Grimm follows Once Upon A Time as the second fairy-tale themed new fall show, but it’s first in quality. While it’s no instant classic, it nonetheless reinterprets its classic fairy tales with vigor, some wit, and a sleek visual flair.

Grimm is a look at what happens when supernatural (literary-ish, pulpy) creatures invade our world, and one of the only things stopping them is a homicide cop named Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), descended from a clan of hunters, “the Grimms.” In this dark-hued adventure from creators David Greenwalt (Angel, Buffy The Vampire Slayer) and Jim Kouf (National Treasure), Nick Grimm can see the bad beasties before other humans, and tries to solve cases, such as the death of a red-hooded girl.

Yeah, it’s a Little Red Riding Hood joke, but it’s a well-shot one. The scene you had probably already caught in ads for the show — a young woman being whoooshed out of the TV frame by a blindingly fast villain — was typical of the show’s occasional cleverness. When it’s on its game, Grimm is gratifyingly not grim. It has a narrative energy that enlivens dusty dialogue like, “There are things you don’t know,” as well as actors that can also give those words a spin — in the case of the lines I just quoted, the excellent Kate Burton, as the hero’s aunt.

Grimm was at its sparkiest when Nick joined up with Eddie Monroe (Prison Break’s Silas Weir Mitchell) as a reformed “big bad wolf,” and the two engaged in some funny male bonding. I have a feeling some viewers will be put off by the way Grimm combines its fables with the procedural genre, but I’m warily positive about this choice. It helps that Russell Hornsby is solid as Nick’s cop partner, Hank. Yes, if the series turns mediocre three episodes in, it’ll be Criminal Minds Profile Snow White. But if Grimm continues to explore the “hunters” aspect of its fairy-tale-derived suspense stories in a varied, imaginative way, it could do both the Brothers Grimm and thriller writing proud. (Grimm made me want to re-read William Hjortsberg’s 1978 novel Falling Angel.)

Should Grimm get better as the weeks go by, fantasy fans are going to have to choose between this, Fringe, and Supernatural, all competing in the same time period.

I know where my loyalties lie (Fringe! Fringe!) but how about you?

Twitter: @kentucker

Episode Recaps

Once Upon a Time

Everything you’ve ever read about fairy tales is true—the residents of Storybrooke are living proof.

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