Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Trouble and A Bus To Nowhere AKA Episodic Television Needs Better Scripts Damn It

So I'm still putting off watching Extant and that makes me want to talk about every show i watch but Extant, so let's talk about Grimm.

Grimm came out in the  "pleasant '11"

It was a good year for genre shows. Once Upon A Time, Game of Thrones, Falling Skies, American Horror Story,  Heck it was good in general. And that's not considering all the shows that didn't premiere that season but were going through a good run. Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy you get the picture.

Right now Grimm has stalled for me. Season three showed a lot of promise and season two was pretty damn good but right now the show feels like it isn't going anywhere. In some ways it's worse than the flawed but pretty entertaining season 1.

When it premiered Grimm didn't feel all that different from it's many Buffyclone contemporaries. Mainly Supernatural and Lost Girl.  Especially Supernatural which was wasn't that far from Season Five, the capper on it's three arguably four season myth arc, I'll just call it "THE REVELATION of John Winchester" . I refuse to call it the  "Revelation of... Chuck" I don't care if he is God incognito.

That show had found itself and had in someway managed to hold it's own against what I had considered the best of the paranormal detective genre. (It's been a little rocky since then, the show having been on the air long past the plans of the creators but Supernatural is still a decent show.)

Part of what had improved both Supernatural and Angel was that the shows had evolved from thier monster of the week origins to have bigger bolder more serialized stories. And I looked at Grimm's smaller more self-contained stuff and turned my nose a bit.

In retrospect I feel that might have been unfair. Again you have to realize the context of the time. Big season long arcs had proven to be really entertaining to me.

But now that I've  had more time with Hulu I have a bit more of an appreciation for episodic television.  And part of me think it's the episodic elements that are failing the show.  Yes when I watch Grimm and I have to wait for nick to slay this weeks monster rather than engage with say the guys who kidnapped Trubel a few weeks back, Wu's two season long pending mental breakdown, or even more blatantly the fact that he's kind of a still a zombie with a kill on him.  It annoys me, so much so that my first instinct is to say screw that stuff let's get back to the plot.

Side Note; That list up there doesn't include the plot threads I just don't think are working. I cringe everytime the Wessen KKK shows up and think the show made too big a deal out of Rosalee and Monroe's marriage in the first place with Guess Who's Comming to Dinner lite and the Adalind stuff is a clear plot culdesac where everything else in the episode has to stop for ten minutes just so the writers can make sure the audience hasn't forgotten about it because it's so boring, sorry Wesley)

Right now I am at the height of my frustration because the show put one of the most promising characters of season 3 on a bus a few weeks back. While season 3 had too much going on I was hopeful because I felt Trubel could shake up the character dynamic. Up until that point Nick had been the naive newcomer mostly relying on Monroe to be Mr. Expodump. But after two seasons including one time skip that character dynamic no longer makes sense.

The show established Nick as being, "a different kind of grimm" the hook being that while yes he was your usual paranormal detective he was also a cop and had to balance the former's outlaw justice with the later's loyalty to the law.  Just killing the bad guy can't be his default option... if he can help it. 

Balancing Nick's personality with the more aggressive Trubel and the more nebbish Josh seemed to be on the road to changing that character dynamic maybe even in the long term creating a Grimm Academy with Nick being the seen everything guy. (I thought you said the show was too much like the buffyverse Miles. Shut up)

This was especially interesting to me because while I like Trubel as a character she didn't gel so much with Nick's supernatural "copness". And the show makes a huge deal about Nick being so good at his job because the moderate Supernatural community trusts him enough, not to disembowel first and ask questions later  to help him when otherwise they would have been packing their bags and moving to Venezuela. 

With nick losing his grimm powers, even temporally it looked like those two were going to be a bigger part of the show but it just wasn't in the cards. I think the writers felt it had to be all or nothing. The whole Teresa as the new Grimm on the block was admittedly badly written. Nick wasn't dead just a little physically nerfed. He still had the trailer filled with weapons and books and about 3-5 years experience chopping off bad guy heads not to mention the cop thing, and the fact that a lot of the folks in town trust him with tips.

The show isn't big enough for two maybe three grimms and that is disappointing. 

So far the season feels like it's been maintenance, trying undo everything the writers didn't like from season three, bringing back Renard, getting back Nick's grimm mojo, putting Trubel on a bus, even the stuff with Monroe and Rosalee feels like the writers were two afraid to just make the two a happy married couple and have that be a part of their characters (Despite them more or less having been written that way since season two) but like I said a lot of that feels like reverting the show back to its old status quo that is at this point unworkable. 

Apart from all that I feel there isn't enough time to keep going on these narrative divergences and the monsters of the week are the biggest in the pie.

But then I remember seasons 1 and 2 and there were a lot of good stand alone episodes. In season one in particular they made up most of the show. "Danse Macabre", "The Three Bad Wolves", "Let Your Hair Down" came all in a row and probably are what made me want to watch the show.  And Season 2 was no slouch either

When a show is episodic there is a much bigger bet that individual episodes... and thier scripts have to be good.  With a serialized show things blur together and if the show as a whole is good you can cover your ass a bit, but with an episodic show it's much more the ratio between shows the audience liked and shows the audience didn't and for me personally Grimm is starting if not be a show I dislike definitely flirt with the meh boundary.

Before the episodes and the monsters therein were tasked with explaining the world and how it worked. There was always some complication that made it more interesting than
  • Something kills a guy
  • Nick has to find out how it kills
  • Nick has to find out where it is
  • Nick Kills It
Remember Larry.

I don't know what it is, but right now the writing just isn't there. The show has too many plot cul-de-sacs demanding time from each episode, most of which exist just so the characters can pop in and go, "Hey we're a thing that's happening. We promise something cool is in the works. We just don't know what it is yet. But its coming. Do you hate Adalind? Will her suffering make you love us. PLEASE LOVE US."

Like I said in my last post it just feels like the show is spinning its wheels.

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