Dark fantasy is booming on TV, what with the success of shows like True Blood and Game of Thrones that draw on their literary source material to create complex storylines that cater to the tastes of a sophisticated adult audience.
With its procedural structure and strong premise, NBC’s Grimm – co-created by former Buffy/Angel producer David Greenwalt – has the potential to match them; provided the writers can equal the depth of the characterisation that drives those other novel-inspired shows.
The premise is this: Nick Burkhardt, a Portland homicide cop, (David Giuntoli) starts seeing strange things and learns from his dying aunt Marie (Kate Burton) that he is the last of the Grimms, a line of warriors who must protect people from the fairytale monsters that menace the world without anyone but them knowing.
So far this sounds like a straightforward story of good versus evil – or human beings versus ugly monsters – but the lines are blurred in the pilot when Nick meets one of those monsters and learns that through self-control he has turned his back on his wicked ways and may even – if he so chooses – help Nick fight the other creatures.
Great TV shows tend to be about the time and place in which they are set as much as about the events they depict, and Grimm gives us a distinctive setting, the Pacific North West, Twin Peaks territory, that’s both uncompromisingly modern yet mysterious and even sinister with its abundance of cougar-inhabited forest.
The Oregon location filming and references to Little Red Riding Hood in the pilot give it a memorable atmosphere that distinguishes it from the vampire mythology of True Blood or Buffy. The violence that is so much a part of fairytales lends itself well to the police procedural backdrop.
The CGI effects are – as you would hope – effective, or rather they are used effectively, taking you by surprise and changing the feel of a scene in a heartbeat. The different kinds of monster with their Germanic names (‘blutbaden’, ‘hexenbiests’) are also intriguing.
Grimm has scope for a whole mythology here, and the pilot raises questions that you hope will be answered over the course of the season (which has already been picked up for a full 22 episodes), such as where the creatures come from, why they are here and if there could be a truce between them and humanity.
Grimm launches in the UK at 9pm on Monday 13th February on Watch.
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