TV fairy-tale smackdown: Once Upon a Time vs. Grimm

It’s been pretty slim pickings around here, I’ll grant you, but the advent of not one but two fairy-tale inspired TV dramas is irresistible, even to this laggardly TV critic. So, with apologies for large swaths of TV ignored in this space, I’ll try to give it the old college try for Grimm, which debuts on CTV Friday and on Space! on Sunday, the latter being the same day you’ll catch Episode 2 of the earlier entry in this very small genre, Once Upon a Time. (And in case you need prompting, the hyperlinks for the two show titles above will lead you to the CTV sites for both shows, which will allow you to watch the full first episode of Once Upon a Time and a 20-minute preview of the pilot of Grimm and, later, the full first episode.)

The stories so far:

Grimm (Friday 8 p.m. ET on CTV and 9 p.m ET on NBC, Sunday 9 p.m. ET on Space) is essentially a supernatural cop drama in which the main character is visited by his old auntie, who looks the worse for wear, uttering the lines of dialogue that have launched many bad movies: “There are things you don’t know” … and “I wish I had more time.” Sheesh. And all is laid bare in a few swipes of the claws of a couple of beastly villains. He’s special you see, this last surviving Grimm. And the fairy tales? Not fiction. In fact, they are the results of generations of Grimms profiling the array of beasts who still walk the earth with mostly normal visages. Loses points for some unnecessary exposition and some clunky dialogue (uh, “cry wolf”? really?). Some ground is regained in some nice humour with a sidekick.

Once Upon a Time (Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on CTV, 8 p.m. ET on ABC)  is less realistic by half  but double the fun and thrills. Half of the action is in actual fairy-tale land and the other in what looks like now, only all these normal looking folks? They don’t know it but they’re characters from fairy-tale land unknowingly doomed to never know their true selves. Unless one very special boy can make a jaded young woman believe. Fave character by far is Rumplestiltskin / Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle), upon whom much will turn. Loses points for very distractingly lame looking computer animation effects in the miniature characters.

The happily ever after? If I had to pick one, and of course I don’t for god sake but if I had to, it would be Once Upon a Time. Magic, sweet, funny, heart-wrenching. However, if Grimm were the only option, I’d still watch with fingers crossed that the humour entrenches and the ham-fisted exposition calms down.

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