Book Review: Grimm: Below the Surface: The Insider's Guide to the Show

A great companion guide to the series, as well as a reference guide to Portland's creepiest inhabitants.
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Grimm is a television show that has been running on NBC since the 2011 fall season. Part procedural cop show, part fantasy, the series follows Portland homicide detective Nick Burkhardt, who is descended from a long line of hunter/protectors known as Grimms. After his Aunt Marie is killed, Nick inherits the family business, from her extensive weapon collection to some super-human abilities. Grimms have the ability to see Wesen, creatures with animal characteristics that live among humans. Many Wesen are dangerous to humans and prey upon them, but as Nick becomes more and more comfortable with his supernatural abilities he learns that there are friendly, even helpful, Wesen too.

grimm-giuntoli.jpgDavid Giuntoli plays Nick Burkhardt, a newly-minted Grimm

Titan Publishing has recently released a companion book and comprehensive guide to the series, Grimm: Below the Surface. Using content compiled from previously published souvenir magazines, Grimm Exclusive Collector's Edition Special #1 and #2, the book covers all aspects of the show, from behind-the scenes props and special effects to the ever-growing and evolving Wesen mythology.

Grimm: Below the Surface is designed with the most fervent Grimm fan in mind. Extensive interviews with the creators of the show, from executive producers David Greenwalt (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel) and Jim Kouf (Angel, Ghost Whisperer) and director Norberto Barba, to all of the behind-the-scenes wizards who bring Nick and the Wesen to life - make-up artists, costumes, set design, and stunts. Producers Sean Hayes (Sean Saves the World, Will & Grace) and Todd Milliner (Sean Saves the World, Hot in Cleveland) discuss how their vision in 2005 of a show where Grimm fairytales were real evolved into the current production. All of the major cast is profiled and interviewed. Readers learn how lead actor David Giuntoli was cast as Nick Burkhardt, and how his partner Hank Griffin, played by Russell Hornsby, feels about the various creepy creatures they go up against on a weekly basis, "I'm still scared of dogs!"

Also interviewed are Bitsie Tulloch, who plays Nick's love interest, Juliette, and Silas Weir Mitchell, who played reformed Big Bad Wolf Monroe and who has joined Nick's ersatz "Scooby Gang" to battle the not-so-nice Wesen of Portland. Also featured are Sasha Roiz, who plays Nick's police captain; Sean Renard, who has ties to the Wesen world and beyond; Bree Turner, who plays Rosalee, another friendly Wesen, a Fuchsbau, a fox-like creature, who has become quite close to Monroe; Claire Coffee, who plays on-again off-again Hexenbiest Adalind Schade; and Reggie Lee, who plays the always amusing Sergeant Wu, the only major cast member still in the dark about Nick's "other job."


What Adalind Schade really looks like - the Hexenbiest

The 176-page book is nicely designed and is full of great color photos from the series. It covers the first two seasons of the series, and includes synopses of each of the 44 episodes. But what will truly thrill most fans are the many excerpts from "Aunt Marie's Casebook." Nick and the gang must frequently hit the books to determine what monster-of-the-week is plaguing Portland, but Nick's collection of Aunt Marie's notes and extensive illustrations of the Wesen community are usually only glimpsed in brief on the show. 

Grimm: Below the Surface features many detailed descriptions of some of the series' most popular monsters and otherworldly creatures, complete with useful factoids (physical traits, known enemies, how to kill them) as well as detailed illustrations. Profiles include: Grimms, Blutbad (Big Bad Wolves like Monroe), the bat-like Murciélago, Dämonfeuer, the toad-eating ladykillers called Ziegevolk, the lion-like Löwen and bee-like Mellifer, the zombie/witch Hexenbiest, and one of the creepiest yet most poignant Wesen, the Spinnetod, a sort of Black Widow portrayed by Amy Acker in "Tarantella."

Grimm is currently in its third season, and has been renewed for a fourth, which is great news for Grimm-enthisiasts and fans of the supernatural. Grimm: Below the Surface is a great companion guide to the series, as well as a bit of a reference guide of its own, as many Wesen tend to pop up again in the series, just when one least expects them. Next time you're unsure whether Juliette or Monroe is being menaced by a Mellifer or a Hexenbiest you can look it up.

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