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TV Show Review: Patrick Swayze is The Beast

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Patrick Swayze in The BeastThe Shield is gone, leaving the airways devoid of gritty, gray-and-grayer police drama. Michael Chiklis was a complete badass, and over the course of seven amazing seasons, the writers carved an amazingly complex, suspenseful and believable tale of crime, corruption and tragedy. The last season, especially, was a masterstroke.

And only a few months later, A&E’s The Beast has risen from the ashes to take The Shield‘s place. Or at least try.

The Beast plays out like a down-and-dirty version of the Chris Cooper movie Breach mixed with a less captivating Training Day; Travis Fimmel stars as Jake, a young, eager cop who has been recruited to partner with Charles Barker (Patrick Swayze). Just as in Training Day, Jake is green around the edges and has a lot to learn when pitted against Charles, who will cross the line to accomplish the mission. SPOILER ALERT: It isn’t long, though, before Jake is confronted with a team of officials who inform him that he has been selected to spy on Charles, given the suspicion that the man is dirty.

Surprisingly, it isn’t Swayze who has the lead but Fimmel; the narrative stays focused on Jake much more than Charles. Nevertheless, Fimmel holds his own and quickly proves that he can carry the show, and one has to wonder, given Swayze’s dire circumstances, that this isn’t completely coincidental. On the flip side, it’s Swayze who will draw audiences in and keep them there, as he delivers his best performance in years – though that isn’t hard, since no one has seen him in years. That fact aside, Swayze growls his way through scene to scene with satisfying brutality, though those expecting Denzel Washington-esque screen chewing should look elsewhere. As good as Trimmel is, this show will live and die with Swayze – and I sincerely hope that doesn’t turn into a literal statement.

Neither the pilot episode or Episode 2, titled Two Choices, blew me away; as intense as Swayze is, that intensity doesn’t always resonate through the show itself. Again, one can’t help but compare The Beast to The Shield, and having grown to love that show over seven seasons, it’s hard to see the same quality here. Nevertheless, only two episodes have passed and both are good enough to give it a few more chances.

In other words, it has potential.

Interestingly, one of the most intriguing aspects of the show is the relationship between Jake and his neighbor Rose, played by the beautiful Lindsay Pulsipher. The relationship serves as a good antithesis to the rest of the show, and I liked the prospect of the issues the couple is going to face in the future. Still, I think the writers jumped the gun by removing much of their conflict by the second episode.

The Beast, which premieres Thursday, January 15th at 10pm ET/PT on A&E hasn’t won me over, but it’s intriguing enough to give it a little time. It’s sad to think that this may be Patrick Swayze’s final hurrah, but if it is, it is a commendable way to go out. The show maybe similar to bigger and better things, but Swayze’s performance is top notch.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Movie Reviews, TV Series
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  • http://michael-rivers.blogspot.com/ Michael Rivers

    What a great site! I’m a huge movie fan so this is the kind of sites I love. I’ve really enjoyed looking around at your postings. I will be back soon!

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    Thanks, Michael.

  • sidney

    I agree that The Beast has potential. It’s got a great gritty/slick look and Swayze is better than I thought he’d be! It’s amazing that he did this while being so sick.

    The Breach-ish twist is interesting, but after the pilot and first episode, I’m kinda confused about the particulars, aren’t you?

    For example – what happened with the guy who Swayze meets in the bar & gets to kill himself? I got that he was Swayze’s (er – Barker’s) brother in law, but what happened to bring him to that point? What were these files and the info he had to move on (or whatever), and who were these dudes that were going to kill the rest of the family? It’s pretty cold blooded to get your sis’s husband to shoot himself in the head… so maybe this whole thing was just to establish Swayze as a superbadass from jump street, but I hope there will more follow up on this. Loose ends in episodic dramas are all good, as long as they’re connected at some point.

    OK, done venting now. Great site, BTW!

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    Thanks for the comment, Sidney. Good questions you raise.

  • Tresa

    The BEAST – was awesome – I never missed an episode. I have always been a Swayze fan and think he played the character well. I am excited he was able to do the show even with his unbelievable medical problems. He is an outstanding person and actor. It had to be very hard work. It was even harder to watch him play this @#%$ part (because we all know what an awesome person he really is)…I always knew he could pull off any part he played even if we did not like the “part”. But put my feelings and respect for Swayze aside…DON’T let the show die with him. Travis Trimmel is an awesome actor and could carry the show on his own. The show was left with a lot of loose ends that will always drive us Beast lovers crazy! But it was also left in a way that Swayze could be cut out and the show go on. I know out of respect for him most everyone involved probably does not want to continue the show. But Swayze coming back at this time in his life to do this show is showing us just that! Work hard and don’t give up! Patrick Swayze will always amaze us as a person and actor. But he is a fighter and I think he would want the show to go on.

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl

    Thanks for the great comment, Tresa!

  • Tasher

    I first started watching The Beast on ABC2 just by chance and found it excellent viewing and looked forward to seeing each episode each Tuesday evening. I thought Patrick Swayze and Travis Trimmel were excellent. I did try to watch The Shield but I found it too violent for my taste and I did not connect with the male lead person. I have tried to purchase the DVD of the series of The Beast but was told that there is not a DVD of the series. Does anyone know if there is a DVD out there somwhere.

  • http://www.filmjabber.com Erik Samdahl
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