Sunday, November 20, 2011

The frightening side of fairy tales

We're all familiar with the Disney version of classic fairy tales. There's always a beautiful princess, a prince charming, and cute little creatures performing musical numbers. For the most part, things don't get too scary. Aside from Maleficent (above) who really freaked me out when I was young! Of course, the original stories these Disney movies were based on were much darker. This season we are lucky enough to have two TV shows depicting the darker side of fairy tales. One is Grimm and the other is Once Upon a Time.

I was really anticipating Grimm, because I heard it was produced by the same people who brought us the Buffy the Vampire Slayer show. So far, all my expectations have been met! The show has had some genuinely creepy moments, while making me laugh at the same time. It has about the same dose of creepy and funny as Buffy did. Without giving too much away, the main character is descended from the original Grimms. You know, as in Grimm's fairy tales. He's also a police officer. It's a little like CSI only the crimes are being committed  by supernatural creatures. A fun element of this show is that the creatures are new. Well, you might recognize a few of them from the old stories, but the names are all new. They mostly sound Germanic. The Grimm character has a sidekick who is a "Blutbad" which is comparable to a werewolf. He's my favorite character so far. Here's a trailer for the show. The bearded guy with the beer is the Blutbad:

The second fairy tale show, Once Upon a Time is similar only in that it includes characters from old stories. That and the main characters in both shows drive yellow VW Beetles. Once Upon a Time is not a show about crime. Basically, the show is a drama about fairy tale characters if they lived in modern times. As the story goes, an evil queen put a curse on all the other fairy tale characters so they must suffer in various ways in the modern world. The modern version of the evil queen is the evil mayor, Regina. And, wow is she ever evil. This is the first time in a while that I've yelled at the TV. At a fictional character, yet! She's just that terrible of a person. Here she is:

I know she doesn't look all that bad here, but trust me, she is. She's an irritating authority figure who misuses her power to a degree you can't even believe. Regina may be evil, but she isn't the creepiest character on this show. That prize goes hands down to Rumpelstiltskin, who in the modern world is Mr. Gold. He owns a pawn shop in modern times and appears to be shaking down the town folk like he's in the mob. Here he is:

He plays his role like a reptile mixed with Golum. The story does have a protagonist named Emma. She's the only hope for any of these characters. Emma is brought from Boston to "Storybrooke" by the son she gave up for adoption. He is desperate to get away from his adoptive mother, Regina. Yeah, the evil queen adopted him. Poor kid! Here's the show's trailer:

Has anyone else been watching these shows? If so, I'd like to hear what you think so far! I like both shows equally, for different reasons. If you haven't had a chance to watch the shows yet, you can catch up here:

Episodes of Grimm

Episodes of Once Upon a Time 

Just click on the 'video' tab to watch full episodes.

Also, if you want to watch these shows on TV, Grimm is on NBC channels and Once Upon a Time is on ABC channels. We all have different time zones, but Grimm is on at 8:00 American central time on Friday nights and Once Upon a Time plays at 7:00 on Sunday nights.  This is always a good place to check what's on TV near you:


  1. These shows have intrigued me, but since I only pick up 2 channels, I haven't been able to check them out.

    The set-up for Once Upon a Time reminds me of the comic book series Fables. That's definitely worth checking out.

  2. It was the witch in 'Snow White' who really terrified me when I was a young child. I remember having a book of the Disney movie, and I was so scared of her that I would skip the pages with her picture on them.

    This is such a perfect post for anyone currently in a dark fairy tale mood, which I absolutely am! I've watched the first 4 episodes of 'Once Upon a Time', and I can't get enough of it!

    I've seen the first episode of 'Grimm' and I'm loving that show as well. I plan to watch episode 2 tonight.

    It's fantastic when there are new shows on TV to get excited about. To quote vampire Xander in the alternate reality episode of Buffy, where the Master rules Sunnydale, "We really are livin' in a golden age." Haha.

  3. I have been following them both. Grimm really intrigues me and Once upon a time is getting very twisty like LOST so I am having high hopes for both!

  4. Yes, I watch them both and like them. I like the mix of horror and humor in Grimm. I also would like to have a beer with Grimm's Blootbot. I like how Once Upon a Time shows us how things where in Fairytale land and how the characters are surviving modern times. It has that little bit of "Lost" flare to it because it is written by the same people. I was a fan of "Lost".

  5. I love both of these shows. I can't decide which one I like better. i do hope they continue to show, I will be really disappointed if they cancel either one of these. These are the only two shows that I enjoy watching right now!

