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Saturday, May 25, 2013

"Goodnight, Sweet GRIMM" Review

Article first published as "Goodnight, Sweet GRIMM" Review on TheTVKing.

NBC's Grimm has teetered back and forth between serial and procedural, introducing us to a wide variety of creatures through its formulaic police elements, but also continuing some larger arcs over the course of a season or longer. In the sophomore season finale this week, "Goodnight, Sweet Grimm," all pretense of the case-of-the-week is thankfully dropped in favor of more complex story.

A frequent stumbling block series face on network television these days is a resistance to serial storytelling. Some shows, the smart ones, start out playing the game, delivering mostly stand-alone episodes, keeping themselves on the air until they gain enough of an audience to do what they want. The problem with that tactic is, more discerning viewers may give up if they don't see any sign that the story will get better, as I did initially with Grimm in the first year.

Luckily, others did not judge the show quite so quickly, and now building a loyal following, Grimm finally gets to show us what it can do. The penultimate episode before "Goodnight, Sweet Grimm" begins the tale of Eric Renard (James Frain, The Cape, True Blood) coming to town with a voodoo Wesen in tow who can make zombies. It's all part of an elaborate trap to capture Nick (David Giuntoli), which continues in this latest installment.

This is bad timing for Nick, who has just reunited with Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch). The two haven't even worked out a nice balance between their romantic life and Nick's Grimm activities, with Juliette tagging along on the zombie hunt and almost screwing things up. They need to even out their relationship before being tested, and Nick's kidnapping may throw things off enough to cause the couple some serious problems.

I don't know that they should fix things. When Juliette loses her memory, fans root for her to get it back so that she can be with Nick. But her initial handling of being in on the secret has not inspired much confidence in her. She could end up doing more harm than good on the team. Maybe it's time to cut her lose, opening Nick up for other loves and other stories.

Nick's group is forming nicely, with Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), Hank (Russell Hornsby), and Rosalee (Bree Turner) often providing backup. What's more, Grimm is finally getting around to giving them some subplot. More of that would be welcome, as a true ensemble series, even if Nick is the center, is always more interesting. Grimm has already been compared extensively to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and developing the gang further is a good lesson to take from their forebearer.

At some point, others will have to be added to the ranks, too. If the series can budget more main characters, I would petition for Bud (Danny Bruno), Nick's "sidekick," who is around not quite enough for my taste, to get the upgrade. I also think Dr. Harper (Sharon Sachs) could make a good addition, and she could probably handle the truth about the Wesen better than most, facing dead bodies on a daily basis and being used to weird or gruesome stuff.

Captain Renard (Sasha Roiz) flirts at the fringe, and may get a chance to prove himself when he'll soon have to choose between helping Eric or Nick. Renard doesn't care much for Eric, but Eric is offering a chance for the Captain to rejoin the royal family, which has to be tempting. I think Captain Renard will do the right thing, but if the series shows him waffling a bit, that could be more interesting, even for those who want him on the right side.

I wonder how Adalind's (Claire Coffee) pregnancy might play into Renard's feelings. Adalind's tale has been one long separate from the rest of the cast, and is unfolding very slowly. When Renard enters into the picture, it should not only speed things along, but lend more meaning to what is happening. Colliding arcs could change everything, in a good way, so it should definitely happen sooner, rather than later.

Sgt. Wu (Reggie Lee) is the last main character who isn't in on the whole supernatural world that exists around them. As much as I enjoy his presence, I'm in no hurry for him to join the ranks of the Grimm. He not only provides comic relief, but there's something really fun about keeping him in the dark that has not nearly gotten old yet.

One thing I would definitely like to see is a major death on Grimm. Not that I'm trying to eliminate anyone from the cast, but I feel like it's needed to raise the stakes. One of the main characters in Portland should be murdered in some terrible way. This would infuse the story with more oomph and danger, as it still often feels like fluff, and the peril is usually quite light.

Grimm is well on its way to being a beloved show, and now boasts way higher quality writing than it starts with. With a few tweaks, it could soon raise itself up to one of those series that is anticipated weekly. For now, it's nice to see it coming along, and I look forward to what the season three premiere will bring.

Grimm will return to NBC next fall.

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