May 17, 2013



It helps, when watching CW’s BEAUTY & THE BEAST, not to think too much about “Beauty and the Beast”.  Not the 1987 TV show, and certainly not the movies and other adaptations of the story.  Jay Ryan’s Vincent Keller just isn’t much of a Beast–he’s not even much of an Incredible Hulk, and he’s a lot closer to the Hulk in this version than he is a fairytale Beast.  Ninety percent of the time, he’s a male-model-ish cutie who has one picturesque scar down his cheek–and then when he gets angry (you wouldn’t like him when he gets angry), his eyes glow and, while not bursting out of his clothes, he bulks up and develops super-strength and super-fierceness.  There’s nothing remotely poetic or fantastic about him; he’s just another comic-book superhero under a different name.

This Vincent was a soldier who was dosed with super-power serum by evil corporation Muirfield while in Afghanistan, and the result was his temporary bouts of Beastiness.  His Beauty is Catherine Chandler (Kristin Kreuk), who lives up to her title, although she’s one of the less convincing NYPD homicide detectives around.  Vincent’s been watching over her since childhood, when Muirfield apparently murdered her mother, even though mom worked for them.  Beauty & the Beast was tiresome in its early going when Vincent was following her around, protecting her from baddies and helping her solve crimes, while they shared soulful this-love-cannot-be looks.  Things perked up midway through the season, though, when they finally fell into each other’s arms.  It turned out that Ryan may not be much of a Beast, but he’s a fairly charming gruff leading man, and once he and Kreuk were allowed to have chemistry together, they made an adorable couple.  The show improved more when Catherine’s partner Tess (Nina Lisandrello), likable despite her broad-as-a-barn dese-and-dose faux-NY accent, was clued in on the secret.

Beauty hit a little bit of a stride in the last few episodes of its season when it killed off dull Medical Examiner Evan (Max Brown) and had Assistant District Attorney Gabe (Sendhil Ramamurthy, from Heroes and Covert Affairs), who’d been pursuing Vincent supposedly to prosecute him for his vigilante crimes, turn out to be a subject of medical experiments himself with a Beastly side.  Tonight’s season finale, though, written by Executive Producers Brian Peterson and Kelly Souders and directed by Rick Bota, was a disappointment.  The plot went to the most predictable possible place, with damsel in distress Catherine chained up in Gabe’s mansion (he had a mansion), and Vincent to the rescue.  As soon as the idea of Vincent becoming wholly human came up, it was obvious that this wasn’t going to happen, or they’d have to rename the show “Beauty & The Guy Who Has A Bit of a Scar,” so Catherine injecting him with a vaccine to give him back his powers wasn’t remotely a surprise.  And the reveal that Catherine’s father wasn’t her real father had minimal payoff.  This was a show that desperately needed a game-changing finale, and it didn’t get one.

Beauty & the Beast was lucky to be renewed for a second season, having spent its first squandering most of its Vampire Diaries lead-in.  Of CW’s two new hunky superhero shows, it was much the lesser behind Arrow, and next season, it’s going to have Hart of Dixie as its lead-in, neither very compatible nor very high-rated.  The show needs rethinking over the summer.  The couple at its core is appealing, and that’s no small thing, and supporting players Lisandrello and Austin Basis (as Vincent’s sidekick JT) are assets, but the rest of the cast is negligible.  Some inventive plotting is required, more substance to the characters beyond their premises, and a better set of villains.  The series isn’t a lost cause, but real work is going to have to be put in if it’s to have much chance of surviving past next season.



About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."