  6. I like Once Upon A Time and my husband goes for Grimm. Each show originates from a fairy tale foundation but cooks up something very different along the way. The "cop show" aspect of Grimm doesn't appeal to me but OUAT has just enough to keep me coming back. The evil queen reminds me of a boss I worked for years ago!

  7. Thank you soooo much for this post Justine! Living in the UK we get programs about a year after you do in America! I will now be watching Grimm online!

    It's a shame it isn't actually written and directed by Joss Whedon as he's such a bloody amazing creator but I have high hopes for the show!

    I'm not so sure about Once Upon A Time though. Maybe I'll watch the first episode and see how it pans out.

    It's story line kinda reminds me of the Vertigo comic series Fables - which is about various characters from fairy tales and folklore who refer to themselves as 'Fables'. They have been forced out of their Homelands by 'The Adversary' who has conquered their realm, so the Fables have traveled to our world and formed a community in New York City known as Fabletown. It's really quite good!

    I have recently watched the trailer for the 'newish' film of Red Riding Hood with Amanda Seyfried and Gary Oldman and I think it looks amazing. I hope to be purchasing the DVD soon as I really want to watch it! xxx

  8. I haven't had the opportunity to check out Grimm yet, but I have been watching Once Upon A Time and I really like it. It does indeed remind me of the Fables series of graphic novels. I just hope it doesn't get so convoluted (like Lost) that the writers can't find their way back to a satisfying ending.

  9. Marvin ~ What two channels are you getting? I remember being on some vacations as a kid and we were so far into the middle of nowhere that we only got two channels. One was all televangelists and the other was pro wrestling. :) Anyway, just follow the links above and you can check out the shows! Thanks to the internet, you can watch lots of things.

    Several people have mentioned Fables to me so far, and it really sounds worth checking out!

    Little Gothic Horrors ~ Yeah, she was pretty scary too! I don't know what it was about Maleficent that scared me, but maybe it was the dragon scenes. I couldn't believe the tame, blonde Maleficent in Once Upon a Time! She seemed downright nice next to the Regina character. It just occurred to me that Regina must really be freaking you out, with your old fear of the evil queen from Snow White!

    Well, we'll have lots more to chat about since you're caught up on Once Upon a Time. It wasn't on last night, because there was some awards show on. I missed watching it!

    We are living in a golden age! Actually I just heard a TV producer say that we're living in the golden age of TV right now. I think he said that, because we have new types of complicated characters that we didn't have in decades past.

    wicKED ~ Do you have a favorite of the two shows? Once Upon a Time is getting twisty! There are a few parts that are up for debate. The whole plot involving Regina's father "Henry" and her adopted son "Henry" is the weirdest to me. Are they implying reincarnation or just symbolism? I never watched Lost, although I've been told that once you see one episode of that, you're addicted to the show!

    Adsila ~ I'd like to have a beer with the Blootbot too! :) He's such a funny character, and in a way he's the most normal person on that show. I think there's just the right amount of humor in Grimm. Well, that explains the Lost connection to Once Upon a Time! You really can tell when the same minds are behind a project. As I said above, I never watched Lost, but I can definitely sense the Buffy connection to Grimm!

    Vivienne ~ Oh, I think both shows are off to a great start! I think they're getting a lot of attention and will be around for a while. Neither is in a really competitive time slot, so that's good. Sometimes when a show is put on at the same time as say, Modern Family, you know it is doomed!

    Art Bliss ~ Oh, I know what you mean about the evil queen. I had an evil ex boss who she reminds me of too. They even have the same hairdo. :) Although, my ex-boss is more of a Regina lite. She was snotty but not that bad. She could sure give those snide looks, though! I'm sorry if you had to suffer through a boss this bad. Yeah, I think you need to be into the crime shows to be into Grimm. I'm a fan of crime shows, which is why I was looking forward to it so much!

    VainGlorySinner ~ I'm glad to have been of help! I have a feeling that you will fall in love with both of these shows. One of the best parts about the internet is being able to catch shows you missed or are unfamiliar with.

    I agree, the more Joss Whedon, the better! :)

    I felt exactly how you do about Once Upon a Time. I was reluctant to check it out, because I thought it might be mushy or something. It really is quite dark, and I was pleasantly surprised!

    I'll be googling Fables as soon as I'm done responding here. I'm really intrigued by that comic!

    I never saw that Red Riding Hood movie, but I had wanted to. Let me know what you think of it! From the trailer I saw, it looks like some beautiful atmosphere has been created.

