City reaps a Grimm benefit
- Jason Vondersmith
- Portland Tribune - Features
Filmed-in-Portland cop/monster thriller tosses in a few fairy tale twists
In 'Grimm,' which debuts at 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28 on NBC, Portland is a city where beasts hide behind human masks, and where it's dark and dank and scary.
Really, it's a compliment to our fair city. The show comes off as pretty cool, with all the greenery and scenery that Portland has to offer setting the stage for the unique combination of fairy tale and police procedural show.
Writers David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf wrote Portland into the script as the seventh series regular. It also helped that the show got state tax incentives to film in Portland, which started with a pilot in March. Organizers never looked anywhere else to do the show.
'NBC was all over it,' says Kouf, who previously worked on 'Angel.'
Says Greenwalt, who wrote 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer': 'The show is like nothing else on television.'
Indeed, while the police procedural part comes across as theatrical, the combination of crime thriller and fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm stories seems to work.
In the Oct. 28 season premiere, the story sets up, as main character Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) discovers that he can see beasts in people as a descendent of the 'Grimms,' which comes in handy with his work as a police detective for the Portland Police Bureau.
'You are one of the last Grimms,' his dying Aunt Marie tells him.
The 'Big Bad Wolf' of 'Little Red Riding Hood' fame is the bad guy, and Burkhardt is able to track him down, while his colleagues - none of whom know of his supernatural powers - marvel at his work.
Silas Weir Mitchell plays 'Monroe,' his cohort who's also part of the wolf-like lineage that had been vulgarized by the Grimms. But, as he says in the premiere, 'I am done with the bad thing.'
Russell Hornsby plays 'Hank,' Nick's partner; Reggie Lee plays 'Sgt. Wu,' a police officer; Bitsie Tulloch plays girlfriend 'Juliette'; Sasha Roiz plays the police captain.
Giuntoli plays the detective who discovers his Grimm lineage, and his work as the straight guy to the oft-humorous Weir Mitchell, Hornsby and Lee makes for a nice contrast in an otherwise legitimately scary show.
'We're a Friday night show, a genre show,' says Giuntoli, who starred on MTV reality shows. 'What better thing to do on a Friday night than to get really horrified and jump out of your seat? What I love about this show is it's the kind of show where you really do jump in your chair. That's rare.
'I think it's brave, and NBC's let us be brave about getting darker and darker, scarier and scarier.'
Weir Mitchell, who played in 'Prison Break,' does display some real comedic delivery.
'I have to be reined in. He's awesome,' Giuntoli adds. 'Silas and I have gained a nice relationship on- and off-camera. He is the guy he is on-camera. He could morph into a wolf in a bar with me, and I'd be like, 'OK, that makes sense.' … His personality comes through on the screen.'
Weir Mitchell's take on the cop drama/fairy tale combination: 'It's not about two worlds. It's about a psychological, mythological police thriller. The mythology is where I find the good stuff, actor-wise. The psyche contained within all this murk. For the sake of narrative, you make it real.'
Of the humor, Lee says: 'It has to be grounded humor and not crazy humor. It's a dark show, and sarcasm and dryness comes from myself, Silas and 'Hank.' It's well done.'
Giuntoli says the cop drama aspect of it doesn't need to come off as realistic.
'We don't want people to keep score,' he says. 'It's a TV show, and we're here for entertainment. We're not trying to make 'The Wire.' That said, we have a technical adviser now on set with us. You have to straddle between theatrical and as real as you can be.'
Says Hornsby: 'This is a nice little twist on the police drama. It's fracturing the fairy tales.'
Finding an audience
Kouf says the Brothers Grimm 'were the first profilers,' with Greenwalt adding, 'What if their stories were true and what if they were criminal profilers and what would it mean to their descendants?'
That was the makings of the show, with a modern twist.
The show is a collaboration between Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner and Greenwalt and Kouf. Hayes' and Milliner's Hazy Mills is producer of the show, and they use some local film crews. Multnomah Falls, Sandy, Beaverton, Portland parks and downtown and neighborhoods and the waterfront and other locations have been used.
The crew has shot about nine episodes of 'Grimm,' with four to go. Audiences will determine how long the show lasts; if it's picked up for the entire season, the crew and talent will return in January to film the second half of the season.
As Greenwalt points out, 9 p.m. Fridays is the former time slot for the 'X Files.' That show worked out well.
Future episodes will involve the 'Pied Piper' and 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears,' as well as the 'Three Little Pigs' as greedy politicians.
'We've had such a good time,' Greenwalt says. 'It's fresh and different enough to garner an audience.'