Grimm, 9pm NBC Fridays
For this week’s installment of Some Like it Watched we switched things up a bit. One contributor is now chosen at random to select the show while three poor schlubs are chosen at random to watch whatever is selected. In this case, yours truly was giving the power of choosing, and Phil, Joel and Cam were selected to watch. Conveniently for Cam his DVR shat the bed, so this week’s insights on the NBC fantasy, Grimm are provided by Phil (who I suspect was a couple fingers deep into a portentous scotch) and Joel (who’s mind has been sufficiently numbed by pain killers and pints of Ben & Jerry limited batch ice cream). Okay let’s get this shit show started.
Grimm strikes me as a dumbed-down, sanitized horror movie stretched out over many, many hours. I found myself frustrated with the characters’ lack of urgency or common sense while in peril. Early in the episode, three of the good guys are surrounded by about twenty zombies who are pounding on the car. Oddly, none of the undead can break a window while the passengers discuss the proper course of action. And after surprisingly calm deliberation, the protagonists decide to drive over a couple of zombies and try to shake off the ones hanging on the roof. I’m not sure why this was such a difficult course of action to plot. I would have arrived at that plan before I finished befouling my shorts. After getting away and driving a short distance (only a couple minute lurch for the zombies), they collectively exalt in their good fortune and discuss their next step. Naturally, the zombies find and menace them again.
I could give you a few more such instances, but you get the point. Yelling at horror protagonists to stop being stupid and get the hell out of there is really only tolerable when you’ve just watched attractive camp counselors skinny dip and/or screw.
It is hard to give Grimm a fair shake without knowing the characters. Most appear vapid and one-dimensional (even the sciencey ones), but individual backstories could make them semi-interesting. Many have their own powers—Mr. Indecisive At The Wheel got a little Teen Wolfy while fighting zombies. The apparent Head Bad Guy dresses like a 1940’s carnival barker and can turn into a blowfish who spit-blasts people with Ambien-laced Nickelodeon green slime.
There were some laughs. The cops were absolutely nonplussed by the zombie outbreak. And during the initial fight scene, the participants fall through the roof of the warehouse on which they are fighting—only to fall into containers of fluffy packing material. I suppose that if I had to fight atop a warehouse, I would want it to be a packing material warehouse.
If I had to guess what makes this show successful, I would say that it is the pace. They didn’t waste any time getting right into the action. We got a string of fights, zombies, abductions, a plane crash and a ceremonial heart removal—with the action only occasionally interrupted by rapid discussions of great import. The special effects were decent for a prime-time network show, as well. What the show ultimately accomplishes is the rapid fire delivery of shiny objects.
I usually look at the commercials that air during the show to divine the target audience. Grimm was sponsored by Macy’s, Home Depot, Wendy’s, GMC trucks, Trip Advisor, Dunkin Donuts, TJ Maxx, Chili’s, University of Phoenix and Chase. Grimm’s audience appears to be middle class adults with low standards.
I think Jam was trying to get one over on me by making me watch a monster show without having to watch it himself. Kudos to him, because this stunk. I don’t really care for monster shows. Or sci fi shows. Or fantasy shows. I like my fiction grounded in reality. Gritty crime dramas or uplifting family dramas. But due to the precedent set by runaway hits like The Walking Dead, Game Of Thrones and True Blood, I can’t escape the monster shows no matter how hard I try. As evidenced by the 27 promo spots for Dracula that aired during Grimm, these shows are about to come down the pike in droves. And that’s the way it has to be because that’s how it’s trending. The Breaking Bad finale(probably the best drama that I’ve ever seen) scored with 10.3 million viewers, but it took six years of clawing and scratching and word of mouth and marathon binging to get that victory, as even the previous episode scored only half those viewers. And then the next week, The Walking Dead came back and smashed Breaking Bad’s moral victory into smithereens by nabbing 16.1 million viewers. Those are INSANE numbers for a basic cable drama. But that’s starting to become the rule and not the exception.
But at least The Walking Dead looks amazing. Grimm looks like shit. I thought the name Grimm was supposed to refer to the Grimm brother’s fairy tales in some way. I saw none of that here. I don’t understand most of what I watched but it seemed to be half police procedural, half supernatural freakshow. And some of the monsters are referred to as “Grimms” but that was as far as I got on the Grimm front.
And in order to differentiate itself from The Walking Dead, in Grimm’s third season opener, our heroes find themselves running from hordes of zombies in a shipyard. They’re on the search for their friend, Nick, who is knocked out in a coffin somewhere. I remember his name because a third of this episode’s dialogue was “WHERE’S NICK?! WE GOTTA SAVE NICK!”. Nick is being captured by some other big bad, a laughable charming Cajun black man in a top hat who can puff his face out and hock a knockout goober at you like the dinosaur in Jurassic Park. This special effect looked like it cost 17 dollars. So Nick awakens and bashes his way out of the coffin, Kill Bill style and gets in a scuffle with Cajun man that finds its way into the cockpit and takes the plane down in some random woods.
As for the zombies, the cops got them all corralled into a shipping container and then Scooby and the gang threw a couple of antidote vapor grenades in there and shut the door and they all turned back into people. Whatever. So something is wrong with Nick. He’s all hulked out and angry faced somehow. He stumbles across a dive bar out in the woods and walks in and beats the shit out of everybody and then as he moves on to the next house the show ends. Not with a “…To Be Continued”, but with a “…This Ain’t Over Yet” That made me laugh out loud.
So, I guess Grimm is supposed to appeal to the horror crowd, of which I am firmly outside of. But as someone who can respect a good horror show without having to watch it, I can tell you that this falls well below the bar that’s been set. So I’m guessing this is for the die hard horror fans. If 16 million are watching The Walking Dead, I guess at least 1-1.5 of that will trickle down and watch any old damn thing.