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'Grimm' can't mix the modern day with fairy-tales

NBC

By Brianne Johnson, Daily Arts Writer
Published October 30, 2011

Attention all mythical creatures, wandering children and aspiring Disney princesses: The Brothers Grimm have returned — this time brandishing gun and badge. The long-standing question, “Who’s afraid of the big, bad wolf?” is finally answered in this twist on the classic, morbid tales written about 200 years ago.

Abandoning the whimsicality and lightheartedness of past re-interpretations, NBC’s “Grimm” is a cold clash between suburban reality and fantasy, leaving little magic in its wake.

Once upon a time, there lived homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (Dave Giuntoli, “Turn the Beat Around”). Nick can see things. Ghoulish things. Hairy things. Things with shoddy special-effects makeup. Revealed to be one of the last in a line of Grimms, Nick inherited the ability to see through the creatures’ human pretenses. When his aunt, a fellow Grimm, falls into a coma, Nick is forced into the family business: protecting the community from the likes of classic storybook bad guys.

Family secrets! Ominous nightmares! Marilyn Manson! Wait — Marilyn Manson? Yes, that was Manson himself crooning his rendition of Eurythmics’ eerie “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” To any indulgent fan of mystery and suspense, this combination of elements may sound like the formula for a cliff-hanging success.

But the fantasy falls flat. “Grimm” is far more cop drama than it is fairy tale, placing classic characters like Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf in the underwhelming suburbs of Portland, Ore. Weaving beloved tales into a modern setting, “Grimm” had the potential to be fantastical and intriguing, but the result is humdrum at best.

Nick is impulsive but boring as a one-note detective preoccupied with the yet-to-be-solved mystery, and Giuntoli’s stale acting does nothing to express his character’s emotional depth. Nick’s hasty tendencies are grounded by fellow detective and sidekick, Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby, “Lincoln Heights”), whose presence is no more lively than his counterpart’s.

The only magic to be found resides in those of a less-human nature. Accused by Nick of kidnapping and murder, Eddie Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell, “The Whole Ten Yards”) is a reformed Big Bad Wolf whose awe at the existence of the infamous Grimms nearly equals Nick’s shock at the reality of Monroe’s species. Despite minimal screen time, Eddie’s wry demeanor and tongue-in-cheek attitude are a welcome kick to the show’s lethargic pace.

The portrayal in “Grimm” of the true murderer and Big Bad Wolf himself is a fresh take on the traditionally cross-dressing mutt. As a potpie-baking, sweater-wearing postman with a love for needlepoint, the Wolf is deceitfully wholesome. His soft-spoken persona is often far more menacing than any beastly growl.

The moral of the story? There’s a reason caution tape and the pulsing reds and blues of surrounding police cars don’t often crop up in the likes of “Snow White” or “Hansel and Gretel.” Readers prefer their villains to melt away in a puff of smoke, not to be carried off in handcuffs. The Brothers’ tales are recognized for their darkness and violence, free of interference from the law. NBC’s “Grimm” is just not one for the storybooks.


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