A pilates loving, yogurt eating werewolf named Monroe who Nick happens upon in a hasty mistaken ID for the perp of episode one.
Enter Silas Weir Mitchell, a theatrically trained actor who completes Nick, and vice versa. Silas' Monroe is a bit of a depressed hermit, hiding his identity from neighbors, and unexpectedly he hits it off with Nick, who he bonds with and eventually helps in his professional quest to solve unexplainable murders in the city.
There’s a pervasive air of loneliness to Monroe, who seems thrilled that a Grimm
(Despite the Grimm history of murdering blutbads) can see him for who he
is and not be fearful. “Mitchell was a natural pick for this role,” said Jim Kouf, who told me the only actor he had in mind for the role of Monroe was Silas Weir Mitchell.
David Greenwalt added, “Jim had worked with him before and from the
beginning was saying you got to see this guy for this part. And when we
saw him, it was like, 'oh yes, who else could possibly do this part?' "
The premiere episode sees a gruesome unexplainable murder of a college girl who disappears running. Guest star Tim Bagley’s performance as the postman who has a secret was delightful considering how truly horrific the nature of his crimes were. That’s a hard act to pull off, for both actors and writers.
Again, the spirit of “Tales from the Crypt” storytelling was felt while watching this procedural yarn like no other on TV.
Another great feather in the cap for "Grimm" are the fruits of Local 706 special effects makeup team of Barney Burnam and Stevie Bettles' labor. Both men commute from Los Angeles to Portland constantly to create some pretty realistic and fantastic prosthetic masterpieces, adding serious weight to the visuals and overall excellence in the production.
With over 200 fairy tales to be inspired by, both David and Jim and their writers have plenty of material to keep us entertained. Fokelore and footwork, fantasy and horror are blended in a modern day thrill ride that is extremely rare for network television and welcome as the nights get chilly and home and the fireplace beckons.
Friday night is fun again.
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