Thursday, July 12, 2012

Beauty and the Beast CW: Maybe Too Modern?

It's easily known from my previous posts that I am a huge fan of the 80's TV version of BatB, created by Ron Koslow. It had a lot of heart, some cheese, and a brilliant modern take on the fairy tale with an incredible amount of imagination and fun. Then I got word of the CW wanting to do a remake of the series, which knowing the CW's not so great track record, I was a bit on the fence. Either they were gonna get it horribly wrong or incredibly right, there really is no middle ground.

Then we arrive to today, where due to Comic Con this weekend, an extended preview has been released. As I began to watch it, a feeling came over me. What is this feeling? Follow the cut.

All right, general statement: Station your battleships, the ship is going down. Above these words is the preview, in all it's 5 minute glory. (I recommend watching before reading this, obviously.) This series, at it's best, looks weak. Why? Well I'll break it down for you.

Let me make myself clear: I am always up for a new adaptation and god knows it doesn't have to be perfect. But there is this great thing called effort, and I feel like no effort has been put into this new version, or maybe there has been too much effort into a portion and not enough in another. And the portion being missed? Vincent, of course. God, I don't even want to associate this new Vincent with the one that holds such a place in the heart of my 5 year old self.

First off, making this "new" Vincent more similar to an Italian supermodel than an actual beast is beyond frustrating, and continues to prove my point: Our beauty driven society can't take actors made up to be ugly. This is perfectly made clear in the movie Beastly, where the ugliest the main character gets is some misplaced tattoos. Twilight of course is to blame, attempting to forcefully "sexualize" and "glamorize" grotesque monster like, but that's another blog post for another time.

In this new version, we are treated to Vincent's only real physical flaw being that he has a nice scar on his face. Now of course, there is this new plot device that when he is angry that he turns into this "monster" due to a science experiment gone wrong, but from the shadowy imagines, it doesn't look very scary. In fact, I think this Vincent has more connections with the Incredible Hulk than his 80's counterpart.

I'll remark once again, that this "change" is not to my liking. First off, allowing Vincent's character to be normal looking enough to be seen in broad daylight with Catherine removes a huge chunk of the original appeal of the series and sexual tension, completely. There's no real danger in their relationship, no judgement to be had, no fear of people discovering this creature. Instead the biggest issue they have in their relationship is that Catherine might get a scratch or two, or maaaaybe she'll get killed. Which you might be saying: Dalin, why don't you care about Catherine's safety in this show?

Well, this brings me to another aspect of the series completely deleted from this remake: The Tunnels. Yes, in this new series the only cause for concern seems to be Vincent himself and that he is a runaway science experiment and a risk to Catherine's "safety". All right, lets spread the cards on the table: What do you as an audience care about more, one character's safety or the safety of hundreds of individuals who have hid from society and created an entirely new civilization underground, with an entirely new communication system, and even their own cultural celebrations and history? I'd say the latter.

Taking away the aspect of the Tunnels makes this series doomed to only last maybe a season or two in my book. With the original, each episode made you learn more and more about this underground world and the mythology of it, and each episode made the world seem larger and more complex then before. Personally, my favorite episodes were always the ones developing the other Tunnel Dweller's relationships rather then Vincent and Catherine's. And yes, even Father, as it stands, is no where in this version, which is a huge loss in my book.

Speaking of relationships, from this clip doesn't it seem like Catherine and Vincent are going a bit too fast and getting a bit too touchy feely that early in the show? Yes, in the original series Catherine and Vincent did hug a lot in the beginning, but they never got their "first kiss" (in the spiritual sense) till the last episode of season 1. And even after that the most physical it got was the initial thoughts provoke at the beginning of season 3 (but I won't spoil!). But all ready in this preview I see them really grabbing each others hands, drinking beers.... drinking beers!? 

Which brings me to my #1 complaint based on this preview: Where the hell is the romance? Yeah sure, they are probably gonna say all the usual lovey dovey crap that we expect, but where is the Shakespeare reading scenes? Where are the moments of them drinking tea on the top of a building? Where are the candles? Where is the old school charm that made this show so different and so cool?

So far I see no indication that such a thing like that is going to happen, and really thats got me incredibly nervous for this series. Am I really about to dive into a show that I truly idolized and loved so much in my youth to be instead watching a piece of Stephenie Meyers styled garbage? Seriously, if I end up seeing them within the first 3 - 7 episodes sleeping together, I am gonna rage against the machine - so to speak. I'm sure other fans of the original will agree with me on point for sure.

I'll give credit to the show, that has some of the original production team from the 80's involved, that they are trying to keep ties with the original in small pieces. You can see this clearly in these two shots the resemble that of the original series opening. So does that give the series some hope? Well maybe, but at this point it's a small shred in a huge pile of confusion for me. So where do we go with this story? Who knows. Overall I will keep myself ready for more emotions then I can handle on my fangirl soul, but I can tell you it's gonna be a bumpy ride. I can easily say expect another post with my "improvement" ideas, even though it's too late for that now.

So what are your thoughts on the new series? Excited? Doubtful? Comment down below.


Victoria Suzanne said...

Well, I am pretty disappointed. This is ridiculous. He's clearly not beasty at all. And the key to the show's prior success was ITS SEXUAL TENSION. God knows the only reason I suffered through 200 some odd episodes of Inuyasha was for the sexual tension between him and Kagome. (Which had a similar Beauty and the Beast theme, come to think of it...The cute girl and the outcast, "weird" looking guy). As usual the CW makes another teenage panty-dropper. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

I actually never saw the original, but I really want to see it (heard so many good things about it). This series doesn't look terrible, though it's not exactly exciting my pants off.

I think if you want to enjoy this, you'll have to stop comparing it to the original and understand it as a separate adaptation of the fairy tale. As far as I'm concerned (from what I've seen of clips of and read about the original), while the characters may have the same names, they're different characters, and the show should be treated as a different thing.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, yeah, InuYasha was a quintessential Beauty and the Beast tale, set in Warring States Period Japan.

I agree about the Hulk part – it seems the real tension is his inability to control himself (remember they said that the other super soldiers went berserk), so they'll really play up the losing control of his power and personage thing in order to keep up the tension. But that "unable to control himself" works better with the Beast from the Disney version, I have to say, since this guy doesn't seem to be emotionally troubled, and has been her silent Haku-like guardian for years and years. I'm not sure what to make of his personality. He seems pretty flat. Maybe he'll be developed into something more real once the series actually starts up. But he's feeling pretty "antisocial with a heart of gold and sparkles" right now… In fact, InuYasha with his selfishness and out for himself and vicious fighting was more of a Beast archetype than this guy…

But also remember that in at least one Fairy Tale version, the Beast was less choleric, angry and dangerous and more melancholic and antisocial. They could be doing something more to that extent, but his lack of beastly features save when he's fighting or going out of control I would say is a problem.

Then again, because he's being hunted by the military and is supposedly "dead," that may play a similar role to him not being able to be in public with Catherine as in the 80s show. Just food for thought.



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