Shawconnect TV critic Brent Furdyk samples the upcoming pilots for a first look at the new fall TV season
Starring: Kristin Kreuk, Jay Ryan, Max Brown, Nina Lisandrello, Nicole Gale Anderson, Austin Basis, Brian White
The gist: Smallville’s Kreuk plays NYPD homicide detective Catherine Chandler, who’s still traumatized by an incident that took place years earlier in which she and her mother were attacked by mysterious gunmen on a deserted country road. Teenage Catherine watched helplessly as they murdered her mother, and only survived the attack when a vicious man-like beast suddenly appeared out of the darkness and shredded her assailants to ribbons.
Catherine’s tortured past comes back to haunt her years later when her ongoing investigation into her mother’s murder leads her to hunky Dr. Vincent Keller (Terra Nova’s Ryan), who was supposedly killed in Afghanistan in 2002 but is very much alive, hiding out an abandoned building. Due to his experimentation in a top-secret military super-soldier project, Keller morphs into the titular Beast whenever he becomes angry, and he’s devoted his life to finding a cure to his Bruce Banner-like affliction. When an attempt on her life on a subway platform is thwarted by a vicious man-beast with a similar M.O., Catherine makes the connection that Keller is the same creature who saved her life, and finds herself drawn to the enigmatic scientist. She promises to keep his hideout a secret while he promises to help solve her mother’s murder — which she is sure was no random killing and may even be connected to Vincent’s plight. Romance rears its head, but Catherine must keep their relationship clandestine or risk endangering both their lives.
It’s like… Wuthering Heights meets The Incredible Hulk
Sample line: “All I know is that they changed our DNA. They made us stronger, faster. They couldn’t control us, so they gave orders to eradicate us all.”
IMHO: Loosely based on the 1987-1990 TV series starring Linda Hamilton (The Terminator) and lion-faced Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy), this reboot adds a military conspiracy subplot and a procedural crime drama element, resulting in a very different show than the fondly remembered gothic romance. Right off the bat, there are some serious problems, not least of which is baby-faced Kreuk implausibly cast as TV’s least-believable — and least-intimidating — NYPD detective. Meanwhile, until he transforms, the only beastly thing about the bland-but-handsome Vincent is a slight scar on his face; should I be insulted that “the Beast” is better looking than I am?
Fun fact: Beauty and the Beast has a bigger connection to Smallville than just the network and Kreuk; the show also features former Smallville show-runners Brian Peterson and Kelly Souders as exec producers.
Verdict: This revamp is such a different show from the original that it doesn’t seem fair to compare the two, yet it’s inevitable — and this new version pales next to its namesake. While Perlman’s Vincent was a tormented half-man/half-beast with the soul of a poet who lurked in a mysterious subterranean world hidden deep beneath the streets of New York, new Vincent is essentially a low-rent version of the incredible Hulk, but with less personality. The romance, which drove the original, seems kind of tacked on to the convoluted conspiracy plot, which has none of the brooding melancholy or epic mythology that made the 1980s original such an addictive pleasure. Worst of all, Beauty and the Beast comes off like a second-rate crime procedural with comic-book superhero elements thrown in the mix.
Prediction: The name recognition may bring viewers to the table, but if fans don’t like what they see (and, based on the pilot, there’s no reason they should), expect Beauty and the Beast to join fellow remakes Charlie’s Angels, The Bionic Woman and Knight Rider in the cancellation trash-heap.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST will air Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Showcase and THE CW, premiering October 11