|Kristin Kreuk and Jay Ryan of Beauty and the Beast. (Handout)
It's either courageous or cowardly.
The new Beauty and the Beast, which debuts Thursday, Oct. 11 on CW and Showcase, is lacking a beast in the traditional physical sense.
The beauty is Kristin Kreuk, that's easy. But the beast is hunky Jay Ryan with a small scar on his cheek.
Ah, but he's a beast within. Well, sometimes. Occasionally. When he's not helping and protecting people. And his beastly tendencies aren't his fault, anyway, so back off, okay?
Hmmm. Is this approach courageous as it acknowledges the vast majority of real-life beasts aren't threatening on the outside?
Or is it cowardly in that it wouldn't risk having a main character look like a beast because TV audiences in 2012 - especially young viewers - would balk?
The creators are trying to sell the former.
"Most of the beasts in our lives don't look like an actual beast," co-executive producer Jennifer Levin says.
"They are sometimes charming. There's something that might draw us to them. So there is that thing of what happens when you fall in love with a beast.
"It was beastliness on the inside that was more interesting to us."
So this is not your parents' Beauty and the Beast, a.k.a. the 1980s version with Linda Hamilton and a truly beastly Ron Perlman.
"The romance is still there and the themes are still there," Kreuk says. "But it's very much based in our society, what could be happening right now."
In this new foray, Catherine "Cat" Chandler (Kreuk) is a homicide detective haunted by her tragic past, in which she witnessed the murder of her mother. The teenaged Cat might have been killed, too, but something - or someone - saved her.
Years later, while investigating a case, Cat uncovers fingerprints that lead to a doctor named Vincent Keller (Ryan). He reportedly was killed by enemy fire in Afghanistan in 2002.
But might Vincent have been a victim of clandestine U.S. military experimentation? And if he's still alive, is it possible that Vincent and Cat have a mysterious connection?
Ryan advises not to judge Beauty and the Beast too harshly by its setup-heavy pilot episode.
"He (Vincent) is actually more like Jekyll and Hyde, and as you go through the series, you'll notice that more as it develops," Ryan says.
"It's almost like two people inside this one character. The beast is more like a serial killer, and Vincent is trying to suppress him throughout.
"You don't get a lot of that in the pilot, but as we go along, that will become more apparent, and the beast will become much more dangerous."
The question remains, will viewers accept a Beauty and the Beast in which the beast doesn't look like a beast?
Hey, vampires are sexy now, so you never know.