Beauty and the Beast: Pilot Review

Re-imagining the fairy tale, whereby Beauty is a New York cop investigating (amongst other things) the murder of her mother a decade ago, Beast is a doctor who enlisted after his brothers died in the World Trade Centre, and was turned into a supersoldier with anger management issues. He saved her the night of her mother’s murder, and they’re reunited a decade later.

According to the people that vote for the People’s Choice Awards in America, Beauty and the Beast is their favourite new TV drama series this year. I know it’s not been a great year for drama (Nashville is the only pilot I’ve seen so far that I think is actually good), but this does not bode well for the 2012/13 season or for the sanity of the voters for the People’s Choice Awards. I guess Beauty and the Beast is better than Arrow, but then that’s really not particularly hard. The lead actors are slightly more charismatic than the plank of wood starring in Arrow, they can’t act any better but they at least have a passing familiarity with human emotions and it’s possible there’s a sense of humour in that might manage to struggle out in a few episodes time. The director/network also somehow resisted the temptation to have their leading man take his shirt off every 5 minutes, although maybe that’s not a mark in the show’s favour.

One of the big similarities with Arrow is that while that was a low budget Batman, this is a low budget Incredible Hulk – “You wouldn’t like him if he got angry” and all that malarkey. The connection to the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast is so peripheral that it’s barely worth the effort. The beast here is ‘cursed’ by the military rather than a witch or whatever, but that’s the only real link. The Beast in the fairy tale looked like a beast all the time, not someone who changed back and forth. This beast is a model with a scar on his cheek, then he morphs into a model with some tiny prosthetic cheek bones. It’s hilariously un-beastly.

This show looks set to be a New York set police drama, with a slightly odd sidekick and a shady conspiracy theory over the top. That wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but nothing in the pilot gave me any sense that the show could do it convincingly. It seems to be trying to emulate Bones, or Castle with it’s quirky cases (next week’s is about ballerinas!), but those shows are held together by charismatic actors and well written scripts, this one doesn’t compare well. The two leads felt too young and too shallow, more drawn towards brooding and ‘love at first sight’ inevitability than any depth of character. The script meanwhile relied on chunky exposition and that most dreaded of fallbacks – a narration. The point where Beauty started talking to her dead mother via letter writing was the moment I truly gave up on the show.

The whole thing just felt flimsy, insubstantial, and cheap – a relatively unknown cast (the only name of note is Kristin Kreuk, Lana Lang from Smallville), blatantly not being filmed in New York (although it’s Toronto, not Vancouver as I guessed) and make-up effects more minimal than even Star Trek’s wrinkly foreheads. The inevitability of Beauty and Beast falling in love (despite a complete lack of real chemistry) and the way it endlessly tries to imitate other, much better shows, just makes it all rather dull. If this is the people’s choice for best new drama this year, I’m dreading watching the rest of the pilots I have waiting for me.

Beauty and the Beast airs on Watch on Tuesday nights, and has been picked up for a full season by The CW.

Other reviews – Beauty and the Beast is such a fundamental failure that its badness isn’t even FUN to watch. It’s so bad it’s bad. It was a waste of my time and if you watched it, it was a waste of yours.

Hollywood Reporter: That is either awesome or messed up, or awesomely messed up. Because The CW doesn’t even get it. If the network got it, someone would have said, “Hey, guys, this is ridiculous even by our standards. You know that, right?”

TV Fanatic: Vincent Keller, “The Beast,” is part of an experimental military genetics program? And he’s a scientific genius? AND he’s hot 99% of the time except when his adrenaline kicks in? Yup, it’s a CW show through and through. As long as you’re aware of that tuning in, I see only good things in your future.


3 thoughts on “Beauty and the Beast: Pilot Review

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