Friday, June 28, 2013

NBCs "Grimm Season 2" Blu-ray Release Set For Sep 17th [& Why I Like "Grimm"]

Yes. I like NBC's Grimm! I've heard a lot of fairy tale people didn't continue watching the second season because they gave up on the series but I'm so very happy I stuck with it. And here's why: Since Nick "got his Grimm on" (ie gave up being wussy and got a little bad-ass), the show has just gotten better and better. 

Monroe continues with his brilliant deliveries, quotable one-liners and subtle-but-hilarious (and sometimes mute) commentary on whichever scene he's in. Nick's partner, Hank, gets more than an inkling of what he's up against (I can't "un-see that!") and the banter has gotten wittier and makes for some great cops-with-a-difference comedy moments and now slants action scenes very differently to the usual procedurals (yay!). Monroe's almost-girlfriend-and-fellow-Wesen Rosalee holds her own and provides a strong (and much needed) feminine balance to the show, while Nick's girlfriend, Juliette, has a whole other-yet-parallel storyline happening with a modern struggling-and-fighting Sleeping Beauty theme running through this season (don't worry - she's quite awake, she's just juggling worlds in a very unique-to-Juliette way)...

We've gone from a tentative and inconsistent monster-of-the week show to one where the tales, the Grimm and the ensemble balance, have grown in strength and are solidly set on very interesting arcs. In fact we've almost got a Scooby gang now (complete with library, er, I mean spice-shop and Aunt Marie's trailer) and we likes it!*

"But what about the fairy tale element?" I hear you say. Actually I find a quite consistent fairy tale base running through each show. If you catch the on-screen quote at the very beginning of every episode (which are sometimes from less-well-known, some-might-even-say-obscure tales and classics) and keep them in mind while watching, you get a good sense of how the tale and its motifs have been used as a springboard and what scene elements and plot points are important throughout.

I actually find it quite a fairy tale puzzle-challenge at times because unless I've pinned the tale down that the quote came from, I find I miss a lot of the subtleties from aspects like the set dressing, creature design, or seeming throw-away lines, to why they have this scene at all (etc). If I'm thinking "tales" while watching I findGrimm more solidly based on the "olde" tales than anything else out there right now**.

The other thing I noticed is that it's not shying away from using myth and folktale archetypes and/or tales and urban legends either. While it's not like there are Trojan horses and Medusas appearing in the middle of fairy tales (thank goodness), there's definitely a strong tap into world folklore. For me, it blends very well. For others it must feel like it's straying from the fairy tale aspect but it should be noted that NBCs Grimm has, from the start, aimed at the old dark fairy tales and never the shiny, pretty ones. (See ** note at end of post.)

It's not for everyone, for sure. I can't recommend it outright simply because of the genre and occasional gore factor, and it's definitely told through the lens of the police procedural with a good dose of creature-fun, but why not? We haven't seen anything quite like this done as a weekly series, with larger arcs incorporating the dark side of fairy tales - and occasionally myth and urban legends - overall.

I only have one (personal and extremely shallow) gripe about the show and that's this: I can't easily make lots of pretty pics out of screencaps! (Wah! - At least, not without some serious fiddle time.) Unlike ABCs Once Upon A Time, which lends itself really well to fantasy fan art (a couple of screengrabs overlaid with a little quote and you've got yourself a nice little fairy tale image), Grimm just doesn't. It's, well, gritty. And I actually think this might be one of the turn-offs for fairy tale fans. There is very little "fairy tale pretty" in Grimm***Although it's wonderfully shot and there are beautiful stills that can be pulled from every episode, they don't have that "fairy tale feel" that we've come to expect. Even dark fairy tale images have a certain romance in them for us to call them "fairy tale". But that's because they're not setting themselves up as Gothic tales with Poe-like visions or echoes of Pan's Labyrinth as, for instance, a film version of this might do. Instead, it's filmed incredibly well to do the job - and tell the story - it sets out to, which is a dark supernatural procedural using grimm (including Grimm's) fairy tales.

