Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Once Upon A Time [there was a man known as] Grimm.

As far as fairytales go, these two shows certainly steer away from the norm.

Once Upon A Time

I was initially drawn to the pilot episode of Once Upon A Time purely based on the fact that Ginnifer Goodwin stars in it (I figure anything with her is bound to be good). So I took the time and sat down to watch this intriguing looking show and was quickly entranced. Once Upon A Time follows the journey of Snow White, her Prince, the Evil Queen and a host of other fairytale characters after Snow White and the Prince get married and are threatened to lose everything they hold dear by the Evil Queen. It's your typical story (I was reminded of Disney's Enchanted) until it flips to present day and you meet Emma Swan: an unhappy bail bondsman and bounty hunter (though seriously sexy in a hot pink dress). As it turns out, Emma is Snow White & Prince Charming's daughter, and 'present day' is set 28 years after the Evil Queen places her curse on the kingdom. The curse is such that all the fairytale characters are trapped in 'our world' (a place with no happy endings) in a town called Storybrooke where time stands still and none of the characters can remember who they are or how they got here.

Here's a quick rundown of the key characters and why I love them so far:

  • Ginnifer Goodwin plays two characters, the first being our classic Snow White and the second being Mary Margaret Blanchard, a kindly, gentle school teacher who albeit seems (understandably) lost. I love her portrayal of the teacher more than her version of Snow White, because it falls more into what Ginnifer is good at (the type of character she normally plays). Plus, it's difficult to watch anyone play a cartoon character and not think it's just a tiny bit cheesy.
  • Joshua Dallas is Prince Charming and John Doe, named so because he was hurt in his own world by the Evil Queen's guards and left in a coma in our world. I adore Josh; there is very little I can say that's bad about him. When he cradled baby Emma I felt a little whoosh of admiration move through my body. He's adorable. Anyway, he plays Prince Charming rather well, and is especially convincing as he tells his wife to hide out in the special wardrobe to protect her and her child (sadly that backfired for Snow White, but still saved Emma). However as John Doe in a coma there's not much he can do in our world. It'll be interesting to see more of him in the weeks to come.
  • Jennifer Morrison plays Emma Swan, and is the 'ultimate key' to breaking the curse on the Enchanted Forest and its inhabitants. She is approached by the son she gave up (Henry) and told about a book detailing the stories of each fairytale character and her role in saving them. Hesitant to believe him at first, it takes a few meaningful moments between the two before she decides to give Henry what he asked for - to stay a week in Storybrooke with him.
  • Speaking of Henry, Jared Gilmore plays this character and he does a fantastic job of it. I always admire child stars, but Jared (I have a feeling) is going to be a superstar. I loved him in Mad Men, loved him in The Back-up Plan (YES I actually remember him from that) and I already love him in this. I think if I ever gave a kid up for adoption and he decided to track me down - I'd want him to be like Henry. He's so bold, but obviously holds a lot of secrets close to his chest. And we find out that he's kind of a loner; and his foster mum is actually Evil Queen who apparently KNOWS who she is and isn't too happy to see him bonding with Emma.
  • Lana Parrilla is the Evil Queen herself, and alias foster mum and Storybrooke's mayor Regina Mills. She is dark and beautiful as the Evil Queen, but just as icy and sexy as Henry's adoptive mother. I did wonder whether she would know who everyone in the town is meant to be; and then her dangerous glare into the mirror while she clutched the story book confirmed it. Lana is impressive, to say the least. I look forward to seeing more layers of her character.
  • The final character I absolutely HAVE to mention is Rumpelstiltskin/Mr Gold, played byRobert Carlyle. As if Robert himself wasn't fantastic, the characters of Rumpelstiltskin and Mr Gold are equally great. We haven't seen much of Mr Gold yet, the prospective 'owner' of the entire town of Storybrooke, but it looks like he might be in on the Evil Queen's plan more than first thought. But as Rumpelstiltskin - wow. Carlyle delivers a downright scary performance as the evil character who knows the future and demands to find out Emma's name from Snow White at the beginning. He fits the character perfectly; and why shouldn't he? After the other movies we have seen him in. Can't wait to see more.

I think at this stage this show could go either way. There has only been the pilot, so I don't want to jump to any conclusions, but if it keeps the same zeal and intrigue as this week's episode I think it will do well. The characters are interesting at best, but there are elements of their personalities I look forward to being shown more of. Hidden layers of mystery reside in Storybrooke and in the Enchanted Forest, and only time will tell how much of an influence the past and present have had on each other.


