Published on January 15th, 2009 | by Erich Becker0
The Beast – Pilot (01×01)
While the premiere of Patrick Swayze’s newest TV endeavor is likely to be overshadowed by his health woes of late, behind the news reports and interviews is an average cop drama with lots of room to grow, but a penchant for taking bits and pieces of successful films and TV shows and incorporating them into a half-full melting pot.
The Beast see Swayze as Charles Barker an off-the-map FBI agent who goes undercover to bring down the big-bads with a rookie, hand-picked partner in Ellis Dove (Travis Fimmel). Sound familiar? It’s basically the premise of Training Day with a few things changed, but the producers didn’t really go the extra mile to eliminate some of the comparisons that would undeniably be brought up. Similarities include: Dove being by the book, much like Ethan Hawk’s character in relation to the off-the-rails mentor, the protégé being forced to “prove” himself, ordered to do odd jobs for the quiet, sneaky mentor, etc.
The plot doesn’t really help the series evolve either, there’s the B-storylines about Barker protecting a women and her family (we later come to find this is his sister), Dove attempting a relationship with his neighbor, a shadowy figure at the FBI who helps them, Barker somehow, someway managing to get what he needs, when he needs it, and the possibility that he’s dirty and Dove is recruited to spy on him. Essences of other staples like The Shield, House, and the aforementioned Training Day just leave The Beast as something old and worn at times. All this culminates with a big reveal at the end that one of the most closely guarded secrets in the US government (a disk drive containing every undercover agent in the world) is sitting behind an unguarded rent-a-fence in FBI headquarters where one old, fat, balding guy is protecting it. When you see its gone at the end of the episode so is your suspension of disbelief.
It seems as though the series creators cobbled together everything they loved about difficult-to-work-with-human-dramas, adding in some cops and robbers gave everyone a super tough life and asked us to watch. The audience is just thrown in to the deep end in the beginning though, no introduction, and we’re forced to care for characters who have no life beyond the caricatures they represent from years upon years of exposition on the small and silver screen.
In the end it doesn’t really matter that Swayze does an admirable job as the clearly intelligent, but disturbed Barker, if you can’t get past the ludicrously lazy writing there isn’t much to enjoy in anyone’s performance. The Beast could evolve into something much more, but based on the pilot, you’ve seen all this done before.