TV Report Card | 'Beauty and the Beast' Season 1 Review

Overview: In this re-make of the 1980’s TV show, Beauty is a kick-ass police detective and the beast is a genetically altered doctor. At the beginning of the season they solved crimes together. The latter half would be spent with them trying to outsmart a government conspiracy.

Storyline Direction:
When “Beauty and the Beast” began it was a police procedural with the added mythology of a beast-man who would assist in investigations using his unique set of skills. Thankfully, they dropped the procedural angle.

The last thing TV needs is yet another procedural and the CW has always been a network that focuses more on serial dramas that resemble the soap opera structure. The season started off slow as we methodically solved each case and while doing so they managed to flesh out the characters.

Eventually the rogue government agency, Muirfield played the main role of antagonist. The problem with making a rogue military outfit as the villain is that there is no tangible character to be rooting against. So that link in the chain of the show was weak.

As for our leads, Catherine was likable. She is a modern heroine, strong, independent and good hearted. Sadly, the way her relationship developed with Vincent (the beast) made her lose some of her edge and at times she felt like an emotional doormat for a man who should’ve figured things out eons ago. His character was poorly constructed.

I tried very hard to like him and it just never happened. His pouting and constant angst was reminiscent of a teenage archetype more than that of a grown man. He was moody, petulant and downright irritable constantly.

There was no real explanation given for why his sidekick JT was so invested in their bromance. Quite frankly that character came off as a psycho stalker through the majority of the season, obsessing over the beast’s every movement.

Catherine’s sidekick was better written. She was funny, supportive and a really good friend. The biggest writing mistake for the season was the loss of the Evan character. He was so warm and compassionate, a much more convincing doctor than the beast. The beast seemed annoyed whenever he was asked to help someone in a medical capacity. It’s not heroic to be so consumed with your own identity being revealed that you would hesitate to help others.

His constant fear for himself made him very unappealing. The overall momentum of the show excelled with each episode and it did pick up the pace within regards to creating its own mythology. The hindrance to all of this progress was that it involved the fate of a character that wasn’t worth all of the hassle. All in all, it was a fairly good freshman season.

Production Caliber: Once again we have a “gritty” subject matter and they over enforce it with a grey film quality that makes the palate of the show visually hard to look at. If you’ve set the atmosphere of the story well enough we won’t have to beat over the head with bleached-out film to get the picture. The production did a good job making it feel like New York City instead of Canada and the set design was cozy.

Catherine’s apartment was especially well done. It wasn’t over the top spacious and wasn’t cloister phobic either, a nice balance. The beast’s lair being blown up was a good move as that set was difficult to be in. It didn’t seem to have running water and there is nothing romantic about that.    

Performance Quality: Kristin Kreuk is wonderful in the leading role. This character is a good fit for her. She has hit the perfect mix of bad-ass and good girl with this. An added bonus to this show was having her back on TV after “Smallville”, it definitely brings the nostalgia.

Jay Ryan is severely miscast in his role. A lot of it, to be fair, is the writing for Vincent or rather the lack thereof. Max Brown did such a great job as Evan that he upstaged the dynamic with the beast and Catherine. I was actually rooting for him to be with Catherine instead. His being killed off was a massive disappointment.

Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes) was so incredibly regal and aristocratic as Gabe that he easily overshadowed Vincent as an opponent. Bridget Regan (Legend of the Seeker) played Vincent’s ex-girlfriend and she was immensely likable, wish her character had stuck around longer. Nina Lisandrello was quirky as Catherine’s partner, Tess, and she and Kreuk had a nice buddy chemistry that turned into something really fun to watch.

Musical Score: The music was good, indie cool with a touch of mellow. The music in episode 14 “Tough Love” stands out as a really strong episode musically. The ending montage was well done.

Overall Grade: B-, while the show was entertaining the main focal point of it is the supposed love story between Vincent and Catherine and that failed to meet the mark. Vincent is a mopey, self-obsessed, whiner and after 22 episodes it never improved. There is no way that it would be advisable for a woman to be in a relationship with this man.

I get that that it is a “forbidden love” and all; it’s just not a love that has demonstrated being worthy of any sacrifices. This guy dropped Catherine for another woman and then changes back to wanting Catherine again and saying he is in love with her, all within the span of the same episode.  Not the kind of love story,  this girl dreams about.

[Image by The CW]