Fairy tales cast spell on U.S. television

LOS ANGELES Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:35pm BST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Fairy tales are back with a darkened vengeance on U.S. television, scaring up a fright and putting a new twist on a genre long dominated by pretty princesses and charming princes.

Inspired by the 19th century tales from the German storytellers the Brothers Grimm, "Grimm," debuts on NBC on Friday just days after "Once Upon a Time" premiered on rival network ABC.

Part crime drama, part fantasy, "Grimm" features Detective Nick Burkhardt (played by David Giuntoli) who battles mythical evil creatures such as the Big Bad Wolf from "Red Riding Hood."

But only Burkhardt can see the creatures behind their every day disguises as average inhabitants of present day Portland as he fights evil in human and supernatural forms.

"It's a sort of a marriage of a police procedural and mythological fracturing fairy tales every week," said David Greenwalt, one of the executive producers of the news series.

Greenwalt and co-producer Jim Kouf also intersperse the show with humor.

"People love to be scared, and they love to have a little bit of a laughter while they're being scared," Greenwalt said.

Although tales like "Cinderella" and "Snow White" have turned into lighter, happier stories by Disney, "Grimm" returns the fables to the darker original form presented by the Brothers Grimm and blurs the line between good and bad.

"The 'big bad' comes in a little different form in 'Grimm' because we're presenting some characters that appear to be bad but may actually have some good agendas," explained Greenwalt.

ZOMBIES AND DWARFS

NBC isn't the only network tapping into the revival of the dark fairy tale.

"Once Upon A Time" is a series about storybook characters like Snow White who find themselves unknowingly trapped in the real world, where things don't always have a happy ending. It opened on Sunday to a strong audience of 12.9 million viewers.

AMC's zombie series "Walking Dead" is the cable network's biggest hit, while FX has new series "American Horror Story".

The rising popularity of dark fairy tales may be partially attributed to the success of the "Twilight" vampire film and book franchise, which is a love story embedded in an epic tale transcending real and supernatural worlds.

The producers of "Grimm" believe the new trend is also down to people going back to classics to find new ideas.

"That's pretty interesting that all of sudden so much of attention was given to fairy tales," said Greenwalt.

"I think people are just looking for things to remake and books and source material for a lot of different projects. So everybody suddenly starting paying attention to the Brothers Grimm," he said.

"Twilight" director Catherine Hardwicke also delivered an adult "Red Riding Hood" film starring Amanda Seyfried earlier this year, while Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer switched up the tale of "Beauty and the Beast" in the edgy movie "Beastly."

The trend on the big screen will continue next year as the tale of "Snow White" gets two remakes.

"Twilight" star Kristen Stewart dons medieval armor in "Snow White and the Huntsman", while Lily Collins and Julia Roberts take the lead in a second 2012 movie in which the seven dwarfs try to reclaim their destroyed kingdom.

(Editing by Jill Serjeant and Bob Tourtellotte)