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Grimm: Season One(TV) (2011-2012)
In modern day Portland, Oregon, a police detective inherits the ability to see supernatural creatures.
For more about Grimm: Season One and the Grimm: Season One Blu-ray release, see Grimm: Season One Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on August 7, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: David Giuntoli, Bitsie Tulloch, Silas Weir Mitchell, Russell Hornsby, Reggie Lee, Alycia Delmore
Directors: Norberto Barba, Michael Waxman
» See full cast & crew
Grimm: Season One Blu-ray Review
Come at the king, you best not miss.
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, August 7, 2012
Grimm tries to scratch and claw its way to Supernatural-sized geekdom but comes up woefully short in almost every regard. The premise is promising -- the monsters of Grimms' Fairy Tales are walking among us, some good, some evil -- and its beast-of-the-week creature-featuring never quite wears out its welcome, even if the somewhat cartoonish creatures look as if they've escaped from the bowels of Hogwarts circa 2001. There just isn't enough meat on the series' bones or enough blood pumping through its veins to sustain a sprawling mythos, much less a 22-episode first season and equally generous 22-episode second season (set to mark its territory on NBC in the coming weeks). Not that five million or so rabid television junkies care. Grimm is the latest in a long line of recent fantasy/horror series that have been gobbled up by insatiable and seemingly instant fanbases, and yet another mediocre genre misfire that's survived the network chopping block while other more deserving shows have been unceremoniously axed.
Portland Police Bureau detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) has a secret: he can perceive the true, bestial forms of Wesen (pronounced Vess-en), humanoid creatures the rest of the modern world has dismissed as the stuff of children's fairy tales. For centuries, Nick's ancestors have served as guardians known as Grimms, each one tasked with hunting and killing the monsters in their midst. But times have changed. Policing Wesen isn't as simple as crossbowing a village beastie anymore, and having two murdered parents doesn't make it easy for Nick to learn the ins and outs of his newfound trade. Enter Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), a reformed wider blutbad (think the Big Bad Wolf) who keeps his animal nature in check through carefully regulated diet and exercise. With the help of his own personal wolfman and new best bud, Nick sets out to maintain the balance between humans and Wesen, tracking down supernatural killers and putting an end to their bloodlust. Keeping his secret, though, proves to be a daily challenge, especially when he has to keep it from people like his partner Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby), his captain Sean Renard (Sasha Roiz), helpful police sergeant Wu (Reggie Lee), and Nick's girlfriend Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch). Even more challenging? Solving bizarre murder after bizarre murder while preventing the police and public at large from realizing humans aren't alone at the top of the food chain.
Grimm bites off more than it can chew. Is it a police procedural with a twist? Or a twist with a procedural tacked on? Whatever the case, that repeating twist amounts to veering in an utterly predictable direction week in and week out. Every murder in Portland leads back to another monster or ne'er-do-well with chompers, of course; one usually played by whichever familiar TV character actor happens to be on set for the day. Watching Nick subvert truth, justice and the entire legal system grows tiresome along the way too, and only serves to make the rest of his department -- even the decent cops -- look like idiots. How many ungodly murders and unexplained phenomenon have to occur before the FBI or national media take notice? How many "ordinary" men and women have to do unspeakable things before someone, somewhere in our interconnected online lives starts to wonder if maybe, just maybe something is amiss in Oregon?
Supernatural paves over countless plot holes by keeping the Winchesters mobile, scurrying from state to state. Grimm plants its hunter and his sidekick in one place, making it that much more improbable that no one is asking the questions that need asked (at least not with the motivation to answer them). It doesn't help that the creatures, while serviceable, are typically face-morphing, hair-sprouting cosplay fanatics begging for Guillermo del Toro's deft touch. Granted, writing off Grimm's bump-in-the-nighters as inherently silly or campy is a tad shortsighted. Imagine the same beasts had they gestated in the brain of del Toro; the witches, the hunters, the blutbads, the snarling nasties and waking nightmares that little marriage made in horror heaven might have produced. I'd wager this would be a different review.
It's more than the series' creature designs, though, underwhelming as they sometimes may be. Whether it's the casting, writing or performances -- or perhaps all three -- the humans, Grimms, Reapers and Wesen really aren't that interesting. Giuntoli runs through the motions, most of them stiff and rusted over with exposition, but fails to convey overwhelming uncertainty, deep loss, quiet charisma, supernatural skill and other elements crucial to his character. Mitchell doesn't connect either. On the page, Monroe is funny, biting, snarky and, when called upon, a force to be reckoned with. On screen, his quips fire wide, his jokes and one-liners fall flat, his endless mythology rundowns blur together, and he doesn't deliver as a man or a beast. Together, Guintoli and Mitchell are even more ineffective. They don't lack chemistry, they lack any chemical reaction whatsoever. At any point showrunners David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf could have recast their leading men and the show could have only improved. (Since I already tossed del Toro into my Grimm fantasy roster, let me add Sam Witwer and Adam Baldwin as my Nick and Monroe.) The best performances come from Hornsby and Lee -- the series' average human joes -- and, with little to do other than react to otherworldly carnage with much-too-slowly mounting suspicion, that isn't saying a lot.