Although Season 2 will also be released on DVD it's the Blu-ray set that will have all the extra features (of course). Five discs and a whole lot of bonus, including:
  • Grimm: Myths, Monsters & Legends: Learn about the ever-expanding mythology of Grimm as producers and cast discuss the richness of the show's storylines, covering this season's terrifying Wesen, the Seven Royal Families, and the mysteries of Aunt Marie's trailer
  • Blu-ray Exclusive - Grimm Guide: An interactive book that provides insight into the various creatures
  • Blu-ray Exclusive - Extended Episode: "Over My Dead Body"
  • Grimm: Creatures and Chaos: Watch as the creatures of Grimm morph and wreak havoc
  • Bad Hair Day Webisodes: A fellow Wesen visits Rosalee's spice shop
  • Monroe's Best Moments: Revisit the quips and quibbles that makes Monroe our favorite Wesen
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Gag Reel 

The only thing is: Season 2 finishes on a doozy of a cliffhanger ("Nooooooo!") and Fall seems like a long way away...
Today's fairy tale bonus: Dark Horse Deluxe (the toy "arm" of Dark Horse Comics) is releasing Grimm collectibles in September.

From the Press Release:Dark Horse Deluxe is launching the "Grimm" line with an assortment of products. The centerpieces of this first wave are sculpted, wearable pin replicas of Nick’s key (see <<<) and one of the coins of Zakynthos.
Nick is bequeathed the key as his dying Aunt Marie introduces him to his destiny as a Grimm, warning him to guard it with his life. The key is revealed to have a map carved on the outside, which is etched into the replica pin’s surface. Two small loops on the key allow the wearer to easily convert it from a pin to a hanging pendant. 
The mysterious, ancient coin of Zakynthos has a long history of bringing a bad end to its possessors, although the Grimms seem strangely immune. While its purpose remains a mystery, various dark forces are seeking it and will kill to attain ownership of it. 
An embossed, heavy-gauge, litho-printed, classic tin lunchbox, a sixteen-ounce pint glass, a deluxe coffee mug, and an embroidered skull-design patch round out the initial range of collectibles. 
Dark Horse will continue to offer more "Grimm" products, including busts, journals, and playing cards, and some very cool lenticular items.  
"The production team has been most accommodating, inviting us to visit the sets, examine the props, and meet with the key design and VFX staffers to help inform our line. This kind of cooperation is rare, and it has ensured a great accuracy down to the smallest details."
Accuracy on the key? So you can ink your own fairy tale map? Tempting... Journal? With all the Wesen illustrations and stories?! Yes please. Lunchbox? Mebbe not.

* I think series incorporating multiple myths and/or tales do best in a true ensemble format (like Buffy). Grimm didn't begin this way but now that it is, a much-needed balance of personalities and energies goes a long way to handling stories (tales) and issues in a way we can enjoy in different ways and have more interest in following over the long term.

**While ABCs "Once Upon A Time" is also based on tales, it's really the more commercial impressions of tales that are the launching pad (or straight up Disney version of tales) rather than the ones that were passed down. Or even ones that were written down! Not that there's anything wrong with that. Grimm just hails from a different sensibility of what fairy tales are and I like it for that. Once has a very different appeal. To compare the shows properly is actually very difficult because they don't come from the same place at all.

***The pretty thing, yes. I must admit I am not a "soap" person so Once Upon A Time gets hard for me to tolerate at times. OK a lot. BUT, apart from feeling like I need to keep up with what's happening to fairy tales in pop-culture, I have to admit to some curiosity as to what it's going to look like: eg What will  Neverland look like? How will this part in Snow's story get staged? What will Sleeping Beauty wear when we (finally get a flashback) and see her pre-sleep phase? etc And then seeing how fans use the images in the coming days and weeks to tell their own versions/impressions of the story is wonderful to me too. That just doesn't happen on Grimm. The Hansel & Gretel episode - though quite amazing in the retelling - didn't have the type of candy house you'd find in a book. It had the sort of bad candy you'd find in life (or a nightmare). While that's brilliant, it's not pretty. OUAT, however, has that fantasy world we cut to every now and then. It's also the sort of fantasy world we read about in books too - it's not all singing furniture and pixie dust, it has a little more of a King Arthur tone that that. Despite the world usually falling short of my imagination via cheesy FX etc, (which I'm dreading for OUATinWonderland) it is fun to see, and occasionally I AM delighted in something (eg the Darling family & Shadow Man business was quite wonderful) so, despite the previous episode thoroughly frustrating me, I watch the next one. Because the OUAT writers and directors follow much of the pop-culture/Disney ideas of what the popular fairy tales should have (eg. you knew Snow White was going to come across a bad apple at some point!), I know there's a good chance that an expected moment might, in fact  be "magic". But I have to admit, I'm usually multitasking and need to rewind when that happens... 

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