NEW AT BEACON: “SDCC ‘14: Fan-Favorite GRIMM An Example of Diversity in TV”

l-r: Sasha Roiz, Reggie Lee, Claire Coffee, Bree Turner, Silas Weir Mitchell, David Giuntoli, Bitsie Tulloch, Russell Hornsby, David Greenwalt, Jim Kouf, Norberto Barba, and moderator, Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times.

l-r: Sasha Roiz, Reggie Lee, Claire Coffee, Bree Turner, Silas Weir Mitchell, David Giuntoli, Bitsie Tulloch, Russell Hornsby, David Greenwalt, Jim Kouf, Norberto Barba, and moderator, Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times.

I took most of today easy, recuperating from San Diego Comic-Con, but I finally put up my first SDCC post over at Beacon. This one’s about the Grimm panel in Ballroom 20 on Saturday. First, because, well, it’s one of my favorite shows. So there. 🙂


Gender Parity 
In a regular cast of eight actors, there are five men and three women, but those three women are all extremely important, while of the five men, three are consistently important while the show tends to alternate between the other two depending on the story line. In addition, there are also two other female characters in Nick’s life who are women – his mother, Kelly Burkhardt (played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), and the aforementioned Trubel, who was introduced last season. Their strong presence balances things out quite a bit.

What’s even more important is that the female characters are all different types. We have fighters (Kelly and Trubel), we have the nerd (Juliette), we have the nurturer (Rosalee) and we have the evil, um, witch (Adalind). Yet, even within these types, there is nuance: Kelly and Trubel have their soft sides, one with regard to her son, the other with regard to her inexperience and wanting a mentor; Juliette started out “standing by her man,” but as she’s become more empowered by knowledge, she’s discovering her own place in the world of Wesen; Rosalee may be soft and sweet where Monroe is concerned, but she is also a former drug addict, a resistance fighter, and a member of the Wesen Council; and Adalind has had a truly fascinating journey, from powerful witch, to losing her powers, to becoming a loving mother, to having her baby stolen from her, to vengeful witch.

(Check out my S1 spoken-word poem in praise of the Women of Grimm HERE. Because yes, I’m the type of geek who writes poems about TV characters in her spare time. Shut up.)

Wanna keep up with Comic-Con through MY eyes? CLICK HERE to get to my article and subscribe to me at Beacon! Starting at only $5/month, you can have access to my coverage of SDCC, as well as the work of 100+ other journalists covering all the topics you care about!

Al Día REDUX: La-la-la-laaaaaa Llorona

Heh. It just occurred to me to think of the title “La Llorona” to the melody of the Knack song. 🙂

Anyway, here is the English version of my original Grimm piece over at Al Día. Enjoy!

Bitsie Tulloch as Juliette Silverton in "La Llorona"

Bitsie Tulloch as Juliette Silverton in “La Llorona”

Grimm Broadens Its Horizons to Latin America and Beyond

If you’re a fan of fairy tales, or police procedurals, you should be watching NBC’s Grimm, a police procedural that incorporates myths and fairy tales. David Giuntoli stars as Portland police detective Nick Burckhardt, a cop who is also a Grimm. In this world, a “Grimm” is someone with the power to see fairy tale creatures when they don’t want to be seen, and he uses this gift to solve some of the more strange cases that come to the precinct. The show seamlessly blends the fairy tale elements with the elements of cop drama, and in its second season is an even stronger show. The ensemble cast is uniformly talented, the stories – generally modern takes on fairy tales – are well-executed, and in its second season Grimm is finally embracing the global feel it hinted at in Season One, in part, because of the diversity of its cast and crew, and the producers wanting to bring those diverse experiences into the show more fully.

Grimm has always layered in elements and fairy tales that go beyond the Germanic stories we’re all used to, incorporating tales from Japanese, Native American, and Greek traditions, among others. In Season Two, not only are the stories being pulled from global sources, but the world of the show is expanding as we learn that the world of Grimms and Wesen (the fairy tale creatures) extends well beyond Portland, Oregon.

