Release Date: October 2011 – May 2012
Genre: Supernatural Drama
Starring: David Giuntoli, Russell Hornsby, Bitsie Tulloch
Season One of the NBC supernatural drama series Grimm is a light watch, that nonetheless fails to do enough different with the narrative to keep my interest for its full run.
The first season of the show sees Portland homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) learn that he is the latest in a line of hunters known as “Grimms”, hunters who protect ordinary people from creatures thought to only exist in fairy tales. When his Aunt comes into town and is subsequently attacked, Nick is left on his own to discover his gift and solve a series of mysterious murders, without his fellow detectives or girlfriend Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) getting a whiff of what is really happening in the city or what Nick’s involvement is.
Although it sounds like a mismatched combination of genres, crime and fantasy, it actually blends quite well on the screen. Every episode starts with a quote from a well-known folk fairy tale, whether from the Brothers Grimm or c17th France, which gives a hint at what the method of murder or the creature responsible will be. Across the season viewers see typical creatures such as wolves or bears, more unique ones such as dragons or bees and then some that were probably created just for the show, like the corpse like Hexenbiest. In this first season, the focus is on these creatures and introducing them to the audience; much of the mystery is reserved for wondering what kind of creature committed these murders.
Like many US detective shows, striking a balance to not make it too dark watching for viewers is a priority. Some of the deaths are quite brutal and the corpses are presented graphically at times on screen. There is an easy humour present for many of the episodes though, particularly from Nick’s partner at Portland PD, Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby), and also from Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), Nick’s contact within the creature community who assists him in practically every case. This humour also helps the show to be light in terms of content, so it can be watched no matter what mood the viewer is in.
Bearing that in mind, it was actually a pretty large struggle to get through this season, which was a standard 22 episodes. I think a major part of the problem is that, with the focus seemingly on introducing many of the creatures to the viewers, many of the episodes blend into one another in terms of their structure. There is a brutal murder in Portland that has unexplained elements and, after consulting with Monroe on a couple of elements that don’t add up, Nick is aware of what committed these. His “gift”, to see through creatures’ outwardly human appearances to see the monster within, does tend to reveal the suspect far too soon, so that it ultimately becomes more a matter of time for the rest of the police force to catch up.
There is a main narrative present but it is quite small honestly. After regular antagonists have been revealed, including Nick’s police captain (unbeknownst to him), there is a race against time to find three gold coins that were stolen in a jewellery heist, who seem to alter the mood of those who have them. Meanwhile, the last remaining suspect in the murder of Nick’s parents comes to Portland to find the coins as well, pursued by a mysterious woman. In a twist that I seemed to know in my gut straight away, the woman kills the murder suspect and reveals herself to be Nick’s Mum, not dead after all. The finale didn’t really grab my interest or provide too much, except from Juliette falling into a magical coma and waking up with black eyes.
If you want to watch an episode of a show and don’t want to watch anything too heavy on the mind, then I would recommend Grimm. Otherwise, due to the weaknesses I described above, I’m not sure there will be a Season Two viewing.