When homicide investigator Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) of the Portland Police Department learns he is descended from a line of “guardians” known as “Grimms”, he is charged with keeping balance between humanity and the mythological creatures of the world. These monsters, called Wesen, the German word for being or creature (pronounced “vessin” on the show) are threatening that balance, and the ongoing struggle for power over the Wesen world is beginning to pose a threat to humanity.
Wanderers, when a friend suggested I watch this show, I wasn’t entirely convinced. I liked the premise – that the Grimms who wrote the German fairytales during the eighteenth century had been able to see ‘the monster within’ certain members of the population, which inspired their stories, and that their offspring had continued the trait in future generations – but I wasn’t sure the show would live up to my heightened expectations (that friend had really tried to sell it to me!). However, once I finally sat down in front of my laptop and began to watch, I was hooked. The first two seasons are available on Netflix, and I’d watched both within a matter of days.
The charismatic cast is led by David Giuntoli and Russell Hornsby as the central partner homicide detectives Burkhardt and Griffin, ably supported by Bitsie Tulloch (Juliette, Nick’s long-suffering veterinarian girlfriend), Sasha Roiz (Captain Sean Renard, the police chief) and Reggie Lee (Sergeant Drew Wu, the ‘grunt’ who does the majority of the leg work for Burkhardt and Griffin). I suppose the first thing I noticed about the cast is their lack of ‘Hollywood’ glamour. The women are noticeably normal women; not polished and posed within an inch of their lives, and not unnaturally thin; the men are not poster-boys for hair product and perfect genes, but normal-enough men you could imagine leading average lives anywhere. Wanderers, the reason this cast is a success is not that they get by based on their looks, but on their talent. It is fantastically easy to buy into the stories they tell, because it seems as though they truly live them – even the strange bits!
Although the plot sometimes borders on the entirely unfeasible, it never feels unreal to the viewer. Such is the power of the writing, the atmosphere, and the acting, that you never once feel silly for buying into the supernatural or fantastical elements of the show. Considering the way in which the show’s creators have married up the fantastical elements with the Portland PD homicide department, you expect a certain amount of death and destruction to be wrought, but when it becomes clear that the vast majority of the damage is psychological, the show takes on an entirely new twist, which makes it even more interesting to watch.
The casting and plot are almost overwhelmed by the perfection of the special effects. It’s hard to describe the effect of the woge (the term used for the transformation between human and Wesen form), but Wanderers, oh Wanderers, you’ll never again doubt the existence of creatures beyond our realm of existence!
I would give this show a 4.5/5 as it’s as near to perfect as an adaptation of fairytales can get!
Hannah Carter (can’t wait to see the third season…and of course the fourth season has just been commissioned…!)