Halloween provided a treat for Latino audiences this year when Grimm presented their episode, “La Llorona,” based on the famous Latin American tale of the same name. Nick and Hank investigate the mysterious disappearance of a Mexican boy after his father insists to the police that the boy was led away by a mysterious woman in white. The woman is then responsible for the disappearance of a little girl, and the detectives race to track her down before she takes another child. Nick and Hank are joined by a detective from New Mexico named Valentina Espinosa, played by Mexican actress, Kate del Castillo, who helps them track down the woman, and helps reveal her true nature and the supernatural reason behind the children’s disappearances.

The episode is a welcome respite from the usual both in tone and content. It’s refreshing, for example, that the episode begins with a father and son speaking to each other entirely in Spanish, and there are no subtitles used, forcing the audience (whether Spanish-speaking or not) to immerse themselves, not only in the supernatural world, but in a world (and culture) in which they might not immerse themselves otherwise.

The writers got to immerse themselves as well. Akela Cooper, the writer of “La Llorona,” while she’d vaguely heard of the story, she didn’t really know the legend’s darker details. “I was assigned the Halloween episode which turned out to be the ‘La Llorona’ episode,” she says. “I was vaguely familiar with it. I knew it by the “Woman in White” ghost story, but I didn’t know the backstory of the weeping woman or the part about her drowning children.  It was actually fun to research because it gave me a lot to take from the various versions of the story, but still keep the emotional core intact.”

A scene from "La Llorona"

A scene from “La Llorona”

“La Llorona” was actually created in partnership with Telemundo, and Cooper praises NBC’s efforts toward diversity saying, “NBC is very big on bringing diversity into television both on-screen and behind the cameras, and they’ve worked with various coalitions on how to do that with respect to cultures.  Though I don’t know specifics, I know NBC wanted to do a Latino-themed Grimm episode in Season Two that would be simulcast with Telemundo, and “La Llorona” provided a great Halloween episode so it worked out perfectly.”

“La Llorona” also prominently features Bitsie Tulloch, who plays Nick’s girlfriend, Juliette, and is experiencing a very interesting storyline this season involving magical, selective amnesia and having inexplicable feelings of love for Nick’s boss while not being able to remember Nick at all. Tulloch was able to exercise her fluent Spanish as Juliette assists Nick in his investigation by translating for the family of the missing boy. Juliette’s childhood mirrors Tulloch’s own in that they both grew up in Spain and Latin America.

Tulloch is thrilled that Grimm’s producers bring the actors’ own cultures, languages, and experiences into the stories they tell. “David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf have been remarkably, amazingly generous with the cast,” she explains. “Sasha [Roiz, Grimm’s Captain Renard] for example, speaks Russian, because his parents are Russian, and a little bit of French having grown up in Montreal, and they wrote that into it. It’s one of the things I’m really proud of – that the cast is very ethnically diverse and multilingual. Reggie Lee [Grimm’s Sargent Wu] speaks fluent Tagalog. He’s Filipino. I speak Spanish because I grew up overseas in Spain, Uruguay and Argentina. And so when they decided to do “La Llorona” they thought What a wonderful way to sort of have this episode that’s incorporating the fact that Bitsie can actually speak Spanish and we’re doing what is basically a South American/Central American and Southwestern United States fairytale.”

And yes, Tulloch was familiar with “La Llorona” before tackling it on Grimm, having been told the story by her Spanish mother.

The plan for Grimm is for it to continue to tell stories from all over the world since that is one of the reasons it does so well internationally. In fact, Tulloch reports that Grimm’s producers “mentioned saying to Reggie [Lee], like, can you think of any Filipino or Chinese or other Asian fairytales that you were told as a child? So that might happen down the road.” Meanwhile, Cooper confirms that “we love expanding beyond just the German fairy tales so most definitely in the future we’ll do more fairy tales from other countries.”

And as for a return to Latino characters and stories, there’s the mysterious figure of Pilar, the missing boy’s grandmother, who seems to have insight into magic and Juliette’s condition. Will she return? Cooper says, “Though I cannot make promises, the return of Pilar has come up in discussions. If we can make it work story-wise we’d love to.”

Insightful Latinas solving problems? Stories with an international scope? Hot actors and frightening monsters? Grimm is a show I can get behind. The show is currently on mid-season hiatus, but will return in 2013, giving you some time to catch up. You’ll be glad you did.

Al Día Post: “Llorona, llévame al río”

I realized that I hadn’t posted my second Al Día post, and since we’re going to be suffering a Grimm drought until MARCH (*sigh*), I figured now would be as good a time as any to do that!

