Grimm: Season One (review)

Grimm Season 1 red light David Giuntoli Russell Hornsby

I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Nick Burkhardt is a cop! He sees weird people! And… that’s about it.

LOL for American network television trying to do fantasy. Except Grimm isn’t funny, not even a little — not even accidentally. It’s dull. Worse, it’s so damn tediously conventional. Angsty cop forgets anniversary dinner with his girlfriend because of work. Are they kidding us? “Nick, your parents didn’t die in a crash.” That’s the best they got?

Trotting out all the worn-out cop and conspiracy clichés is bad enough, but Grimm does nothing in the least bit exciting with its (also worn-out) premise, that supernatural creatures of all sorts live right alongside ordinary humans. Apparently the small city of Portland, Oregon, is an absolute hotbed of Wesen activity, all manner of wolf-people and bear-people and demon-people, etc, getting up to all sorts of bad stuff, and not a single person noticed all the strange crimes with seemingly inexplicable elements to them until the day that Nick learned of his heritage as a “Grimm,” a kind of guardian of the human world, and started being able to see these creatures for what they are. And now that he is aware that he is among the very last of these Grimms and that many many dangerous Wesen are out to get him? Life barely changes for Nick, in fact. He’s alone in the huge rambling house he shares with his girlfriend, there’s an odd noise off in a corner, and he mutters, “Damn raccoons.” Seriously?

The bland presence of star David Giuntoli, as Nick, is helped not one whit by the odd anemia of something that clearly wants to be a sort of Northwest noir but cannot whip up even the slightest sense of spooky — imagine The X-Files minus the charisma and chemistry of Mulder and Scully, minus the humor, minus the horror. What’s left to Grimm? A trailer full of ancient relics and books of arcania bequeathed to Nick by his Grimm aunt and a slew of cheesy CGI monsters committing often fairly ordinary crimes. (The aunt? We’re told she raised him from the time he was 12 years old, but he apparently never knew anything about her strange hobby of killing cheesy CGI monsters.) There’s no menace in this world beyond what we see in nonsupernatural cop shows: some people are predators, some innocents become their victims. There’s one running thread through some of the later episodes about stolen coins that may or may not have a Nazi heritage, and that seem to be magicked to exert a powerful hold over those who possess them…. and if this is meant to imply that the evil that human beings have done may be excused either because they were ensorcelled or because it was actually monstrous Wesen doing the evil, well, that’s not a good place for fantasy to be going.

With little sense of real threat, what suspense is left? It’s all: When will Nick’s girlfriend, Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch), discover his secret? When will Nick’s cop partner, Hank (Russell Hornsby), discover his secret? When will Nick’s discover that his boss, Captain Renard (Sasha Roiz: Caprica), is actually some mysterious sort of Wesen? When will anyone notice that Nick’s new pal and unpaid sidekick, Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), is actually a reformed Big Bad Wolf? How much punching and fighting and rote made-for-TV action can pad out dreary procedural? And why should we care about the answers to any of these questions?

“This is no fairy tale,” Nick is warned when he comes into his strange legacy. But that’s exactly what’s missing. If only it had the teesiest aura of the haunted and creepy, it might be mildly diverting. But it doesn’t, and it isn’t.

Watch Grimm: Season 1 online via Amazon Instant Video.

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Mon, Oct 29, 2012 1:44pm

Yes. Nick as a character is not only uninteresting, he’s *uninterested*. He just discovered there are monsters and has a Trailer Full of Weird and he shows zero curiosity or interest in any of it beyond how it intersects with his regular life.

Monroe was 100% the only thing worth watching in Season One. 

I feel like they’ve gotten a little better in Season Two with making Nick a person, expanding the world beyond just whatever Nick’s Crime of the Day is, and with giving the secondary characters other than Monroe something to do. 

They still haven’t covered anything that Supernatural hasn’t already done. But that may be like saying “Simpson’s did it!” 

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  DarkMagess
Tue, Oct 30, 2012 9:42pm

Nick as a character is not only uninteresting, he’s *uninterested*.

That’s it. Wish I’d said that. :->

Mon, Oct 29, 2012 2:34pm

Season 2 is an enormous improvement, from the very first episode. I would probably have given up, but my partner wanted to try it again. We watched the season premiere, and I’ve been completely hooked ever since. I actually can’t remember the last time I’ve seen such a rapid turnaround in quality on a show.

Mark Cogan
reply to  Rob
Mon, Oct 29, 2012 8:50pm

Totally agree; the last 3-4 episodes of Season 1 and all of Season 2 have been a big improvement. The only negative was the really really bad title sequence the used for the first few episodes of this season; it was like a poor ripoff of the Buffy Season 1 titles, without the benefit of the Nerfherder music.

Mon, Oct 29, 2012 3:31pm

I frankly love the show and don’t find anything about it dull or cheesy. And David Giuntoli has one of the best butts in show business.

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 9:22am

I’ll continue to give it a shot just out of loyalty to Portland but I pretty much agree with everything in this review. At least Once Upon a Time has some clever overlapping of fairy tales, and some interesting feminist tweaks to the standard Disney princesses. (Terrible special effects, though!)

Tue, Oct 30, 2012 10:37am

I find it mildly entertaining, and it’s filling the Supernatural hole for the time being, as I can’t watch that any more (I’m going to pretend it finished at the end of Season 5, and that’s that).  

That said, Season 2 (which has only just started in the UK) does seem to be picking up.  Also, it has Sasha Roiz in it.  I will watch anything with him in it, because he’s just a little bit mesmerising.

reply to  Isobel_A
Tue, Oct 30, 2012 3:08pm

I second (third, fourth and fifth) the Sasha Roiz love.
That man is effortlessly sexy and looks damn good in or out of anything.
Shirtless rage indeed! Sasha just has a way of commanding your attention whenever he is on screen and I for one ain’t complaining.  ;)

Ide Cyan
Ide Cyan
reply to  agdashloo
Tue, Oct 30, 2012 4:16pm

Here’s a nomination for Female Gazing at Sasha Roiz again.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Isobel_A
Tue, Oct 30, 2012 9:42pm

I loved Roiz in Caprica, but he’s got less than nothing interesting to do here.

reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Nov 03, 2012 9:58pm

He gets more to do in Season 2 so far. I don’t know that it comes up to “interesting” but he isn’t a table lamp either.

John Sacino
Fri, Feb 01, 2013 1:40am

I didnt see the first season, I started from ep 1 of season 2, I didn’t think I’d like it at all and Im finding it entertaining,its nothing ground breaking, but its got enough elements to make me watch it. Sometimes its relieving to watch  a mildly entertaining show, that doesn’t force you to watch every minuscule importance of its plot ( Sons of Anarchy, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Walking Dead though  I like walking dead I can see how its being pushed on mainstream tv watchers )

 I’d say give the 2nd season a shot MJ if you got time, no pressure ;-)