Thu
Oct 18 2012 11:30am

Same Old Beauty, Same Old Beast: Beauty and the Beast

Same Old Beauty, Same Old Beast: A review of new TV show Beauty and the Beast

Beauty & the Beast premiered last Thursday at 9/8c. in traditional CW style – with high doses of melodrama and just enough viewers to keep it alive for the rest of the season. The first five minutes of the pilot managed to appeal to me – a diverse cast, a “hot new Ivy-educated bartender” protagonist (college graduates across the country sigh in sympathy), and a sweet, believable mother-daughter relationship. 

Some mysterious assassins set the plot in motion and it all goes downhill from there. 

Catherine Chandler (Kristin Kreuk), the Beauty, becomes a detective after her mother’s murder and her own mysterious rescue by a “beast.” She spends her years seeking knowledge and revenge for the event, because that plot trope hasn’t quite been beaten to death yet. Besides a few witty lines of dialogue from her spunky partner, Tess (Nina Lisandrello), Cat doesn’t seem to have much fun – she is instead driven by a single-minded determination that greenlights the formation a healthy romantic relationship by the end of the series.

In the course of investigating the death of a fashion editor, Cat becomes intrigued by the DNA—cross-species DNA, even—left on the scene by a man presumed dead in the war in Afghanistan. She finds her beast in the abandoned chemical plant home of his best friend and roommate, J.T. (Austin Basis), and is given a hackneyed tale of government experimentation and consequent (attempted) elimination. Vincent (Jay Ryan) may be a dangerous beast, but he only manages to look unattractive when angry or in bad lighting.

Vincent then rescues Cat twice more, bringing the episode’s total Beast-on-Beauty rescues to three. Between these rescues, Cat solves the fashion-editor mystery (we are all shocked to find that her husband’s mistress did it – and even had an abortion, the hussy!) and rewards herself by touching Vincent’s face a lot. Did I mention that Vincent used to be a doctor and loves to rescue people so he can “feel human again”? You’d want to touch his face, too.

The episode ends with Cat staring out of a large window at a ritzy party with Vincent watching her from afar in a totally romantic, non-stalker sort of way. Something tells me that this show will be defined by its sharing of mutual, longing stares.

It goes without saying that the CW’s 2012 Beauty & the Beast is a far cry from the 1987 CBS series of the same name (and we won’t even touch on the fairy tale). Gone is the subterranean underground of misfits and veiled themes of discrimination and acceptance. Gone, along with Vincent’s lion face, is the “inner over outer beauty” moral. The B&B remake instead retains all of the tropes that make both series hackneyed and unwatchable – primarily, an animalistic “savior” figure and a woman that thinks she can “fix” all of his negative attributes.

Besides that, CW’s B&B is just straight up stale writing. I don’t expect the CW to be groundbreaking or deep, but I do anticipate TV that is either entertaining or so-bad-it’s-good (i.e. Supernatural). B&B is neither of these, and came close to putting me to sleep within the first twenty minutes; with no mystery or originality, the writers toe the line between adaptation and poorly made, updated replica.

Basically, don’t bother.

But don’t take my word for it: check out the CW tonight at 9 for the second episode, or catch up at CWTV.com.


Emily Nordling likes good books, bad tv, and superior tea. 

6 comments
bookpimp
1. bookpimp
I watched it and what struck me is that this is a show about a woman falling in love with a man with Rage issues. And that that is ok. Kind of how Twilight teaches young girls that Co-dependant relationships are A-OK!
Renee Hall
2. RCarterHall
I first saw the '80s series a couple years ago in reruns on Chiller and fell in love with it. (That alone probably tells you everything you need to know about my reaction to this... thing.)

My biggest disappointment of all the long list of disappointments, though, was Vincent turning into a hottie with a scar 99% of the time (and something vaguely Hulkish-on-a-budget for that last 1%). It strikes me that a fundamental part of Beauty and the Beast, from the original fairy tale on, is that the Beast is... well, a beast, and stuck that way, at least for the better part of the story -- in other words, that he doesn't look human. To me, the appeal of any version of this story hinges on the strength of the Beast character, and this one is just lame.
Estara Swanberg
3. Estara
Why would I watch this stuff, it's exchangeable even from just your pictures with all the other paranormal uf romance stuff out there.
I'm biased I have to admit - I loved the original Beauty & the Beast even after Linda Hamilton left the show.
bookpimp
4. Stroppy Apo
" make both series’ hackneyed and unwatchable"

You can't leave me hanging like that. Make both series' hackneyed and unwatchable what? Finish your sentences!
bookpimp
5. Llama
What can they possibly imagine is the point of a Beauty and the Beast story where the beast is not visibly a beast? I mean, it seems kind of fundamental. It's in the name and everything.

And what justification is there for longing and loving from afar and all the 'no we mustn't' if he's just a dude? The original Vincent and Katherine agonised because they were from two different worlds and neither could cross over, but this guy already has an apartment. What is the plot going to be? If it's "they fight crime", congrats to them on taking the least interesting, least effective, least original part of the series to base a remake on.
bookpimp
6. Mikel Moore
strappy apo--isn't the 'that' preceding those words a conjunction?

If I were to critique the writing, I'd point out overuse of the passive in the middle of the piece, but since Emmy's my niece, I'm hesitant to do so (not!)

Nice to see her put her mouth where her money is...

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