Television Review: Beauty & the Beast (2012) Pilot

While at San Diego Comic Con, Fernando and I got sneak peeks at the pilots for three upcoming new fall television shows: Elementary, Revolution and Beauty & the Beast. Two weeks ago, Fernando talked about yet another Sherlock Holmes incarnation, Elementary. This week I hit up the remake of the 1980s show Beauty & the Beast. Next week one (or both) of us will rave about the not-a-remake Revolution.

Beauty & the Beast
The CW
Debuts Thursday, October 8 @ 9 Eastern / 8 Central

I guess I should start this review off with a couple of caveats. First we walked into the Comic Con screening of the remake of Beauty & the Beast ten minutes after it started. I don’t think this really affected my opinion of the show because I can’t imagine anything other than Misha Collins or Nathan Fillion showing up in that short time span that would change my mind on how I feel about this show. Secondly I have absolutely no familiarity with the original 80s soap opera, so I suppose I have no emotional connection to the property or nostalgia unless it involves singing and dancing dishware and the massive library that would totally recreate if I was extremely wealthy.

With all that out in the open, I can sum up my opinion of the CW’s new Beauty & the Beast with two words: laughably bad. Heavy emphasis on “laughably”. I know I wasn’t supposed to find this pilot as hilarious as I did, but there was just too much melodramatic, overwrought staring from afar not to find it hysterical. I know at least the people behind me didn’t appreciate my laughter…

Kristin Kreuk as Katherine is passable as the beauty part of the equation, though she’s going to have to do a lot more heavy lifting to be believable as a homicide detective in New York City. Her character felt too proper and unwilling to get her hands dirty, constantly looking for someone to save her while she adamantly declared that she didn’t need saving by anyone (Elena Gilbert syndrome, anyone?). Perhaps with some more development she’ll be less of a damsel in distress and more believable as a hardened cop.

Jay Ryan plays Vincent, the beast portion of the story. This is the part where Fernando couldn’t stop laughing because his “beastly” quality is that he has some scars on his face from some war injury. I get that this was a pilot and they didn’t want to put in the money for extra special effects if it wasn’t to get picked up, but once it was picked up, they really should have gone in and made his transformation more than just some unfortunate scarring. According to the panel after the pilot aired, the exact form of Ryan’s “beast” hadn’t been finalized just yet, but I really hope it’s more impressive and uglier than scars.

Due to the issue of finding his transformation laughable, Vincent didn’t make much of any other impression on me. He moves very fast and he’s incredibly strong. I like that this explained by some genetic experimentation he volunteered for in the army. It felt a bit like Amped mixed with Partials, but his back story didn’t make his lovelorn stares from afar any less silly. Then again I hated the insta-love between Vincent and Catherine from the start and the melodrama built in to constantly beat you in the head that, “Hey! These two are MEANT TO BE! FEEL SAD FOR THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE APART!”

The setup involves the death of Catherine’s mother when she was a teenager and how somehow Vincent ties into that. Now as she discovers his military secrets, shady big bads are trying to remove them both. I don’t know if this reflects the original show at all, but it definitely has “rehash” written all over it to me.

I don’t think this is a show I will be watching come fall. Despite thinking The Vampire Diaries had one of the worst pilots ever only for it to become one of my favorite shows, I don’t think I can Beauty & the Beast the benefit of the doubt here. Between the insta-love, the staring from afar and just the general forced unnecessary drama, I don’t think I could sit through another episode. Stick to Once Upon a Time if you want a compelling beauty and the beast love story.