It is our duty as rational thinkers to constantly compare, contrast, evaluate, quantify, and qualify every sensation or notion we experience during our brief existences in this realm. These snap judgments are not only necessary for learning and adapting to new things, it's how we develop tastes and the ability to seek out the best things. So it's good, then, that terrible things exist, because terrible things help us determine what's great. That is one good thing about Beauty and the Beast: As the undisputed worst new show of the fall season, it makes the good shows seem even better by contrast. The Vampire Diaries. Teen Wolf. And yes, The Secret Circle. But yeah, no. There is nothing else redeemable about this thing. IT IS THE WORST.
The list of ways in which Beauty and the Beast is terrible is long and maddening, but let's begin with the titular Beauty. In the most outrageous bit of miscasting all season, Smallville's tiny, permanently teenaged Kristin Kreuk stars as Catherine Chandler, a tough-as-nails NYPD detective (!) whd turned to a life of crime-stopping after her mother was murdered by some random hoodlums in the pilot's first scene. That cold open itself was a huge red flag for just how creatively bankrupt this show would turn out to be: Catherine and her mother were simply attempting to jumpstart Catherine's car when two dudes drove up and shot Catherine's mom in cold blood. Yup, that's it! By comparison, think back to the nightmarish fire-murder that began The Secret Circle, or the terrifying highway-homicide-from-above in The Vampire Diaries' first episode. Beauty and the Beast just had some middle-aged lady getting shot. Good brainstorming! Nothing says supernatural-sci-fi-fantasy-romance like a rote shooting. Way to put your best foot forward, professional storytellers! Anyway, that was terrible, as was Kreuk's entire performance. This role made her stint as Chun-Li seem PERFECT AND INSPIRED.
Now let's talk about the titular Beast. As you may have noticed from the above picture, as Doctor-Soldier Vincent Keller, Jay Ryan is nobody's definition of a beast. Nope, not even with that scar on his face. As the pilot unfolded and we learned that HE had been the mysterious creature that saved Catherine's life from the men who killed her mother, there was a lingering hope that the more we learned about Keller, the more his beastliness would come into compelling focus. But nope! The more we learned about him, the worse the premise became. Apparently after 9/11 Vincent was inspired to hang up his surgical scrubs, join the army, and allow the army to alter his DNA to include genes from tigers, bears, wombats, crickets, baby sharks, who even knows. So he's sort of a beast now! Sometimes! Like sometimes he'll lose his temper and tear up a criminal or shout at Catherine. Other than that he's kind, empathetic, sensitive, hot like fire, ultra boring, and a perfect catch for an unconvincing NYPD detective. Oh, and just FYI because this is important, he doesn't even have the decency to appear half-naked at any point. Teen Wolf this show is not.
Aside from the characters' introductions to one another and Catherine's slow acceptance of Vincent's alleged beastliness, the rest of the pilot featured an outrageously boring crime plotline that, believe me, you will not care about. In fact, what was especially amazing about this episode was that its most compelling aspect was how dramatically it called into question the creators' and The CW's thought processes.
• Why remake an old '80s TV series but change basically everything about the premise and character dynamics?
• Why tell us that Catherine is a seasoned cop but then constantly put her in situations from which the beast must save her?
• Is having our heroine fall in love with a man who readily admits he may snap and murder her really a good message to send to young girls?
• Was Kristin Kreuk really the best choice for this role?
• Was this show really the best choice for Kristin Kreuk?
• If you're going to make the decision that the beast look handsome and sexy, then why is he still so unappealing?
• Did it concern anybody that a show with romance built into its premise has lead characters with absolutely no chemistry or charisma whatsoever?
• Did it concern anybody that at no point in the pilot does anybody say anything clever or original?
• Did anybody voice concerns that maybe tying in the beast's origins to 9/11 wasn't the most tasteful idea?
• Did The CW legitimately believe that this series would develop a larger or more passionate fan base than The Secret Circle?
• How did a rough-draft script get filmed? Was there a mix-up at Kinko's?
• How could a show so cravenly based on a calculated business decision still fail so spectacularly at achieving a minimum standard of entertainment?
• How embarrassed is everyone on the cast and crew of the work they've done here? Very? Enormously? Infinitely?
I don't have answers, only questions. But for now Beauty and the Beast is such a fundamental failure that its badness isn't even FUN to watch. It's so bad it's bad. It was a waste of my time and if you watched it, it was a waste of yours. Jump in a dumpster, Beauty and the Beast.
What did YOU think of the Beauty and the Beast premiere?