Mid-Season TV Report Card: 'Beauty and the Beast'

Overview: In its sophomore season, “Beauty and the Beast” has roared back with a quality that has far surpassed its freshman run. Gone is the dowdy procedural, the self-obsessed Vincent and the secret agency, Murfield.

When the season opened Vincent had retrograde amnesia, his powers had been updated and his facial scar had been healed. Despite not remembering her, nothing seemed poised to stop Catherine from getting him back.

Storyline Direction: Cleverly moving on from the events of the first season, the new theme of the week, was Vincent (Jay Ryan) killing off a fellow beast at the behest of Catherine’s wicked biological father. This provided the show with an open and closed storyline each week, and allowed the detective skills of Cat (Kristin Kreuk) and her friends, Tess (Nina Lisandrello), Gabe (Sendhil Ramamurthy) and J.T. (Austin Basis) to be utilized. 

The character of Catherine is still struggling to find a definitive voice. Her fixation on Vincent taking precedence over the death of her father, made her come off incredibly bad. She was hesitant to give her father, the man who raised her, one minute of remembrance, as to not lose track of Vincent, seriously? Another thing hurting this character is her blind loyalty to Vincent.

Despite his violent nature, she continues to behave as if they are a “normal” couple and he doesn’t have major issues. The mid-point of the season hinted at a turning point so there is some hope things will improve, in this regard.

Thankfully, Gabe has become more central to the show this season, replacing Evan (Max Brown) from last season, as the beast’s romantic rival for Catherine. The character of Gabe adds needed sophistication to the show. He is a more than viable alternative to Vincent, perhaps a better one.

Tess and J.T. being thrown together has drastically improved his appeal, as it is a welcome distraction from his single-minded focus on Vincent. Not to mention; her tough, no non-sense energy, compliments his nerd status.

Production Caliber: Vincent’s houseboat is a refreshing, visual reprieve from the previous season’s dingy lair, he and J.T. shared. There are some unfortunate jump cuts of “New York” that is a tad distractive. The abrupt zoom-ups on traffic lights, doesn’t add anything to the narrative. 

Performance Quality: Jay Ryan (Vincent) seems to have grown into the role of the beast, showing slightly more confidence. There is still no levity behind his turn, something that would help him tremendously.

Kristin Kreuk maintains Cat's starry-eyed gaze and gives most of the effort in the series' cornerstone pairing. Nina Lisandrello (Tess) continues to buoy the series with her expert, comedic timing.

Sendhil Ramamurthy (Gabe) is still, ever the posh and stalwart gentlemen with his performance. Austin Basis (J.T.) has settled into a more defined groove this season and his on-screen interaction with co-star Lisandrello, has been golden.

Musical Score: The melodic and moody pop still resonates, amidst the show’s atmosphere.

Overall Grade: A, this has been a surprisingly well-done first half. All of the beast guest stars; brought something to the show, especially “One Tree Hill” veteran Paul Johansson, who was gone too soon after his 1 episode arc. If the show keeps up this pace, the next half might even surpass this one.

[Featured Image by The CW]