Monday, May 5, 2014
NBC's "Grimm": setting us up for a "Trubel" spin-off?
I've watched NBC's fantasy/crime thriller "Grimm" from the very start, admittedly in large part because the show is both set in Portland as well as filmed there. Its basic premise was, at a high level of generality, similar to ABC's "Once Upon a Time" - and both shows debuted in fall 2011. I quickly came to adore "Once Upon a Time" while "Grimm" seemed just okay. It was too much of the "monster of the week." Gradually, however, "Grimm" built up its mythology and longer arcs began to develop. The biggest positive step was to stop having Detective Nick Burkhardt conceal his powers from everyone around him other than his werewolf friend Monroe. Monroe's girlfriend Rosalee (a werecat) has been a useful source of lore and potions, Nick's partner Hank is no longer a befuddled ordinary human with no idea what's really out there (that role is reserved for the poor Sergeant Wu), and most importantly, Nick's girlfriend Juliette has become much less annoying now that she too knows what's going on. On top of it, Nick's mysterious supervisor, Captain Renard, seems to have chosen sides.
But now there is a new addition to the case, the troubled teenager Theresa Rubel, aka Trubel (sound it out). What is the future of Trubel?
SPOILERS dating back to 4/25/14:
When we first met Trubel, she was a wild card, part of the seemingly endless stream of teen runaways who migrate to Portland with street smarts and not much else. Except in Trubel's case, she also has some kick-ass skills, both hand-to-hand and with edged weapons.
We know she has skills because she uses them to defeat a bunch of wesen who mistake her for easy prey - bad move on their part, but also trouble (ha ha) for her, because in "Grimm," when wesen die, they revert to human form. The clueless Portland Police Bureau therefore is the lookout for a multiple murderer, leaving it up to Nick and Hank (with Monroe's help) to find her first. When they do, they discover that she, like Nick, is a Grimm.
(This twist, by the way, was revealed in the preview at the end of the preceding episode. It seems like that would have been much better kept under wraps - I guess this means I should stop watching "Grimm" previews.)
Nick takes Trubel under his wing and attempts to tutor her about the finer points of being a Grimm in present-day America. She in turn helps Nick and Hank on a case, including going undercover (her idea, not theirs) to find the location of a wesen who forces young women to commit coordinated shoplifting for his profiteering. When the undercover operation gets blown, she quite ably takes on two wesen and more or less is in the process of subduing when Nick and Hank barge in.
What does the future portend for Trubel? The character is listed as appearing in the last four episodes of this season (the two that have aired already, and the last two). Could NBC be testing her as a possible spin-off? As in, she gets trained by Nick and then goes off to another city (she sounds kind of like she's from Chicago) to deal with the wesen there? Somehow that seems more plausible than having her stick around in Portland as Robin to Nick's Batman, especially since Nick now has an entire gang of helpers.
ABC tried spinning something off "Once Upon a Time" . . . which was the promising but ultimately disappointing "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland." That should sound a cautionary note, but of course, it's just one example. Still, it shows that it's not necessarily easy to capture the same feel of a show in a spin-off, notwithstanding the 15 different "CSI" and "Law & Order" spin-offs. I don't know if America is ready for two nights of wesen and Grimms, and it's not like "Grimm" does gangbuster ratings right now; it's successful by Friday night standards, but not so much by those of the other nights.