Friday, April 1, 2011

Pilot Script Review - Grimm

Network: NBC
Written By: David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf
Draft Date: January 27, 2011
Pages: 61

Is it weird that the thing I remember most clearly about this script isn't the mythological elements (which loyal readers know is a passion of mine... I love me some genre storytelling), but the fact that the police work was really, really, really crappy? I mean, pointedly so. Which I wouldn't mind if the "crime procedural with a supernatural element" was being conducted by someone who wasn't a police officer. But... Nick Burckhardt is a detective. Yeah, he's dealing with a lot in the pilot, but that doesn't give him the excuse to entirely forget how to be a cop or conduct an investigation.

Sorry, had to get that off my chest.

Grimm is about Nick Burckhardt, a detective who starts seeing some really strange things. A beautiful blonde momentarily morphs into a hideous hag (the script says it's a witch, but how the hell does he know that... fantasy-creature profiling much?), a thug whose face turns into an owl's, etc. He thinks he's going crazy, but it turns out his family, going back generations, are known in the very real world of fairy tale creatures as "Grimms." People who can recognize the creatures as what they are as the creatures attempt to fit into society (some with benign intent, others malicious). Nick, and his family, are the bogeymen. So, being Nick now that he's starting to see these things is going to be dangerous, and lonely. Should he tell his girlfriend, Juliette? Will she think he's crazy? What about his partner, older detective Hank Green (who seems to be a far better cop with things like evidence, warrants, and putting pieces of a puzzle together)?

Nick is supposedly the last Grimm left (his parents died in a car crash... or was it?), or at least the next to last as the life of his aunt, Marie Brannigan, who was basically a surrogate mother to him, hangs in the balance both because of an attack by a troll name Hulda and because of a terminal illness that gives her days, weeks, maybe months left. She comes to Nick to tell him about his heritage and is surprised that the change is already taking effect. We don't get the full mythology about the Grimms... it may be, like the Slayer in Buffy, that there's only supposed to be one. So with Marie on the verge of passing on, Nick is starting to see things.

Marie is a talented fighter, but in her illness-weakened condition, she isn't able to fend off Hulda and Nick winds up killing the troll by firing his gun. Several times. There's an investigation, of course, since Hulda transforms back into a human being after Nick kills him (which is weird, I think, wouldn't he remain in his natural troll-state?) and it turns out Hulda was wanted in several states for rape, murder, assault... which makes it totally okay that Nick killed him? He's (thankfully) told to see the police psychologist because it's his first kill, but we don't see that and while others comment on the fact that Nick is spinning a bit out of control since the attack and the kill, Nick never really does anything to try and assuage the problem.

The major case of the pilot involves a Red Riding Hood story and "Blutbads" aka Big Band Wolves. First a college student wearing a red hoodie is killed in the woods, and next a little little girl is kidnapped. I wish I could say, on a procedural level, this all worked, but it doesn't. As above, it felt like pretty shoddy police work and I only hope that in revisions, that's corrected... because there's nothing I dislike more than poorly executed versions of this kind of story. There's a rich, dark world and a lot of fun and horror to be had in a series about detectives tracking down fairy tale monsters. This just didn't do it for me.


Anonymous said...

First of all, the police procedural drama is over-done to the point of beating a dead horse... and then trying to ride it... and then beating it some more. The thing I LIKED about this fresh, imaginative spin on a formula that obviuosly works, (hence the plethora of crime-dramas on tv,) is that it's NOT like all the others. We don't have to go through the trite step-by- step process this overdone genre imposes... bringing in the nerdy guy from forensics...the specialist from the big city... and hear the same hackneyed diatribe concerning the assembling of facts to solve a crime. There is so much of that on tv, I could seriously puke. What I found so wonderful about this pilot script is that it has enough of the procedural stuff to be believable, but it's ABOUT the mystery, the fantastical characters and happenings in a world we DON'T know about. One that we can only become more and more curious about because it DOESN'T operate like our own. (Thank god!) I found the script completely refreshing, exciting, imaginative (there's that word again,) and engaging til the last moment. This show is going to be a huge success. And judging by the creator/writers alone, I think they know a little something about writing stories about the fantasy realm, stories that capture our interest and imagination. I can't wait to see the pilot!

