The series premiere episode of "Beauty and the Beast" was a display of fantasy over reality and beauty over substance. For those who want to gaze at good-looking actors, can get past questionable performances and strained dialogue, then the latest CW production could supply a few thrills.
In a flashback to 2003, Catherine Chandler (Kristin Kreuk) witnesses the murder of her mother, then escapes into the woods where she is confronted by the killers. Suddenly, out of nowhere, appears a man/creature who takes down the bad guys and saves the woman's life.
Moving forward to present day, Catherine is now a NYPD detective, and that's where any hope at reality goes right out the window. To have a young babe on the force is eyebrow-raising but not uncommon. But when the partner, another hottie, is introduced (Nina Lisandrello), then the so-called "beast," Vincent Keller (Jay Ryan) is revealed, and he's a cute heartbreaker with tight T-shirts and the only "disfigurement" is a scar, it's fairly apparent which demographic is the focus here.
Heart behind the "Beast"
There were a couple things that worked, though, such as the two female leads making a decent "buddy" combo, and the chemistry between Vincent and Catherine has potential to steam a few lenses; there is a heart that comes through.
Jay Ryan is effective in the role, with potential for more than he is given. Austin Basis, who plays the geeky, loyal best friend of Vincent, has the thankless task of being the token "average looking" character, because it is probably illegal in certain states to have too many attractive people in one show. (Although CW's "The Vampire Diaries" didn't get the memo about that one.)
Kickin' bad guy booties
When confronted by thugs in the subway station, Catherine proves she can do more than just wear trendy clothes and lip gloss, as she single-handedly kicks major butt all over the place without a hair falling out of place!
When Catherine finds herself in another jam, Vincent jumps out of the shadows again to rescue her, but when she asks too many questions, he tells Catherine, "You are crazy showing up here alone," then transforms from boy-band pretty to "hideous," with the only scary thing being the freaky Darth Vader voice Vincent uses when in "beast" character.
There were a couple sweet scenes between Vincent and Catherine: "You're not a monster. You saved my life. Twice," she said. And when she tries to get him to open up about his past: "I get what it's like to hide out and push people away because you don't think you're deserving."
"Beauty and the Beast" is not Shakespeare -- there is no Streeps or Firths -- and the intermittent bits of hilarity were clearly not intentional, but somehow, there is still a likability factor for the lead actors and a touch of humanity with this program, which kept the premiere entertaining.