What else to do while waiting for Once Upon A Time to continue than to watch another Fairytale-related series?
Well, basically a lot of stuff, but I was still curious if OUAT really was a rip-off of that show as a bunch of people claimed.
And as you can see in the title: I am talking about NBC’s Grimm.
Grimm is a crime show about Nick Burkhardt, a homicide detective that has a certain ability. He is a Grimm. He can see the real nature of creatures called „Wesen“ that are able to pass as normal humans otherwise. The show shows how Nick is more and more able to cope with this and what obstacles he has to overcome along the way.
First of all, I’d like to say that I watched the series both in English and in German, so I’ll even be able to show you some of the differences between them.
The series has a small circle of main characters.
Alongside Nick we have his partner Hank Griffin, Captain Sean Renard and Sergeant Wu in the Portland Police Department and at home his girlfriend Juliet.
In his first case after discovering his ability he meets the Wesen Monroe, a „Blutbad“ that he accuses of having kidnapped a little girl. After their first differences he becomes Nicks friend and very own „Grimm-o-Pedia“. 😀
Later on a „Fuchsbau“ called Rosalee and a „Hexenbiest“ named Adalind Schade join the cast.
As I said Grimms are people with the ability to see the real nature of Wesen.
But what exactly Grimms are has not yet been told.
What we know so far is that they collect data on Wesen and are successors of seven families that all have the same „gift“.
As some of the words mentioned above suggest, this series uses quite a bunch of German words.
This is due to the fact that among the most famous – and openly known – „Grimms“ where the Brother’s Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm; the German Fairytale collectors.
Or so we think.
In the world of Grimm, just as in OUAT, these Fairy Tales are real.
They are the way of telling the people what they aren’t aware of.
They tell them the stories of the Wesen.
And of course warn the humans about them.
For example the „Blutbaden“ (official plural of Blutbad) are what later became the Big Bad Wolf in the brother’s Children and Houshold Tales. (Funny side note: There is a Wesen-version of these tales called: „Albträume für Wesen Kinder“ [original title; English: „Nightmares for Wesen children“])
Regardless of the fact that it is pretty cool to have different languages in a show (not all Grimms were English or German, some wrote their notes in Latin, Japanese or Spanish) I do occasionally struggle with the grammar they chose…
For example „Blutbad“ is the German term for „bloodbath“.
„Blutbaden“ however doesn’t really exist…
The „Blut“ would still be „blood“ but the „baden“…well it does suggest that it is the action of bathing in blood, making the translation „bathing“, but that does not really make sense.
So basically the plural of a blood bath is the action of bathing in it. Obvious isn’t it?
Or the „Rumplestiltskin“-dude from the episode „Nameless“ in Season 2.
He is a „Fuchsteufelwild“. That is no German word either.
Well, „fuchsteufelswild“ would be, but that would be an adjective meaning „mad as hell“ or „hopping mad“.
So they either took somewhat fitting German nouns or adjectives and stitched them together.
Let’s just say: If the actual brothers would have really given the creatures their German names, their works would have never been able to become a literary classic….
But „worse“ than the grammar – though more funny – is the pronunciation of the words.
I know it is not easy for an American native to pronounce German words, as our language is quite „harder“ (in means of sound) as English, but they could a least try a tiny bit more…
I mean, the most used term „Wesen“ is totally mispronounced.
No German-native would understand it. It took me a while to do so at least and I had to read it at some point before it made sense to me.
The way the cast pronounces it, the word means „whose“ not „creature“.
They add an extra „s“ to it and make it a (possessive) question, rather than a noun…
Anyway, I still think it is great that they even try.
If you watch the German version of the show one thing becomes clear: They do not like the grammar either.
They bluntly change the names to something that would – in their opinion – make more sense in German. E.g. Blutbaden became „Blutbader“ (Which would more or less translate to „Bloodbather“ – someone who is bathing in blood. Trying to find a translation for „bader“ I discovered that there was a medieval profession by that name, someone that had some kind of medic role for the poor people. Look for „Barber Surgeon“ for more information.) and the „Ziegevolk“ (proper German: Ziegenvolk) became the „Ziegendämon“ (Goat Demon“), while still portrayed as the original version in the Grimm Diaries (notebooks of the Grimms about the Wesen and mostly how they killed them) that Nick inherited from his aunt Marie at the beginning of the series.
Makes just as much sense.
A bit more sense makes translating some of the things said in German in the original into Mandarin.
