I talked about both of these shows briefly in a post last year, but now that I've been watching a while I've formed some more concrete opinions. When Grimm and Once Upon A Time started late last year, it was the former I was more interested in. Described as a gritty police drama incorporating fairy tales, it sounded original and intriguing. The pilot was a bit clunky, but most pilots are, and it set up an interesting enough premise to keep me watching. I had zero interest in Once Upon A Time - to me it seemed like the kind of show that 40 year olds who still dream of being a Disney princess would be all over - and 13 year old girls, which is how I came to watch it. The premise of this one is that the entire kingdom of a fairy tale world has been trapped in a modern day small town in Maine, with no memory of who they really are. The doer of this deed is of course the evil queen from Snow White, who is the Mayor of the town in the modern storyline.
Grimm spends the first couple of episodes setting up a very specific premise about how the main character (a cop) is descended from a line of Grimms, people who fight monsters. Not only that, but monsters are everywhere, disguised as regular everyday people. He can see their true selves, and they can see his. So each episode involves him attempting to solve a crime in his normal cop persona, but it turns out to have something to do with monsters. The problem is that after the initial episodes spend a lot of time with his dying aunt impressing the importance of fighting evil and doing his duty and looking at dusty old books with lots of pictures of monsters in them, the monsters don't turn out to be all that evil. In most episodes, it's more a case of him having to protect or save the monster from something.
Aside from that, several plot lines were introduced in the very early episodes and we're now at episode 9 and they appear to have just been dropped. The cop's boss is a monster, but nothing has happened with that since about episode 3. He had a female sidekick who tried to kill the cop in the pilot, but again - she's just gone. What's that about? The cop's wife is a pointless character, existing only to be held captive every now and then or be under threat, motivating the cop to do something to prevent it or to save her. At the moment, the only thing that keeps me tuning back into this show is the cop's sidekick, a likeable (and of course, not evil) monster played by Silas Weir Mitchell. It's nice to see him in a sympathetic role for a change, and it was a clever bit of casting given that we usually see him in the 'crazy, dangerous guy' role.
On the other hand, Once Upon A Time defied my expectations and I am now firmly in love with it. Yes, there are moments of tweeness - I don't think any story that incorporates fairy tale elements can entirely avoid that - but overall it's innovative and clever, and balances the elements of the old world and modern world stories nicely. They are also not afraid to be daring - killing off one of their most popular characters in episode 7.
The running story is that in the old world, Snow White and Prince Charming married and had a child called Emma, and when they learned that the queen was going to inflict a massive punishment (which turns out to be moving them all to the modern day town with no memories), they sent the baby away through some magical wotsit (can't remember the details now) and she ended up in modern day America. After growing up in foster homes Emma works as a private investigator until a little boy turns up and tells her that he is the son she had and adopted out as a teenager and he lives in a town where everyone is a fairy tale character but no one realises it. Short version - Emma ends up in this town, mostly to placate the boy, though she ends up getting drawn in enough to stick around. The conflict is between her and the Mayor (evil queen), the boy's adoptive mother. The fairy tale characters all have their modern incarnations and storylines - Snow White is now a school teacher, Prince Charming is a vet who has had an accident and doesn't remember much about his life, including the woman he is apparently married to. Rumplestiltskin is wandering around being shifty in both worlds - in the modern world he is a rich but mysterious businessman. Red Riding Hood is a sexy waitress, Cinderella is a pregnant teenager and Jiminy Cricket is a psychiatrist. Each episode usually focuses on a different fairy tale element, though the show continually comes back to the running thread of Snow White and Prince Charming, both in the old world and the modern world.
I'm not too sure how much longer I will give Grimm - more and more often I find I am losing interest in what's happening on the screen and I start thumbing through my phone reading Twitter and emails while I'm watching it, as does Noodles. Once Upon A Time, on the other hand, has us both gripped - to the point where we rush home to download and watch it each week. I'm surprised by how much I love it, because without Noodles' insistence I would never even have bothered to watch it.
So tell me, are you watching or have you watched either or both of these shows? If so, what are your thoughts on them?