Apparently, the city of Portland, Oregon publicizes itself through a slogan: Keep Portland Weird. I’ve never been to Portland, except through the magic of television, but I do think there’s reason to think of the place as weird. For one thing, they seem to have an inordinate number of half-human, half-animal creatures called ‘wesen.’ All have funky German names, and all look perfectly human, until they ‘volga,’ which mean, reveal their animal identities. But it’s okay. Most wesen are quite peaceable, and anyway, there’s a Grimm to keep them in line.
Such is the premise of NBC’s fantasy police procedural drama Grimm. David Giuntoli plays Nick, a Portland homicide detective, who learns from his mysterious aunt that he is a Grimm. Grimms have the task of killing wesen, but Nick is a kinder, gentler Grimm, a cop Grimm. He likes wesen, wishes them no harm, as long as they remain peaceful. His girlfriend, Juliette (Bitsy Tulloch) spent the first season of the show unaware he was a Grimm, which meant he had to spend a lot of time lying to her about what he was up to, which put a strain on their relationship. His partner, Hank (Russell Hornsby) doesn’t know at first either, but as the second season has proceeded, both Hank and Juliette have learned Nick’s secret.
Nick also has a best friend, Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell), who is a Bludbad–kind of a werewolf. Monroe is far and away my favorite character on the show, sort of comic relief, only very loyal and brave. He also has a girlfriend, Rosalee (Bree Turner), a Fuchsbau–sort of a half-fox, half human.
A lot of the show involves Nick and Monroe doing research on different kinds of wesen in his aunt’s old trailer, one she left to Nick when she
died retired from the Grimm trade. That trailer is a terrific set, with all sorts of nasty medieval-y weapons laying about, some of which Nick gets to use on particularly obstreperous wesen.
There’s also a lot of mystery involving Nick’s boss, police Captain Renard (Sasha Roiz), who we spent most of the first season wondering about–was he a wesen too? Turns out, yes, but he’s become a very interesting character too.
There is one other cop character in the show, Sergeant Wu (Reggie Lee). This leads to the conclusion that one of the things that makes Portland weird is that the city seems to have an entire police force consisting of four cops–two detectives, a captain, and this one sergeant who does all the other work. I actually think that, with a current population of a little over half a million, Portland might want to hire a few more police officers.
I mock because I love. Grimm is a terrific show, easily one of the best shows on network television. The creators have given us a fascinating fantasy universe, and although the police procedural part is a little lame (basically the killer is always a wesen), that’s not why we watch it.
My wife and I, when we watch it, also like making up silly German names for new wesen. ‘See that guy? He’s a gesamtkunswerk!’ ‘Oh, yeah, well I think that woman is a weltschmerz’. That kind of thing. It adds a certain deconstructive quality to our viewing pleasure. But do catch the show. It’s really very good indeed.