Shows Worth Watching: Grimm

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This month’s Shows Worth Watching is all about NBC’s Grimm.  The very basic premise of Grimm is it’s a cop show with a slight twist to it.  The twist being that Nick Burkhardt, a Portland homicide detective, is what is known as a Grimm – a line of hunters who fight supernatural forces and beings.  Inspiration for the series is mainly taken from the Grimm Brothers Fairy Tales, a collection of stories from the early 1800’s that, during that time, were fairly scary children’s stories (Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, & Cinderella are some of the more popular Grimm stories).

Nick discovers he’s a Grimm after his aunt comes to visit him because she is dying.  She ends up dying while fighting a Wesen – the group of humans who have a second identity that only Grimm’s can see at all times, or Wesen can choose to let a human see it’s “creature” form – and that causes Nick’s Grimmness to rise to the surface (being a Grimm is a family trait and usually passes on when a family member dies).  The first episode featured a Wesen known as a Blutbot (played by Silas Weir Mitchell and known as Monroe) whom Nick befriends.  This is odd due to Grimm’s usually killing Wesen whenever they can.  The balance of Nick being a detective vs. being a Grimm plays a big part in this series and allows Nick to become friends with several Wesen.

What makes this show enjoyable is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.  The writers are self-aware that the concept of this show can come off as ridiculous. Viewers see the writers self-awareness via the humor that appears in the show or some of the dialog of the cast.  Another good aspect of Grimm is keeping good characters around.  The character of Monroe is a key point to this.  Being featured in the first episode, making him and Nick become friends, having Monroe be in on investigations, and the overall character development of Monroe were all integral to making this show fun.  Monroe has been fleshed out a lot more over the past seasons and expanding on his story-line adds to the show. The writers do a good job of being able to balance between creature of the week and ongoing plot lines as well.  In a lot of shows, a “… of the week” aspect can get played out and take over a series.  With Grimm, the creature of the week tends to be a fun episode that reminds the viewer Nick is a detective.  The show has used small aspects of the “… of the week” feature in the ongoing plots here and there, tying things together in a not too complicated way.

One thing that has been a slight take away from Grimm is Nick’s girlfriend Juliette.  Juliette is a vet and it first seemed the writers would find a way to work this into Nick’s Wesen world.  Turned out that they didn’t quite know what to do with her.  Juliette more often ended up being a damsel in distress or a convenient plot device, which weakened her character.  However, the current fourth season really turned things around and has given Juliette a much more purposeful story.  I’m not the biggest fan of her current development, but at least she finally got something substantial.  Another thing that seems to get a little complicated is the back-story of the Royals – Wesens who are members of the seven royal families who keep the Wesen world in line.  The mythology of this gets a bit convoluted, making it hard to determine who is who and what side they really are on.  Sometimes it feels as if the mythology of Grimm isn’t known to even the writers.

Grimm will be on its fifth season next year and the most surprising thing about that is it has kept its original cast in tact.  Nick’s partner, Hank, has been a consistent presence since the first episode and has been given his own story-lines rather than be known as “the partner.”  Monroe has been a shining aspect of the show and if he ever left, the show would be seriously hindered.  The show has even managed to add to the cast and provide them with fairly integral roles, with the occasional misses here and there.

Overall Grimm is a fun show to watch and has improved with each season.  The current fourth season being the best so far. This show airs on Friday nights, which for some programs is the death-blow.  However, the Friday night slot works in Grimm’s favor.  It’s nice to be able to tune into a program on a Friday night that seems simplistic on the surface, but really gives the viewers what they want – good old enjoyment.  I highly recommend catching an episode of Grimm.  It’s fun and enjoyable and something to look forward to on Friday nights.

Cat Out of Hell by Lynne Truss

wpid-wp-1431056961545.jpgAlec has recently lost his wife and heads to a coastal village in North Norfolk with his lovable dog Watson looking for some peace from his loss.  Grieving and the-mad-reviewer-reading-challenge-2015yearning for some mental stimulation, Alec reads through some files on his laptop.  He finds a folder sent by a former colleague. One folder titled “Roger,” contains a story told by a man name Wiggy.  Roger, it turns out, is talking cat.  One that’s been alive for a long, long time.  Roger holds many secrets – what cats used to be like, that cats do in fact have nine lives, and he just may know what happened to Alec’s wife.  Roger’s tale is linked with another cat – this one named the Captain – who seems to be the most wicked cat alive.  Alec gets caught up in Roger’s tale and it leads to the most surprising of conclusions.

