It was pretty much inevitable that I was going to start watching NBC’s Grimm, but I put it off for a healthy period of time. It was inevitable because they’ve filmed right outside my home, my work, and during my commute. I’ve seen the trailers, sets, cranes, cameras, boom mics, and port-a-potties strew throughout the city. and all of it has done a lot to pique my curiosity. So, last night during an attack of Crippling Introversion I snuggled up with a mug of green tea and Hulu, and decided to finally watch this thing that has been filming in my live/work/commute space. I also kind of expected to hate it.
Many people (at least the nerds that I tend to hang out with) were comparing it to Bill Willingham’s Vertigo series Fables, a comic that has never really grabbed me. As much as I like Sandman, Transmetropolitan, and Swamp Thing, Fables has always struck me as the contrived and sillier younger sibling of the big kid comics. None of the Fables characters were nearly as well done as Spider Jerusalem, John Constantine or the Swamp Thing. While it’s clever at times, it always seemed like it was skipping the character development step by saying “Hey, look guys! It’s the Big Bad Wolf! You remember him, right? Well, he’s a detective now! Check it out!” It’s fun, but not something as mind-blowing as Sandman or as joyfully profane as Preacher.
So, when I heard that there was a series that was basically Fables (except not) filming in Portland, I kind of went “meh” and thought that I’d never watch it. Last night, though, I was surprised by my reaction: Grimm is certainly not good, but it is also surprisingly not unwatchable. At least from my vantage point as a Portland resident.
Sure, there area lot of things wrong with it. The main character detective guy is a bland cipher, the writing is stilted (at one point someone says “this is no fairy tale” and I wanted to kidney punch whoever put that in there) and the plot of the first episode is stupid and direct in the way that I imagine James Patterson novels are. (I don’t know- I’ve never read a James Patterson novel, but I assume that his books have all the subtlety and plotting of chunk of boiled mutton.)
The look of the show, though, is pretty good. Not the CGI and makeup- that’s totally average. I mean the trees and the dark clouds and craftsman style houses that are all over Portland. The show really looks like Portland, and given that my various jobs tend to all add up to “professional Portland nerd,” I got no end of joy in seeing real, live things that I recognized in the show.
(That said, I was annoyed that the addresses in the show were all fictitious, and, worse than that, did not adhere to Portland’s pretty intuitive numbering conventions. But, apparently all of Law & Order’s NYC locales are made up, so I’ll just have to deal with that.)
The one thing other than seeing my fair city on screen, was Eddie the werewolf. While the protagonist, Nick, is fairly bland, the guy who plays his werewolf sidekick actually seems to be enjoying the part and brings a certain amount of levity the performance. That, and seeing people fight with swords in a modern setting kind of reminded me of Buffy and Angel, and triggered some of my Whedon-based nostalgia buttons.
Grimm certainly isn’t good, but it could become something good. There is potential for it to be much more than just a police procedural with werewolves. It might not be the next Buffy, but it’s by no means a failure. I’d be happy to see it renewed, and continue to plaster my city all over the teevee.