Tough Love for NBC's Grimm

I ended up watching Grimm after hearing about it from a fellow PDXer. I didn't expect to like it. However, it is not only filmed in Portland but is also set in Portland, and that fact gave it much more leverage than other shows competing for my time. There's a unique enjoyment/satisfaction that comes from seeing places you've been on your television.

Grimm has a simple yet alluring premise: Grimm's Fairy Tales weren't BS

However, after finishing the twelfth episode, I have serious concerns about the potential this show seems to be wasting and whether or not its writers are killing its chances of becoming a successful series. What follows is an evaluation of it's strengths, weaknesses, and unrealized potential.

Fantasy and the Unknown
The Idea that legends, myths, and fairy tales have a grain of truth to them is fun. We live in a bubble designed to make us feel safe. A safe society is nice to wake up in but is invariably rather dull. Danger is exciting. The idea that there's more going on under the surface of our safety gives us a thrill. We like to fantasize our lives are more exciting, especially from the safety of our homes.

Nerd Appeal
As technology has advanced, the stigma of nerdage has wilted a great deal. The skills and knowledge that nerds wield can be demonstrated frequently thanks to the ubiquity of tech devices. Being a Trekkie isn't necessarily something to be embarrassed about any more.

Grimm has nerd appeal in the same way X-Files had it when I was in the 18-23 demographic. In the world of Grimm, the nerd who has studied ancient mythology and the like has an advantage over those that might have an advantage over them in the real world.

It's comforting to be told the same story in a different way. There's the alternate ending appeal as well as the slight reminder of the time when we first heard the story. It's comforting to be reminded of the comfortable times in our lives. You know, before we had to pay bills and such.

Fairy Tales are for Children stigma.
Gender stereotypes are still prevalent and this hurts Grimm's appeal to single males. Single males don't want to be associated with childish things, they want to be associated with manly things to help attract feminine mates. Being manly requires setting aside childish things, and a potential mate discovering you're watching fairy tales is evidence to the contrary.

Gimmicks are a draw that make you stand out from your competitors. However, when gimmicks are overused their value diminishes greatly. The problem with the fairy tale gimmick is that it results in predictability, and with Grimm in particular it often seems they're trying too hard to make that connection.

It was to be expected in the first few episodes. In fact, it was likely necessary to deliver on the premise. The red-riding hood aspect of the first episode was great and could even have been considered an homage. However, the writers are pulling from the fairy tales too literally too often. Did there really need to be three bears for the Goldilocks episode? Did she have to be blond? Was the 'nail in the paw' scene really necessary in the Lion episode?

The Potential
Make use of the alternate reality. 
You have the potential of an alternate reality to explore. Explore it! What's fascinating is how the humans haven't noticed these creature-people for so long, particularly if they're going to behave in a stereotypical fashion. The rites and habits of the different creatures, focusing on the way the world of Grimm varies from our own, THAT is the story that will keep us watching. Which fairy tale you're going to work into the next episode - notsomuch.

Harness the Nerd Appeal. 
While you're showing us the alternate reality, walk us through the events that resulted in the fairy tale from inside the trailer. Reading is sexy. Talk nerdy to me. The encounter in present time shouldn't be based on the fairy tale, but researching of the creatures in the trailer should allow viewers to connect the original story to present events.
Adult it up. 
At least one writer on your staff gets this already. The writer/writers who showed the dangers of the creatures knowing Burkhardt's address and had Munroe get lured out and jumped: Those are the writers you should listen to most often.

Cut back on the gimmicks. 
It is starting to seem like the formula for the show is: a new creature/fairy tale every episode. Slow it down. Focus on the alternate reality and work the different creatures in realistically. The bear people didn't need to be a single episode; their territorial behavior causing conflicts would have been a great subplot. Keep us guessing. Focus on reducing predictability.

Address the character flaws. 
Munroe shouldn't be the damsel in distress. Personally, I'd make him the stay at home type, the enlightened one. He can be the Alfred to Burkhardt's Batman. Entrust him with the trailer's contents and move those to a more secure location.

Man up Burkhardt. He needs to be a badass, and he can't always do the right thing. He has to hunt the bad ones down. If the bad ones always off each other or themselves, or if they are always dealt with by other characters, we don't get to see Burkhardt struggle with the burden of what he has to do. If we do get to see it, we can armchair quarterback his decisions. That will add an important depth to the viewing experience; it also might get Giuntoli his own estrogen brigade.

Let Griffin be the partner in the field rather than Munroe, it's just a better fit. The ogre episode was a missed opportunity to bring to the Grimm side of reality. Letting him in on the secret allows for all sorts of fun stuff, like hunting down the Grimm Reapers to protect his friend and partner.

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