Now to talk about NBC's new show Grimm! Another fabulous-looking fantasy show, Grimm takes us on a journey of crime and horror, coupled with a Supernatural-like need to "destroy evil". Set in Portland, it follows homicide detective Nick Burkhardt who is unaware he is descended from a long line of hunters (this is where the Supernatural side of things comes in) known as 'Grimms'. These hunters can see evil creatures somehow in flickers of their vulnerability, and this lets them know who is human and who is not. Nick is approached by his [aunt?] Marie and told that staying with his girlfriend Juliette is a bad idea because he's about to go all mojo on monsters in the town (as she is dying and the task will pass on to him). Now granted I am a HUGE fantasy fan, so I was already hooked at the sight of evil monsters and any amount of mysterious crimes going on, but the actors in Grimm are appealing at best and wondrous at worst - so I'd definitely recommend checking out the first episode.

The cast:

  • David Guintoli plays the homicide detective and future Grimm-hunter Nick Burckhardt. I haven't seen him in many shows before, but (at least in looks) he reminds me of Zachary Quinto so I liked him immediately. Nick is as dumbfounded as you would be, being told by a woman you lived with when you were younger that "your parents didn't crash, they were killed" and "there's so much you don't know about our family". In Secret Circle-esque style, Nick is forced to find out about his family through whatever means possible - including a monster known as 'Eddie'. He does well though, considering the circumstances!
  • Silas Weir Mitchell plays Eddie Monroe, a reformed monster who has decided he doesn't kill people anymore. I love Mitchell because he was Charles in Prison Break (a show that had so much potential for more) and in Grimm he doesn't disappoint either. He does 'trippy' better than anyone I know. Eddie assists Nick with seeking out another monster who had captured a little girl and had been killing people in Hansel and Gretal fashion (played by Tim Bagley). I think it'll be fun to see how much of a part Eddie plays in helping Nick discover his destiny as a hunter.
  • Kate Burton plays Marie, Nick's [aunt] (I'm going to use Aunt tentatively because I can't quite remember) and former Grimm hunter. She is sick enough to the point that her 'abilities' are passing onto Nick, and she has the mother-load of all weapons in her trailer, along with a mysterious necklace she passes onto Nick and tells him to guard with his life. The necklace turns into some kind of key; but to open what, we are yet to find out. Burton is a star in all respects; I know her best from Grey's Anatomy and I do hope she survives long enough to give us more of a glimpse of her fantastic acting skills.
  • Other characters include Juliette Silverton, played by Bitsie Tulloch and Hank Griffin, played by Russell Hornsby. Juliette is Nick's soon-to-be fiance, and a bit of a background character at the moment I feel. Perhaps we will see more of her in future episodes, but I am not sure her character will develop as much as we might like. However, I will accept it if I am wrong! Hank Griffin, on the other hand, is Nick's partner and has a much more prominent role in the show thus far. He helped Nick rescue the little girl at the end and I wouldn't be surprised if Nick decided to confide in him. He plays your typical 'cop' but there is definite potential for more character growth.
  • And lastly I will mention Captain Renard, portrayed by Sasha Roiz and Sergent Wu, played by Reggie Lee. Captain Renard we find out is actually a monster of some kind, and is planning to kill Marie at the most opportune moment. He is in an ideal position to 'keep an eye on things' while enacting his master plan (what that is, I am sure we will find out). Sergent Wu is a background character at this stage as well, but Lee is one of my favourite actors so I hope he becomes a more integral part of this show.

Overall I am enjoying Grimm so far (all one episode of it!) because it has an intensity that leaves you a little breathless and hanging out for more. What I love about these two shows is that they challenge the traditional notion (or should I say, the Disney version) of what a 'fairytale' should be. I was never much of a Brothers Grimm fan (Supernatural was the only show that even remotely captured my interest in that story) but this version of the Grimm tale is by far the most interesting I have come across. I truly enjoy a good scare, and Tim Bagley delivers an extra nice touch as the evil postman. More please :)

And there you have it folks. Make of it what you will, but I definitely recommend watching the pilots of these two shows when you have a chance. Grimm airs on NBC Channel on Fridays (or you can stream it online if you don't live where it airs!) and ABC's Once Upon A Time airs on Sundays on ABC Channel. Watch them now :)

For those of you who have seem them - what did you think? Do you agree with my thoughts? Are you liking them so far? Sound off in the comments or tweet me: @jayneymoo I'd love to hear from you!

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