Rabu, 2 Oktober 2013

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Beauty And The Beast: Dark reflection


Is the new Beauty And The Beast a cynical fairytale for a hardened generation?

SO, this is where Lana Lang ended up after she took off from the tiny town of Smallville, Kansas. Actress Kristin Kreuk trades in her simpering teen girl persona in Smallville to play a tough detective in this updated version of the 1987 series Beauty And The Beast (which itself was loosely based on the classic fairytale).

In the pilot, we meet Kreuk's character, Catherine Chandler, going home late at night after her shift as a waitress in a bar ends. Her car runs into trouble, and she calls her mother for help. When the latter arrives, they are attacked. Her mother is killed, but Catherine is saved by a "beast". Naturally, nobody believes her story about a fearsome creature coming to her rescue.

Nine years later, the beautiful Catherine is now a detective with the New York Police Department. She is really good at her job, but the mystery surrounding her mother's death still troubles her. Then, coincidentally, a murder case leads her to the beast's lair – which turns out to be a warehouse, complete with hi-def TV and Xbox – and she meets the beast, one Vincent Keller (Jay Ryan).

He is an ex-soldier, presumed dead, who was part of an experiment in the army's bid to make unstoppable soldiers. Thanks to the super soldier programme, whenever this Captain America's emotions are amped up, he becomes a beast of great speed and strength.

We also learn that Vincent is keeping a low profile not only because of these sudden transformations but also because it was the army that tried to kill him (cue suspicious military men dressed in black and driving black SUVs).

But like any good guy, even though he has a temper, he patrols New York's streets at night and saves people in trouble from time to time. This is how he came to save Catherine a long time ago, and – since making his presence known to her – he continues to rescue her on more than one occasion, even though she is quite adept at hand-to-hand combat.

No doubt casting Kreuk is an interesting move; she played the damsel in distress for so many seasons in Smallville that seeing her take down a couple of men on her own is a nice change. Despite her petite size, Kreuk does lend her character a steely determination, which is a must for any TV cop. Unfortunately though, Catherine comes off a little bland although the actress herself is visually arresting.

What is lacking too is chemistry with her co-stars – the spark between Catherine and Vincent is quite low-key, considering the story is ultimately about these two people falling in love and finding a happily ever after, despite all the obstacles thrown at them. Or are true love and lasting happiness two concepts that are too old-fashioned for today's TV audience?

Another aspect of Beauty And The Beast that doesn't sit right is Vincent's story, which is very weak. This is not helped by the fact that he looks normal most of the time (except for a scar on his face) – and is a beast on screen for all of three minutes.

Also, from the first three episodes, it seems he is very much in control of the monster within him. So why are we supposed to care if he finds an antidote or not? He would still be a wanted fugitive when he becomes normal again, wouldn't he?

While the 1987 series starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman may not be fast-paced enough for today's audience, it did boast of wonderful dialogue, great performances and Perlman's really beautiful recital of poems.

His Vincent had no choice in the looks department – he was a big man with a lion's head, that's who he was. This gave the character so much more emotional baggage than the present Vincent, who grew up normal to become a doctor before enlisting in the army.

Creator Ron Koslow also gave Perlman's Vincent intelligence, integrity and, most of all, a kind heart. Like the fairytale, the moral of the story is to look beyond a person's appearance.

In the modern take, we can only feel pity for Vincent – which is not a good thing to give a hero. In the old series, the anguish of being an outsider formed the core of Vincent's being, and his appeal. Here, the character development is meshed with a government conspiracy and dirty deeds.

If anything, this new take informs us that we have become a much more hardened society – constantly worrying about reading what's between the lines instead of just enjoying the simpler things in life.

Beauty And The Beast is aired on RTL CBS Entertainment HD (HyppTV Channel 616) every Tuesday at 9pm.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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