Detective Catherine Chandler is stalked by an in-human ‘beast’.
Here it is: the reboot of an old 1980s show that no-one was crying out for! Surely the only creative reason for reviving an old show is if the production team are convinced that they can improve on the source material (see Battlestar Galactica). There seem to be other motives involved in this revival of 1980s hit Beauty and the Beast, and that’s got more to do with The CW’s demographic and the ‘Twilight effect’ than any creative urges.
Kristen Kreuk takes on the Linda Hamilton role of Catherine Chandler, here a detective rather than lawyer (the default setting for these shows, as police procedures allow for a variety of formulaic stories to overlay a supernatural tinge on). Kreuk did not impress during her years simpering on Smallville, but she’s either improved dramatically since them, or the simple fact that she’s got better material here has allowed her to turn in a more mature performance.
Where this version of the concept goes wrong is in the realisation of the ‘beast’. Gone is the leonine aspect of Ron Perlman’s softly-spoken Vincent. Instead, we have a combination Jekyll and Hyde and Hulk character in an ex-experimental ‘super soldier’ (a well-worn, tired idea). Apart from the cheap sentiment of tacking on a 9/11 reference (starting to become all too common, over a decade on from the event), there’s the question of why a doctor would sign up to become a military grunt and then volunteer for a weird-ass experiment, no questions asked.
The creators want us to swallow that unquestioningly, so OK, let’s go with it. Now, however, we’ve got a beast who looks fine (apart from his ‘distinguishing’ scar) most of the time, but occasionally ‘Hulks out’ when his dander is up. Gone is the whole underworld mythology that the old Vincent allowed Catherine access to. This is a first episode, so we have to see where it goes, but it seems unlikely we’ll get anything that imaginative. So far, there’s hints of other super soldiers out there, so that’ll be the hook for subsequent episodes.
Verdict: Entertaining enough, but seemingly far less imaginative than the original.
Episode 1 ‘Pilot’: 6/10
Brian J. Robb