The 2012 television season saw a number of adaptations and remakes. One of the new crop followed the trend of adapting fairy tales, joining Grimm and Once Upon a Time. The new Beauty and the Beast is a remake of a previous adaptation of the classic fairy tale.
The original fairy tale told a story of how a young woman saw through the outer ugliness of a man to find his inner beauty. In 1987, the TV series Beauty and the Beast took the idea and brought it to the modern world. The beauty, Catherine Chandler, played by Linda Hamilton, was a District Attorney. The Beast, Vincent, played by Ron Perlman, lived as an outcast. A chance meeting between them after Catherine was attacked and left for dead introduced her to the World Below, a sanctuary for those who do not fit in the mundane world. Beauty and the Beast built on top of Gothic romances as popularized by authors such as Anne Rice and could be considered the prototypical paranormal romance. The series explored the relationship between Catherine and Vincent, revealing the inner beauty in each of them.
The new Beauty and the Beast has Kristen Kreuk in the role of Catherine and Jay Ryan as Vincent. The new series changed Catherine’s job from District Attorney to detective. The approach drops the urban fantasy of the original series. Vincent, instead of being born a beast-like being, had undergone top secret experiments while in the Army, akin to Captain America‘s super-soldier serum. An ongoing plot-line involving Catherine’s mother and the experiments was added. Vincent doesn’t have a beast-like appearance; but, because of the experiments, can experience animal-like rage.
One of the big criticisms of the new Beauty and the Beast is Vincent’s appearance. As mentioned, the fairy tale was about looking past the outside to see the person within. The new Beauty presents an attractive Vincent with an ugly, dangerous being inside waiting to explode out. Also gone, the urban fantasy and sense of wonder from Catherine discovering a hidden world. Time will tell if the writers can explore the relationship while managing the police procedural elements and the subplots involving Catherine’s mother and the experiments on Vincent.
Next time, a new year dawns.