A Grimm New Style of Paranormal Procedural

Grimm on NBC starring David Giuntoli
Examining the body of a not-so-little Red Riding Hood
There were two huge volumes of Grimm’s Fairy Tales in my grade school library and by the fifth grade I’d started reading them cover to cover. These were dangerous stories, seeped in conflict and flowing with blood. Cinderella’s sisters blithely removed pieces of their feet—one a toe, the other a part of her heel—in order to fit into her glass slippers, red dots dripping on the road as each in her turn rode away with the prince. In The Six Swans, a young princess is nearly burned at the stake, unable to defend herself as she can neither speak nor laugh for six years until she completes six shirts for her six princely brothers who were turned into swans by their evil stepmother. One prince with an unfinished shirt is permanently left with a swan’s wing in place of his left arm. The Twelve Dancing Princesses has the “hero” winning his larcenous and lying bride by blackmailing her. One thing is for certain with Grimm’s Fairy Tales: happily ever after always comes at a bitter and significant cost.

My ten-year-old self was shocked, disillusioned, and riveted.

Grimm, airing Friday nights at 9 PM on NBC, takes another turn on these classic tales. Here is a world where the creatures of Grimm’s Fairy Tales are alive and well—and committing crimes. Twisting the police procedural style on its head, every week features a new crime, underscored by a layer of the fantastical as the answers lie deep in the otherworldly.

Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) is a homicide detective in Portland, Oregon whose relatively normal life is disrupted when he starts seeing people’s faces twist into monstrous appearances. A visit from his dying Aunt Marie reveals that he is the last in a line of hunters called Grimms, criminal profilers who keep the balance between the human world and mythological creatures. Because, oh yeah, fairy tales are real. In fact, they’re not stories at all, but rather a manual on how to identify and fight the monsters. These supernatural fiends have infiltrated the world and, as the last Grimm, it’s now Nick’s job to hunt down the monsters and protect humanity.

Eddie and Nick, crime fighters
Not exactly Sam and Dean
With the ailing Aunt Marie dead by the second episode, it’s up to the big (not-so-)bad wolf to act as Nick’s guide in this fantastical world. Literally, as Eddie Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), a Wieder Blutbad, or werewolf-esqe being who has gone vegan, quickly becomes Nick’s inside man—er, creature. He brings the funny to the show, alleviating the constant tension (who next will turn out to be a monster?) with random asides and snarky rejoinders. It’s like Buffy being trained by a reformed Spike without the sexual tension. Only not as boring as that may sound.

Grimm marries the horrors of real life crime to the creeptastic aspects of the fantastical with chill-inducing results. In the pilot episode, a young girl is kidnapped by a pedophile who is also a Blutbad; his twisted psychosis forces him to abuse children but his monstrous nature makes him kill and eat them. In episode four, an unattractive man lures beautiful women to his bed and breakfast, only to imprison them in his basement. This might seem a better plotline for Criminal Minds, but in Grimm the kicker is that the villain is a Ziegevolk, a Pan figure; these women go to their cages willingly, hypnotized by his power. When Nick sends Eddie in undercover, the reformed wolf is swiftly, and comically, sucked under the spell as well.

Captain Renard on Grimm
Wily as a Renard
And of course we have a big bad here: none other than Nick’s boss, Captain Renard, a hunter of the hunters, whose true motives are slowly revealed week to week.

As the Grimm mythology unfolds, each week brings a new story, and creature, to the forefront and with 170 tales in the Grimm lexicon, the source material seems endless. The dialogue sparks and the pace is swift as Nick (and the audience) falls ever deeper into the grim underbelly of this new and increasingly bizarre world.

Standard procedural shows weary me. They’re too easy to solve and, without resonating characters, I find them increasingly dull and insipid. Grimm has enough of an edge, of something new, to intrigue with some supernatural curve balls thrown into the procedural pattern. This is a great time to get caught up in it too; a double dose of the show airs this week with a new episode on Thursday (12/8) at 10 PM followed by another new one in its regular time slot of Friday (12/9) at 9 PM. Have no fear either that this is a genre show destined to fail on network TV; Grimm has already been picked up for a full season.

If you ever wished fairy tales were real, if you ever wondered what lived beneath your bed, if you for one moment thought there could be some truths in those long-ago tales of the brothers Grimm, then Grimm is the show for you.