Anonymous said...

The Last Grimm alive? Sounds very cliched to me. Cliched but workable.

And why would Marie wait till the last minute to tell him about his heritage? One would think that with such an important issue looming over their heads, she would approach the issue sooner than later and actually bother to guide him along the way?

But the biggest question is: why would they even bother to come for him? Because he can see them? But how can they even tell?

And how did they even know he exists? Why now instead of before? Even if he's only started changing, it still makes no sense for monsters to let a child or young man walk alive. Even if they didn't know who it would be, why didn't they start putting out the hits on anyone who matched his description?

There are even more questions though: What is the purpose of the Grimm species? Why were they around and how did they die off? If Nick doesn't even know anything about his own species, how is he going to find out more?

Are they going to use exposition to tell us about his background? Or are there actually more Grimms but his family wanted to shelter him from his past? And will they keep sticking to the Grimm storybook creatures or try to create new monsters but somewhat similar to them?

It will be interesting to find out the answers but I'll also wait for the pilot first.

DuMont said...

When I saw the title of this, I thought, goodie, NBC is taking on "The Brothers Grimm", perhaps a leftover project from the era of Mr. Ben Silverman where he was mining off-copyright literature of yesteryear for adaptation to series (the fabulous 'Crusoe' comes to mind).

So kudos to NBC for attempting to leverage a literary classic, but as a cop show? Please. At the very least, drop the central character into a more interesting profession. Perhaps a Nero Wolfian private eye, with an intellectual bent for sleuthing family trees and long buried mysteries who stumbles across his own Grimmian mythology.

I agree wholeheartedly with Anonymous -- no more cops. I'm sick to death of their stories.

Anonymous said...

I'm actually working on the set of this pilot, and I have to say there are quite a number of holes in the back story. Another cop drama? good greif. However this puts an invigorating and refreshing twist on this type of genra that is currently in production. Do we need another CSI and all the others? No. At least this is "Some what" fresh and imaginative.

The cast is very friendly on a side note.

Sorry for poor spelling and grammar as I'm in my car just off the set writing this.

Anonymous said...

I hope that this series gets choosed for the fall. It would be excellent if Tim Minear could join David Greenwald. Also, it would be great if instead Sarah Michelle Geller, Eliza Dushku, Nicholas Brendon, Seth Green, Anthony Stewart Head, Carisma Carpenter, James Marsters, and Emma Caulfield. Then please hire Joss Whedon as one of the producers. It would be as good as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I could see the Scooby Gang investigating monsters. It would be the perfect fit.

Anonymous said...

Also, Juliet Landau would be perfect as Marie. I would love this series if these changes were made before fall.

Anonymous said...

This really could be Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 8 instead called Grimm. Please have this series on the new schedule at NBC. Also, Alexis Dennisoff, Andrew Sachs, Olivia Williams, Amy Acker. Maybe even the actors that played the mayor of Sunnydale and Principle Synder. Maybe even some of the actors on Dollhouse.

Anonymous said...

The above comments sound like they come from a bunch of public relations shills. Because of that fact, I now fully plan to ignore this series. Thanks random PR company!

karenmulhern said...

sounds like it might not last more than half a season

Megalon said...

Now all we need is a cop show named 'Who?' where cops investigate the mysterious town of 'Huville' and the lead discovers he is the descendant of a twisted, vile ex-Nazi Doctor Seuss. That's clever, right?

On a side note, couldn't they have come up with a better title? Grimm? Gee, that doesn't give away that they simply put cops in someone else's work. And naming the supernatural baddies after the author? Isn't that somewhat of an insult to the brothers? Trick R Treat managed to pull a twist on the Red Riding Hood story without giving it away until the very last second. If only this was an iota as clever (and probably where they got the idea for the show).