Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast is a family favourite TV show at our house — one of three shows (along with Elementary and Dr. Who) that we all get together to watch. As of this writing it’s not clear if it will be renewed for next year; the TV reviewer in our local newspaper called it “on the bubble” a couple of weeks ago, and as of last week the Cancellation Bear said much the same thing. One of the things in its favour according to both sources is that its home network, the CW, likely can’t get enough replacements to let it cancel every poorly-rated show. Our Canadian carrier, Showcase, is constrained by what the CW chooses to do.

My wife and I started watching it once we found out it was based on the 1987-90 TV series of the same name, the first two seasons of which are among our all-time favourites (we do not speak of the third season, just like some people refuse to acknowledge the existence of The Matrix sequels ). Two of our three kids are still in town, were willing to watch the first episode with us, and decided it was worth the trouble of coordinating four different schedules.

We quickly realized it wasn’t going to be a whole lot like the older one. Only a few elements are carried over. There’s a career woman named Catherine Chandler and a “beast” named Vincent with super-strength who always shows up when she needs protecting; he has to hide his nature from the world, and they have a slowly-evolving romantic relationship. After that, not much is in common. She’s a kickass cop instead of an assistant district attorney. Vincent is only beastly some of the time and a hunk the rest of the time; Ron Perlman’s character had permanent leonine facial features and claw-like nails. The new Vincent is hiding from the secretive military organization that made him what he is; the old Vincent’s origin was never made completely clear, and he had to hide because people couldn’t accept someone who looked like a lion-man. The new show has a lot of police procedure; the old had a whole underground community hiding from the rest of the world.

I suspect the differences put off some fans of the old show; apparently the new show lost a lot of its initial audience after the first couple of weeks. We decided we liked it once we started treating it as its own thing instead of a nostalgia trip; if we’d never seen the original, I think we’d still have watched the new one. It occurs to me that might be a good life lesson: if something, or someone, doesn’t match your preconceptions or meet your expectations, try to appreciate it for what it is instead of criticizing it for what it isn’t. I imagine that’s the way a lot of geeks wish the rest of the world would deal with us.

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