I’ve been a faithful follower of both ABC’s Once Upon a Time and NBC’s Grimm for the last few weeks as both kicked off their first season. Each appeals to me, albeit for different reasons. With that said, it would be hard to choose which show is the better of the two – “Who’s the Fairest One of All,” so to speak.
Grimm is dark, mysterious, and smart, hiding little treasures for a viewer quick enough to see them. Nick Burckhardt has just discovered he is a descendent of the Brothers Grimm, and that the fairy tales they collected and put on paper were actually true tales of the evil forces at work in the world. As a Grimm, it is up to Burckhardt to find these creatures and destroy them – before they get to him first, that is. Conveniently, he is a cop by profession, and each episode finds him solving a case that involves a modern day revision of some classic fairy tale.
The antagonists in the show are known by different names, but be sure not to quickly dismiss those titles after they are hastily spouted out. The first episode features descendents of the “Big Bad Wolf.” Burckhardt actually befriends one who is “nonpracticing,” and discovers that he calls himself a Blutbad. There’s some intelligent humor here as Nick mistakenly mentions Blutbads, and is quickly told that in plural form they are, in fact, Blutbaden. The next episode alluded to “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” Descendants of the bears are referenced as being Jägerbars. Interestingly enough though, the plural of Jägerbar would actually be Jägerbaren…here the creators of the show slipped on their research.
In fact, I took a bit of time to research the German translation of these words, and discovered that Blutbad means “blood bathing,” which actually fits well with the idea of the wolves’ attraction to red and their violent tendencies. But Jägerbar doesn’t seem to be a word at all, and I wonder if it was completely fabricated for the show’s sake. Any information on this would be appreciated!
Once Upon a Time, as I have already discussed in an earlier post, is something not to be missed. While it also has its dark elements, this show’s characters aren’t quite as “grim”…at least in regards to physical appearance. While Grimm’s cases are solved in each episode, with only the larger plot left to be discovered as the season progresses, Once is more of a mystery. In fact, after the first episode I wasn’t sure exactly where the show would be going. Three shows later, I’m starting to get a clear understanding, and am liking the twists and turns the creators are taking.
In comparison with Grimm, Once definitely plays more with the storyline of each character, putting its own spin on things. Snow White is seen as a bit more worldly than Disney portrays her – just this past week she robbed from the prince and had dealings with a motley group of Trolls. And while there are many who have not liked this aspect, there are also those who have been intrigued by the liberties the producers have taken with the classic stories and their characters.
For example, one of the boldest moves the creators have made is to make the fairy tales connect with one another. It seems that in the past, when these characters were still living in their “land of far away,” each story was intertwined. For example, Cinderella may have been friends with Snow White, and perhaps both girls’ princes knew each other, as well. It will be interesting to see how the show plays out the Cinderella story – previews have shown her making a deal with Rumpelstiltskin regarding her unborn child. My only fear regarding Once is that they may make it more “fairy” than some can deal with.
Here is where the two shows will find their different audiences. I do not think I’m wrong in assuming that I find myself in the minority of those who truly love both shows. Grimm appeals to the diehard Buffy fan within me; Once Upon a Time pulls at my Disney-loving heartstrings. I may be taking liberties myself in assuming that Grimm will find men watching as well as women, whereas Once may have more of a female audience. Either way, it is the folklore enthusiast that will find some interest in both.
So, Who’s the Fairest One of All? It may be in the eye of the beholder, after all.