Kate del Castillo, Russell Hornsby, and David Giuntoli in the "La Llorona" episode of Grimm

Kate del Castillo, Russell Hornsby, and David Giuntoli in the “La Llorona” episode of Grimm

The piece was about the Halloween episode of Grimm called “La Llorona,” based on the Latin American legend of the same name. I not only discuss the episode, but also the multicultural aspects of Grimm in general, and how the show has increased its global scope between Season 1 and Season 2. It incorporates interviews I did with Bitsie Tulloch, who plays Juliette, and Akela Cooper, the writer of the “La Llorona” episode.


[“Grimm”] combina a perfección elementos de fábula con elementos del drama policial, y en su segunda temporada se ha convertido en un espectáculo poderoso. El elenco es uniformemente talentoso, las historias —en general, relatos modernos basados en cuentos de hadas— están bien realizadas, y en su segunda temporada, “Grimm” está, por fin, abarcando la sensibilidad global que se insinuaba en la primera temporada. Esto es en parte debido a la diversidad del reparto y del equipo de producción, pero también porque los productores quieren resaltar diversas experiencias culturales.

“Grimm” siempre ha usado elementos que no se encuentran en los cuentos de hadas de origen alemán que se acostumbran oir y ver en EE.UU., y el programa ha incorporado el folclor japonés, indígena estadounidense, y griego en sus guiones. En la segunda temporada, no simplemente son las historias que se extienden a fuentes mundiales, sino la trama del relato en sí: Aprendemos que los “Grimms” y “Wesen” (así se llaman las criaturas de leyenda que conviven con los protagonistas del programa) se encuentran en todos lados, no sólo en la ciudad de Portland.

En Halloween de este año el episodio de “Grimm” fue un regalo para el público latino porque se basó en el famoso cuento latinoamericano de “La Llorona”. Nick y su compañero de detectives, Hank, investigan la misteriosa desaparición de un niño mexicano después de que su padre le insiste a la policía que al niño se lo llevó de la orilla del río una misteriosa mujer vestida de blanco. La misma mujer es responsable por la desaparición de una niña, y los detectives se apresuran para seguir su rastro antes de que ella rapte a un tercer menor. Una detective de Nuevo México, Valentina Espinosa, protagonizada por la actriz mexicana Kate del Castillo, se une a la investigación de Nick y Hank y les ayuda a localizar a la mujer, a revelar su verdadera naturaleza mítica y la razón detrás de las desapariciones.

Para leer el examen completo, o a dejar un comentario, haga CLIC AQUÍ.

Also, the piece didn’t only post on the web. It was also included in the La Cultura section of the print edition of Al Día dated Nov 25-Dec 1st, where it looks rather more awesome! 🙂 Check it out below! And keep your eyes peeled for the English version of the article coming up as an Al Día REDUX post!

Grimm La Llorona article – Nov 25-Dec 1

Grimm La Llorona article pg 2 – Nov 25-Dec 1

Tor Post: “Bad Teeth, Mommy Issues, and Royal Kisses: Grimm Season 2”

Grimm is back! YAAAAAAAY!

What isn’t back are my weekly reviews. Grimm coverage is going to be handled a little differently over there from here on out, and a little less frequently, but you can check out my write-up on the two-part season two opener of Grimm now! And I just might be keeping up my weekly reviews here at The Experience, so stay tuned…


Full disclosure: I have a thing about memory loss. With Alzheimer’s in my family, memory loss is one of the scariest things in the world to me, and when we get that glimpse in “Bad Teeth” of Juliette losing Nick in her memory, it was more frightening to me than any monster they could come up with. Having Juliette wake up and not know Nick nearly tore my heart out, and this will be one of the more interesting storylines on the show to me now. I’m interested in seeing how Juliette will change while undergoing this experience, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Nick now handles balancing his relationship with Juliette and his life as a Grimm now that he’s literally been given a blank slate with which to start over. He’d better do things right the second time around, because he screwed up the first time.

For the full review, or to comment on the post, CLICK HERE!

