Saturday, 13 October 2012

BEAUTY & THE BEAST review - 'Pilot'


written by Sherri Cooper & Jennifer Levin / directed by Gary Fleder

The CW's loose update of 1980s hit Beauty & the Beast (itself an urban modernisation of the classic fairy tale) is an abhorrent waste of everyone's time, but especially viweers. Every creative decision it makes is wrong, but particularly unforgivable is to re-imagine the eponymous Beast as a hunk with a facial scar, who occasionally threatens to turn into the Incredible Hulk if he gets emotional. It's such a woeful misjudgement that you can't take anything else seriously, because the underlying point of the Beauty & the Beast story is how love transcends the physical and superficial. By removing that, supposedly because The CW wanted a variant of Twilight (sexy young girl falls in love with a pretty boy with a dangerous supernatural side), they've completely undermined their own show. And hasn't the CW already got the Twilight crowd covered with The Vampire Diaries?

The second big mistake is asking the audience to accept Smallville cutie Kristin Kreuk as a brilliant homicide detective, when it's patently obvious this lies outside of her comfort zone. Credit to the actress for trying her best, but she's completely miscast and fails to convince us that her character, Catherine "Cat" Chandler, is a tough no-nonsense investigator with any business at a murder scene. She also has zero chemistry with wooden co-star Jay Ryan as the Beast, aka Vincent Keller, which is an especially major problem for a show that's ultimately a grand supernatural romance.

Considering those key problems, Beauty & the Beast simply isn't worth bothering with, or expending energy writing about. If you want to watch a pretty girl play bad-ass detective, solving tedious crimes (like this pilot's mind-numbing search for the killer of a fashion magazine editor), with the help of a hunk whose super-strength and keen senses will definitely come in handy, go right ahead. These updated modern-day fairy tales are certainly in vogue (Once Upon a Time, Grimm, Snow White & the Huntsman, Mirror, Mirror), but creators Sherri Cooper and Jennifer Levin have produced the least successful attempt at bringing a bedtime story to life in a 21st-century context.

The fact they had a successful '80s show to draw on—starring Hellboy's Ron Perlman as the permanently disfigured but leonine beast, falling in love with The Terminator's Linda Hamilton's district attorney—there's simply no excuse. You only mess up Beauty & the Beast up if you have no understanding of the source material, or the studio has interfered by steering the concept away from itself. Whatever happened during its conception, this is a ridiculous and monumentally boring show that deserves to die very quickly.

11 October 2012 / The CW
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