The gist is that young Portland police detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) finds his world of working homicide turned topsy-turvy when his librarian aunt informs him that his parents didn’t really die in a car accident, but were murdered. And not only that, but they were descendants of the brothers Grimm, whose stories weren’t fictional — the Grimms were hunters who kept those “mythological” creatures at bay.
And not only that, but because he’s secretly the last of the Grimms, he must carry on their work. To do this, his aunt tells Nick he has a special ability to see people for who they truly are — monsters in disguise, mostly, resulting in many a nifty morph (but only at the moments the freak-of-the-week stories require it).
Each hour has Nick and partner Hank (Russell Hornsby, TV’s Lincoln Heights) solve a grisly murder that has at least a kernel rooted in the Grimm fairy tales and legends. For example, the pilot is a variation on Little Red Riding Hood with a Pedobear postman, while a later episode recasts the Pied Piper as a Deadmau5-esque DJ amid school bullies ensconced in the rave scene. One of the grossest is the black widow-esque creature played by Amy Acker (Cabin in the Woods) — not because it’s Acker, but because she barfs some goop into the mouths of her victims.
On occasion (as in, every episode), they’re aided by Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell, TV’s Prison Break), formerly a big, bad wolf and always the comic relief.
Each ep is its own little PG-13 spookshow — light on scares, but high on supernatural fantasy — tied together with a season arc is that Nick is being pursued by the requisite shadowy organization who knows what he is and what he can do, and therefore, wants him dead.
The show is a little too in love with its own mythology, throwing around German names for the various creatures (i.e. Hexenbiest, Blutbad, Dickfellig), but worry not: You don’t need to keep track of them for any reason. Should you want to, the package has a glossary printed on its fold-out panels; better yet, exclusive to the Blu-ray edition is an interactive bestiary that includes an embedded “greatest hits” reel from that monster’s appearances in the show.
Concept aside, Grimm thrives on its likable leads, anchored by Giuntoli (a little Brandon Routh-y in appearance) and Bitsie Tulloch (The Artist) as Nick’s girlfriend. Tulloch is as button-cute as her name suggests, but as the season progresses, she becomes central to the action instead of having to stand at the sidelines.
While not as thought-provoking as The X-Files, without which it may not exist, Grimm is a consistently slick, solid procedural that serves as a good argument that horror can thrive on the prime-time tube. —Rod Lott