Tor Post: “SDCC: The Grimm Experience”

David Giuntoli, Bitsie Tulloch, Silas Weir Mitchell, Bree Turner, Russell Hornsby, Reggie Lee, and Sasha Roiz at the SDCC 2012 Grimm Panel. Photo by Emily Heyer. (@GotThatMoxie on Twitter)

As a proud Grimmster, the best part of my San Diego Comic-Con experience was the Saturday, which ended up being Grimm Day! Check out my piece over at about all the fabulous offerings NBC provided for fans at SDCC to promote Season 2 of Grimm!


FIRST ACT OF SEASON TWO OMGWTFHOLYCRAP! — Those in attendance at the Grimm SDCC panel were treated to the first act of the first episode of Season 2. I’m not going to spoil anything (even though plenty of other sites have — you want spoilers, you can go look for them), but I will say that the episode looks amazeballs. There are new saber-tooth tiger wesen that are really vicious; we find out not only more about Nick’s mom, but about what happened to his father; and there’s a violent encounter between Nick’s mom and Monroe! Also, there’s Captain Renard in casual wear looking suspicious even as he’s being really helpful, because that’s just what he does now.

For the full write-up on all the Grimm fan events at SDCC, or to comment on the post, CLICK HERE!

THE FRAY PROJECT: A New Gift Horse (Writing)

I’ve been talking about a Castle spec script that I’ve been working on/struggling with for a while now. My first-ever spec that I wrote completely wrong at first (structure? What’s that? You mean, the main character has to be, like, in it? Like, a lot? And has to, like, do stuff?), but the plot and theme of which I wanted to salvage, because they were important to me. Also, there’s the fact that I wanted to learn from this script. My hope was that if I could fix my mistakes here, I’d be better off.

However, I’ve hit a wall on it, mostly because I started it completely wrong, so the entire foundation of the story is unstable. I tried patching it up, but haven’t been able to successfully, and now I’ve just stared at the thing so long I can’t even see it anymore. I want to make a good spec out of it. I want this particular story written for these characters. But I need distance from it. Right now, I’m still too attached to certain scenes as written, even though they’re wrong, and I need to get to a place where I can start from scratch. I’m not there on this script right now.

So, Castle is in the metaphorical drawer. (Remember when people actually put scripts in drawers, because they actually typed them on paper? I know. Me either. 😉 )

BUT, I’ve been working on a new spec from scratch (outline, treatment, the works) where I’m putting everything I learned from all the mistakes I made on the Castle script to good use. It’s a spec for Grimm. What are these things I’ve learned? Well, they might seem like common sense, but I’m recording them here in all their ridiculousness in the hopes that my mentioning them might spare some of you some trouble. 🙂 This way, you can make your own, entirely different mistakes!

  • When I first wrote the Castle script, I thought that having watched the show and “knowing it really well” was enough to write a script. Um, no. You need to know your show on the page if you want to write it. What you see on the screen and what you see in a script are two totally different things. I started looking at old Castle scripts long after I’d already made my first set of “revisions” (I put that word in quotes, because even my revisions at the time were wrong) to the first version of my spec, but by then it was too late. I was trying to shrink and stretch my spec to fit into the Castle mold, but it was never really designed to do that, so the whole thing just fell apart. With Grimm, after I got a glimmer of an idea for a story I wanted to tell, I immediately got a hold of the scripts for three episodes to see how many acts each had, how many pages each act had, how characters were included, when certain procedural plot points tended to happen… When I started to outline and write a treatment for my episode, the story came much more easily than the Castle one did, because I knew where certain parts of the story were supposed to go before I started! Knowing your show really well on the script level helps you write it. I know! Crazy, huh? 🙂
  • In the first incarnation of my Castle script, Richard Castle hardly did anything. You see, I so desperately wanted to give Beckett and Alexis more to do, that I forgot that the show is called Castle, and if I’m going to tell an effective Castle story, that story should, you know, include Castle. 🙂 This is funny, since in my reviews of Grimm for, the episodes I liked least were the ones where Monroe does all the heavy lifting, and Nick doesn’t get to save the day or have the major insights. Not only do my Castle mistakes help me write other specs better, but they also help me see and articulate what I do and don’t like on current television shows. Anyway, for my Grimm spec, I’m never letting myself forget that the show is called GRIMM. Nick is the hero. It’s his story, despite the wonderful ensemble, and in the end, he has to drive the action, make the big decisions, and have the most at stake. The simple act of remembering this has allowed my treatment to come much more easily. Whenever I was at a loss for what should happen to move the story forward, I would just ask “What does Nick want?” And then words would happen. It’s like magic! In fact…

