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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