Fairy Tale TV Puzzle: Why 'Beauty and the Beast' is Failing and 'Once Upon a Time' is Thriving

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It's a good time to be a TV fan who loves fairy tales. ABC's imaginative series "Once Upon a Time" is captivating millions of viewers, while the CW is offering up their own take on the classic tale of "Beauty and the Beast."

Yet, not all is rosy in The CW's garden. "Beauty and the Beast" isn't exactly a ratings smash, and many insiders are betting that the show will get axed at the end of this season. Even if "Beast" does get a second season, The CW is likely to move the show to a new night next fall. "Beast" currently airs after "The Vampire Diaries." However, that spot will probably be given to the "Vampire Diaries" spinoff

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series "The Originals" this fall.

The failure of "Beauty and the Beast" is odd, given the runaway success of "Once Upon a Time." The latter show is so popular, ABC has a Wonderland-inspired spinoff in the works.

So, why have these two fairy tale shows had such divergent paths? Why does "Beast" fail to grab big numbers, while "Once Upon a Time" is getting ready for a spinoff? Here are some compelling reasons that explain why only one of these fairy tale shows is getting a fairy tale ending.

1. Size does matter

The fact of the matter is that ABC generally scores higher ratings than The CW. It would be truly astonishing if a CW drama could outstrip a major network in the ratings. As it is, "Once" usually gets more than double the ratings of "Beauty and the Beast."

2. The CW's fairy tale opened to bad reviews

David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle gave "Beast" a scathing review when it debuted, calling it "one of the new season's worst shows." He added insult to injury, calling the show an "overheated, badly written, wretchedly acted and unconvincing drama, which makes mincemeat out of the traditional beauty and the beast fairy tale."

Lest you think that Wiegand just doesn't like CW's style of youth-oriented programming, note that in the very same interview, he had nothing but praise for CW's "Arrow." In contrast, ABC's bigger budget for "Once Upon a Time" consistently ensures a higher caliber of actors and directors.

3. ABC gets to play in Disney's playground

The biggest factor in the success of "Once Upon a Time" has a lot to do with the fact that ABC has the rights to use Disney characters. That means "Once Upon a Time" has a bigger, more familiar sandbox for their characters to play in. The CW's "Beauty and the Beast" has a small universe of its own to draw upon (the show is based on a 1987 series of the same name), but it lacks the brand recognition (and Disney-related nostalgia) that ABC's fairy tale series can provide each week.
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