Once upon a time, there was a TV drama based on the notion that all those often-terrifying fairy tales we heard as children were actually true.
No, wait -- make that TWICE upon a time.
Just five days after ABC's fantasy-fuelled newcomer, Once Upon a Time, premièred to favourable reviews and satisfyingly healthy ratings, NBC follows suit with another rookie show in which the real world and the realm of the storybook make-believe collide.
Grimm, which might also describe this one's chances of survival, premières Friday at 7 p.m. on CTV and 8 p.m. on NBC. Unlike ABC's OUAT, which is essentially a family-driven soap disguised as a fantasy thriller, Grimm is basically a cop show dressed up as a fairy-tale crossover.
At the centre of the story is Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), a Portland-based homicide detective whose casework takes an unexpected turn when he suddenly starts seeing strange and terrifying things. One day, the folks he passes on the street are just citizens mixed with the occasional suspect or fugitive; the next day, many of those faces suddenly transform into grotesque, ghoulish masks when his eyes meet theirs.
He tries to ignore what he's seeing and focus on the case he's been assigned -- the gruesome murder of a young woman attacked while jogging -- but it seems like everywhere he looks, he sees another monstrous temporary transformation.
It's also worth noting, just so you know where we're headed, that the murder victim in question was wearing a red hoodie while running through the forest, and the evidence suggests some kind of carnivorous animal may have been involved.
Thing become clearer, and more complicated, for Nick when he arrives home after his shift to find his ailing Aunt Marie (Kate Burton) -- who raised him after his parents' mysterious death when he was a teenager -- has arrived in Portland and has something she must tell him before she dies: "There are things you don't know about your family."
Before she can fully explain, however, she's attacked outside Nick's home by a ferocious half-human creature; she survives the assault, but is badly injured. As she drifts in and out of consciousness, she takes Nick's hand and summons her strength to tell him what he's seeing is real:
"This is no fairy tale. The stories are real. What they wrote about really happened. You are one of the last Grimms."
Yes, the guys who wrote the darkest collection of childhood yarns are Nick's direct ancestors, and they weren't fantasy authors, they were chroniclers and battlers of Earth's evil doings.
And now, it's Nick's time to join the fight.
Fortunately, Aunt Marie has provided Nick with a trailer full of books and scrolls and weapons he can use as he figures out what just exactly what kind of battle he's in. His first opportunity comes the next day on his cop job, actually, when a young girl -- yes, wearing a red hoodie -- disappears while walking near the forest on the way to her grandpa's house.
Could it be that the child abductor is also the Big Bad Wolf responsible for the previous day's murder?
Thanks to his newfound skills as a discerner of dark presences, Nick might be just the guy to solve this one.
As a cop-show mutation, Grimm is necessarily a much murkier spin on the fairy-tale theme than Once Upon a Time. It's also less ambitious, at least in its première, in its employment of those fantasy elements for storyline purposes, aiming mostly at wolves and demons and such, and leaving on the shelf most of the familiar bedtime characters embraced by OUAT.
As a result, Grimm feels more limited and much more run-of-the-mill. That, and the fact it's scheduled on the worst audience-building night of the week, could mean that this new arrival's prospects aren't much more than its title suggests.