The „Woge“ – the transformation from humanoid to Wesen, gets a Madarin term.
The German saying „Alles hat eine Ende nur die Wurst hat zwei.“ that Monroe – whose quite adept at several languages and especially at German thanks to his ancestors – uses in the Episode „Big Feet“ was translated into that as Nick asks what it meant „because it sounded nice“ and that question wouldn’t make sense if it was said in German…
So apart from language mutilation what does this series have?
Well, it’s a crime show that shows you a new Wesen each episode, just as we are used to from old Buffy times, with a whiff of Supernatural.
The character development is in my opinion quite slow.
While we have an awesome character with a certain depth to him with Monroe (being a Wieder Blutbad he is the vegan among wolves) right from the start, Nicks progress drags on into the second season with baby steps.
In the first season the story mostly centers around the crimes committed by various Wesen, the greater scheme is only slowly revealed. It is kind of like the viewer learns new things in the same pace as Nick does. Which is a good thing, but drags the story on without really having to. But this changes with the second season, where the story turns its focus onto the Grimm instead of the criminal Wesen.
At first I nearly gave up on the series, but the more it advanced the more colours it gained.
You had Nicks struggle of not being able to tell anyone and all the other problems he was faced with. But you also had different approach at how to treat Wesen.
In the finale of Season 1 you see a second Grimm, that doesn’t believe in Nicks way of befriending them – the good ones at least – and that sticks to the old ways of simply killing them off. So you do not have this general black and white thinking here. Which is really nice.
So by now I am quite curious where Nick’s journey will lead him and his affiliates.
Also the characters become better – especially Monroe and Rosalee.
Though Monroe was one of my favourite characters from the get go. His humor’s just great. Unfortunately they aren’t really able to completely capture it in the German version.
Well, and as I said he speaks German and can at least translate it just by reading through it.
But I also already mentioned that you can’t see this that good in the German version (hence the Mandarin).
And to show what else is different have some trivia regarding the different versions and bits I consider funny.
Throughout the two season there are several scenes in bars, some of them even in German bars. The music that is played there is quite disturbing for a Metalhead like me, but one song in particular caught my attention.
In Episode 14 in Season 2 „Natural Born Wesen“ Monroe walks into a Wesen bar and what is played? „Bück dich“ by Rammstein. One of the most contrary bands in Germany. (A band I’ll be seeing live in a week from now at the Wacken Open Air 😉 ) Though in my opinion their song „Mutter“ would have been more fitting in regards to the episodes title.
Apart from their musical choices I like the way the creators treat finale cliffhangers, when after the last scene the message: „To be continued“ writes itself and after a moment „You knew this was coming.“ is added. 😀 They at least know how to make things funny for their audience.
And as we already are with writings: As interesting as the intro texts are, as awesome is it that the German voice actor Thomas Fritsch is reading them, while in English they are only shown and faded out again. He has just the right voice for a storyteller and he already has some experience with that. 😀
In the second Episode („Bears will be Bears“) Monroe keeps an eye on Nicks aunt.
In the original you can see how he rips of the arm of one of pursuers and later see the same guy in a sickbed with a red spot at shoulder height being wheeled past him when Monroe calls Nick in panic and claims that he might have overdone it.
I might have looked away at that moment, but I think I remember that there was another scene where he was holding the arm and looking at it in horror before he fled the scene that wasn’t shown either.
German television magazines often named Monroe „Eddie“, as they had picked up somewhere that that would be his first name. By now it is even on some other (English) sites, but officially it was never said whether „Monroe“ is the first or the last name and what the other is. (Eddie was a draft name if I remember correctly, though.)
It is a bit slow when it comes to character development and has this monster-of-the-week flair from Buffy, but it still has potential to grow.
And it is interesting to see how it will continue, especially with the characters and how the writers will manage to continue to build in new Wesen and stories/fairytales – even though this faded quite strongly into the background by now.
It is always interesting to see how the supernatural cumulates at a place as soon as you have to do with it. 😀
In my opinion the rumor that OUAT is a ripp-off of Grimm is far-fetched. The sole thing they have in common, is that they integrate the Grimm’s Fairytales…but they portray it completely different. (OUAT does a better job at that I’d like to add. Besides I am kind of inclined to write a continuation for my post about them, not sure if I’ll actually do it.)
Last year I did not manage to write one for August so I at least managed to not do the same with this month…
And as I am off to another Journey around Germany I wont be able to write anything more until the middle of August.
So, stay tuned for my travel log and some festival reports in the following months. 🙂