Both these shows caught my eye when I heard about them. It’s been a while since anything like this was on network TV, and I was eager to try both of them out.
In Once Upon A Time, bounty hunter Emma Swan’s world is changed the night ten-year-old Henry shows up on her doorstep and announces he is the baby she gave up. He wants her to come with him to his home town because he believes she is a character from his book of fairy tales. While she thinks the kid is a little crazy, she still gives him a ride home. While not truly believing him, she still cares and ends up staying in the town. While the show is busily setting up this part of the story, it is also flashing to the fairy tale world. The fairy tale world aligns with the story Henry is telling Emma and shows the viewer the troubles that lead to Snow White giving up her only daughter, Emma, to our world.
While the plot might seem challenging to follow, it really wasn’t. The pilot did a good job of smoothly gliding back and forth between the two worlds and made it very clear how the worlds are connected. The show sets up the fact that somehow Emma is supposed to come back into the lives of her parents in fairy land, but it’s unclear exactly how she will do that. Emma, Henry, and the evil queen are all great characters from the start and interact well together. Henry is likeable and cute, totally believable as the precocious kid hero, while Emma’s mix of vulnerable and tough doesn’t seem like an act.
The show was a little sweet for me, the opening scene in fairy land with the evil queen interrupting was the only part that got me really excited. While I enjoyed the show, and will probably watch it again, I tend to like my fairy tales a little darker. They story they are telling isn’t a light and fluffy tale, but they seemed reluctant to dive into the grit of it during this episode. On the other hand, it seems like it is going to be a good show that families with preteen and up children could watch together, so perhaps that was their goal.
Grimm follows cop Nick Burkhardt as he discovers first a horrible murder scene, and second that he is one of the last in a line of Grimms, people charged with keeping the world safe from monsters. Since his mother is very ill, the family trait has awoken in him and he must now keep the world safe from the fairy tale monsters we all know.
Grimm appears to be much more of a monster of the week type show, but with plenty of overlying story to build up as well. Of the two shows it is the one that seems more likely to succeed to me. Unfortunately it seems that shows which have more emphasis on a continuing story, as Once Upon A Time does, are less likely to catch on. Time and again we’ve seen these sort of shows canceled before their time. That being said, I honestly preferred Grimm. The overall story was appealing and easy to get into, there were a couple laughs and a lot of moments that pulled me right in. I’m more interested to see what happens to Nick than I am to know what happens to Emma in Once Upon A Time.
The show plays out a lot like a modern day fairy tale, smoothly blending the dark underlying themes of fairy tales into modern situations. The characters are well written, though there isn’t really a stand out moment for any of them. The actors work well together, aside from the Nick and his fiance who don’t seem to have any chemistry. On the other hand, Nick and his mother have some great moments.
Grimm does have one of the same main problems as Once Upon A Time, it’s hard to imagine how each can keep the story going. Based on the preview, it seems as if Grimm will be dealing with the same monsters from the pilot, and even if not, how many monsters are there in the fairy tales? If they start making up their own, doesn’t that detract from the main plot? Once Upon A Time seems like a story meant to be a movie or a miniseries, not a TV show, and certainly not one that lasts season after season.
All that being said, these shows are two interesting additions to the TV season, and both are at least worth a try.