Television Review

Avert your eyes from ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Jay Ryan stars in “Beauty and the Beast.”
Sven Frenzel/The CW
Jay Ryan (right) stars in “Beauty and the Beast.”

Look, I’m all for human flaws. I once saw a Vanity Fair model without a dimple on his chin and he looked perfectly OK. But a scar on the face? Wow. Forget it.

That’s right: The “beast” in the new CW series “Beauty and the Beast,” named Vincent (Jay Ryan), has a scar on his face. Otherwise, of course, he’s a perfect specimen of CW gorgeosity, a tall piece of beefcake with gym triceps, a broody brow, and sculpted stubble. But a scar? His life is so totally over.

I have to mock “Beauty and the Beast” as an indicator of the CW’s standards of beauty, where even the “ugly” ones aren’t exactly unattractive. Because otherwise, there’s nothing entertaining about this new show, which premieres Thursday night at 9. Loosely based on the 1987-89 series, it’s a silly, flat piece of work that is all about posing longingly in the face of impossible love. There’s no scene-to-scene logic, just looking and yearning and styling to sad rock music.

Sven Frenzel/The CW
Kristin Kreuk.

Kristin Kreuk from “Smallville” stars as Catherine, a New York City detective who was saved by Vincent years earlier, when her mother was mysteriously shot to death. Now she encounters him while tracking a hotel murder case, and they bond. She learns that Vincent was a doctor serving in Afghanistan in 2002, when he was supposedly killed. The truth: He and other soldiers were given an experimental drug, and when it failed, all the others were killed but he escaped. Now, when he gets angry, his face turns into a Halloween-level prosthetic mess. So he hides out in a warehouse with his old friend, J.T. (Austin Basis), dodging people who want him dead and, like a superhero, emerging to help people in need.

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Kreuk is bland as can be, so Catherine has been fitted with a more colorful partner, Tess (Nina Lisandrello), who has a very big New York accent. The case they pursue Thursday, involving a dead fashion magazine editor, is feebly assembled. It’s just a plot excuse to throw Catherine and Vincent together a few times. I’m assuming that, as the show continues, Vincent will help Catherine and Tess with their work from the shadows. Meanwhile, Catherine and Vincent will inevitably be tormented about their ill-fated love.

Last season, ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” and NBC’s “Grimm” proved that there is an appetite for updated fairy tales. The CW has taken the hint, and contrived this pretty, and pretty empty, series. It’s a market move, nothing more.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Matthew