Must Geek TV Preview: Animal Magnetism

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The new Beauty and the Beast adds edge to the classic romance.

The CW has resurrected the oft-filmed “Beauty and the Beast” fable for a modern-day audience in a way that tweaks the premise while staying true to its romantic core. Smallville star Kristin Kreuk plays Catherine Chandler, a law student who is attacked by mystery assailants. She’s saved by the mysterious Vincent (Jay Ryan), who has the ability to transform into a monstrous creature. Years later, she’s a cop trying to track down her savior.

For executive producer Sherri Cooper, who co-wrote the show with Jennifer Levin, the biggest hurdle was making sure they didn’t let down the fans of the über-romantic 1980s series of the same name. “It was so beloved,” Cooper admits. “And then we realized that if it was a re-imagining and reboot, it would gives us the freedom to tackle the theme of ‘What is beauty and what is a beast?’ I love Catherine Chandler’s character, so it also became: What’s the modern take on it?”

The other big issue was how to re-envision the Beast. In the 1980s show, actor Ron Perlman was always in extensive makeup — not the most practical thing to do on a TV series. “We thought about the production issues of putting a great actor in makeup for hours and hours,” Cooper admits, but The CW was open to whatever her and Levin decided. “They said to us, ‘Make the Beast whatever defines the Beast to you,’” says Cooper, who imagined a transformative character who changes in appearance only when adrenaline kicks in.

Cooper says the series will feature cases that Catherine and her police partner, Tess O’Malley (Nina Lisandrello), will have to solve, with other episodes digging deeper into the overall mythology. “Sometimes, the mythology will be a bigger part of an episode, but we will have a feeling of close-ended episodes with the serialized feel of Catherine trying to figure out the answer to her mother’s murder, who created Vincent, and is there a way to undo it,” Cooper explains.

With last season’s fairy tale-derived shows Once Upon a Time and Grimm becoming breakout hits, Cooper feels audiences are looking for more fantasy in their TV stories, which is why she feels this is a perfect time to revive Beauty and the Beast. “We’ve had a lot of those typical procedural shows and now there’s a different way of doing things with fairy tales,” says Cooper, who adds that we’ve become a world so heavy with technology, that doing a classic love story is also a plus. “[We live] in a world where people communicate through texts, e-mails and tweeting, and this series is about getting back to an old-fashioned romance,” Cooper says. “Even in how [Catherine and Vincent] communicate — it’s old-fashioned, forbidden love, which maybe people secretly yearn for.”

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