I’m sure it’s not a surprise to my regular readers that I was excited to watch both of the fairy tale based TV shows premiering this fall, Grimm on NBC and Once Upon a Time on ABC.

Once Upon a Time has a soap opera feel to me. The evil queen from Snow White has cursed all the familiar fairy tale characters to a life in our world, in a town called Storybrooke no less, without happy endings or any memory of their previous live. Snow White’s daughter, Emma, arrives in town at the behest of the son she gave up for adoption. He is the one who tells her about the curse and informs her that she is the only one who can save them.

After two episodes, I have to say I enjoy it, but don’t love it. Maybe I just don’t know where it’s going and that’s makes me a little nervous. I am intrigued by the Rumpelstiltskin character. I think the show has potential to be a good drama and the fairy tale connection is very literal. The folks are recognizable, even if they for the most part don’t remember who they are. I believe you can watch episodes on-line here.

Grimm is entirely different. It’s more of a buddy cop show, but one of the cops happens to be a grimm, a descendant of the Brothers Grimm, who can see the monsters that live among us. The first episode started off along the vein of a lot of cop shows, with a dead body, but the authorities can’t determine if she was killed by a person or a human. And she was wearing a red sweatshirt. Pretty obvious who killed her. Actually it was a blutbad, a species of paranormal creature of which the Big Bad Wolf was just one example.

I tend to enjoy crime shows. Throw in a bit of fairy tale lore and I’m hooked. I can definitely see David and I watching this on a regular basis.

It’s interesting though, how the two series view the fairy tale world in entirely different ways. In Once Upon a Time, the Enchanted Forest is the ideal, our world is a horrible place that the characters need to escape from. Happy endings only happen in the other world, not in ours. In Grimm, the supernatural is dangerous, the stories are warnings about the dangers that are out there.

Another point of interest, since I do tend to focus on how men and women, girls and boys, are treated differently in their fairy tales, the stars in Once Upon a Time are mostly women. So the one that has the more traditional take on the stories, changes it and gives us women who are not only the villains, but also the heroines. Grimm has a male lead, but in the first episode the females, aside from an ailing aunt who could definitely hold her own with the monsters, were the victims or the wife/girlfriend left alone worried.

Have you watched either of the shows? What were your impressions?

On a side note, my husband David often listens to me going on about the fairy tales and reads my posts. He has issued a challenge to me to find a fairy tale with an actual good, useful father- not an absent father, not one who is subservient to an evil woman, and not one who is abusive or self-serving. I’m having trouble coming up with one. Anyone have any suggestions?

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.


  • Patty

    We have two “onces” tivoed to watch…have not decided how I feel about them yet…

    Watched Grimm and sort of loved it…can’t wit to see more…

  • I was totally planning a post about these shows for tomorrow!! 🙂 (Maybe now I’ll save it for next week.) I watched the first episode of each and like you, I’m really intrigued by them and definitely want to see more. Based on only the pilot episodes, I think I like Grimm more, but I was also a huge fan of Buffy and Angel which were by the same producers and I think all three shows have a similar feel.

    And the best fairy tale I can think of with a good father is Pinocchio. I suppose he could be considered “self-serving” but I always found him to be a sympathetic character.

    • I actually never watched Buffy.

      I thought of Pinocchio’s father too, but he did carve the boy out of wood. I don’t think that’s exactly what David had in mind.

  • I am not a huge fan of crime shows, so I think that is why Grimm didn’t grip me yet. It is a bit out of my norm. I will have to see how tomorrow nights episode goes. Once Upon a Time is how I enjoy my fairy tales, but I enjoy that the women are taking the forefront and being heroines instead of the men constantly saving the day. I agree about Grimm and how the women are not entirely being displayed in the best light. I think if the lead cops were a guy and a girl it would have made a different impression on me. It’s hard to say. I will just have to keep watching them and see what happens.

    • Grimm is just so much a standard crime with a twist. I think that if you didn’t like that type of show in the beginning, it’d be hard to get into Grimm.

      I actually hadn’t really thought about how the men and women were portrayed when I was watching the shows. It didn’t really strike me until I sat down to write about them.

  • I really liked both shows although I’m leaning more towards Grimm at this point. I love the wolf guy – he’s hilarious. Once Upon a Time I like but I’m having a harder time staying focused on it although I don’t know why. Anyhow I’ll definitely keep watching both to see where they go next.

  • Totally agree. I watched a few minutes of Once Upon a Time and did not really like it but I accidentally turned on Grimm (I admit I might not have decided to watch it otherwise) and really liked it. Yep, including his too funny wolfish friend.

  • I did watch an episode of Grimm and liked it. I like the time slot as well, since I’m usually looking for something good on tv friday nights.
    I havent seen Once Upon a Time.
    There are always so many shows and not enough time 🙂
    Wasnt the dad in The Little Mermaid good to his daughters? Or am I confusing the original with the disney version?

    • In Andersen’s Little Mermaid, all it really says about her father is “The Sea King had been a widower for many years, and his aged mother kept house for him.” And once she sees him from afar at the surface watching for her. I think he pretty much falls under absent, not harmful just leaving the raising of his daughters to his mother.

  • Haven’t watched the shows, but I think it’s really interesting that they both showed up this season — I guess everyone needs a little more fantasy right now. I do like crime shows, but usually prefer them a little more reality-based. But I might give Grimm a try — it definitely sounds like something I could get hooked on.

  • anachronist

    I haven’t watched the shows but I would if I only could! A fairy tale with a positive father figure? Hmm…Ariel the mermaid, I mean the Disney version? Her father, the king of the Sea, saves her after all…

  • anachronist

    What a pity…I wanted to add Shrek 2 for good measure – the king proved to be a good father saving Fiona from that love potion…men like complicating things.

    • I don’t actually remember Shrek 2, but since really only the first one was based on a picture book, I wonder if he would accept that. It wasn’t “Disneyfied” so much as a Disney original.

  • I have yet to see Once Upon a Time, but am hoping to get caught up with them online this weekend. I am faithfully watching Grimm though and loving that one!

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