A new reimagining of the drama that ran on CBS from 1987 until 1990, The CW's Beauty And The Beast has none of the charm and even less of the imagination. Not that the original series was a television masterpiece, but it had Ron Perlman bringing real emotion and gravitas to the role of the beastly Vincent. The titular Beast of this particular tale is basically a hybrid of Captain America and the Incredible Hulk. Enlisting after his brother was killed in the Twin Tower attacks on September 11, 2001, Vincent Keller MD (yep, he's a doctor now, naturally) was part of a test program receiving injections from the United States Army, turning him and his comrades into supersoldiers. Unfortunately, the only drawback was that when their adrenaline kicked in, they turned into uncontrollable monsters, so the government shut down the program and ordered the test subjects eradicated.
So instead of being a hideous freak of nature, this Vincent looks like a male underwear model with a light scar on his cheek. This is the CW, after all. When he transforms, he looks more like a vampire from the WB's Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but that is only for a few fleeting moments. The rest of the time, he looks like he belongs on the cover of Teen Beat magazine (is that even a real thing?), which makes his brooding about not being "human" all the more ridiculous. The network claims that they made the change because this character's story is about his inner scars. Give me a break. Realizing that an ugly or deformed male lead would reduce the marketability of the show, the producers knew they had to pretty him up if they wanted a slice of that sweet Twilight pie.
The rest of the show is a mish-mash of romantic soap and police procedural, because this version's Catherine Chandler is a budding detective who joined the force after watching her mother gunned down. Just in case you weren't sure which audience this show is trying to attract, she's the kind of detective who uses her police lights and siren to park illegally so she can stop off for a quick chat with the guy she's seeing. When she discovers he has dumped her via a text message she didn't get *and* he has a date with him, Catherine abuses her authority by flashing her badge and alerting security that he has marijuana on him. We also meet her partner at the station, a sassy minority partner of black and/or hispanic descent who is always ready to be sassy in any situation with a sassy one-liner or sassy body language.
In the role of Catherine Chandler, Kristin Kreuk is easily the one redeeming feature of this new series. Not only is she adorable, but she gives a very convincing performance and kicks some ass in the fight scenes. If you can accept the idea of a wafer-thin woman beating the hell out of two larger men and another woman, the fight scenes are actually shot well and provided some action to break up the monotony. There's also a mysterious back story involving her mother's murder and shadowy authority figures who are tracking her that should satisfy those viewers who enjoy an underlying mythology.
With its shallow emphasis on the superficial and its derivative nature, Beauty And The Beast is a perfect fit on the CW alongside Vampire Diaries. While I will personally never watch another episode, there's a good chance that this series reboot will find its intended audience. There's enough mystery and forbidden romance to hook the young female demographic, and just enough action and superhero tropes presented for their boyfriends to watch it with them. The biggest upside for me was that I found out I get WGN Chicago in my cable package, which I did not know until I searched for this show. Aside from an admirable attempt by Kristin Kreuk to carry the show on her slender shoulders, Beauty And The Beast is just another soulless remake.
FINAL GRADE: C-