Modern fairy tale dramas spice up television

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By April Wilson, Senior Staff Writer

Every fall, dozens of new television programs come and go with a few making it into our cultural lexicon. However, it seems the last few television seasons have been full of disappointing, poorly written offerings. It has included kitschy comedies like 2009’s “Gary Unmarried,” disheartening procedural dramas like, last season’s “The Chicago Code” and boring medical dramas like “Mercy,” “Trauma” and “Three Rivers.”

None of these last because they are the same rehashed formulas. However, NBC and ABC have finally caught on and offered up a new type of show: the fairy-tale-based drama.

NBC’s “Grimm” puts a modern twist on the stories of the Brothers Grimm. The show, set in Portland, focuses on homicide detective Nick Burkhardt, played by “Road Rules” alum David Giuntoli, who has recently discovered that he’s a descendant of the famous story writing brothers. He is now tasked with protecting the innocent from all of the fairy tale baddies you can imagine because only he, and other Grimms like him, can differentiate the good from the bad.

“Grimm’s” premiere was a great way to open the series. It chose an interpretation of the perennial classic “Little Red Riding Hood.” Burkhardt is warned by his hardened mythical beast-fighting aunt (Kate Burton) that “This is no fairy tale. The stories are real.” And that couldn’t have been truer.

The storyline revolved around a sorority girl murdered while jogging in a red hooded sweatshirt and a kidnapped little girl also wearing—you guessed it—a red hooded sweatshirt.

From the first moments where the jogger is attacked by an unseen beast in the woods, the suspense begins to build.

Though the show has a procedural drama feel in some ways, the addition of familiar stories that we all know and love with a supernatural spin adds a great twist. The writing is sharp and funny at times, and I can only hope that “Grimm” improves upon itself from here.

ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” is the newest take on the story of “Snow White.” What differentiates this from the many other adaptations is that instead of focusing on Snow White and her prince, it focuses on their 28-year-old bail bondsman daughter, Emma (Jennifer Morrison), who was raised as an orphan in real world Boston. The show is also creatively told in flashbacks from the Enchanted Forrest, as well as from the present day town of Storybrooke, Maine.

All of the townspeople in Storybrooke can’t remember that they are from the Enchanted Forrest, time stands still and they can never leave. This is of course a result of the Evil Queen casting a spell where there will be no happy endings except for her. However, when Emma shows up, all bets are off, as Rumplestiltskin predicted before her birth that, upon her return, the final battle between good and evil would begin.

“Once Upon a Time” is vivid and colorful. It appears to be a largely ensemble show with wild and colorful characters from Lana Parilla’s evil queen and town mayor, to Robert Carlyle’s disturbingly creepy portrayal of Rumplestiltskin and Storybrooke town owner Mr. Gold.

However, the best casting decision the producers made was in choosing “Big Love’s” Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White. Not only does Goodwin look the part with her flawless porcelain skin and dark black hair, but her onscreen mannerisms scream “princess.” Goodwin portrays Snow White and her Storybrooke counterpart teacher Mary Margret Blanchard as this eternal optimist with a nurturing spirit, as evidenced when she tells Emma “believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing.”

“Once Upon a Time” appeals to the little girl inside of me, yet keeps it adult with some of the real world storylines. I can’t wait to see what this first season holds.

Both shows promise exciting seasons. The most encouraging part being that a little more originality has returned to television. “Grimm” airs Fridays at 8 p.m. on NBC. “Once Upon a Time” airs Sundays at 7 p.m. on ABC.

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