Two down

There have been times when the paucity of SF/fantasy-oriented TV would have kept me watching Grimm and Alcatraz as long as they lasted. 2012, when I can simply fill the void by Netflixing extra Rocky and Bullwinkle or Vampire Diaries, is not one of those times.
After half a season of Grimm and a half-dozen episodes of Alcatraz, I remain mildly curious about whatever the big agendas on the show are: The mystery threat terrifying the vessen leader in the former, who’s behind the time-travel in the latter. But hints and teases are no compensation when the A-storyline each week is dull (I went into other problems with hinting here)
Grimm is the story of Nick, a cop who discovers he’s also a “grimm,” one of a race/brotherhood/clan who hunt the vessen, shapeshifters who live among and prey upon humans (his main ability is that he can see their were-face). There are several things I like about the show, such as the occasional conflict between Nick’s duty as a cop and his role as a Grimm, and the fact that (unlike Slayers on Buffy or Hunters on Supernatural), the vessen are absolutely terrified of Nick: Grimm are the things vessen mothers threaten their kids with when they don’t eat their vegetables, so to speak.
But in practice, the plotline every week amounts to a stock cop show where the villain happens to be a werewolf (with a couple of exceptions such as Tarantella). The most recent episode was more fantastical, but equally stock, an underground fight club where vessen engage in death matches. That idea’s only been used on let’s see, Angel, Smallville, Torchwood and Justice League Unlimited.
Alcatraz has an interesting premise: The legendary San Francisco prison closed because everyone on it disappeared in 1963, and nobody knew why. In 2012, the protagonists learn why: Something or someone transported the cons into the present, where they’ve been set loose to kill again.
Despite the flashbacks in each episode showing that something very sinister was going on in Alcatraz back in ’63, the main gotta-catch-’em-all plotline doesn’t look any different from what we’d see if the cons had broken out of Joliet or Folsom: There’s nothing that indicates their activities fit into some larger scheme. And despite the show warning us they’re the worst of the worst, the ones we’ve seen so far aren’t exactly the Legion of Doom. Murderous, sure, but not any more dangerous, evil or clever than you find on any other TV show.
I have a slight regret that the overall season arc may turn out to be so brilliant that I’ll wish I’d kept watching (even though Netflix is always an option).
But I think I’ll manage to sleep tonight just the same.

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