    Halloween Spirit ~ Yeah, I wonder where they're going with some of the Once Upon a Time plots. Although, that's probably a sign that it's a great show. It's making me think and try to predict! I hope it doesn't get too looped around as well. So far, so good. :)

  10. Believe it or not, Maleficent was one of my childhood heroes, and still one of my favourite villains of all time haha.

    I love Grimm, and really can't wait to see how it goes.

    I actually have Once Upon a Time to watch with dinner tonight, so I'll have to let you know what I think of it =)

  11. Cherry ~ She was one of your childhood heroes? I guess I should be scared of you, then! :) I can't wait to see where Grimm goes, either. Although, at this point I don't even care too much about the plot. I'm just enjoying the entertaining characters! I'll be interested to hear what you think of Once Upon a Time!

  12. Yes, it's interesting the way they've portrayed Maleficent on 'Once Upon a Time'. It's almost like she's grown weary of evil, and become wiser with age. It's funny because when I look at the Disney Queen (in witch form) now, I can't really evoke the same fear in my mind. I know she was a scary character, but it's hard to imagine being as terrified of her as I was. Regina, on the other hand is so manipulative and mean. I guess she's more disturbing than scary.

    Talking of the Snow White witch, I was thinking about your Old Maid witch and how she would look great with a bright red, poison apple in her hand. She's amazingly versatile because I can totally see her as Scrooge with a nightcap as well!!

    It's funny that we're talking about a television golden age because Ginnifer Goodwin, or Snow White, was saying in one of her interviews that the reason she has moved away from film is because all the great writing is happening on TV.

  13. Little Gothic Horrors ~ Yeah! Maleficent was actually kind of sound-minded. I suppose a life filled with evil deeds could wear a person out. :) It's funny how my mind just expects to see characters in the way Disney portrayed them. I kept thinking "Why is she blonde?" I agree that Regina in her modern form is more just mean than she is scary. I guess different rules apply in the modern world. There's no more of this "Bring me her heart!" stuff. Hopefully. :)

    Oh, I could totally see my Old Maid Witch with a red apple. She is turning out to be quite versatile, isn't she? I couldn't have been more surprised to see her included in A Christmas Carol Etsy Treasury!

    I agree about the writing for TV. I feel like my brain is more challenged by TV than it is recent movies. I'm trying to think of the last movie that challenged my brain... Maybe No Country for Old Men or True Grit. Actually, it was probably Rango! That may sound strange, but there's a lot under the surface of that movie.

  14. Oh, I totally know what you mean! I love the show, but the blonde just feels wrong for Maleficent! I think blonde can still represent evil, but it is more symbolic of an icy, cold sort of villain. I always think of Maleficent as jealous fury rather than cool and calculating.

    Have you seen the trailers for the 2 new Snow White movies? Neither of the Evil Queens are dark haired. Julia Roberts is a redhead, and Charlize Theron is a blonde. Come to think of it, I don't think you ever actually see the hair in the Disney cartoons because they both wear black head coverings, but I always imagine the Evil Queen and Maleficent being dark haired. Anyway, despite the fact that I'm really not thrilled about Kristen Stewart playing Snow White, the Charlize Theron film is appealing to me more at the moment. It looks very gothic and spooky, and full of ravens!

    I have to say that Regina was quite chilling on the occasions that she offered Emma apples and apple cider.

    I haven't seen Rango yet. I know what you mean though. There are a few animated movies that have very complex, and interesting themes.

  15. Little Gothic Horrors ~ I agree, blonde hair works much better with cool and calculating villains. I'm trying to remember any redheaded villains and all I can think up is Poison Ivy from Batman. Nope, I haven't seen any of the Snow White trailers. There are two Snow White movies coming out? I can't imagine Julia Roberts as an evil queen. I assumed all the evil queens had dark hair under those head coverings too. They did have those black eyebrows...

    Kristin Stewart as Snow White? That's hard to imagine since she is so associated with Twilight. Well, the Gothic, spooky, full of ravens part sounds good! :)

    Yeah, Regina was spooky with that apple. One of my favorite parts of the show so far is when Emma shows up with that chainsaw and goes at the poison apple tree! Wow, that was empowering!

    Oh, I really recommend Rango. It far surpassed any expectations I had for it. Plus there's the added bonus of Johnny Depp voicing Rango. :)

  16. Finally all caught up with Once Upon a Time. I have to say, I'm actually really surprised. I thought it was going to be terrible and that's why I put it off but I'm loving it. It's really clever, Mr Gold's my favourite though, he seems a lot scarier than Regina. There's something always hiding behind everything he says, and I find that more evil. Those who are evil and try to convince others through "acts of kindness" are much more evil. The show is really clever how it's executing the stories, I truthfully was expecting fluff stories not something with so much depth woven into the stories.

