Monday, October 15, 2012

Pilot Review: Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast (The CW)
Premiered October 11 at 9pm

The CW is off to a late start this year, premiering its three new fall series in October. This one, like “Arrow” the night before, revisits familiar territory. Even if its story and setting are new, its title and themes should be entirely recognizable: an attractive young woman drawn to a man with animal-like qualities and a kind heart. In this particular case, Kristin Kreuk stars as police detective Catherine Chandler, whose mother was murdered in front of her eyes and who was saved by a mysterious creature she thought was a beast, who turns out to be presumed dead former military man Dr. Vincent Keller, who was part of an experiment that turned him into something inhuman. Initially gruff and paranoid about her asking questions, Vincent seems to have reached an accord with Catherine by episode’s end, in which he’ll be her guardian angel and help her to protect innocents, though she’s quite capable of that herself, having inherited some of Lana Lang’s physical combat skills from “Smallville,” put to use in a subway station that’s clearly in Canada and not in New York. Kreuk, who was initially sheepish and then way over-the-top on “Smallville,” is positioned to be more self-assured here but reasonably irritating. From the supporting cast, the only familiar face is Brian White, who was great in early seasons of “The Shield” and is now relegated to the role of a detective here. This series is a good fit in terms of subject matter for the network, but it’s far from a good show.

How will it work as a series? Perhaps just as much as a typical police procedural, this cop-superman dynamic has been featured on television so many times before. Catherine’s pursuit of her mother’s killers will flare up occasionally but take a backseat to solving everyday crimes and taking down bad guys with the help of her new friend. Let’s call it a superpowered procedural, but nothing more.
How long will it last? Airing opposite only the vice-presidential debate, it’s hard to tell how this show will do, but a strong start equivalent to that of the now-defunct “The Secret Circle” from last year should do it favors. If viewers keep coming back, this is just the kind of show that the CW will want to be able to tout as a reason that it’s still going.

Pilot grade: C

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