Friday, January 20, 2012

Were-llama Reviews: GRIMM

Recently, the Were-llama has taken to watching this show:

At first glance, the Awesome factor seems high enough to warrant any self-respecting were-llama's full attention. And for the first two episodes, the show lived up to the trailer. Tension! Drama! Old familiar fairy tales given a fresh, modern twist that did what all good fairy tales are supposed to do--scare the spit out of anyone watching it. There's even a funny guy with a plethora of mostly successful one-liners.

"This is the part of the horror movie where the sidekick gets it."

But then ... the show began to feel like it was slowing down. It began treading water--characters stopped developing, mysteries stagnated, and the whole thing started to feel as familiar as yesterday's cud. You know, it was pretty good the first time around, but chewing on it again, while enough to satisfy your hunger, doesn't actually count as a gourmet meal.

The Were-llama expects a gourmet meal. Therefore, I am going to give the producers of GRIMM a detailed lesson in how they can save their show. Because we all know if the Were-llama stops watching, the rest of the world will follow suit, and it won't be long before the only reliable audience left viewing the show will be camels who are too dumb-as-a-box-of-sand to know any better.

Televisions are shiny! We like the shiny!

Lesson #1: Kill, maim, or hurt the people who matter

If you bill your show as a drama, a police procedural, or Jerry Springer, you need some violence to really sell the story. GRIMM has plenty of violence, but most of it is aimed at the wrong people: Characters whose only job is to show up for the few minutes it takes them to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and bite the big one courtesy of a supernatural baddie. This is fine, and the Were-llama approves of this story set-up. After all, Nick is a police officer and clearly the supernatural creatures he can now recognize are not exactly the peaceful, law-abiding sort.

But if the only people who are killed, maimed, or hurt are people we never care about, the Were-llama is going to do something more interesting. Like clean his toilet.

Apparently, I am a llama toilet.
Upon Googling "llama toilet" in an effort to provide visual aids in today's review, the Were-llama was surprised to see the above picture was the very first result. Clearly, I don't know Tom Hanks as well as I thought I did. I shall remedy the situation forthwith.

However, Tom Hanks' somewhat unfortunate photo actually illustrates my point admirably. Look at him. If ever a man looked like he was recently disemboweled by an huntsman working for a wicked stepmother, it's Tom Hanks. And we all know Hanks never plays anything but the lead character.

GRIMM producers, if you want your show's Awesomemeter to tip the scale toward ten, I suggest a good disembowelment of one of the main characters. Or an attack that leaves the character in the psychiatric ward wondering what the holy llama just happened to him. At the very least, tear off a finger or two. If you don't, the viewer becomes complacent with the knowledge that the beloved main characters will always come through each episode with nothing more than the occasional scratch, and your viewership will wander off to clean toilets instead.

Lesson #2: Don't drop your plot arcs

In the first few episodes, the Were-llama worried every time Nick left the house. He was prey! He was irresponsibly using his aunt's trailer full of information and weapons without once worrying that at any second a vicious supernatural hitman could crash through its flimsy walls and devour him in three bites! He was scrambling to understand his new ability and keep secrets from his fiance who seems smart enough to have figured out a thing or two.

And his BOSS! The CONSPIRACY! The Were-llama had his clover flavored popcorn and a tall Dr. Pepper ready at every episode!

But .. you misplaced your arcs. I'm guessing you left them lying in the same place you left your cajones. You stopped putting Nick in immediate danger from hitmen or his boss. You stopped giving us hints. You let his fiance remain smart but oddly clueless, a quality the Were-llama does not appreciate in the portrayal of fictional women as every woman he's ever met has been smart enough to keep him on his toes and then some. You let Nick visit the trailer unimpeded.

In short, the only conflict Nick ever really has to address is the case in front of him, and we've already established in Lesson #1 that we know he'll figure it out and escape the entire thing unscathed. The Were-llama suggests you find the threads of your plot arcs and start treating the viewers to the kind of layered story-telling you promised in the beginning or he shall be forced to regurgitate the remnants of his clover flavored popcorn with the express purpose of spitting it in your faces.And then he will recruit his friends to help him because without plot arcs to follow, his friends will have nothing better to do.

Clover flavored popcorn - Llama Remix Style

Lesson #3: Grow your main character

Nick started out the series as a smart cop who relies on his instincts and can handle himself fairly well in a physical confrontation. We're eight episodes in and guess what? Nick is still a smart copy who relies on his instincts and can handle himself fairly well in a physical confrontation.


The cure for insomnia! You has it!

He doesn't even have to use those instincts when it comes to catching the supernatural baddies because he can conveniently see who they are beneath their glamour. So now that leaves us with smarts and handling himself fairly well in physical confrontations.

Except we've already established that he rarely has any physical confrontations to speak of, and he always wins. Against supernatural baddies. Even though he doesn't have any extra strength, agility, or weapons beyond what a normal human has.

Superhero: You're doing it WRONG.

