These two similar shows aired roughly around the same time. You might be saying to yourself at this very moment the same thing I did, "Which one should I choose to watch?" Thankfully for you, you don't have to choose either! They both revolve around the fairy tale/fantasy world, but each has a totally different approach. Maybe you'll like one or the other. Hopefully both.
Once Upon a Time is about a small town called StoryBrooke that is blanketed by a curse as explained to Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison). The curse has been implemented by an evil queen to restrict the once-storybook cast from making connections with each other thereby realizing their identity and breaking the curse. Okay, that's an exaggeration. I don't technically know the explanation of how to break it yet, but it's something to that effect.
I'm only including this trailer, because Grimm's trailer is the entire first episode
It's both romantic and mysterious. While every episode contains within it several life lessons to extract, the flashbacks are done in out of consecutive order so that the audience has to piece together parts of the puzzle. It provides many moral dilemmas, and it's hard to disagree with many if not all the choices that the benevolent characters make.
The episodes bounce back and forth between the past lives of our characters Snow White, Prince Charming, and Pinnochio, to name a few. One of the charms of the show is being introduced to new characters in the modern world and trying to recognize who they used to be (my spouse and I have fun betting over this). OUaT is for fans who liked 10th Kingdom, Lost (2/3 of the writers were co-producers/writers on Lost), or the comic book series Fables. My favorite characters so far are Rumplestiltskin who leaves the greatest room for intrigue and appeal (probably like Ben Linus).
Grimm is darker—a fantasy cop drama comparable to The Dresden Files, X-Files, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Cold Case. Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) is the last living member in a family with a history of bad luck, the Grimms. Correct, like the Bros. Grimm. This family has a particularly unusual genetic talent for hunting monsters. Burkhardt meets up with a reformed monster (Munroe, played by Silas Weir Mitchell) who helps him with his good cop/bad cop routine. Coincidentally, Munroe is my favorite character-”I meditate now!” If you watched Buffy, he becomes the Giles to Burkhardt's Buffy (or when Spike is being kind instead of a piece of scum/love interest). With a recent uprise in television cop dramas, this adds a nuance and twist that others have been unable to bring forth.
If you're juggling multiple jobs/responsibilities, you can watch an episode at a time and not feel like you're missing much (so long as you're undivided during that one episode). They can be viewed individually, although you will probably want to continue watching them.
Since Grimm is filmed in Portland, OR, I'm partially addicted to this show out of pure adulation in seeing my hometown on mainstream television. The woods, the slight foreboding overcast skies, and the variety of buildings/locations pushes Grimm to look unique (unless you watch Portlandia, and then not so much).
The Best of Both Worlds
Once Upon a Time
- Larger cast of characters
- More plot and character development
- Better story arcs and tie-ins
- Best quotations
- Better location
- More action per episode (you can't multi-task as easily if at all or you miss something)
- Preferred, easily identifiable guest stars
- Funniest one-liners
- Cooler songs
Gripes and Groans
Once Upon a Time
I'll give the writers' the benefit of the doubt for now that they're going to reveal why the primary villian in Once Upon a Time is such an evil hemmroid. She's a bad communicator and a worse mother. Her plan to keep the citizens apart is by using the police and repeatedly warning the townsfolk to avoid each other. Also, her child runs the streets like a rabid dog (this is an analogy not a hint). Training classes? Locking him up? Admittedly, this is a piece of the show that has to happen—Henry has to escape, and she has to be an axe-wound. Hopefully this won't become an aggravating chirp and particule of abscess.
Burkhardt's wife is Buffy's mom in the first few seasons. He could warn her without telling her the whole story. Also, I want him to stop making Munroe his undercover brother. I want to protect my favorite character!
Once Upon a Time has to be my favorite of the two, but just barely. Characters and plots peak my interest, however I am hooked to both and hope that audiences won't pick one and not the other, because they're both very well-done. They can be viewed on Hulu or their respective TV channels (ABC and NBC).