Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New fall shows: Knights of Mayhem, Once Upon a Time and Grimm

One show I’ve been hooked on is Knights of Mayhem, which airs on The National Geographic Channel on Tuesdays (9 pm PST). The series follows a group of men, called the Knights of Mayhem led by Charlie Andrews, who participate in full contact heavy armor jousting.  They travel around the country as a company, fighting one another during Renaissance fairs and at Jousting competitions. This first (??) season, the Knights of Mayhem have taken on a couple of new members. We get to watch as the men learn the sport and advance their skills.

In the growing sport of heavy armor jousting, the two knights ride toward one another in the lists, as expected, only instead of a wood wall between the men, they each have a rope ‘row’ which guides them. Knights earn 3 points by hitting their opponent, 5 points by breaking their lance on their opponent, and 10 points by knocking their opponent of their horse. 

These men take hard hits and even harder falls. In the second show, two different men required evaluations by on scene medics. Both knights were knocked out during competition – one during a fall the other by a hit to his head. Charlie Andrews is hoping this show will garner enough interest in jousting to make it in to a professional sport. His troupe includes Patrick Lambke, Jason Armstrong, and Brian Stephenson.

The next show I’m watching is Once Upon a Time, which airs on Sunday nights on ABC (8 pm PST). It takes place in two locations. The first is a fantasy location, where fairy tales are true. The second place is Storybrooke. The basic premise of the show begins after Snow White and Prince Charming get married. The Evil Queen blames Snow for losing her love, so she curses all of the residents of the kingdom. In a last ditch effort for salvation, Snow makes a bargain with Rumpelstiltskin. He tells her how to thwart the curse but in turn, she must give him the name of her unborn child. Snow can’t go through with handing over her baby, so she tells her husband, Elle (Cinderella) and her husband of her dilemma. At the moment the curse arrives at the castle, Snow places her newborn in a magic cabinet.

Twenty years later, Emma (the child of Emma and James) arrives home in Boston to find a boy, Henry waiting for her. Henry is the boy she gave up for adoption. She agrees to take Henry home. The town mayor is Henry’s adopted mother.  Henry tried to convince Emma that all of the residents of Storybrooke are fairy tale characters, only they have forgotten their true origins and names. Only Henry knows who they are because of stories in a book he has. He tells Emma that none of the residents can leave the town, he also tells Emma the town clock has been permanently stuck on the same time.

The episodes all deal with a different fairy tale, using a combination of flash backs to the ‘fairy land’ in which Snow & Charming’s tale blends with the modern fantasy with Emma, Henry and the residents who are the same characters from the fairy lands. Again, Henry, Emma, and a core cast of characters (Evil Queen is Regina, the  Mayor, Rumple is rich landowner Mr. Gold, Snow is school teacher, Charming is newly awoken from coma-but engaged to different person, Jiminy Cricket is a psychiatrist) feature in the show involved with the secondary story.

The final show is Grimm, playing on NBC, on Fridays (9 pm PST or Sci-Fi replays Tue 10 pm PST). This series is a fantasy drama based upon the Grimm’s fairy tales. This show has the Grimms as people with special abilities. Grimms are able to see through ‘glamour’ cast by others. For example, JaegerXXXX look like normal folks to most people, but to Grimms, they display…

In this series, Nick is a Portland police officer, a detective. In the pilot, he is visited by his eccentric Aunt Marie who spills a tale about mysterious powers. She is dying of cancer, and wishes to spend her final days with her nephew. Before she had the chance to talk about the family heritage, she is savagely attacked. About the same time, girls with red capes (Little Red Riding Hood) are being targeted by a wolf-like creature called a blutbad. The bad guy is the local postman. Nick and his partner Hank track the latest victim, a young girl. Nick believes a neighbor in a residential area near a park is responsible, but after a search, he is cleared. Monroe is a Wieder Blutbad – a reformed creature. It turns out to be another blutbad is responsible. Meanwhile Aunt Marie tells Nick about their true family history and the special book that will help him. She also says to guard the secrets of her mobile trailer.

In the end, Monroe helps Nick, guiding him to the house in the woods. Nick and his partner Hank save the girl and defeat the bad guy. We discover the ‘evil’ creatures are everywhere undercover, including the police department. The episode ends with another attack at the hospital on Marie. Nick stops the attack, getting injected instead of his Aunt by a mysterious creature (who gets away). The creature runs out and gets in to a vehicle driven by the Police Chief. The conspiracy begins….

Of the three shows, the Knights of Mayhem is a reality show. With the might of National Geographic behind it, there is hope it will continue at least through a season. I should like to see the core group fight some other contestants.

I love Once Upon a Time. The supply of fairy tales to draw upon is endless. It started at a perfect time, with A Game of Thrones on hiatus. Grimm is doing okay. I do appreciate the Germanic background to the history of the creatures. The werewolf-type neighbor is my favorite.

In any case, I hope the networks keep all three shows going. It is nice to have something OTHER than a cookie-cutter CSI drama in a different city (what’s next, CSI Ottawa?) or tired run-of-the-mill family comedy.

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