SF elements: fairy tales

  1. season 1. 2011
  2. season 2. 2012
  3. season 3. 2013
  4. season 4. 2014
  5. season 5. 2015
  6. season 6. 2017

2011 / TV

22 × 45 min episodes

season 1 review

Here’s the conceit: all those fairy tales are true. Not the light-hearted ones; the scary ones with beasts in the forest. The Brothers Grimm documented them; their descendants carry on the fight.

Nick Burkhardt is an ordinary Portland PD detective, until the day his dying aunt arrives to tell him something important, and he begins to see … things. Soon he is fighting the monsters. But he’s more cop than traditional Grimm, so doesn’t go after the “beasts” who aren’t breaking any laws. He is helped by Munroe, a reformed, vegetarian “Blutbad” (werewolf), and by an unintentionally Tardis-like trailer full of Grimm background material and equipment.

Each episode has a stand-alone story, of a particular sort of beast that Nick has to confront. There is also an overall arc, and we become more aware of various underlying factions: these aren’t just lone monsters; there’s a whole sub-culture.

This is nicely different from the usual urban fantasy, with good touches of humour, but lots of grim (hah!) events too. Monroe provides dry, wryly comic relief, rather than irritatingly silly comic relief.

It suffers form the usual problem of the lone super-hero having to keep his identity secret from his partner and from his girlfriend, for their “safety”, despite the fact that, of course, their ignorance puts them in more danger. This annoying trope was successfully subverted by BtVS, so why do we have to revert to it here?

But apart from this one gripe, I enjoyed the series. Refreshingly different, with hints of more revelations to come. I’m looking forward to season 2.

Rating: 3
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 10 March 2013

2012 / TV

22 × 45 min episodes

season 2 review

This second season of Grimm carries on in much the same vein as the first season: monster of the week interspersed with bigger conspiracy arc. At the end of the first season, Nick was trying to tell Juliette about himself, when she succumbed to the cat scratch coma. This season sees her wake from the coma, with the help of Nick’s Captain, but with no memory of Nick.

In the meantime, Nick’s detective partner Hank is now in on the Grimm secret, making it rather easier for Nick to do his job. His Wessen friends Monroe and Rosalee are also key players in the fight. Which is just as well, as the European-based Royal family are upping their interest in Nick.

The actor playing Hank had a real-life injury, which results in Hank bizarrely investigating crime scenes on crutches for a few episodes. But that does mean that the great sarcastic Sgt Wu gets more screen time. He desperately needs to be let in on Nick’s secret, too, give the number of Wessen-related injuries he incurs. Ignorance is not safe, guys!

Overall, a good second season, with a great cliffhanger ending.

Rating: 3.5
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 25 May 2014

2013 / TV

22 × 45 min episodes

season 3 review

This third season of Grimm has the standard monster of the week, now interspersed with a pregnancy arc. Nick was zombiefied at the end of last season, packed up in a coffin, and being flown off to Europe. Anyone looking forward to Grimm hijinks in Vienna is in for a disappointment: with a leap and a bound the even-stronger-than-a-normal-zombie Nick breaks output of the coffin, crashes the plane, and walks off into the forest. Now the race is on for the Scoobie Gang to find, and administer, the cure.

The cure is duly administered, but Nick is left with a strange propensity to go grey and look dead, at least for a few episodes, after which the scriptwriters seem to forget about it. He has the odd bout of superhearing when the plot needs it, though.

And at last Juliette is in on the secret, and a full member of the team. As such, she has significantly fewer problems than before: see, knowledge helps. However, poor old Sergeant Wu is still in the dark, despite having wrestled with and nearly been killed by a Wessen he could see, been totally stressed out by the whole experience, and checked himself into a mental hospital because of it. Despite all this, the gang decide it’s safer for him if he remain in ignorance. Pah.

The monsters of the week continue to be diverse and mostly interesting, and we get a new Grimm discovering her heritage. Rosalie and Munroe get to meet each others’ parents, which provides some good culture shock, and some not so covert messages about racism. But the main focus is on the pregnancy arc: scary Adalind getting her powers back, and having a super-baby, and meeting Nick’s even scarier mother. More lying and deceit, which not surprisingly doesn’t end well, and leads up to yet another fine cliffhanger. How is Nick going to get out of this one?

