Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hooray for Hank!

I really enjoyed NBC's show Grimm when it premiered last fall, and given what I've seen in the first three episodes of this current season, I'm guessing that it's going to continue to be one of my can't-miss shows each week.

For those of you unfamiliar with the show, Grimm is a police procedural with a twist.  The hero of the show is Nick Burkhardt, a cop who is also a Grimm--that is, someone from a long line of people whose job it is to keep humanity safe from the supernatural creatures in their midst.  Nick is joined by his partner Hank, his girlfriend Juliette, and his friend Monroe, who also happens to be a supernatural creature known as a Blutbad.  Last season, most episodes began with a quotation from a fairy tale, and then the rest of the episode showed a modern day retelling of that fairy tale.  The story of Little Red Riding Hood, for example, was about a little girl who got abducted by a supernatural creature who resembles a wolf.  I really appreciated the way in which the show considers how the events and characters of familiar fairy tales could actually legitimately fit into the context of the 21st century.

This season, however, Grimm is stepping things up a notch.  This quotation from Mary McNamara at the LA Times reviewing the season premiere best describes the shift that has happened:

Last night’s premiere, the first of two parts, maintained the funny/frightening tone of the first season while moving the narrative out of fairy-tale quaint into full-blown epic. Ancient princes control otherworldly forces in search, perhaps, of a powerful treasure, the crusades are invoked, as are talismans of power, and a team of disparate talents assemble to fight the forces of darkness, which may include the least likely characters. There’s a bewitched “princess,” a saber-tooth tiger and kick-ass mom. All that and the splendid cast of characters from last season.
I've put in bold the part that I think McNamara hits right on the head.  This season so far, we've seen Nick reunited with his mother, talk of the legacy of the Grimms that extends back to the Crusades, magical keys that need to be put together to solve a puzzle and find the treasure, and a bastard prince who can wake up sleeping beauties.  The show still seems like it will maintain its episodic focus on individual fairy tales, but the addition of a long-term plot arc that has nothing to do with romantic relationships is a welcome addition to an already great show.

The additional development from this week's episode that I also really appreciated was that [spoilers!] Nick finally tells Hank about who he really is--and not only does Hank believe him, he embraces the idea, because it means that he's not going crazy (or at least not going crazy by himself).  One of the things that I tire of most quickly on TV shows is the ridiculous lengths that writers go to keep people from talking to each other about very important things.  I think in general, I have a low tolerance for secrets, and I become particularly frustrated when these secrets are maintained in totally unrealistic ways.  While I understand Nick's desire to keep his Grimm abilities secret from those around him, I also appreciate that the writers of the show recognized when they needed to have these secrets revealed and didn't push it to ridiculous limits.  I think there's a lot of potential for Nick and Hank to have a lot of fun with Hank's new-found knowledge of the supernatural side of things.

My one complaint about this season so far mirrors what I said last year about the show, too--what is going on with the women on the show?  Nick's mom was unequivocally great.  She is great at being a Grimm, and I loved how Nick recognized and loved her for being that way.  But now she's gone, and while I have hope that we will see her later this season, it doesn't seem like she's going to be a regular every week.  Juliette has spent most of her time in a coma, and Rosalee, Monroe's girlfriend, has gotten very little screen time.  The previews for next week look like Rosalee will be featured prominently--but as a passive victim of some sort of plague, rather than as an active player.  My hope is that Juliette will get brought on board, much as Hank was, and that she, Rosalee, and Nick's mom will all become more active parts of the supernatural-bad-guy-fighting team, rather than the incidental color characters they are now.

Overall, though, I really enjoy Grimm, and I love the developments that I've seen so far this season.  I'm glad the Olympics bumped it up to an earlier start date, and I look forward to seeing how the epic arc gets developed in the coming months.

By Jen Miller