You’ve probably heard about Grimm. It films in Portland, so perhaps you got those annoying flyers all over your apartment (like I did) telling you that Grimm would be filming in your area and shutting down part of the street. Maybe your aspiring actor friends have tried out to be extras or have bit parts. Maybe you’ve seen the crew shooting around town. It’s totally understandable to be curious about the show if you live in Portland. Worry not—your mild curiosity will be assuaged. I'm here to watch Grimm so you don't have to.
The main premise of the show is that a blandly handsome detective, Nick Burkhardt, finds out that he’s actually a descendent of the Brothers Grimm, and as such has special powers that allow him to see fairy tale creatures. In this world, the Brothers Grimm were actually intrepid documentarians rather than just fairy-tale collectors, and Nick has to devote himself to hunting down the evil beasties, for some reason. Fairy creatures are real, no one can see them but Nick, and that’s about it. For the most part, the show hasn’t developed much past that.
The one thing that’s made Grimm watchable, though, is that it’s filmed here. It does not try to pass Portland off as a different city (unlike Leverage) and it is also somewhat more watchable than a lukewarm pile of cat vomit (unlike Portlandia). As stilted as the dialogue is, as bad as the effects are, as one-dimensional as the characters can be, it’s nice to see Portland on screen. Our story so far:
Episode one: The big bad wolf turned out to be a pedophile mailman. The cops shot him, because they can just do that.
Episode two: Goldilocks and her boyfriend have sexy time at the three bears’ house. Nick eats Voodoo Doughnuts.
Episode three: Bee people use flash mobs for murder on the Portland Streetcar. Everyone keeps saying “Portland Streetcar,” like it’s a brand name or something. Portland Streetcar.
Episode four: A sleazy frog-eating goat man seduces women with his swanky bed and breakfast. After that, he puts them in cages. A fight ensues at Multnomah Falls.
And finally, last night's episode... which we'll discuss after the jump!
Last night’s episode was probably the best yet, but that’s small praise. Being the best yet Grimm episode mostly means that it was merely the least bad so far. It began with a giant rave (do those happen in Portland?) and an asshole music teacher got devoured by rats. After the title card we get to see our main character, Nick, and he has his best line in the show yet: “Smoothies!”
At the start of the show Nick and his girlfriend are puttering about the kitchen, and he gets dorkily excited about the prospect of putting things into a blender. While it’s not much in the way of character development, at least we’re finally getting to see that he has interests other than being Generic Protagonist Hero Cop. He likes smoothies. That’s good. That’s a start. In fact, last night’s episode was the first one that actually portrayed many of the characters having fun, cracking jokes, and being things other than just stock characters in a generic cop show. In fact, there was even some self-aware humor at a few points.
The plot itself was all about finding out why the music teacher from earlier was ratted to death. Nick and his partner end up finding some rat cages that belong to an exterminator named Geiger. They interview Geiger and his son about the cages, and find out that Geiger the Younger is a talented violinist who has been recently booted from the music school. Nick is also able to see, using his Grimm-senses or whatever, that the Geigers are, in fact, giant rat people. Who are also exterminators. Two episodes before this, we met a beekeeper who turned out to be a bee-man. I’m sensing a theme.
An autopsy on the professor and some rats reveal some distinctive fabrics, and using TV Cop Forensics Magic, Nick and his partner match the fibers with another student’s car. The student in question is a rich kid asshole who antagonized Geiger at school. Eventually, it becomes clear that the rich kid and his friends stole the cages and the rats. However, they only wanted to scare their teacher, not kill him, and have it blamed on Geiger.
To get revenge on the rich asshole, Geiger lures them into a supposed rave. Unbeknownst to anyone else, Geiger is not only a talented violinist, but also a popular DJ who performs while wearing a giant pink cat mask (remember that rave from earlier? That was Geiger doing his DJ thing). However, it's not a rave at all. Rather, it's a setup designed to scare the bejeezus out of the bullies. The finale of the episode features a gigantic, empty candlelit warehouse with Geiger using his Pied Piper violin powers to summon rats and and wreak squeaky rodent vengeance upon his foes. Rats are crawling all over them, Geiger is sawing away at his violin, and then Nick shows up and puts a stop to that nonsense. It was... well, it was better than it sounds, actually. It was stupid, but in a forgivable manner.
This episode also really mined Portland as a location. There were several scenes with the St. Johns Bridge in the background, some semi-gratuitous product placement for Rogue, and a cameo by Portland Tribune. What I also found sort of endearing is that most of the characters referred to the large street closest to the river on the west side as “Front” rather than “Naito Parkway.” That little detail made it clear that maybe someone who's actually from Portland is helping them write the show.
Was it good? Not really. If the show weren’t filmed here, I wouldn’t care about it at all. Was it watchable? Sure! Could it potentially be interesting? Possibly. The show’s been picked up for a full season, and while the first few episodes were C-grade cop television, it does have the potential to be something more. Maybe C+ grade television. Maybe even B-, if we’re lucky. Yet another new episode airs tonight. Hopefully it will be as inoffensive and kinda-okay as this last one.
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