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22nd January 2013 10:11:00
Posted by Megan Pears

Beauty And The Beast: 1.01 - Pilot - Review

Review of the Beauty And The Beast pilot from the CW and Watch, starring Kristin Kreuk and Jay Ryan.
Fairytales have come to the forefront of television over the past year or so, with shows such as Grimm and Once Upon A Time giving our childhood stories a new and in the case of Grimm, a darker turn. Following in their footsteps is the new CW show Beauty and The Beast, marketed as a tale of romance with a detective drama twist; it looks set to make Wednesday night viewing a little more magical, in its own way.

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Beauty and The Beast is a classic story about the romance between a beautiful damsel and the Beast of a man who happens to save her. Everyone knows the story, it seems written into our childhood memories from Disney’s animations to the Eighties TV series both of the same name. Unlike the animation there is no musical flair to this show, instead we have a contemporary take on the classic tale of love conquering all. But can a modern day New York detective really fall in love with an apparently dead solider who has been genetically modified to be superhuman? I guess that is something for everyone to watch out for over the course of twenty-two episodes, but it is the first episode of season one that really throws you into this world. Gone is the supernatural from this tale and in comes human experimentation, where we see the representation of the Beast move from an animal like creature to an actual human, albeit with animalistic qualities.

The show follows our protagonist Catherine Chandler, played by Kristin Kreuk as she develops from being the helpless damsel in distress, in the first few minutes of the episode, after witnessing the murder of her mother. Flash forward to present day New York and that damsel is now the heroine of our story. It seems as if instead of Chandler becoming the stereotypical victim that so many female characters fall into, she becomes a very twenty-first century woman, no longera sidekick for the male lead, Chandler is now a New York Detective and as we see throughout the episode that she can pretty much take care of herself both physically and emotionally. It is interesting to see how much the character has seemingly grown from the first few narrative cues to her character, after witnessing the murder of her mother in 2003, this young woman who is street wise and dare I say it kick ass. Since the female lead left our screens with the end of shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dollhouse, to name just a few, it is nice to see a female protagonist lead us through the undoubtedly complex narrative.

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Chandler’s chance encounters with the Beast of the show indicate clearly that the core of this show is the romance between the two characters. Forgot the action and the female empowerment and the crux of this episode is to introduce this very complex and temperamental character, to give us a small insight into the heart and mind of this character that we are expected to take into our hearts. He is set up to be the unlikely hero of this story but a hero none the less. Unlike Beasts that have been represented in many forms over the years, the Beast of our narrative is Vincent Keller (played by Jay Ryan), an ex-soldier and doctor, who despite a scar across his good looks doesn’t fit the beastly stereotype that we associate with this tale. Instead the only difference between the human-Vincent and the beast-Vincent is the change of eye colour, scrunching of the face and deeper tone of voice. Nothing in the first episode indicates just how inhuman this male character could be. The only thing that strikes you as odd about this character is the lurking in the shadows, trying to save as many humans as he can whilst fighting the temper he clearly has inside him. We may have another Angel/Angelus style character on our screens again, minus the vampirism.

From the offset it is clear that this is still a romance story at heart, that despite our powerful female and complex male leads, the chemistry between the two characters is what audiences are really meant to enjoy. It is hard to imagine this tale without the romance, but for some reason the romance between our Beauty and Beast grows a little too quickly. Is this going to be a love story that quickly fizzles out? How are the writers of the show going to drag out the romantic interactions between these characters over the course of the twenty-two episodes without boring audiences by showcasing all the generic twists and turns we’ve seen before. Maybe this is where the detective curve comes into play, pushing the narrative slightly away from the generic cues of the romance genre, only time will tell.

What is Beastly about the character of Vincent Keller remains to be seen, but at least there are plenty of episodes left for us to find out. Could we have another damsel in distress that doesn’t need to be saved by a man? Will our heroine will be the one to save the Beast this time round?

Compelled to watch the season play out, is this the next show to become another guilty pleasure.

See Beauty And The Beast Wednesdays at 9PM on Watch. More details on the Watch Beauty And The Beast site.

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