Popular culture is dominated by changing fashions. Boy wizards were all the rage once, only to be supplanted by charismatic (or wimpy, depending on your viewpoint) vampires and their surprisingly one-dimensioned heroines. Thankfully with the last Twilight film out and most of its imitators not quite finding such a big fan base, this phenomenon is fading. Good riddance. With the exception of True Blood, the vamps were so bloodless that the only threat they posed was to destroying your intelligence of you had prolonged contact with.

If the past 12 months are anything to go by, one of the biggest new TV/film/book trend is retelling fairy stories, second only to whip-cracking, handcuffed sex (which ironically came about from Twilight fan fiction). Snow White and The Huntsman and the TV series Once Upon A Time are two prime examples, the novels of Gregory Maguire another. These are all rather literal reinterpretations of the tales- back stories of how the baddies became bad and how the goodies are less pure. The common message, particularly in Once Upon A Time is that both heroes and villains start out by facing a tragedy; the difference is the means and motives for overcoming it.

Grimm is different though. For those not aware of the show, it concerns an American cop (Nick Burkhardt) who discovers he is a ‘Grimm’. This basically means he can see ‘Wessun’, or demons masquerading as humans. Not all are bad, but many are. All seem to be connected to a member of the animal kingdom in appearance and behavioural traits- the vole-like ones are timid and flee more threatening Wessun, fox-based ones are cunning and of dubious business morals. It does make you wonder how they all came about; did Noah’s Ark turn into some kind of bestial sex ship? It does seem like one of those things the Christian Churches are trying to hide in a catacomb in the Vatican.

The big difference with Grimm is the lack of moral ambiguity. The villains aren’t really given a motive for their crimes, or at least very few are. They are not bad because something happened and they chose the wrong path. They are bad because they just are. The ones who could be wicked but have chosen not to be, for instance Monroe the Blutbad (wolf) and Rosalie the Fuchsbau (fox) have to constantly work at not being bad. If bells are ringing with a certain 90’s vampire show, then you are right. Grimm shares many of the same writers with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where vamps like Angel and Spike (who, for the record, have more charisma to them than a billion Edward Cullen’s) helped the eponymous heroine. Other vampires were just evil. Plain and simple.

With this pedigree, it is easy to see why Grimm works. Throw in a few long running plotlines to bolster the individual cases and you have a strong crime/fantasy hybrid. Some narrative arcs are more interesting than others. For starters, I do wonder how much longer we are going to suffer Nick’s girlfriend Juliette and her memory loss. And how much longer do we have to wait for his sociopath of a mother to return? Thankfully, the mystery surrounding ‘The Royalty’ and their, so far, pretty useless assassins keep the pace up. The fact this organisation is run by a mixture of French, German and British aristocrats (or at least Americans trying to do those accents) suggests America hasn’t quite got over its colonised past.

Is Grimm the height of cerebral endeavour? No. It is a silly escapist fantasy. But it’s one with a bit of weight behind it. Once Upon A Time is a mere amuse-bouche to the bloody steak of Grimm. If the show can trim the fat a little, it could enjoy the same cult status as is reserved for Buffy and Angel. Now that would be one hell of bar to try to match.

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