Saturday, October 20, 2012

TV Review - Beauty and the Beast Pilot

Beauty and the Beast is one of the most bizarre comedy of errors that I've ever seen. The show is not strictly based on the classic fairy tale, as one might think (especially with the rise of fairy tales stories seen recently with Once Upon a Time, Grimm, and multiple Snow White films), but on the 80's TV Series which ran for three seasons and gained a cult following.

The original series was a re-imagining of the classic fairy tale (before re-imaginings of classic fairy tales were a thing) which set it in 1980's New York. The titular "Beast" and "Beauty" were Vincent, a mysterious cat-person who lived within, and protected, a secret underground society underneath New York, and Catherine, a District Attorney. I'll admit that I'm not super familiar with the original material, having seen only a few episodes, and having a general understanding of what the show is about, but it has a fair number of fans, both from when the series originally aired, and who have learned of the show post-internet. Also it had Ron Perlman playing Vincent, and how can you not love that?

I'm not even sure whether to make a Fallout or a Hellboy reference here. That's how awesome Ron Perlman is. So c'mon.

The point is, it was a charming show where Vincent would help people, and there was romance between Catherine and Vincent, and it was pretty good, from what I've seen of it at least. I'm sorry if I can't provide deep insight into the nuances of the original show here, but that's because I just don't know that much about it.

Fortunately, I don't need to understand the nuances of the original series to identify the many flaws with the new series. The new series features  Smallville's Kristen Kreuk playing Catherine, and Jay Ryan of, uhm, stuff, as Vincent.

No, that's not the wrong picture. Those are our leads. You may notice something. BEAST IS KIND OF NOT UGLY.

Let me be clear, while this is one of the issues with this pilot, it is not the only one (or even the primary one). But yes, it is a huge issue to have the character of "Beast" look like... A guy.

So the "hook" for this is that Catherine is in school to become a lawyer (Fandom nod?) when she is witness to her mother's murder. The killers chase her into the forest, but she is saved by a mysterious beast.

Years later she's become a cop, and after a series of killings based off the works of a famous author, seeks him out to try and get in the head of-- Wait, no, sorry, that's the wrong show. Years later, Catherine has become a cop, and is forced to work with her eccentric mathemetician brother who-- No, wait, sorry, that's not right either.

The point I'm getting at is that Catherine becomes the lead in a pretty terrible procedural cop drama, and I say that as someone who really likes well done procedural cop dramas (Castle is one of my favorite shows on the air right now). After a dead body surfaces with DNA belonging to a dead doctor/soldier (by the way, there's an absolutely terrible piece of exposition about Vincent's motivation where you find out he lost his brother in the Twin Towers, OH GOD WON'T YOU FEEL SOMETHING FOR OUR POORLY WRITTEN CHARACTER?!), it leads her to discover Vincent, living not in a spectacular underground society, but in a warehouse with an Xbox and a nerdy roommate. Are you in awe?

As you may have picked up, this is really an in-name-only adaptation, which, aside from some similar character names, has nothing to do with the original show. Vincent here is only in beast form (which still has him look like a guy, but with some veins on his face, so scary) when his adrenaline kicks in, and now Vincent, who as it turns out faked his death, tries to help people from the shadows, while he searches for a cure to his condition.

Let me restate that. This is a show about a man who faked his death after a science experiment gone wrong gives him a condition which gives him super strength, but also causes him to lose control of himself, when his adrenaline kicks in (say, from getting too angry, or hurt), and who tries to help people without drawing too much attention to himself, while simultaneously searching for a cure.

That's right, this show has more in common with The Incredible Hulk than it does with Beauty and the Beast.

This show is a series of baffling choices, and I don't see it lasting more than a season. It shall not be missed.

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