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'Grimm' pilot: 'This is no fairy tale... '

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Grimm
Scott Green/NBC

NBC’s pilot for Grimm aired last night, and while it wasn’t exactly what its unfortunate title might suggest, there’s still some work to be done. The show is like CSI with a case of the heebie-jeebies… SVU if Stabler could see spooks! Homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) learned he was descended from the brothers Grimm, could see demons, and was fated to spend the rest of his days hunting the pests. So how did this all play out in episode one?

The series began with an 1812 quotation from the brothers themselves: “The wolf thought to himself, what a tender young creature. What a nice plump mouthful… ” It was no Confucius, but it would do. The opening sequence that followed was pretty exciting. An unsuspecting runner — in a red hoodie — took off for her morning jog in the woods to Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams.” Along the way, she was distracted by a figurine randomly placed on the trail. She went to check it out, and “Blammo!” Cue the screaming, flesh-tearing goodness.

Before they were called to the scene, Nick showed his partner Hank (Russell Hornsby) the ring he just bought for his girlfriend. Hank snarked, “Oh, you’re a happily ever after guy.” Yes, dear viewer, Grimm was going to go there with the self-referential clichés… over and over again. As he got into the car, Nick saw a woman’s face go Devil’s Advocate-style squishy. The strangeness on hold, he and Hank headed to the scene, which echoed a case from a month back. They found Red’s iPod playing “Sweet Dreams” (still?), which helped them identify her. From there, the case went cold.

Nick’s proposal was scuttled when his aunt Marie (Kate Burton) came to drop several bombs: 1.) She had terminal cancer (boom!), 2.) There’s a lot of “misfortune” in their family (kablooey!), and 3.) Nick would have to end his relationship (crash!). Before she could fully explain, she sensed a presence and whipped out a huge knife faster than you could say “Rupert Giles.” It looked like the demon was winning, so Nick gunned down his first man (or something). Before passing out, Marie handed Nick an amulet: “Never lose this. Guard it with your life. They’ll be looking for it.” Also? Nick’s parents didn’t die in a crash, they were killed (pow!).

From her hospital, Mangled Marie hit the next cliché checkpoint, telling Nick “This is no fairy tale.” She touched on his Grimm heritage and his responsibility to hunt demons, but Nick was shooed out just as things got juicy. The next day, Nick learned Marie’s attacker was a violent murderer, and Nick’s boss Captain Renard suggested he seek counseling. Instead, he sought answers in Marie’s caravan full of books with sketches of demons.

The big bad wolf-man soon struck again, taking a little girl “on way to grandfather’s house.” (See what they did there? Checkpoint!) Examining a park nearby, Nick spotted a werewolf (Prison Break‘s delightfully unhinged, conveniently lupine Silas Weir Mitchell) and proceeded to punch the stuffing out of him. Lawsuit much? The guy — Eddie Monroe — turned up a clean record, so Nick did what any good cop would do and sat outside Monroe’s house like a stalker. Again, lawsuit? Or Monroe could just welcome Nick in for beer and chitchat.

Monroe explained he was a churchgoing, Pilates-practicing, recovering “blut bad,” which technically translates to “bad blood” but has been bastardized by Grimms as “Big Bad Wolf.” Nick demanded Monroe’s help, and off they went on a zany ride in a VW Bug where Monroe quite literally sniffed out the perp. Once they found him, Monroe made tracks, and Nick called Hank for back-up. Hank was skeptical to join this vigilante mission, but Nick pleaded, “I’ve already cried wolf once!” (Checkpoint!)

The climax itself was a big let-down. Tim Bagley (a.k.a. Larry from Will & Grace) was hardly used as the murderous blut bad (save for an delightfully creepy scene about pie crust), and an 11th-hour revelation by Hank that the suspect was humming “Sweet Dreams” seemed undeserved. Worst of all, they ended up besting their foe by shooting him in the back. Hardly fairy tale heroism.

That night, at Marie’s bedside, Nick proved again what a crack observer he isn’t by nearly allowing a nurse administer medication to his comatose aunt. He realized a split-second before the fatal dose that it was the demonface from the beginning of the episode. Underscored by the ghoulish yowl of Marilyn Manson’s “Sweet Dreams” cover, Nick was pricked with the toxic stuff and passed out as the demonurse exited the building and slid into a car with none other than Capt. Renard, who explained that the amulet was a key that “We must get back before he figures out how to use it.”

Renard’s reveal offered a nice twist, but overall the pilot didn’t offer any sort of serious scare factor. It was only mildly startling in the way that procedurals tend to be. In a fall roster with genuinely terrifying newcomers like American Horror Story, will Grimm‘s half-baked horrors hold up? And, even with the lead-in from Chuck, how will it shake out against Friday night cult favorite Fringe? The bar may be low on Friday nights, but if Grimm doesn’t pack some more scares into its episodes, its numbers will be even lower.

So, PopWatchers, did you tune in to Grimm? What did you think? Did you like the cheeky nods to fairy tale phrasing, or did you think they were cheesy? Which lore of yore would you like to see next? If you watched Once Upon a Time, how did the two shows stack up?

Read more:

‘Grimm’: So a cop walks into a fairy tale… — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Fall TV Fridays: What to watch live? What to DVR?

Fall TV Preview: Grimm

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