  • Trusting the characters is something else I didn’t do much in my Castle script. There were Things That I Wanted To Say, and I was basically using the characters as mouthpieces for those things. Big mistake. I wasn’t treating them like people. For my Grimm script, as I’ve been writing the treatment, I’ve been talking to the characters in my head. Just as I’ve been asking myself what Nick wants, I’ve been asking what Hank and Juliette and Monroe want. What does Renard want? And yes, what does Wu want. 🙂 And they’ve been telling me what they want. And what they want very often conflicts with what Nick wants. OMG, CONFLICT YOUSE GUYS. 🙂 It seems so stupid to even have to type this as a thing. But no matter who you are, there’s always the point at which you didn’t know this. And then one day, you know it. And then your writing gets better. My story feels inevitable now, because as I progress act by act through my treatment, things are unfolding naturally in the plot, because they’re all driven by characters and not by me manipulating things. I mean, I knew the basic story I wanted to tell (the crime, where I wanted the characters to end up, etc), but I didn’t know how it was going to happen. By focusing on the characters, certain things popped up that not only surprised me, but forced me to change/add other things along the way that make the whole story better.
  • Last lesson? I’m not rushing my outline/treatment. The treatment for a TV spec is only about 4-5 pages where you write out, in prose, everything that happens in your script. It seems like an easy thing, but this is really where the bulk of the work happens. Doing this right means less work later. So, I’m taking my time at this stage, and not rushing to Final Draft until I’m sure I have a quality road map to follow. This doesn’t mean I won’t have to rewrite later. But it does mean that I’ll have a better script to work with when I’m revising, unlike my poor Castle script.

The other day, on Facebook, after gleefully getting through the teaser and 3 1/2 acts in my Grimm treatment, my status was: That awesome moment when a story clicks and suddenly a script actually seems possible. 🙂 If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If it IS broke, try. But if you CAN’T fix it, get a new gift horse all together. But don’t look in its mouth. Or something.

This is what I was referring to. My Grimm spec is my new gift horse. A friend of mine joked, “Just hope it isn’t a Trojan horse!” 🙂 I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Tor Post: Once Upon a Time Vs. Grimm – THE FINAL BATTLE

Well, we’re finally here! The moment Oncers and Grimmsters have been waiting for. The winner of the Battle of the Network Fairy Tale Shows has been announced at! But first, reviews of the season finales of Once Upon a Time and Grimm


Once Upon a Time

Everything that needed to happen, like Emma kissing Henry with the Kiss of True Love, happened predictably in a by-the-numbers way. And when things were unpredictable, like Emma suddenly believing in the curse despite being so reluctant for so long in the most inorganic moment I’ve seen in a while, they didn’t make much sense. The way that moment was handled, it looked as if she touched Henry’s book and it sent visions of the truth shooting into her, which was hugely unsatisfying. I’ve seen various explanations online that say that she believed in that moment either because “she was ready,” or because “Henry’s condition primed her to believe, the way that people will suddenly turn to God when loved ones are ill even if they’ve never believed before.” I would’ve believed either of those had they been indicated in the script at all, but they weren’t. Emma just went from not believing to touching the book and believing. Had there been moments of her deliberating in previous episodes, or even in this one, that moment might have been earned, but it was not. She’s been so adamant about not believing for so long that I just couldn’t buy this sudden turnaround, and it tainted the rest of the episode, because I couldn’t be as invested in her quest.


However, that doesn’t mean there were no hiccups. The moment when Nick finally tells Juliette about being a Grimm was handled surprisingly poorly. I know that it was important for Juliette not to believe him, certainly not right away, but did Nick have to suddenly forget how to speak English? Rather than starting with the fact of the hair she couldn’t explain, as well as the fact that she brought up the point that perhaps stuff like Bigfoot was real, he just starts naming things around his trailer like a babbling idiot. Meanwhile, Juliette was way too skeptical from the get-go. She wants the truth, and yet everything she says and does leads us to believe that she’s dead set on not believing him no matter what he says. That entire section between Nick and Juliette didn’t play the way I think it was supposed to. Either that, or it did, and the way it was supposed to play was just wrong.

For the full reviews, to comment on the post, and to FIND OUT WHO WON, CLICK HERE!