And it isn't just Supernatural that puts a bullet between Grimm's beady eyes, much as Eric Kripke's long-running CW series will draw the most comparisons, favorable or unfavorable. Other high profile monster-of-the-week series have accomplished far more (some with far less) and still managed to churn out compelling characters, eerie creatures, and spine-tingling stories, both episodic and ongoing. Grimm is watchable, I'll give it that. My curiosity was never completely abated, and the last few episodes drew me in a bit more than the seventeen or eighteen that preceded them. But even the finale felt like just another episode and didn't give me much reason to tune back in this season. I'm sure Grimm will continue to entertain its fans. Me? I'll stick with Supernatural, Fringe and others of their ilk for my fix. Grimm just doesn't cut it.
Pilot: "The wolf thought to himself, what a tender young creature. What a nice plump mouthful." Nick thought he was prepared for the realities of working as a homicide detective, until he starts seeing things he can't quite explain.
Bears Will Be Bears: "She looked in the window, and then peeped through the keyhole; seeing nobody in the house, she lifted the latch." A case of breaking and entering introduces Nick and Hank to a mysterious family whose cultural background blurs the line between right and wrong.
Beeware: "She'll sting you one day. Oh so gently, so you hardly even feel it. Til you fall dead." The station is abuzz as Nick and Hank are called to a case where an innocent flash mob results in a gruesome homicide.
Lonelyhearts: "There she paused for a while thinking, but the temptation was so great that she could not conquer it." After investigating a strange cluster of female deaths and disappearances, Nick sends Monroe undercover to get a whiff of a hypnotic suspect.
Danse Macabre: "Out they scampered from doors, windows and gutters, rats of every size, all after the piper." When a beloved high school music teacher's body is destroyed by rats, the investigation leads Nick and Hank to a troubled teen.
Three Bad Wolves: "'Little pig, little pig, let me come in,' said the wolf to the pig. 'Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin,' said the pig to the wolf." When Nick and Hank investigate the explosion of a Blutbad's home, Monroe is brought face-to-face with characters from his troubled past.
Let Your Hair Down: "The enchantress was so hard-hearted that she banished the poor girl to a wilderness where she had to live in a miserable, wretched state." A mysterious homicide deep in the woods leads to Nick and Hank reopening a long-aborted missing persons case.
Game Ogre: "Fee fi fo fum... I smell the blood of an Englishman." A string of brutal murders leads Nick and Hank to a man who recently escaped prison.
Of Mouse and Man: "I am impelled not to squeak like a grateful and frightened mouse, but to roar." When a body is found in a dumpster, the investigation leads to a sly snake and a timid mouse.
Organ Grinder: "We shall see the crumbs of bread, and they will show us our way home again." Nick and Hank investigate the murder of a teenager, and the stakes are raised when two vagrant teens are abducted.
Tarantella: "Instantly, the priestess changed into a monstrous goblin-spider and the warrior found himself caught fast in her web." The desiccated body of a young man leads Nick and Hank to a deadly woman leading a double life.
Last Grimm Standing: "The beasts were loosed into the arena, and among them, a beast of huge bulk and ferocious aspect. Then the slave was cast in." A gruesome murder leads Nick and Hank to an underground fight club.
Three Coins in a Fuchsbau: "For me there are neither locks nor bolts, whatsoever I desire is mine." The search for a murder suspect leads to powerful rare coins and answers to Nick's past.
Plumed Serpent: "Said the dragon, 'Many knights have left their lives here, I shall soon have an end for you, too,' and he breathed fire out of seven jaws." Nick finds himself in the heated world of Portland fire dancing where he meets a woman who might just be too hot to handle.
Island of Dreams: "Soon he was so in love with the witch's daughter that he could think of nothing else. He lived by the light of her eyes and gladly did whatever she asked." When the Wesen spice shop is robbed, Nick discovers that the criminals may have been after a dangerous drug.
The Thing With Feathers: "Sing my precious little golden bird, sing! I have hung my golden slipper around your neck." Nick pulls out all the stops to plan a romantic getaway for Juliette, but his duties as a Grimm get in the way when he meets some unsettling neighbors.
