Some fans of retro TV may remember “Beauty & The Beast” as an ’80s TV show starring Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton, but the CW hopes a new reboot premiering Thurs. Oct. 11 (9:00 p.m. ET) will freshen up the concept. This time around, the beast isn’t a lion living underground, but a former soldier (played by Jay Ryan) who’s been subjected to experiments while serving in the military. “We talked about the idea… of a super soldier gone bad,” Executive Producer Sherri Cooper told an audience of press tour journalists. And don’t get too comfortable with this beast basically being a good guy, either. “He’s going to become beastlier [as the series continues] and we’re going to explore story wise what the reasons are [for him to change]. He is going to get worse…”
Though Ryan’s beast is better looking than most (and can pass as purely human unless he’s enraged), Executive Producer Jennifer Levin brushed off a question from the audience about whether this essentially defangs the drama. “Most of the beasts in our lives don’t look like actual beasts. So there’s thing of, ‘What happens when you do fall in love with a beast?’ which we related to much more than [a character that’s purely] beastly on the outside.”
The show not only re-imagines the beast; it gives the character of Catherine a reboot as well. “I think this Catherine, after she sees her mom killed in front of her, she becomes very c’ommitted to being someone who never has something like this happen to her again,” said star Kristin Kreuk (“Smallville”), who can actually draw on her own martial arts training to fight off bad guys.
Though the CW did procure the rights to the ’80s show and the producers call the series a reboot, they promise the new show will keep the best of that series but give it a modern, original twist. “We loved the ’80s show, but we didn’t want to just copy that,” said Cooper. “We wanted Catherine to be somebody who could be saved, but [who] could also save Vincent. We wanted to understand why he was a beast, which back then [on the original show] maybe wasn’t as important. The CW said, you don’t have to be beholden to anything.”
The show may also draw some inspiration from another popular show. “I think this is very complicated,” Cooper added. “If you fall in love with a Dexter, what do you do? We can all use a little psychiatric help. That’s the beast and the beauty in all of us.”
Expect this show, as a police procedural with a fair amount of butt-kicking, to toss more bad guys into the mix. “There definitely will be big villains coming up,” said Levin. “A female beast; we’ve talked about all of that.”
Given that Catherine will be falling in love with a Vincent who is prone to violence, one journalist wondered if maybe this wouldn’t veer into the uncomfortable territory of domestic abuse a la Rihanna and Chris Brown. “We’re very aware of that line, and there is this moral code underneath it and we’re very careful not to cross it,” Cooper said. “Unlike what happened in that situation, he’s not attacking her.”
As Ryan was quick to add, “She gives as good as she gets as well… the conflict is balanced.”
But don’t let all the police stuff throw you off — this is closer to “Vampire Diaries” than “Criminal Minds.” “At its heart it is a romance,” Cooper said. “There will always be a close ended case, but we’ll always feel Catherine and Vincent where they’re at [emotionally]. They do have a lot of obstacles and there will be triangles, so there will be ways to keep them apart. But their chemistry is so amazing, you always want to see them together in the same room. Or roof.”
Not that they’re going to fall into bed anytime soon. “I think it’s so lovely to put on [romance] now, when it’s always sex at first sight,” said Ryan. So, maybe some things will be a little old-fashioned after all.