In case you missed it, here's the 5 minute extended preview of CW's Beauty and the Beast scheduled to premiere in the US in the Fall:
The 5 minutes looks very much like an entire episode edited down to its main scenes, which is disappointing. What's left to tune in for if you've seen it all? Let's hope there's more to it other than "Why was my mother murdered?".
In the premise details, the post-9/11 Iraq War reference (military experiments make a beast out of a man) isn't as completely hokey as expected but I still have major reservations - especially since we end up with a very clean-faced broody guy with a not-at-all-authentic-looking scar placed just "so". Perhaps it's just that the writing is too obvious for me. ("You're like a superhero!") I'm hoping they're not going to state the obvious for the audience every time. Scratch that. I hope they don't do it again. If they want any of the cop procedural demographic they're going to have to write smarter, harder and use far more subtlety. Hopefully the actors are good enough they will get the message across without needing to utter the subtext but it's an important risk to take if you want to be a memorable series.
On the flip side, one of the promos says "All men have a dark side... but not like this" and in this case I truly hope they mean what they're saying. In order to make this show interesting we're going to really need to see the monster inside the man*- and hopefully the monster isn't typical either. The Beast we're seeing just looks conflicted about his transformations, ashamed of his appearance and rather hormonal - ie broody. Not exactly an attractive quality in a leading man (or woman).**
Regarding the actors, it's nice to see a more mature Kristen Kreuk. Except for the flashback, she works better than I thought she would with that little edge to her. I think I even caught glimpses of some character layering in there (fingers crossed). The Beast, on the other hand, is unfortunately rather forgettable. I don't even have the sense that he's had first hand experience of a real war, let alone anything else he's working through. Let's hope that was just due to editing for this clip.
The thing I'm really missing in this preview from the original series? All the underground stuff and that vague sense of fantasy just out of reach. That was what captured my imagination then and makes me remember it now - a whole other world right under our feet. I must admit I had little patience with the series in the 80's - it was too slow and angsty for me - but I kept trying to tune in from time to time to get another glimpse of the hidden world.
One more peeve - the promo image/poster. Ugh. The actors look like they were shot separately and 'shopped together - no chemistry at all. I know they were directed like that but the result is you can almost overlook the fact that there's a guy standing next to "Detective Catherine Chandler". He looks completely replaceable. And it doesn't say Beauty and the Beast to me at all.
Maybe I'm being harsh but I expect more from people using fairy tales (I wonder if the writers and creators actually went back to the tale or completely took their cues from the original series?) and also from any type of police procedural or reference to any war we've had friends and family fight in. These are the days post-CSI and 24, which raised the standard for details and suspense. Since almost everyone reading this blog will remember the Twin Towers falling on 9/11, no matter what country you were in, any reference to that has to have substance. It's not a vague historical point in time to hang a plot point on but a very real wound for too many people today. Ironically, this is what fairy tales are very good at helping with but you have to be very smart about it as well as honest while still being respectful. That's not an easy job. While I would sincerely love for that rabbit to be pulled out of CWs hat my expectations will likely remain low on that point.
Right now the only reason I'd be tuning in is because of the fairy tale connection but it's early days yet. There's much more promo-ing to come so hopefully we'll get a real carrot sometime before the Fall season starts. You never know: a rabbit might just appear.
* Eg In Buffy, we saw all this angst and unrequited love happening but it was really when Angel and Buffy finally got together and Angel turned Bad with a capital "B" that things got very interesting - and mythic. For the first time we saw this "person" be truly evil. Although he had the reputation of being the baddest of the bad, we didn't really believe it till he turned into an actual killing machine and became a very real threat to his one true love. Because bad should be BAD and not be sitting on the fence. There's no point to a story if there's no real threat, no conflict. Fairy tales are very clear about that!
**Even the Angel paradox got tiring after a while, despite seeing him get his evil on, first hand.