October 19, 2012

THE SKED’S PILOT + 1 REVIEW: “Beauty and the Beast”

A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot in the spring and the production of episodes for the regular season: a writing/producing team is hired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics begin to rear their ugly heads. The results can include changes to tone, pace, casting, and even story. Here at THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.’


Previously… on BEAUTY AND THE BEAST:  9 years ago, while still in college, Catherine Chandler (Kristin Kreuk) was rescued when her mother was killed in what appeared to be a carjacking gone bad.  She remembers her rescuer as some kind of “beast,” but now that she’s a “New York” (the digitally-retouched Canadian locations are none too convincing) detective, she discovers that he was Vincent Keller (Jay Ryan), a former soldier whose genes were tampered with by the Muirfield Corporation as part of an experiment to create super-soldiers.  Most of the time, he’s just a hunky guy with a picturesque scar down one side of his face and heightened senses, but when the adrenaline floods in, he essentially hulks out and becomes semi-monstrous for a few seconds.  He’s been watching over Catherine for years, and he lets her in on a critical secret:  her mother’s death also had something to do with Muirfield.  If Muirfield knew Vincent was alive, they’d be after him too, so he lives in hiding, attended by a single old friend, scientist JT (Austin Basis).  All of this disrupts Catherine’s ordinary life with police partner Tess (Nina Lisandrello), live-in sister Heather (Nicole Anderson), and unscarred hunk medical examiner Evan (Max Brown).

Episode 2:  Beauty and the Beast will follow the common pattern of combining a weekly procedural crime with fragments of a larger mythology storyline, in this case the death of Catherine’s mother and whatever it has to do with the experiments that turned Vincent into a “beast”.  The second episode takes place shortly after the first, and Catherine is so energized by the new knowledge that she has about her mother that she can barely keep control of herself, and to JT’s outrage, she keeps showing up at Vincent’s hideaway.  Worse for the audience, though, is when she doesn’t, because the crime of the week, concerning a ballerina thrown off a building roof, is mundane to the extreme, with unlikely clues (the victim and her best friend had an argument in a police station, of which the only evidence is the desk clerk’s recollection of a single name that the two of them said) and a very attenuated solution.

With that routine homicide investigation taking up the bulk of the running time, episode 2, written by series creators Sherri Cooper and Jennifer Levin, is even less impressive than the pilot, which at least had Catherine’s big discoveries about Vincent and her mother to hold the interest.  Even worse, the Beast is almost completely uninteresting except as a possible pin-up (which may be all that matters).  Vincent isn’t a well-drawn character, and there’s nothing either frightening or moving about him.  There’s also little if any chemistry between him and Catherine, which dampens what will presumably become A Love That Cannot Be.  Ryan isn’t even believable as a former soldier, much less a genetically altered genius, and thinking of unconvincing, there’s Kreuk as a homicide detective who’s almost one of Charlie’s Angels.  (She’s shocked when the evil conspiracy erases her computer’s hard drive as soon as she’s uploaded a photo of Vincent and his Army buddies.)  Nor is the show visually interesting or exciting as an action vehicle, as director Rick Bota presumably does what he can to stretch the budget, but with an undernourished result that includes unusually maladroit matching of stunt people with actors.

Beauty and the Beast got off to a strong start last week with The Vampire Diaries as its lead-in (and with the Vice-Presidential Debate airing on all the other broadcast networks).  It’s aimed squarely at CW’s young woman demo, so perhaps it will hold on–after all, no one ever praised the dramatic heft of the Twilight movies–but if it does, that won’t be due to its quality.  Right now, the beastliest thing about the show is its writing.

ORIGINAL VERDICT:  If Nothing Else Is On

PILOT + 1:  Even “Person of Interest” Provides More Stylish Thrills


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."