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Nick Burkhardt is an Oregon detective working homicide. One day Nick's cancer-stricken aunt unexpectedly drops by for a visit. She's made the trip in order to reveal to Nick that he is a descendant of guardians known as Grimms. Turns out Grimms are basically the keepers of peace in a world full of supernatural beings called Wesen, making the fairy tales told to children true and chronicle events that actually happened. The Grimms' job is to hunt down the dangerous Wesen and take them out, using their inherited ability to see Wesen, despite the creatures looking human to everyone else.
I've said before that my favorite sci-fi/horror-related television show is and always will be Millennium, with The X-Files in hot pursuit. Nowadays, television has more to offer for horror fans with shows like Dexter, Supernatural, True Blood and so on. One of the more recent shows to debut is GRIMM. Seeking to combine police detective drama with supernatural horror, the "cop drama with a twist" averaged 6.4 million viewers during its first season, good enough to warrant a second season. So, does this unique take on the Grimm Brothers' fairy tales match up with the established cable heavyweights?
Seeing as the show was created by writers who had worked on the Buffy spin-off Angel (David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf), GRIMM features a mix of humour with its horror as opposed to being a straight-up serious drama. That, combined with the unique twist of the Grimm's fairy tales serving as something for Nick and company to fall back on, make for an interesting watch. The writing largely does a good job of leaving out just enough information to keep us coming back each week amidst the show's "monster of the week" deal. Obviously, there are some weaker episodes amongst the 22 that make up the first season, but largely the writing does its job. Helping out are the high production values for the show, which bursts with atmosphere and really keeps the show's spooky feeling.
As far as the acting goes, the standout is Silas Weir Mitchell, who plays Nick's friend, Munroe (who is also the series' equivalent to the Big Bad Wolf), and doubles as Nick's contact with other Wesen. Silas provides the show with an emotional core, and his chemistry with David Giuntoli (who is no slouch in his role as Nick) is excellent. Also noteworthy are Reggie Lee as Sergeant Wu, who does the grunt work for Nick with a bit of humour thrown in, and Sasha Roiz as Nick's boss Captain Sean Renard, who brings along an imposing presence that serves the character well.
As good as it sounds, the reality is that the show has faltered in its first season. The problem is that GRIMM's writing tries to juggle more than what it can handle. The police drama aspect suffers the most. Each episode starts out with a crime that Nick needs to solve that involves a Wesen. The steps Nick takes, however, are sometimes in the "because the writers needed a way for the story to progress" realm of believability. Case in point: In the pilot episode Nick and his partner Hank kick down the door of a man's house (without a warrant) and then shoot him in the back four times as he tries to run away. Their reason? The man was humming the same Eurythmics song that was on the iPod of a murder victim.
Another problem for the show is in the form of Nick's Aunt Marie's trailer. Everything he could possibly need to aid in his cases is in the trailer, since it serves as a repository for Wesen information. The problems spring from there: What if they can't find a solution in the time allowed to tell each episode? What if they find the solution, but don't have the weapon they need? What happens if the trailer is discovered and gets ransacked? What if there's a fire? It's being nitpicky, but it's also a crutch that's pretty glaring.
In spite of the weakness in the writing, the show has potential. The characters are evolving and interesting, and the aforementioned production values (in spite of some suspect CGI) really help bring the show to life. And despite the familiar tropes involving a "monster of the week" (which Millennium dipped into with serial killers), it's not something that will have you changing the channel once everything has been established. It's not terrible by any means, but does require more polishing to really bring itself into its own before it can contend with the big boys.
Video: Filmed in HD, the 1.78:1 1080p transfer looks great. There's a great amount of detail to be seen, along with some great colour with no compression artifacts. Blacks are nice and deep, with shadows showing just as much detail as the lighter scenes. The only drawback: the cheap CGI effects used in the show are made to look even cheaper by comparison.
Audio: The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track shows off some great ambient sounds and really helps strengthen the atmosphere created by the show. The rear channels do a nice job of the ambient effects, while the sub kicks in appropriately whenever the action scenes pop up.
Unfortunately, the extras included aren't as in-depth as one would hope.
Sprinkled throughout all five discs are deleted scenes for 13 of the 22 episodes. Nothing really shocking is seen, and it's obvious that these scenes were cut for time constraints.
The main extras are found on the fifth disc, starting with your standard Gag Reel of actors blowing lines or cracking up.
Following that are a collection of featurettes that are too short to include any real in-depth stuff, and come off promotional pieces: The World of 'Grimm' is a ten-minute piece that looks are the series overall, Grimm: Making Monsters is your practical and visual effects piece, and VFX Progressions is a look at the show's CGI effects.
Also included are Audition Tapes (shown in Standard Definition) of the five principal actors in the series (David Giuntoli, Bitsie Tulloch, Silas Weir Mitchell, Russell Hornsby, and Reggie Lee) and three throwaway Highlight Reels that consist of a bunch of clips from the show.
The extras finish off with the Blu-Ray Exclusive 'Grimm' Guide, an interactive book where you can pick through the series' creatures to find out more about them. Included are drawings of the creatures, information about them, and clips of the creatures that you can play from the show.
As you can see, the extras aren't exactly expansive in their detail, and no commentaries for any of the episodes are included, making these extras feel kind of cheap.
Falling in the "good" category, GRIMM as a series improved as it went along in the first season, but is still in the process of finding itself and juggling the different elements that prevent it from being put in the company of the likes of Dexter and True Blood. There's still entertainment value here, but just needs to be coaxed along more for it to take off. The superb-looking audio and video transfers should please fans but the paltry extras are frustrating. Hopefully this is corrected for season two.