Fighting Fairytales, Justin Louis Reviews “Grimm” and “Once Upon a Time” [Poll]
It always seems to happen when the new TV seasons roll around, a bunch of new shows come around at the same time that all have similar concepts. Cop dramas, high school shows, superhero shows, etc. Usually, once the dust settles, only one comes out ahead. With the new Fall TV season, we have battling fairy tale shows, Grimm and Once Upon a Time. I've been checking them both out, here are my thoughts:
Once Upon a Time - (Sundays on ABC)
At the beginning, we are introduced to 10 year old Henry (Jared Gilmore), who lives in the town of Storybrooke, Maine (Storybrooke/Story book...get it?). Henry is convinced that the citizens of the town are actually fairy tale characters who have "forgotten" who they really are. He believes that his teacher, Mary Margaret Blanchard (a fantastic Ginnifer Goodwin) is Snow White, a John Doe in a coma (Josh Dallas) is actually Prince Charming, and his adoptive mother, who is also the town's mayor (Lana Parilla) is the Evil Queen of legend. Henry, knowing that he was adopted, tracks down his birth mother, Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), and recruits her to help the town "remember". Most think that Henry is simply a lonely kid with an overactive imagination, but then Strange Things start happening. The show goes between modern day Storybrooke and what can best be described as "Fantasy land", with the same actors as the characters that Henry believes them to really be.
Once you're able to wrap your brain around the concept of Once Upon a Time, and you can concentrate on the show itself, it really pulls you in. There are characters who you really want to root for (Ginnifer Goodwin was always my favorite wife in Big Love and keeps the sweet, vulnerable charm that she perfected on HBO going full force). And there are the characters who you know are just as evil as they are supposed to be, according to Henry (Mayor Mills/the Evil Queen, is as evil as you can get without being all out psychotic). There's an impressive pedigree of writers on OUAT with former Lost writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz at the helm.
So far, I'd give Once Upon a Time 3 out of 4 stars.
Grimm - (Fridays on NBC)
The similarity between Once Upon a Time and Grimm is obviously the fact that they're fantasy/dramas focused on classic fairy tales. But that's about where they end. Grimm is much darker. The show revolves around Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) a modern day police detective who starts seeing flashes of people on the street changing into some kind of beast or another, which apparently nobody else is seeing. His terminally ill Aunt Marie (Kate Burton) explains what's going on.
It was at this point that I literally laughed out loud. I paused my TiVo at this pivotal moment before anyone on the show said anything because I just knew what was coming, "let me guess...'with my death you'll be the last in a long line of monster hunters who's job it is to protect the rest of us from these fairy tale characters who are actually real'". It may not have been word for word, but that's more or less exactly what Aunt Marie said.
I feel like Grimm tries a little too hard. Let me give you an example, in the most recent episode, a pair of meddling kids break into a large mansion off in the woods while the owners are away. They sample the food, taste the wine, try on clothes, and start to roll around on the bed when someone arrives home. The girl gets away but the boy is nowhere to be found. So the police stop by to investigate. The owners of the home explain that they were away while the kids "drank our wine and tried our beds" (are you getting it yet?) but their son Barry (ahhhh, there is it, just in case you weren't quite following yet, "Bear-y") was local, staying with friends.
So in some places they hit us over the head with the connections we're supposed to be making to the fairy tale world. But in other instances they're just throwing things out there that it seems like they expect us to be getting, but that don't make a whole lot of sense to anyone but the characters in the show (I'm still not sure what a blutbad is supposed to be. It comes up a lot and I've figured enough that it has something to do with werewolves, but the character in question seems to be a good guy. So is it a good thing, a bad thing, or a bad thing gone good?). Honestly, part of the problem is that there really aren't any characters that the writers make us care about. It's clear that Nick is the "hero", but he just seems...well, kind of doofy. It's hard to find anyone to latch onto as a sympathetic character to really like and root for, and at the same time there hasn't really been a specific "bad guy" to root against yet.
Using the same scale, I have to give Grimm 1.5 out of 4 stars.
If you're running out of room on the DVR and you have to pick one, go with Once Upon a Time. It also feels more family friendly, to sit down and watch with everyone. If I was a betting man, I don't see Grimm making it the whole season.
By the way, another new show I'm watching this season is American Horror Story, have you seen this one? Wow, freaky! Check out my WOBM.com AHS review by clicking here.