Note: Sorry for the long hiatus. I’ve been working 2 jobs, plus trying to selling art, so the last few months have been fairly busy. I’m glad to post again, but I don’t know how frequently I’ll be able to do that. I’m going to try for at least one post a month. If you’re reading, I’m glad that you’re here.
This delightful little show ran for 6 seasons, from 2011 until 2017. This is another title that I will classify as a Child of the Slayer. I first mentioned this concept back in my post about the television show Reaper, but given that I don’t think anyone reads these posts, I’ll talk about it again. The term is a reference to the wildly popular series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and how that popularity spawned several children, television shows that mimic many aspects of the original. I’ll point out the similarities that make Grimm one of these children, but first, let me tell you about the show. This is not a bad show. I certainly wouldn’t call it a great show, I’m not going to tell anyone that they HAVE to track down this show and watch it, but it will always hold a place near and dear to my heart because of its star – the city of Portland.
The show itself is billed as a horror police procedural and follows the main character Detective Nick Burkhardt (played by David Giuntoli of Privileged and A Million Little Things) and his partner Det. Hank Griffin (Russel Hornsby of Seven Seconds and Proven Innocent). Nick discovers that he is a Grimm, a person with the ability to see mystical creatures that live among us, called Wesen. This is a family heritage, passed down from generation to generation, along with the responsibility to keep these creatures in check, since some of them aren’t so friendly. Given his position as a Portland police officer, he will often discover that he is looking for a Wesen while investigating a case. So, what qualifies Grimm to be a Child of the Slayer? Let me break it down.
First of all, there is the very nature of the show itself. Set in modern day America, there are other-than-normal beings that co-exist with us unnoticed. These beings each have their own histories, traditions, habits, abilities and diets. They are somewhat magical in nature. And many of these creatures, due to their proclivities, prey on humans and could be called evil, though that could just be a human-centric outlook. I should point out that due to the name of the show, all of these creatures are supposed to be related to the ones found in Grimm’s fairy tales. The premise being that the original Grimm was actually a Grimm, like Nick, and that those “fairy tales” were actual stories about the creatures he tracked down and had experience with.
Secondly, he is a “chosen one”, he has abilities, passed down through the family, that others don’t have and allow him to detect and, if necessary, kill these Wesen. This ability to see these creatures is probably his primary ability. These beings look just like ordinary humans for the most part, hold down normal jobs and lead pretty average lives. In times of stress or strong emotion, however, their mask fails a bit and anyone who is a Grimm, such as Nick, can see their true form. That’s his biggest power as far as I can tell. While he always prevails, he never displays steel bending strength or super speed; if he does have actual powers, they are understated to say the least. He does have a few advantages though. One of them being his reputation. Evidently, Grimms have a long history of tracking down and slaughtering Wesen, so those that encounter Nick are usually deathly afraid of him. He also possesses his aunt’s trailer.
His aunt, who is the one who tells him he is a Grimm in the first episode, brings an Airstream trailer with her. Inside is a weapons cabinet, filled with medieval appearing weaponry. Some of these have been chosen, because they are the only thing that can kill this beast or that. Along with the weapons, the trailer contains ancient-looking, illustrated tomes, filled with notes and illustrations of some of the different creatures that have been encountered over the years. Often times, an episode involves a great deal of research to figure out what they’re dealing with and how to defeat it. I suppose you could say that this research is another way that Grimm is like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
But this wouldn’t be a Child of the Slayer without the Scoobies. The first one we meet is Monroe (played by Silas Weir Mitchell of Prison Break and My Name is Earl), a Big, Bad Wolf flavor of Wesen, though the show calls him a Blutbad. By day, a mild mannered clockmaker, but in his Wesen form he’s basically a werewolf. Seriously, he rips a guys arm off in the second episode. Then there is Bud (played by Danny Bruno of Nowhere Man and Leverage), who is an Eisbiber. I don’t know what that is supposed to be, but he is adorable. He acts a liaison between Nick and the rest of the Wesen community. Later we meet Rosalee (played by Bree Turner of Undressed and Good Girls Don’t) who runs an herb shop. She is a foxlike Wesen called a Fuchsbau (who the hell makes up all these names?) and assists in researching lore and creating potions.