Cat Out of Hell, by Lynne Truss, was a fun, slightly disturbing, fast read.  Alec’s almost frantic search to find what led up to his wife’s death is tinged with his painful sense of loneliness and sorrow.  The story flips from Wiggy’s tale to Alec’s experiences to Roger’s tale and then eventually melds the three to a mildly frightful conclusion.  Revealing too much would spoil the whole book, but the reader does wonder if Roger himself is as bad as the Captain or is he actually a cat with good intentions.

This was a fairly short book – 256 pages – and kept my interest even though it raced though some situations and details.  There’s an interesting “Notes from the author” at the end of the book that sheds some light into Truss’ inspiration for this book and well worth taking the few minutes to read through.  If you are looking for a fun yet creepy read, this book is for you.  It’ll certainly give you a whole new outlook on cats.

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

wpid-wp-1430695292813.jpgThe Binewski’s are a self-made freak show of a traveling carnival.  Arturo, the water boy, has flippers rather than arms and lthe-mad-reviewer-reading-challenge-2015egs, Iphy and Elly, the signing Siamese twins, who tend towards brutal battles between themselves, Oly, the disappointing albino hunchback, and Chick, who looks completely normal but has a gift that could make or break the family.  Al inherited the carnival from his father and when times started changing resulting in sparse attendance, Al decided he and his wife “Crystal” Lil would start their own self-contained freak show.  Lil, while pregnant (and while not) took drugs and radioactive material to purposely alter the appearance of their children.  The results were more than they could hope for and allowed the carnival to become popular once again.  Al and Lil sound like the worst kind of parents – willingly altering their children’s appearance in order to keep the show on the road.  Even though Al and Lil did horrible things to bring forth such children, Al and Lil love and care for their kids.  However, the desire for the most freakish of appearances causes internal strife with the offspring, Arturo being the worst of the bunch.

Geek Love, by Katherine Dunn, is a whole different take on family values and one’s perception of “normal.”  Narrated/told by Oly, Geek Love reveals how the family sees their altered appearances as normal and desirable, and sees those not like them as the freaks of the world – referred to as “norms” with scathing derision. Oly tells of her love for Arturo and how that is never enough for him. How Arturo’s desire to be the most popular attraction whittles away at the family’s unity and leads to competition.  Arturo starts a most bizarre cult of followers, who desire to be limbless devotees and worshipers. Arturo’s self-serving ways are most identifiable when Chick comes into the world and Arturo’s need to be the top dog drives the family to places they can never come back from.

The book flips from past to present, with Oly trying to hide her true identity from her daughter Miranda, whose only freakish feature is a tail she keeps hidden unless she is performing.  I found myself hoping that Oly would let Miranda know she was her mother.  Oly is a character the reader can relate to – she wants the love and affection of her family.  Her wholesome acceptance of  her appearance is an inspiration to everyone – what is seen as weird and ugly is all within the eye of the beholder, as well as the confidence that comes with it.

Geek Love will leave the reader with a new sense of what is acceptable, both in terms of appearance and in terms of what the love of a family means to someone.  Some scenes are brutally descriptive and hard to read, but all well worth the read.

The Room by Jonas Karlsson

wpid-wp-1430695210720.jpgBjorn just started a new position at his government office.  The downside to the new position is the open-work space the-mad-reviewer-reading-challenge-2015. Bjorn finds the set-up odd but he quickly settles into a routine.  Bjorn works for 55 minutes then gets up and walks around, uses the restroom, scopes out his co-workers, etc.  One day Bjorn notices a room not far from the restroom. Why doesn’t anyone else see this room and why isn’t anyone using it, Bjorn wonders.  At first he passes by the room each day with barely a thought.  Then Bjorn starts to go into the room each day and he couldn’t be happier.  Bjorn’s co-workers think he’s gone crazy.  Each day the see him go stand by the wall, completely motionless, oblivious to any noise, sound, or conversation occurring around him.  His co-workers try to get him fired for being off-balance and incompetent.  Little do they know, Bjorn will find a way to make them seem like the incompetent ones.

The Room by Jonas Karlsson starts off as a humorous book, with Bjorn’s interactions taking on a slight feel of The Office.  After sometime it’s hard to determine, does the room really exist or is Bjorn as crazy as he seems.  It appears the struggle to fit into today’s vision of what makes a productive office vs. what works for the individual is the key to making a successful employee.  The Room also takes on a bit of a more somber tone midway through.  Is Bjorn meant to be a solitary person and is that the key to his success?  It’s up to the reader to decide.

The Room is a short, quick read that left me with a sense of sadness as well as thoughts to not judge others for their own idiosyncrasies. Does the room actually exist or did Bjorn make it up to give him a feeling of superiority over others. You’ll have to read for yourself to make that determination.