Pop Rocks: NBC's Friday Night Monster Mash Could Be Sleeper Hit of the Fall TV Season

David Giuntoli is Nick Burkhart on NBC's sleeper fantasy hit Grimm.
David Giuntoli is Nick Burkhart on NBC's sleeper fantasy hit Grimm.

The latest ratings have been released and it is good news for NBC's Friday night lineup featuring a pair of creature features that could be consistent winners for the network. Despite going up against the World Series, ratings for Grimm grew 15 percent over the season finale and the series premier of DC Comics Constantine drew a respectable audience while holding onto nearly all Grimm viewers.

For NBC, this is a big deal. The network, once the most powerful in primetime, has struggled mightily over the past half decade while ABC and CBS have thrived and smaller networks have been eating into the numbers for all the big networks. But the pair of supernaturally themed shows on Friday could bring about at least a mild resurgence for NBC.

For those unfamiliar, Grimm is a modern-day twist on the Grimm fairy tales. It emerged on the scene three seasons ago amid a spate of new fairy-tale-themed series like ABC's Once Upon a Time. Of course, the Brothers Grimm fairy tales could get pretty dark and the television series certainly plumbs those depths while keeping it light and entertaining enough not to drag it down.

The show revolves around Portland police investigator Nick Burkhardt, who is blessed/cursed with the ability to see an entirely different species called "wesen" that disguise themselves as humans but have decidedly different alter egos similar to various animal species. Only those in the line of the Grimm like Nick can see them, something he doesn't learn until later on in life when his terminally ill aunt comes to town with a trailer full of ancient books and scary weapons designed to track and kill wesen who are terrified of the Grimm.

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What makes this particular show good is that it gradually peels away layer after layer of discovery while allowing a thoroughly confused (at least at first) Nick to navigate the world of the Grimm in his own way, which includes befriending and defending a range of wesen. It also breaks a comic book rule that I have always hated. It doesn't keep loved ones in the dark. Instead, Nick's loved ones and partner get exposed to the real world and become part of the solution rather than the problem.   Grimm is fantasy mixed with comedy and pure entertainment, which is why it so seamlessly pairs with the hell-on-earth demon hunter Constantine. Both share the gift of both story telling and wit, which keep them from falling into darker territory. Constantine's premiere on Friday launched viewers straight into the abyss with reckless abandon. We quickly grew to learn and understand the backstory of the antihero rather than be forced to endure a full season of explication.

Constantine is a demon hunter, plain and simple. He's angry. He's brave. He's a smart-ass. And he's deeply conflicted. Everything you could possibly want in an antihero. The sassy British accent doesn't hurt either.

In the first episode, viewers were introduced to demons and specters of all varieties, both good and evil, and there were some decidedly scary moments balanced with the typical camp of an adapted graphic novel.

Watching both shows back to back, it is easy to see how fans of Grimm would feel rewarded for sticking around for the demon-bashing Constantine. Both are complicated, with stars who have accepted their fate for better and often worse. Both explore the dark reaches of the supernatural, and, most important, they are both damn entertaining. Think of them as American Horror Story light or X Files without the aliens.

If they continue with the strong story lines and consistently good performances from the casts, this could be a very good pairing for NBC on a night most networks leave for dead.

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