Love Sick: "Forgive me for the evil I have done you; my mother drove me to it; it was done against my will." Nick and Juliette join Hank for dinner, where Nick discovers Hank's mystery date is the same Hexenbiest who tried to kill Aunt Marie.
Cat and Mouse: "'Perhaps some accident has befallen him,' said the king, and the next day he sent out two more huntsmen who were to search for him." Nick must choose sides when his duty as a Grimm conflicts with his duty as a detective.
Leave It to Beavers: "'Wait!' the troll said, jumping in front of him. 'This is my toll bridge. You have to pay a penny to cross.'" As Nick delves into the trailer's weapons cabinet and his inner Grimm, the investigation of a dead construction worker leads him into a long-standing conflict in the creature world.
Happily Ever Aftermath: "And they lived happily ever after." The classic Cinderella tale takes a very dark turn when Nick and Hank are called to investigate the mysterious death of a wealthy matriarch.
Bigfeet: "He stripped off his skin and tossed it into the fire and he was in human form again." After Juliette stumbles upon a brutal murder, Nick learns the suspected creature and friend of Monroe is suffering from a mysterious condition: the inability to completely return to human form.
Woman in Black: "It shall not be death, but a sleep of a hundred years, into which the princess shall fall." As Nick delves deeper into his life as a Grimm, a trail of grotesque murders reignites the search for the elusive gold coins.
Grimm: Season One Blu-ray, Video Quality
Shot digitally, Grimm looks every bit as good as one might expect, and its 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation rarely falters. Detail is clean and refined, even when darkness descends, and closeups and fine textures are both revealing and rewarding. Every scraggly creature hair, patch of scaly skin, cracked bit of claw, gnarled wound, tiny scratch and spatter of blood is on full display (to the point that makeup and prosthetic seams are visible at times, even at a distance). Definition is crisp and free of significant ringing, CG and other FX work aren't overly disjointed, and delineation strikes a nice balance between rolling back the shadows and letting them take their natural toll. Color and contrast are consistent and satisfying as well, with lifelike skintones, earthy browns and greens, visceral reds, and deep, inky blacks. Nighttime sequences bring with them increased noise and occasionally muted shadows, as is par for the digital video course, but it never amounts to much of a distraction; certainly not one that tarnishes the image or renders it inadequate in any way. It only helps that banding, artifacting, aliasing and crush aren't at play and that there aren't any other troubling anomalies to contend with. Grimm may not deliver but its video presentation leaves little room for criticism.
Grimm: Season One Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Grimm growls, snarls and generally stirs up a feral fuss. But when its tooth-n-claw fairy taling dies down, so too does Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. Never to the series' outright detriment, mind you, but often to notably restrained ends. Even so, the entire soundfield gets a workout regardless of any particular episode's Wesen count, with anxious crowds, rustling brush, cracking branches, creaking floorboards, chilling winds, and other things that go bump in the night filling the rear speakers. The accompanying atmosphere is quite effective (by broadcast television standards anyway), as are interior acoustics, outdoor ambience and other subtle real-world touches. LFE output is a bit too tame when fur isn't flying, and not every low-end effect is as invigorating or convincing as the next. When creatures attack, though, the track comes alive, sinking its teeth into anyone and anything in earshot. Dialogue thankfully remains clean, clear and intelligible throughout, and the lossless experience delights far more often than it underwhelms. Grimm's first season doesn't sound quite as good as it looks, but fans will barely notice.
Grimm: Season One Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Grimm: Season One Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Grimm has trouble balancing the procedural with the supernatural, muddying its own mythos and fumbling its characters along the way. Why the FBI hasn't descended on Portland -- apparently the national capital of grisly murders and unexplained phenomena -- is just one of many, many holes in a series that already has trouble holding water. Bland performances, terribly formulaic creature-of-the-week storylines, and so-so FX follow. Worse, when it all comes to a close, there's only a glimmer of hope that Season Two will be any better. Fortunately, so long as you're willing to overlook its lackluster supplemental package, Universal's Blu-ray release is much better thanks to an excellent DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track and a near-perfect video presentation. I'm not above giving Grimm's second season a chance this fall, but if its first season is any indication, I doubt I'll stick around for long.
Grimm: Other Seasons
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Grimm: Season One Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Grimm: Season One Blu-ray - May 29, 2012
Universal Studios Home Entertainment will bring Grimm: Season One to Blu-ray in August. This supernatural procedural stars David Giuntoli (Caroline and Jackie) as Nick Burkhardt, a homicide detective in Portland, Oregon, who learns that he is the newest member ...
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