    Plus the Huntsman isn't terrible looking haha.

    I'm going to be cheeky and push myself into your little chat, the Snow White films both look really impressive which is another thing I was not expecting, thanks to the job that was done with Red Riding Hood. I love how different they both look too. Maybe Disney just thought that having dark hair would make you evil. Hopefully blonde witches will be just as mean.

    (<3 Rango, such a clever film)

  17. Cherry ~ Cool! I know what you mean! I guess the advertisements I'd seen for Once Upon a Time weren't good, because my expectations were pretty low! I hadn't seen the cool trailer for the show until I looked it up online. The show is a fun surprise!

    Oh, yeah. Mr. Gold is a pretty tricky guy! Did you see "The Full Monty"? The actor who plays Mr. Gold was in that movie as a stripper. :) I heard he was in "Trainspotting" too, but I don't remember that. I guess it's been a while since I've watched that movie. You're right, the villains who trick people through false kindness are the cruelest. I have to say I'm enjoying seeing Regina wrapped around Mr. Gold's little finger, though. :) Haha! Yeah, the huntsman is hot. How about that latest little plot twist between him and Regina?

    Haha! Go for it, be cheeky. I enjoy it when the comments section becomes a bit of a message board! So, it sounds like you weren't a fan of the Red Riding Hood movie? I haven't gotten around to seeing that one yet. I guess I could be open minded and give blonde witches a chance to be mean. It's about time that stereotype is broken. It will just take some time for my mind to get used to a change. I mean, you grow up with a certain image of a villain in your head, and that's what you think of when you're an adult. Disney has probably filled my mind with all kinds of subconscious associations.

    Yeah! Rango is awesome. I'd recommend that movie to anyone! I'm not sure if it was meant for children, but they'd probably still enjoy the movie.

  18. I keep coming back to this post, and I cannot decide if I want Rumpelstiltskin's coat, or if I just want a man who can pull off that coat. Either way, it is amazing.

    And to LGH's comment- when I saw the Evil Queen as a child, I thought she was my mother. No really. My mom's not evil, but she looks just like her.

    And as to Red Riding Hood the movie- could have been better. But of course we own it, because Hubby has a man crush on Gary Oldman. I swear, we own every movie that man has made.

  19. I have emailed you links to the trailers of the two 'Snow White' films. As you will see, the tone is quite different in each film.

    Yeah, Rango looks interesting. I've seen part of a "making of" video on Rango, and apparently the actors all acted out the script physically. Besides, you just know a film is bound to be good if Johnny Depp is associated with it.

    I haven't actually seen the Red Riding Hood movie, but the trailers looked stunning. I've heard it's very Twilighty though, which doesn't really appeal to me.

    Just in response to Pensive's comment about her mother, the Evil Queen was actually very beautiful, so I guess looking like the queen, minus the evil, would be pretty great!

  20. Pensive ~ Haha! Yeah, I've never seen a coat quite like that one. I like the pointy cuffs on it. He acts so reptilian, that it's a perfect fit. He manages to shimmer in an almost dirty way. I'm loving his contacts too! Yes, only a certain style of man can pull off a coat like that.

    Wow, really? Even her eyebrows? The queen was pretty, so it's not like that's a bad way to look.

    Ha! A Gary Oldman crush? Hmm... What role does Gary Oldman have in the Red Riding Hood movie?

    Little Gothic Horrors ~ I just watched those trailers today! Thanks for sending them. :) Those movies couldn't be more different! The similarities end with the subject matter. Like Grimm, and Once Upon a Time, I'd probably like both movies for different reasons. I'll write more about what I thought in email form.

    Oh, how funny! I'd love to see a little of Johnny Depp acting out that lizard role. Very true. One of the many things I like about Johnny Depp, is that he chooses roles for their unique, artistic qualities. He never seems to go for just the money. I have to respect that about him. Even if I don't like a movie he's in, he still manages to make his part enjoyable.

    From what I remember of the Red Riding Hood trailer, it looked artistic. I've heard some not so great reviews of the plot, but it looks like there are some pretty forest shots. I'm not a big Twilight person, but the forest scenes are beautifully filmed in those movies.

    I agree with your evil queen comment. It's not that she's bad looking. I mean, she was the "fairest of them all" until Snow White came on the scene! ;)