'Beauty and the Beast' Review: Better Than Expected

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The CW’s Beauty and the Beast didn’t seem appealing to me at first look. But after watching the pilot, I found myself strangely drawn to the characters and the overall mystery behind the creation of “the Beast”.

Starring: Kristin Kreuk (“Smallville,” “Chuck”) as Catherine, Jay Ryan (“Terra Nova”) as Vincent, Max Brown (“The Tudors,” “MI-5″) as Evan, Nina Lisandrello (“Nurse Jackie”) as Tess, Nicole Gale Anderson (“Make It or Break It”) as Heather, Austin Basis (“Life Unexpected”) as J.T., and Brian White (“The Shield,” “The Cabin in the Woods”) as Joe.

Kristin Kreuk plays a character, not unlike the latter years of her “Smallville” counterpart. Strong, passionate and determined, Det. Catherine Chandler is driven by an incident from her past that took away her mother. She abandons the pre-law track she was on to join the police force and make sure no one has to endure the tragedy she went though. It’s kind of fitting that Jay Ryan’s character Victor is driven by a similar incident. After losing his brothers in the September 11, 2001 attacks, he enlists in the army, where he falls victim to military experiments gone wrong.

The character drama is what hooked me and will hopefully hook you. I have no use for the “case of the week” element they’ll attempt to weave in to give Catherine something to do. The most unintentionally hilarious moment comes as Vincent waxes poetic about him being a “beast” when he gets angry. Basically, he’s a pretty version of The Hulk.

The backstory given for Vincent becoming “The Beast” is lame; his “beastly” appearance is lame and the chemistry between Kreuk and Ryan is as exciting as watching paint dry. And yet with everything I just said – the show does not suck as much as I thought it would. I’ve watched a lot of awful television over the years. This my friends, while bad, does not compare to that of “The Beautiful Life (TBL)” or the mid-season replacement coming in January, “Cult.”

As the flashback starts, Catherine works at the Salty Dawg with her friend. After her shift, her car won’t start so she calls her mom for help. You learn during their convo that Catherine wanted to be a lawyer instead of a doctor like her mother. A strange car pulls up, and the two are cornered by two gunmen. Catherine flees into the woods where a “thing” saves her. The beast’s face is obscured in the shadows, only allowing viewers a faint silhouette of his features. Catherine’s voiceover says people told her it was an animal, a result of her concussion. She believed them until nine years later when she encountered him again.

At present day, Catherine is now a no-nonsense detective, racing in an expensive car to her boyfriend. Apparently, he’s tired of coming in second to her work and is with another woman. Turns out he broke up with her via text message (which Cat would have seen if she wasn’t working). Sounds like a real catch.

Catherine’s soon joined by her sassy, tomboyish partner Tess. We learn Catherine’s father is now engaged and Cat doesn’t want to go to the wedding. After evaluating the crime scene, prints come back that is a match for Vincent Keller (Ryan), a soldier allegedly killed in action in 2002. Cat brings up his photo and stares at it in a trance. Does she know him? Recognize him? Completely oblivious (obviously) to her connection to him. Tess interrupts her and they begin investigating his past. Turns out he worked at a nearby hospital and lost brothers in 9/11. Afterward, he enlisted in the army and never came back to work. After learning he had a roommate, they head off to an old chemical plant (straight place to live) to question him.

In a pad made for a gaming bachelor, Cat takes a look around and is very aware of her surroundings. She’s suspicious of JT and can’t shake the feeling that someone is watching her. After she leaves, JT talks to Vincent. It’s revealed they’ve been working together for years. Vincent feels like he’s in a prison. “What prison has a flat screen and an XBOX?” asks JT. Lol. Apparently, Vincent is the city’s personal Bat-beast: A hero lurking in the shadows helping those in need.

Learning the DNA found at the scene was cross-species; she re-examines footage from the crime scene and spots the same blue car that was at the chemical plant. Tess confirms JT’s alibi, but Cat enters anyway. She enters the upstairs area she previously wasn’t able to and finds Vincent. After a standoff, he complies with her orders and explains what he was doing at the crime scene. Cat checks out how the victim died. She questions him about the night her mother died and finds the news clipping. When Tess enters the building, Vincent begs her to keep his secret, which she does, but promises to return.

Cat receives a call from an agent she tried to contact earlier. She goes to meet with him in a subway and again becomes very aware of her surroundings. She notices the two additional men in the subway with her. In a scene from the special sneak trailer released by the network, Cat is attacked. She fends for herself for a time before she’s thrown off the platform. Vincent saves her, takes out the men and then flees. Cat chases in pursuit and has flashbacks to the night her mother died. A subway is fast approaching Cat and Vincent saves her. As they stand face to face, she says, “You’re him.”

Vincent tends to her wounds and reveals his backstory. He participated in an experiment after enlisting with the military. The “vitamins” his team was given would protect them. Unfortunately, it changed their DNA, made them stronger, faster, better, and heightened their senses and reflexes. The downside was they weren’t able to be controlled once their adrenaline kicked in. The project was shut down and all were to be eliminated. Victor escaped and his friend JT has been trying to come up with a cure. Victor longs to be human again and Cat comforts him. This is where I was supposed to go “Awwww,” but instead, I laughed as she caressed his beautiful, slightly scarred face.

The next morning, Victor asks Cat to drop her investigation into him to protect them both. She returns to work to find agents at her office, taking possession of the bodies from the subway and any evidence associated with it. She heads back to Victor’s where they fight over her involvement. He gets angry (and you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry), “beasting” out and telling her to go away.

Then the end of the “story of the week” happens and it’s so uninteresting it still won’t be mentioned.

Ordinarily the “I’m too dangerous to be around you but I secretly want you so please look up to the sky and think of me while I’m stalking you in the shadows” motif playing out between Cat and Victor would annoy me, but I’m actually interested in seeing how the writers execute it.

I’m hoping the show gets better, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

About The Author

Omar White-Nobles is Editor-in-Chief of TVSource Magazine. He's a natural #Heel who loves a spirited debate and probably watches too much TV. Follow him on Twitter at @SourceRyan to discuss all things TV, soaps, sports, wrestling and pop culture.