A Tale of Two TV Fables - Grimm & Once Upon A Time

Fairytales and mythology seem to be taking over the entertainment media by droves. I noticed the trend rising in Young Adult Fiction where fairytale & mythological retellings have been selling like hotcakes. Movies soon caught on as producers yanked up these books to adapt into large screen presentations. Red Riding Hood premiered a few months ago and we have two Snow White movies, a Jack and the Beanstalk and a Sleeping Beauty to look forward to. Sometimes they worked (Percy Jackson) and sometimes they didn't (Beastly). It was only a matter of time before television caught on with their own versions of fairytales in modern times.

I, for one, was jazzed to see this return. I was a huge fan of Special Unit 2, Blood Ties, The Dresden Files, The Chronicle and Friday the 13th the series which took modern day characters and settings and placed them against supernatural baddies. Supernatural & Warehouse 13 also play with these themes as well but I haven't had a chance to check them out as of yet. Some came from storybooks with their own set history while others were originals, inspired by their mythological ancestors.

Two new supernatural dramas have appeared on our screens. One which made it's debut to huge premiere night numbers and the other which hasn't had much publicity.

I first sat down to watch Grimm. I tried not to watch any previews on this one but I did manage to read snippets about when it was coming and what it would be about. Otherwise, I went in blind to immerse myself in the whole experience. A girl can't get too many surprises and lately they've been lacking a bit in the entertainment department.

Anywho, Grimm was a nice supernatural police procedural centering around a young man who sees creatures masquerading as humans. He is a Grimm, a line of men and women who fought fairytale baddies. Kinda like the slayers of Buffydom. The pilot centers around victims who wear red; like the college student out for a jog who finds a trinket on a tree stump and the little girl skipping on her way to Grandma's house. You can probably guess who the big baddie was in this ep. ;-)

The story was pretty much straightforward and almost predictable until our hero Nick encounters a smart alecky wolf named Eddie who clues him in on his past and his job as a grimm. I loved Eddie's snark and how he is just another guy who happens to be a pretty intellectual wolf. He's so nice he even invites Nick in for a brew, but reminds him that he's paying for the window he broke. I also loved that Eddie was a church going, pill taking, pilates practicing wolf who was afraid of the grimm fairytales he heard as a kid (nice touch). The scenes with him stood out amidst the tried and true kidnapping angle that ran alongside the 'hero is called to duty' trope.

This show made me miss Special Unit 2 and the other shows which not only touched upon the background mythos of it's supernatural creatures, but also improved upon it. Writers of those shows weren't afraid to mix them into the modern setting and mess around with the. I must say, I've been spoiled by the complex drama of Being Human (Season 4 returns next year woo hoo!). Not only were the actors stellar, the storylines around the supes weren't corny and they tended to deal with real issues that were believable. One episode I'm reminded of is George 'coming out' to his parents as a werewolf after disappearing for so long. Also George and Nina dealing with how they will raise a baby and whether it will come out a human or as something else. Another good one was Annie exposing a trickster magician who claims to speak to the dead and seeing her mother who never got to say goodbye before her passing. One ongoing story was Mitchell the vampire's addiction to drinking blood which he tried to kick over and over again, but soon became his undoing. I'm still shocked over the last episode of season 3 because even though it felt like it would end in such a way, I refused to believe it. It was that good of a show and the characters really seemed like a family. These nuances from the BBC show that pack such an emotional impact are something I would love to see brought to the US supernatural shows but it takes a good actor to say so much with their performance and a script to challenge him to make it work for the audience. Sidenote: it was awesome to see Russell Hornsby working again as I sure miss him from Lincoln Heights (good show).

Next, I checked out Once Upon a Time which was a nice dip into fantasy, which I missed. Apparently, Snow White and Prince Charming did not have a happy ending as we dash from the past into the future simultaneously. The costumes and the sets of the past were gorgeous to look at and I loved playing a guessing game of who was who in fairytale land. The characters are paralleled into the future and I'm wondering if there is a connection between the characters (i.e. are they aware of their storybook counterparts). While I found this one more original than Grimm in its delivery, I still wasn't as WOWed as I was hoping but I was intrigued to find out more. Lately I've been diving into shows of old and British shows which have more diversity in its casting. So it's a bit of a shock to hop back into US television which doesn't look kindly on a diverse cast.

Overall, I may tune in if I remember to watch them. I'm still watching Terra Nova hoping for a better story arc and reveal. As the weeks go on with each episode, my jazzed up potential for the show is slowly dwindling. I'll still tune in because it's sci-fi (I need my fix!) and to see if they slip in anything awesome but I won't be holding my breath for the time being.

Ah well, back to the DVD vault for some oldies but goodies!


Erin O'Riordan said...

I liked 'Grimm' a little better, and there's no way I'm going to stop watching 'The Simpsons' on Sundays to catch the first half hour of 'Once Upon a Time.' I'll watch it when Fox shows a football game, though.

Rae Lori said...

Grimm did have that nice little twist towards the middle, didn't it? Hehe. I hope they show reruns of 'Once' so you can catch it (I didn't realize they had it up against Simpsons. Ack!). For some reason shows don't rerun as much as they used to in the past. :-/