Kiersten Hallie Krum is a writer of smart, sharp and sexy romantic suspense. By day, she is senior editor for a pharmaceutical advertising agency and freelances as a back cover copy writer for genre fiction. By night, she is many other things. Follow her twitter handle @kierstenkrum for daily doses of her off-kilter lack of wisdom, more of which is available on her website www.kierstenkrum.com,  on her blog www.twolftshoes.blogspot.com, and at www.facebook.com/kierstenkrum.


  1. Beth Yarnall

    Now that I’ve gotten into the show, I like it a lot. I really like the wolf side-kick guy. He’s so funny. The one thing that bugs me about the show is how flat out dumb Nick’s police partner is and how little real procedure makes it into the show. Sometimes it takes away from my enjoyment of the show. Other than that, the premise of the show is really interesting & unique. Great post, Kiersten!

  2. Kiersten

    Thanks Beth! I’ll admit, the procedure aspect does stumble a bit, but I think we as an audience are so well versed in that already (thanks CBS!) that it’s more of “hey guys, you forgot this” than “what’s that now?”. I’m so involved in figuring which Grimm tale they’re referencing this time & where they’re going next, the procedural lack doesn’t really catch me up.

    We definitely need some back story on Nick’s partner. There comes a point when TSTL becomes too much to overlook. That said, since it kicked off at Halloween, the show has only aired about four episodes, so there’s plenty yet to come, I’m sure.

    Thanks for leaving a comment!

  3. Megan Coakley

    I was sufficiently creeped-out by the first episode that I’ve continued watching. I don’t think of it as a procedural show at all. It’s “Buffy” meets “X-Files.” So my fears are: too long of an undefined threat against our hero, and the need to keep the partner in the dark. I think it would be great to bring him in the loop, and let the three guys (or two humans and one wolf) play off one another. Thanks for the review, Kiersten!

  4. Kiersten

    My pleasure! I too am interested in how long they draw things out. Having his boss be the big bad was a great reveal – now what? Too, they need to give the partner something, or else he’ll lose all value to us; part of every week will be “how will Nick get rid of his partner this time?”. I think a lot of this feeling is because the show’s debut was delayed far longer than any other new or returning shows. We feel like we should have more/know more because its mid-December, but really, there’s only been I think four episodes this far. Hopefully, as we get new shows this week and next, we’ll have some great stories to hold on to until the January return.

  5. Clare 2e

    I’ve been digging Grimm, and I like that other than information (and a sidearm) Nick doesn’t have any super special powers–at least not that I’ve seen. I think if his partner (who I like even if he hasn’t caught on to much) were to get into the game without even Nick’s evil-vision to help him, it would be really funny. Adore Silas Weir Mitchell as the tweaky metro-wolf-ual sidekick- the arm thing under the hospital?–yay!

  6. Kiersten

    That’s a terrific point, Clare. Nick really doesn’t have anything supernatural himself at his metaphoric fingertips, just good policing skills. Adds a nifty little element to the whole deal – he has to develop his defenses as he learns the world he’s now responsible for.

    That arm thing under the hospital was a riot! Super gross & creepy but Silas definitely added the macabre humor.

    Thanks for commenting!

  7. Samantha Hunter

    Great post, Kiersten, and I agree on all counts. Have loved the show from day one. Many of my favorite things about it are small touches — the stained glass windows, the red coats, the bee-creatures only dressing in black and yellow 😉 So many little things that add to the magic of the magic. 🙂

    With the B&B guy, I did feel a little disappointed at the end where they wanted us to be creeped out — why wouldn’t they have seen that coming and disabled him in some way? Seemed like a big bad glitch (with the female EMT). They could have blindfolded him or something.

    Anyway… great show. I’m happy to follow where ever they go at this point, anyway.


  8. Kiersten

    Sam – thanks! I hadn’t notice the bee clothing! Nifty. Will now “be” keeping an eye out for other hints.

    I agree. You’d think they’d prep Pan boy for transport or something. I guess that’s a glitch from not cluing the partner in…

  9. Albert Tucher

    I’m surprised at how successful the show is so far. The people behind it definitely know their Buffy.

  10. Kiersten

    Al – Noticed that too, eh? It helps that David Greenwalt, a long-time Buffy & Wheedonverse producer/writer/director is spearheading GRIMM too…

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