Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pilot Review: Beauty and the Beast


Beauty and the Beast (Thursdays at 9:00 on The CW)

It took me over a week to get to this review, mostly because I care so little about it.. The CW's Beauty and the Beast is terrible, and if it weren't for the insipid The Mob Doctor on Fox, it would be the worst new show of the season.

Like Emily Owens, M.D. is the network's first medical procedural, this is their first police procedural (or at least the first since Dawn Ostroff took over, I think there may have been one before her). You read that right: Beauty and the Beast is a police show. The even more ridiculous part? The police are played by two attractive women who are hardly 30 and manage to only solve crimes involving the beautiful elite: the first episode a beauty magazine editor, the second a ballerina. It's stupid.

There's also the matter of the "beast" of the title, who happens to be a presumed-dead soldier left "horribly" scarred (it's a line on one side of his face; Google images of wounded vets if you wanna see what war scars really look like... but don't do it if you want to sleep tonight) and with superpowers that make him a killing machine. It seems he saved Beauty, whose name is actually Catherine and played stoically and boringly by Smallville's Kristin Kreuk, from attackers ten years ago, while her mother was murdered. This crime is the reason Cat became a police officer, and she has spent the remaining years searching for her savior, whom she called a "beast" at the time. When a crime is committed and a partially human hair matching one found at Cat's long-ago crime scene is recovered, she goes searching for the Beast, actually named Vincent and played with ho-hum seriousness by Australian actor Jay Ryan. Conveniently, he has the same newspaper clipping Cat has looked at everyday for 10 years lying around his house, so she knows it's him.

See? Stupid. And the fact that this is even called Beauty and the Beast is ludicrous. It's apparently loosely based on the 1980s CBS series of the same name that starred Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman, but it lacks all of that show's magic and sense of mythology. In that series, the Beast was an animal. Here, he's a pretty boy with an "ugly" scar on his face... which actually kind of makes him even more attractive, and even more human because it's a flaw. "The World Below" does not yet exist in this incarnation, and considering that was the heart of the 1987 show... I don't really understand how this can be considered a remake. Just because Kreuk and Hamilton played characters with the same name?

It's all nonsensical anyway, so it doesn't really matter. From little things like how Catherine could be tending bar underage to how she attended an Ivy League school and ended up a cop, to big things like discrepancies in the time frame and the total inappropriateness of the title, nothing about Beauty and the Beast makes sense. But it doesn't seem like creators Sherri Cooper & Jennifer Levin (Brothers & Sisters) are interested in doing anything but displaying a distorted and ridiculous world where everyone and everything is inconceivably beautiful, even when it's dangerous and dark. I mean, Cat spends the pilot investigating a murder at a beauty magazine, for sobbing out loud. Everything is about physical perfection, from the lighting in the mother's murder scene to Kreuk's perfectly brushed and never out-of-place hair. No wonder a beautiful guy with a scar is considered beastly in this world; it's the only flaw on display.

And that's what makes Beauty and the Beast ultimately so preposterous and unable to be enjoyed. It's bringing nothing new to the table, and what it's redoing it is redoing poorly. No one on the show can act worth a lick, at least not in these roles; the script is predictable and painfully slow; the direction is slick but expected and never creative; the story goes nowhere, and the crime isn't engrossing; and it claims to be something that it's not by using the title of a very well-known fairy tale (and better done TV series). It's a quick way for the CW to cash in on the fairy tale series craze that turned Once Upon a Time and Grimm into hits last season. But both of those shows are infinitely more entertaining and better put together than this piece of crap.

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