Rating: 3.5
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 30 April 2015

2014 / TV

22 × 45 min episodes

season 4 review

This fourth season starts off with Nick having lost his Grimm powers, and coming to terms with that, as Trubel, not feeling ready yet, takes over his role. But of course that can’t last, and events mean he needs to get his powers back. But that is going to cost, more than they know.

The Scooby Gang is growing in size as finally, finally, Sgt Wu is brought into the team. If I were him, I’d be incredibly pissed off that it took the others so long to tell him the truth: Wu ended up in a mental hospital because of what he’d been through, thinking he was going mad. The moral of this series should be, writ large, that although keeping secrets from others might protect you (as Nick finds out to his cost), it hardly ever protects them.

When the series started, there seemed to be just a few Wessen, living in fear and secret. By now, every other major player seems to be either Wessen, or working against Wessen. How has that secret been kept so well?

The plot thickens as we discover more about the Royal Family, and Captain Renard’s mother, and Jack the Ripper, and various underground organisations of Wessen. Even Munroe and Roselee get into trouble with one of the latter, due to their unapproved marriage.

But the biggest upsets are Adalind’s second pregnancy (given just how well the last one turned out, and given who the father is this time), and the price Juliette, and consequently the rest of the gang, ends up paying to get Nick his powers back. The season starts with a seemingly insurmountable problem, and ends in tragedy with an even bigger one. I had two separate running theories of how they might fix things in the end: they did neither. What surprises will season 5 bring?

Rating: 3.5
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 16 August 2016

2015 / TV

22 × 45 min episodes

season 5 review


This fifth season starts off with the fallout from season 4: new-Hexenbiest Juliette having killed Nick’s mother, tried to kill Nick, then herself been killed by Trubel. Only, in the best way of fantasy tales, Juliette isn’t as dead as she once was, having been taken by Hadrian’s Wall, the covert anti-Wessen organisation Trubel now works for. They have turned Juliette into Eve, a super-powerful emotionless Wessen killer with a strange taste in wigs. Meanwhile, Adelind and her new baby, Nick’s son (from when Adelind was disguised as Juliette), has become part of the good guy team, and Nick seems quite happy to change the target of his affections. And Black Claw, a powerful covert Wessen organisation, is out to take over the world, starting with Portland.

Yes, it’s getting complicated. And a bit of a mess. The overall season arc is the fight against Black Claw, but still with the monster-of-the-week detecting to do. When the stakes are low, fighting monsters one at a time seems fine; when the stakes have risen to world domination by Wessen, I would have thought a more joined-up response would be better. That’s what Hadrian’s Wall is for (although rather sparsely staffed), but Nick can’t just join them, for some reason. In fact, the monster-of-the-week is often the light relief from the darker background tone. And this time it’s Wu’s turn to misguidedly keep secrets from the others. Also, Hank now appears to be about the only normal human on the planet.

Two characters have massive plot-driven changes. Adelind becomes one of the good guys. Even when the humanising potion wears off and she’s got her hexenbiest powers again, despite dire warnings and fears of her turning bad, she stays the same. And Reynard’s change seems rather under-signalled: his flip to the Dark Side needed more motivation, which it would have been easy to provide, given his background. Then the Magic Stick is found, and forgotten for a few episodes, before becoming potentially, but not actually, decisive. Maybe next season?

Rating: 4
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 2 May 2018

2017 / TV

13 × 45 min episodes

season 6 review


This sixth and final (half) season starts where season 5 ended: Black Claw leader Bonaparte dead by Reynard’s Diana-controlled hand. This leads into a frantic set of episodes, where monster-of-the-week vies with a scramble to tie up all the loose ends in only 13 episodes. Black Claw conveniently disappears in a puff of smoke, while the arc focusses on the Magic Stick and what it means, leading up to a potential catastrophe that could destroy the entire human world. (Well, if you are going to potentially save the world, best to leave it to the end, otherwise it’s hard to top.)

There were possibilities for “happy” endings that would have been annoying resets: these possibilities were not taken. However, there were hanging guns that never went off (Black Claw conveniently vanishing; Diana conveniently not destroying the world in a fit of pique; re-hexenbiested-Adelinde conveniently not reverting to a monster). Also note: if you kill one major character, viewers might think they are really dead even in a fantasy series. When you kill them all, viewers are more suspicious. Despite these issues, the season did tie up most loose ends, without giving the impression that the characters’ adventures over.

Rating: 4
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 14 June 2018