Beauty & the Beast: Review

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Beauty and the Beast

Watch, 16 January, 9pm

Since the vampire trend ran its ground, I’ve been holding out hope that trendy, sexually active centaurs would take off, but regrettably they haven’t. Instead, werewolves appear to have become the hip new thing, appearing on US screens in programmes like MTV’s Teen Wolf and now Beauty and the Beast.

Mixing the supernatural melodrama of True Blood with the visual style of a L’Oreal advert, Beauty and the Beast is television’s answer to a glossy magazine, filled with pretty pictures, but very little substance.

Harkening back to the days when US TV networks were just mad enough to broadcast shape-shifting nonsense like Manimal — or indeed the 1987 Beauty and the Beast, from which this ones takes its name — the series displays no intention of being anything deeper than just campy fun.

The new show follows the sexy pursuits of Catherine Chandler, who nine years ago witnessed the shooting of her mother, mere seconds before the murderers turned the gun on her. Yet against all odds, Cat was able to survive that harrowing night, thanks to the help of a mysterious, unfathomably good-looking beast-like creature.

Everybody who inhabits the show’s eerily airbrushed universe is easy on the eyes, but the beast, with his styled hair and piercing eyes, is apparently so attractive that he has to constantly lurk in the darkness, artfully pouting and looking up as his head points towards the ground. He just doesn’t seem very beastly, instead acting like a confused male model, anxiously awaiting instructions on how to behave more like a human.

Having never gotten the chance to thank the beast for saving here, Cat, who’s now apparently America’s best-dressed detective, can’t stop thinking about what happened that strange night. Although the death of her mother still leaves her sore, there’s a part of her—you can just tell—that can’t help but feel slightly aroused every time she remembers the beast.

It’s eventually an unrelated police investigation that leads Cat to him. Real name Vincent Keller, he had been assumed dead until his fingerprints were found on a dead body. Vincent takes some tracking down, but when Cat finally does catch up with him, living in a warehouse apartment, she doesn’t doubt that he’s the one who saved her all those years ago.

And so the beauty meets the beast and the chemistry, we’re to believe, is undeniable. As was the case with the Twilight saga, the romantic tension thus far has been built on the possibility that, at any given moment, Vincent could rip Cat’s face off with one swoop of his paw.

It’s hardly a healthy start to a relationship, more of just a perverse fantasy, which I think seems to more or less sum up episode one. Flip-flopping between covering the ground of a bargain bin erotic novel and an appallingly researched CSI-style crime-drama, it eventually concludes with a line stolen from the notorious video nasty Cannibal Holocaust: “Who are the real monsters?â€?

It might not be as offensive Cannibal Holocaust, but an easy answer to the above question would surely be the makers of Beauty and the Beast.

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