Squee T.V.

It seems that every season, the gods of non-pay-networks (the channels you can pick up with a good set of rabbit ears) attempt to reach out to their Squee fan base. You know, the Sci-fi/Fantasy geeks, the Fanboys and Fangirls, us lovers of the alternate reality. They’ve had some hits (Lost, Heroes, Smallville, Vampire Diaries, Buffy, Angel, etc.) and they’ve had some misses (Remember The Cape from last year? Ugh, shudder, but thanks for trying to give Summer Glau a job), and they’ve made some total, idiotic, brainless corporate decisions, a la the cancelling of Firefly. If you don’t know about Firefly, you should. Look it up: Firefly


This year, 2 of the big 3, ABC and NBC, are trying out some new squee-esque shows, Once Upon a Time and Grimm, respectively.  They’ve both made it to the middle of the season, and at this point I think I can give a relatively comprehensive opinion. I’m not going to waste time giving a synopsis of the shows. I hope you’ve watched them and can therefore follow along.


Once Upon a Time is ABC. ABC is owned by Disney. Consequently, expect lots of pretty-pretty princesses, and pretty-pretty handsome princes, and even pretty-pretty evil witches (hey Pam! Whatcha doin’ here? You’re supposed to be resting up for the next season of True Blood.) There are poofy dresses, big hairdo’s, no tights but plenty of tunics, and a totally wicked Rumplestiltskin played by one of the guys from the Full Monty. The make-up and costume departments are obviously well funded and have lots of experience from their years dressing the characters in the Magic Kingdom parades.


Even with all the Disney hoo-ha, it’s a pretty great show.  There are lots of flash backs to the characters’ fairytale pasts in which we find that Snow White was a kick-butt, Robin Hood sort before marrying the handsome prince. She actually rescues the boy a few times in the process of falling in love with him.  Cinderella is a little bit selfish and clueless. The Evil queen is curiously sympathetic while being horribly cruel.  Snow White’s long lost daughter is tough, but loyal and dedicated and seems to have a good head on her shoulders. Yay! for a main female character that, so far, hasn’t gotten by on her sex appeal alone. There is pain, loss, and sacrifice mixed in among the moments of syrupy happiness.  I can take syrupy happiness when it’s got some bitter mixed in, sorta how I like a cup of coffee with my pecan pie.


Grimm is NBC. Is a little darker— a little grimmer (pause for the rim-shot). There is more obvious violence and blood and gore.  The main character reminds me of Clark Kent’s less awkward brother, but disappointingly, you know he’s never going to rip off his shirt and have a super hero costume underneath. He’s cool enough to be a police detective, but that’s about all I can rouse myself to expect of him. 


My biggest complaint so far is that the episodes are too formulaic.  Mr. Grimm sees that a “person” is really a creepy critter under its fake human exterior.  The creepy critter likes to do bad things to people. Mr. Grimm hunts them down and arrests /kills them and then suffers a moral quandary: was what he did right or was he just being prejudicial against all critter-kind? Are they truly evil, or just misunderstood?  Four episodes of this so far, mixed in with a little Smoking Man conspiracy…but without the good noir that made it work for X Files. The CGI that makes the people into critters is just plain ol’ bad.  The critters almost all look the same to me. It’s hard to tell a wolf-monster from a bear-monster from a bee-monster. The one redeeming feature is the Grimm’s sidekick. He’s got a funny Germanesque name for being, basically, a werewolf. A Blutebad, I think.  He’s the comic relief that is badly needed in this show that takes itself a little too seriously. 


I think I just put my finger on my number one problem with Grimm.  Considering the subject matter, the script and the actors need to lighten up a little bit. It relates back to my coffee and pie scenario. Laugh at your ridiculousness; give the audience a spoonful of sugar. It would make the medicine go down easier. Hey, that’s from Mary Popppins, right? Mary Poppins was Disney, right? Maybe that explains why Once Upon a Time gets it and Grimm doesn’t.


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