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Rewriting a classic fairytale for the modern-day and mashing it up with the elements of a TV procedural was a great idea. Despite procedurals often getting a bad rap, the CW’s Beauty and the Beast seemed to have enough appeal elements to bring a variety of fans of different genres together for one show.
Unfortunately, fleshing out the details for a series as seemingly complicated as Beauty and the Beast is another story. The premiere features such a mash of different television genres all cobbled into one whirlwind of a show, it doesn’t give audiences enough time to think, much less enjoy what is going on. A premiere is not the kiss of death--at least it wasn’t for The Office’s jello-based premiere episode or Psych’s weird “let’s start a bromance detective agency” opener. However, there’s no doubt Beauty and the Beast has some problems, and they’re bigger than that scar on Vincent Keller’s face. Following are the five biggest pitfalls I saw in the pilot.
1. The Weekly Crime
A premiere has to introduce all of the key players in the first episode of the series, and adding a murder mystery, some rocky romance, and flashbacks certainly makes this difficult. Not only was this week’s case pulled right out of an "Intro to Criminology" course, it also took away from the time our characters were able to share their personality quirks onscreen. This week’s crime was largely a waste of time (and dialogue). Beauty and the Beast left audiences guessing about the show’s characters, but spelled out whodunnit.
2. The Pacing
The pacing is greatly affected by the multitude of plot points the pilot needed to hit. Sure, the components in the premiere probably needed to be sped up to include a variety of factors, but the cuts in Beauty and the Beast are awkward and make the pace seem both clunky and hurried, which is a feat. I know there’s a lot that has to happen in the first episode, but that’s why the script for the premiere needs to be perfect. This one wasn’t.
3. The Beast
Sure, Jay Ryan’s ‘beast,’ war veteran Vincent Keller, is a hunk, a hunk of burning love with a troubled past, but he’s not really very true to his character. I can stand not knowing all the details concerning Keller’s beastly state, but I can’t understand his backstory. Why would Keller—a doctor—join the Army as a non-doctor and take experimental drugs without looking into potential side effects? Secondly, the beast is kind of a badass. If he’s so nice, where is the conflict between Beauty and the Beast in this series?
4. The Action Sequence
We find out halfway though Episode 1 that our heroine, Catherine Chandler (Kristin Kreuk) is a pint-sized force to be reckoned with. I’m happy to see the series’ version of Beauty willing to hold her own, but Beauty and the Beast still forces her into lame damsel in distress situations. Plus, Gary Fleder’s pilot goes for some blood spatter directly on to the camera. This isn’t Spartacus.
5. The Dialogue
A show should have confidence in its audience, whether that audience is teachers grading papers while watching, or distracted teens. However, Beauty and the Beast totally lacks trust in its audience, down to the simplest phrases. At one point, a detective has to spell out that MD means doctor. If the writers can’t trust the audience to understand the meaning of MD, how can they ever hope people will understand a complicated story? The dialogue is a platform a writer can use to work him or herself out of some potential plot loopholes, but it doesn’t work if the interactions aren’t believable.
Overall, the Beauty and the Beast premiere failed to impress on the procedural end, as well as the fairytale retelling story. If you're looking for some monsters mashed with a better mystery story, you may want to switch to NBC's Grimm.