Detective Catherine Chandler is a smart, no-nonsense homicide detective. When she was a teenager, Catherine witnessed the murder of her mother at the hands of two gunmen. Catherine would have been killed too, but someone – or something – saved her. No one has ever believed her, but she knows it wasn’t an animal that attacked the assassins…it was human. Years have passed, and Catherine is a strong, confident, capable police officer, working alongside her equally talented partner, Tess. While investigating a murder, Catherine discovers a clue that leads her to a handsome doctor named Vincent Keller, who was reportedly killed by enemy fire while serving in Afghanistan in 2002. Catherine learns that Vincent is actually still alive and that it was he who saved her many years before. For mysterious reasons that have forced him to live outside of traditional society, Vincent has been in hiding for the past 10 years to guard his secret – when he is enraged, he becomes a terrifying beast, unable to control his super-strength and heightened senses. Catherine agrees to protect his identity in return for any insight he may have into her mother’s murder. Thus begins a complex relationship between Catherine and Vincent, who are powerfully drawn to each other yet understand that their connection is extremely dangerous for both of them.
The series stars Kristin Kreuk (“Smallville,” “Chuck”) as Catherine, Jay Ryan (“Terra Nova”) as Vincent, Max Brown (“The Tudors,” “MI-5″) as Evan, Nina Lisandrello (“Nurse Jackie”) as Tess, Nicole Gale Anderson (“Make It or Break It”) as Heather, Austin Basis (“Life Unexpected”) as J.T., and Brian White (“The Shield,” “The Cabin in the Woods”) as Joe.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is from CBS Television Studios with executive producers Jennifer Levin (“Without A Trace,” “Felicity”), Sherri Cooper (“Brothers and Sisters”), Bill Haber (“Rizzoli & Isles,” “Thurgood”), Paul J. Witt (“A Better Life”) & Tony Thomas (“A Better Life”), Ron Koslow (“Moonlight”) and Gary Fleder (“Life Unexpected”).
I’ve always loved the classic fairy tale of “Beauty and the Beast.” It has loosely inspired dozens upon dozens of love stories for more than two centuries since the story was first written and I have enjoyed watching it retold in various animated and film incarnations including classics like “La Belle et la Bête” and “The Scarlet Flower” and newer versions like “No Such Thing” and “The Bride”. One of my endearing favorites has always been the 80s tv series version staring Ron Pearlman and Lina Hamilton.
Now, the CW, whom I’ve so far trusted with my favorite characters (props to SMALLVILLE and it’s handing of the DC ‘verse), has decided to take a stab at it. I’m all for a new retelling of the story. I do, however, have one reservation: They aren’t creating a new story, they are ‘rebooting’ the tv series with the same characters of Vincent and Catherine. Maybe it has something to do with being cheaper to recycle old characters, plots, etc than creating a whole new world from scratch, or maybe it’s an attempt to recapture the magic of the 80s series. This one decision, to ‘reboot’ instead of starting fresh, may backfire on them… or maybe it’s just old farts like myself who will have trouble accepting this cataclysmic shakeup of a beloved world.*
One of the most endearing things about the 80s series was that the “Beast” wasn’t enchanted. Instead, he was born with a lion-like disfiguration and a form of Hypertrichosis (Remember Jo Jo the Dog Faced Boy?) but the beastly outside was in direct contrast to the gentle, loving soul within. No kiss would break the magic spell, returning him to his handsome self but Catherine loved the man despite his outward appearance. The magic of that series was the relationship: the friendship, the kindness, the sappy romance of candles and roses and sonnets as the chaste couple poured out their hearts and souls, making the only love they felt they could with thoughtful gestures and softly spoken words… And it worked. While the show only ran 3 seasons over 20 years ago, loyal fans will forever look at Ron Pearlman as one of the sexiest men alive and Linda Hamilton as one of the luckiest ladies to have ever been loved. Sure, we know they were just actors playing roles, but the spiritus of the actors is what brings the characters to life so something of Vincent and Catherine will always linger like a specter about them for fans of the old series.
With the reboot, we have a handsome Vincent who ‘hulks out’ rather than having to constantly live with his appearance. This seems like cheating to me, if they insist on it being Catherine and Vincent. Why not take a chance and create their own story?! Give them different names! There is no reason the beast shouldn’t be able to be a handsome man, after all the original story was of a handsome man transformed into a beast. By using the names of Vincent and Catherine though, they are paying homage to the series rather than the fairy tale and are inviting a comparison to the series thus setting some expectations they may not be able to live up to.
I loved Kristen Kreuk in Smallville and she probably has a fair chance at capturing the “Magic” that was Catherine the same way she turned Lana Lang into her own creation even when standing side by side with Annette O’Toole who was the 80′s incarnation of Lana Lang in the Superman movies. While it may not sound like it from my tone so far, I am actually rooting for her to pull it off. I would like to see this show create it’s own magic and distance itself from the 80s series. That being said, I hope they draw on the relationship from the series rather than the current tween idea of romance we see in so many books, films and tv series. She needs to be more of a Kate Beckett than Bella Swan, regardless of what the target audience age is. If, she is as they say in the show description, “A smart, no-nonsense homicide detective,” she shouldn’t be swooning and fawning at the misunderstood loner and pining away for him ‘just because’. He needs to be someone a strong, independent woman could desire to have in her life, despite the obstacles.
Thus we examine the new Vincent: Jay Ryan. I’ve seen him in Terra Nova and Legend of the Seeker but those were small roles so I don’t have nearly the feel for what characteristics he could bring to the new Vincent other than being a smoldering Kiwi (New Zealand has turned out some of the sexiest, most talented actors of the last two decades). He’s a doctor, for starters, so that means he should be a caring and compassionate man, especially since he enlisted in the military instead of staying Stateside to collect a huge salary while growing more apathetic to mankind’s plights. Other than that, there aren’t any clues to him or why he ‘hulks out’. I’m guessing it must have something to do with military ‘perfect soldier’ experiments he may have discovered and either been a part of or victim of during the fighting in Afghanistan where he supposedly died.
It looks like Catherine’s mother is wearing scrubs as she arrives to rescue her teenage daughter from a dead battery. Suddenly, men pull up in a car and without out a word open fire on the pair, shooting mom first, then chasing after Catherine who runs into the dark woods and is then rescued from certain doom by the strange beastly man in the dark. This suggests that perhaps Catherine’s mother is tied to Vincent’s condition and why Vincent would be so close by at just the right time.
From the brief preview above, it looks like the production quality will be on par with current fantasy shows like The Vampire Diaries and Grimm, both of which are quite well done. That being said, its success will hinge on the connection between the two main characters more than the production quality, writing, plot and talent of the cast. That the action-flick soundtrack dropped to a piano theme when the Beast appeared suggests that maybe the show runners are keeping that in mind.
I’m truly hoping that CW can make its own magic with Vincent and Catherine and I’m looking forward to checking out the new series which is set to premier Thursday this fall, probably as a companion to The Vampire Diaries.
Okay, Okay. I admit it! I don’t like shake ups much. I spent a week flying around Azeroth after World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm expansion came out, numbed with shock and sometimes teary eyed to think of the loss of some of my favorite places and the memories of years spent dwelling there with friends. It was just painful to watch it all ripped apart, burned and scarred.