TV Talk: “We’re Not Fables, We Super Swear”
October 30, 2011 in Opinion
This fall, not one but two fairy tale-centric TV shows premiered, and both are totally not Fables.
The first one I had the chance to watch, “Once Upon a Time” is definitely nothing even close to the Eisner-award winning comic created by Bill Willingham. It’s only about a small community of fairytale characters living just outside the big city, hidden by a witch’s spell. Featured prominently are Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, and Prince Charming. It’s also owned by ABC, the same company that bought the rights to produce Fables. Yeah, I know. Marvel’s parent company bought a fairy tale property owned by DC Comics that’s canonically made fun of Disney. Sometimes the world is just too good to me.
Once Upon a Time focuses more on its skeptical and super-blonde protagonist, Emma. Emma gets to have one of the greatest backstories ever: she is the daughter of the biggest badasses in
Krypton FairyTaleKingdomLand, and she is sent off to Earth in a rocket ship magic wardrobe so that she can one day return and kick evil curse butt.
If you can’t tell from that description, the show itself is pretty camp, which actually makes it a lot of fun. Jennifer Morrison’s Emma is a good blend of skeptic and vulnerable, which makes her a good foil for the action that takes place around her. However, those of you watching Once Upon A Time because it reads like Fables Junior will be a little disappointed in the Snow White portrayed by Ginnifer Goodwin. She’s the quintessential princess, with a little added sword-wielding just to endear her to my heart a little more. Prince Charming also isn’t the debonair douchebag you might have been expecting, Josh Dallas plays him as adorably heroic, almost to the point of being a little goofy. You kind of love him for it. Plus, he has bonus nerd cred! Dallas played Fandral in the recent Thor film (so dashing!) and in a slightly less awesome role, he played one of those library face nodes in the “Silence in the Library” episode of Doctor Who.
Honestly, the thing was pretty fun. If you take your TV like your “grim and gritty” comics, I’d avoid this show, but if you like a little camp and cheesy dialogue with your fairy tales, then it’s worth checking out.
In a slightly different direction, NBC released “Grimm.” This time, your protagonist is Nick Burckhardt, a guy whose last name is ridiculously complicated for television. Also, he’s descended from the Grimm family line, a clan of monster-hunters from way back when. This isn’t entirely weird for Burckhardt, because lately he’s been seeing people turning into weird monsters. What’s weird is when his cancer-riddled aunt delivers this news, than goes into a massive smack-down fight with a demon wielding a scythe and she beats him up with a sword-cane just before getting knocked into a coma. Seriously. Fortunately, Burckhardt is backed up on his bad wolf-hunting by his best friend and fellow detective Hank as well as “reformed” big bad wolf, Eddie.
Basically, Grimm is equal parts Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the Brothers Grimm with an extra sprinkling of police drama and a noted lack of perky blondes. There’s still a bit of camp and corniness, but again, it’s all in good fun. After all, what good is a show about bad fairytale-hunting cops, if the protagonist doesn’t have to “have a talk” with the Captain or avoid the law to “Do Good”? Unlike Once Upon A Time, this take on fairy tales is meant to mirror the darker tone of the Grimm stories themselves, things are a big rougher, a bit bloodier, and people tend to get shot or attacked or eaten a lot. Despite the more intense theme Grimm is following, the drama itself is a bit superficial. The characters are a little hard to get attached to, and for some reason I kept trying to compare it to the violence and drama of “The Walking Dead” for comparison.
Trust me, they’re not even remotely similar. I’m just a bit odd. Plus, it’s an unfair comparison to make considering when The Walking Dead first aired, I was already knee-deep in 70+ issues of continuity to make me care about all the featured characters right from the start. Not having that, Grimm manages to do pretty well, plus it’s just so fun. As an added bonus, the cast is a lot more diverse than that of Once Upon A Time. So if you like campy crime comics or TV shows dipped in a bit of the supernatural, check it out. I’m sure I’ll be watching both. Because shut up, that’s why.
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