Once Upon a Crime
“Grimm” on NBC
“Grimm” comes to us from some of the people behind “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel”—which is about as good a pedigree as you’re going to get in fantasy/horror television. The series centers around Nick Burckhardt (former MTV “Road Rules” contestant David Giuntoli), a homicide detective in Portland, Ore. During a particularly baffling string of serial killings, Nick learns from his eccentric aunt that he’s the last in a long line of monster hunters known as “Grimms.” (Yes, you could pretty much substitute the word “Slayers” and you’d have the premise of “Buffy.”) In this world, legendary monsters are real, hiding from the sight of mere mortals and wreaking occasional bloody havoc. Only Grimms have the ability to spot these creatures. With his aunt out of the picture (cancer, don’t ya know), it’s up to Nick to find and destroy these monsters-in-disguise (the Portland-based ones, anyway).
“Grimm” is fairly straight-ahead detective fiction with Nick and his police partners investigating the crime of the week. At some point, of course, it becomes clear that trolls or evil fairies or whatever are the guilty party, and it’s up to Nick to stop them. He’s aided in this quest by Eddie Monroe (the colorful Silas Weir Mitchell from “24,” “My Name Is Earl” and “Prison Break”), a “reformed” big bad wolf who wants to atone for his previous sins. The idea here isn’t exactly a world of storybook characters come to life. Unlike “Once Upon a Time,” we aren’t likely to see Cinderella or Pinocchio any time soon. Instead, the idea suggested is that fairy-tale compilers the Brothers Grimm were monster hunters themselves and incorporated many of the creatures they saw into their writings.
The biggest complaint about the show, oddly enough, is that it isn’t quite fairy tale enough. Although the plots superficially resemble classic fables (“Little Red Riding Hood,” “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”), the monsters all seem to have the same generic demon look about them. (Stand them next to the scowling vampire creatures of “Buffy” and you’ll have another match.) A little more imagination in the enemies and a bit more variety in the crime stories and “Grimm” might have something solid. Right now, it lacks a certain ... magic. As it stands, though, it’s an atmospheric crime drama with some creepy horror elements and the occasional funny one-liner—a welcome-enough edition to a slow Friday-night lineup.