I hesitate to name Hank as a Scoobie. He is Nick’s partner and he does help out with the cases, but for a good chunk of the show he has no idea that Nick is a Grimm or that there are even things called Wesen. Then there is Sergeant Drew Wu (played by Reggie Lee of Prison Break and All Rise), a Portland police officer who also helps Nick in a professional capacity, but, like Hank, has no knowledge of anything Wesen. That being said, Wu became one of my favorite characters of the show.
It’s no real surprise that Grimm gives off such Buffy vibes, it has a more direct connection than most other of the Slayer’s children. One of the showrunners was David Greenwalt who was also a co-executive producer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and co-creator of its spinoff Angel. Another showrunner, Jim Kouf, also worked on Angel. Even Alex Denisof was in a few episodes. Yes, the actor who played Wesley in both Buffy and Angel, was Viktor Albert Wilhelm George Beckendorf, a power hungry human trying to rule the world. As for other people who worked on the show, I did try to find out the writers, or at least the process, for coming up with the names for the different Wesen. Turns out they’re most just German words, which many times make no sense when translated. There are over 100 different Wesen presented in the show, so they dipped into other mythologies and, when they did, the names were words from those cultures. I did find out who did the illustrations in the many books they pour over. Carly Sertic is a freelance film maker and graphic designer who has worked on several other productions. Her Oregon connections are strong. She graduated from the University of Oregon and has worked on Portlandia and Twilight. There are a few other crew members with Joss Whedon connections. Jose Molina was a co-executive producer for 5 episodes of Grimm, but he also worked on Firefly and Agent Carter.
The show is not without its problems. The whole Grimm’s fairy tale thing doesn’t always work and often comes off as a bit forced. In the first season, we get to see Wesen based on bees and for the life of me I can’t remember any bee creatures in any fairy tales. The show tends to start mysteries and plot threads that fizzle out and go nowhere. The woman playing Nick’s wife, Juliette (played by Bitsie Tulloch of Quarterlife and Superman & Lois), is annoying as hell. They must have realized this, because they kill her off and bring her back as a Hexenbeast, a witch-like Wesen, which doesn’t really improve her any. Later in the show, season 5, I think, they introduced another Grimm to the cast, Trubel (played by Jacqueline Toboni of Easy and The L Word: Generation Q). I’m not sure what the writers were thinking introducing her character so late in the show, but she just wasn’t that interesting.
But, again, the real reason I watched the show was because of Portland. I’ve lived in Portland for over 20 years and I love this city. I loved the show, because Portland was prominently on display. Unlike certain other shows that filmed in Portland (I’m looking at you Leverage), but pretended they were in another city, Portland landmarks were celebrated. Nick and Juliette’s house was classic Portland, in a charming little Northeast Portland neighborhood. The exterior of the U.S. Custom House building downtown was often shot for the police department that Nick worked at. There’s a scene at popular tourist spot Multnomah Falls. A number of episodes were filmed at Hoyt Arboretum. Fuller’s Coffee Shop, the Raven & Rose and Nell’s Cafe all had scenes in Grimm. The easily recognizable pink boxes of Voodoo Donuts show up on a regular basis. They even filmed a scene at a house across the street from where I was living in North Portland.
But as I had said, it was far from a perfect show and if you weren’t in love with Portland, Grimm may not have made quite the impression that it did on me. It got mixed reviews from the critics, though it did seem to have a pretty loyal following from the viewers. There was a spinoff planned, one that would focus on a female Grimm, perhaps that was what they had planned for Trubel, but it the project was declared dead as of June 2021. It was popular enough to get a comic book series from Dynamite Entertainment, which lasted about a year. Three novels were published based off of the show. Episodes are not easy to find these days. I looked for it on the NBC website and then on Peacock, NBC’s new streaming service, but no dice. Amazon Prime has it, which seems like an odd place for it and ensures that I won’t be watching reruns anytime soon. I’m not too concerned; it was a fun show while it lasted, but there are better things to watch right now. And besides, the star of the show, the city of Portland, I just happen to live with her.