Hello and welcome back to pilot watch, where I watch the new shows that have just premiered this Fall season and report back to you. I know I promised you all that I would review Once Upon A Time this coming weekend but since the pilot for the show has been released on the web by ABC, I can actually post this earlier than expected. So yeay for that. I love this whole early release on the web/iTunes strategy. Makes my job a whole lot easier. 🙂
Okay, this week instead of just reviewing Once Upon A Time as promised, I figured I’d throw in a bonus and review another new show that’s about to premiere, Grimm on NBC since the pilot has also hit the web a week earlier than the scheduled premiere date. With Once Upon A Time and Grimm, ABC and NBC both try to take on the fairy tale/supernatural genre. I don’t know what it is about these two networks lately. They both tried to cash in on Mad Men 60s revival with Pan Am and The Playboy Club (and failed – The Playboy Club was canceled after three episodes and Pan Am’s ratings continue to decline after the premiere episode that I don’t think the show is long for this world. A shame though because unlike Playboy Club, I actually like it), and now they both are trying to take on the same fairy tale genre. Will both shows succeed, or will one or both die a quick death? Only time will tell. For now I can only tell you what I think of both shows. Which do I think deserve to succeed and which do I think needs to die quickly? Read on and find out!
1/ Once Upon A Time, airs on ABC, Sundays, 8/7c.
When I was contemplating on which show of this fairytale genre to put in the Ten New Shows To Watch This Fall, I picked ABC’s Once Upon A Time over Grimm simply because I did not hear good things about Grimm from the Upfronts in May. Journalists and TV reviewers that got the chance to watch both pilots seem to choose this show over Grimm even though they didn’t exactly give either great reviews. Let’s just say, Once Upon A Time was supposedly the lesser of two evils, and that’s why I chose this one to put in the list. And boy was I wrong about that.
Don’t get me wrong, Grimm isn’t exactly groundbreaking television either nor is it particularly good (more on that later) but Once Upon A Time made me groan and roll my eyes so much that my sister thought I was having a seizure. In all fairness maybe I am the wrong person to review this particular show because I was never big on fairy tales to begin with. My parents didn’t teach me to believe in fairy tales growing up, and so even though I knew all about Cinderella, Snow White and the citizens of the Enchanted Forest or whatever, I wasn’t particularly sold on the idea. And it could just be that I don’t like this show because I think fairy tales are stupid, but I’ve watched enough television to be able to make this assessment: it’s just not good. You’ve got Snow White with atrocious hair, Prince Charming who looks like Chris Martin from Coldplay, Jennifer Morrison trying to act like a tough chick but doesn’t quite cut it, a creepy precocious 10-year-old that used to be Bobby Draper, and a flimsy premise that I’m sure sounded awesome during the pitch but totally lame in execution. Fairytale characters being cursed to live in our world, our reality where “there is no happy endings” – sounds good in a pitch right? Totally pathetic in execution. Snow White ends up as a third grade teacher. Ookay. Prince Charming’s in a coma. Dunno where the seven dwarfs are but Rumpelstiltskin gets to run an inn and the Evil Queen gets to be a mayor of a sleepy, forgotten small town of Storybrook, Maine. Now if you were an Evil Queen and you cursed everyone you’ve ever known to live in a world where only you can get a happy ending, why would you settle being a mayor in a sleepy small town in Maine? Couldn’t she dream bigger, if not White House, at least the mayor of NYC?
Like I said, maybe I’m unfairly judging this show because I think fairy tales in general are laughable, sexist and some of them are kind of racist, but Once Upon A Time is not worth your DVR space, especially when there’s great shows on cable (Homeland! The Walking Dead! Dexter! Boardwalk Empire!) on Sunday night. How bout waiting till 10 and tune in to Pan Am instead, it’s such a fun show and I kind of want it to last. 😉
Verdict: Not Worth Your Time.
2/ Grimm, airs on NBC, Fridays, at 9/8c.
Like I’ve mentioned above, when the pilot for this show was first screened during the May Upfronts, I did not hear good things about it. In fact, journalists seemed to be so turned off by it that I decided to choose Once Upon A Time to be the fairytale show worth mentioning in my Ten New Shows To Watch This Fall list. And yes, now I admit it. I was wrong. So so wrong. Mostly because of how much I disliked Once Upon A Time, but also because the pilot for Grimm is actually, all things considered, not that bad.
No, it’s not great, and no it’s not even that good. There were a few moments that – just like Once Upon A Time – made me roll my eyes and mutter, “Oh come on. Really?” at the TV. But when it comes to actual storytelling, Grimm does not frustrate me as much as Once Upon A Time. Maybe because we all know that the Grimm Brothers’ “fairy tales” were all pretty dark, so the concept of this show was easy to accept (almost all Grimm Brothers’ stories have a “serial killer-y” quality to it and some are downright disturbing), and maybe because they try to balance the supernatural nature of the show with some good ol’ police procedural, but despite the plot holes and the blatant disregard to “real police work”, it was pretty enjoyable. It reminds me of Warehouse 13 a little bit, with less humor. It’s Supernatural meets Law and Order: SVU – again, with less humor. And considering how low my expectation was, I was actually pleasantly surprised.
Again, Grimm is not groundbreaking television and it’s not the right companion for fun, sexy, hilarious and nerd-tastic Chuck but I think if the writers are careful, it has the potential to be a pretty enjoyable Friday night show. Sure, out of the two shows I’ve reviewed in this post, I have a feeling this one will die quicker, mostly because I don’t think the network even has that much faith in it (scheduling it for Friday night aka Programming Siberia pretty much shows how little faith NBC has for this show) but if you can only watch one fairytale shows, I actually think this one is the lesser of two evils. And it’s not just because David Giuntoli, the lead character, kind of has that Gale Harold circa Queer As Folk quality about him.
Verdict: Not For Everyone, But If This Sort of Thing Interests You, Give It A Watch.
And there you have it, my reviews of the pilots I’ve seen in the past week, and my last “Pilot Watch” post. My work here in done, friends, now it’s your turn to decide which ones you want to commit to. In the coming weeks I will be posting my Fall 2011 TV Report Card, where I’ll be giving you my thoughts on how Fall TV is doing so far. I’ll also be posting my Ten Hottest Men of Fall list, so keep a lookout for that. You know you want to. 😉
Until then, I shall bid you adieu! Till next time!