So, now we're left with smarts. But ... you never test those smarts. He figures out which supernatural creature he's dealing with by looking them up in his big book of supernatural baddies. Fine. But he doesn't worry anyone else might be coming after him like they did his aunt. He doesn't trace his ancestry or try to understand his role in things. He doesn't even decide that maybe the cabinet of awesome weaponry at his disposal might be worth exploring in case the producers of his show ever decide to actually give him an enemy who won't roll over and die at the mere sight of him and his cop's gun.

Go ahead and look me up in your little book, Nicky-boy. I dare you.

The Were-llama is displeased! A good character behaves like a Chia pet. He begins with a strong structure and over the course of time, he grows into the creature he was always meant to be. Nick is still nothing but a bald Chia pet.

Nobody likes a bald Chia pet.

Just say no to hairless Chia pets.

Nick needs new skills, a quest to push him to his limits, and an adversary the viewer worries he won't beat. The Were-llama volunteers for the job. Nick will either have to man up or search the Portland area for the remains of his vital organs.

I'm guessing if presented with those two choices, Nick would man up.

Lesson #4: World building, if you please!

The Were-llama can sum up this lesson in one pithy little sentence: Having every supernatural creature instantly fear Nick simply because they know he's a Grimm is stupid.

Stupid is as stupid does.

It was fine at first because the viewer was still getting adjusted to the rules of the world and so was Nick. But now, it's old.

Fine. We get it. He's a Grimm, therefore they fear him on sight. But ... what has he done to inspire this continued fear? Absolutely nothing. He hasn't demonstrated special skills. He hasn't mastered weapons capable of taking out supernatural creatures. And apparently, he doesn't have to. Being a good cop and a good shot is enough.

The problem is that the Were-llama didn't sign up to watch NYPD Blue with a sprinkling of fairy tales on the side. The Were-llama expects Nick to BRING IT. Give them a reason for the fear. Clearly, being a Grimm must mean something or his reputation wouldn't precede him.

Yes, my reputation precedes me. You may run now.

But now Nick needs to earn his reputation. It's put up or shut up time. The Were-llama, much like Darth Vader, is accustomed to people fearing the very sight of him. This is because the Were-llama has proven to be a fierce opponent, afraid of nothing, with a handy spit-from-either-end arsenal of weapons that can bring even the hardiest of men to their knees.

Show the viewer why a Grimm is feared. Give Nick some new skills and an opponent or two who not only don't fear him, they plan to make him the main course of their next meal.

Tastes like chicken.

In short, producers, you are now in imminent danger of turning a show full of talented actors and superb CGI into Murder She Wrote.

Careful! If I don't kill you in my book, you'll surely drop dead in real life.

Remember that show? The Were-llama does. The Were-llama was grateful when the main character became an animated teapot instead. No more cases only the main character could solve, even though she had no extra special skills. No more wondering how it was possible that someone always dropped dead every time Jessica Fletcher entered a building. No more treading the same old story line--New corpse! Same conclusion!--every week.

EDITED TO ADD: The Were-llama wrote this review over a week ago. After this review was completed, the Were-llama watched the latest episode of GRIMM and has come to the following conclusion: The producers of GRIMM are spying on the Were-llama. In this last episode, all of the Were-llama's lessons were heeded! Nick was attacked and injured. The contents of the trailer and the weapon cache were used. Nick's fiance showed her courage. And the threads of mystery around Nick tightened, just a bit. The Were-llama is pleased and will change his Spit-O-Meter rating to reflect this.

However, the producers of GRIMM should take note. The Were-llama is not a forgiving creature. If they choose to spy on my computer again, I will be forced to call in good old Uncle Chuck. Final verdict--Grimm: Almost as Awesome as me.

4 out of 5 gallons

Interviewer extraordinaire, cover model, and super scary shape-shifter, the Were-llama now adds reviewer to his long list of awesome credentials. His views are his own. And because he can command obedience with the awesome power of his glowing red eyes, his views are also YOURS. When the Were-llama wants your opinion, he will give it to you.


  1. Too funny. I was reading the review and I kept thinking well they did do most of this in last week's episode. Maybe the Were-llama sent a scathing letter to the producers. Come to find out the producers are just spies.

  2. The Were-llama nails the review! I loved Grimm at the start, then it got a little eh...last week's episode had the 'it' factor again. I'm so glad too. The show has serious potential. Give us more world-building please! Let Nick start using the awesome tools at his disposal. Let's see the Grimm kick some superbaddie butt!

    For now, my DVR is set to auto-record and I'm sticking with it. Because I believe the awesome factor is only going up. Especially if the producers are listening the all-powerful Were-llama. As they should.

  3. I'm still loving the show. I have a feeling the darker stuff is coming soon. :O)

  4. Llamas are wise and hilarious. Good character traits. A chunk of people at work are hooked on Grimm. I'll have to catch up.

  5. Grimm has never sucked me in. Once Upon A Time, on the other hand, has me totally addicted. Every new episode manages to be better than the last one. It truly is the only show on that I can't stand to miss and I'll be buying the season on DVD as soon as it comes out - amazing world building, characters with mutliple layers, and stakes that just keep rising.


People who comment are made of awesomesauce with a side of WIN!

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