Posted: 01/14/2009

 

The Beast, Starring Patrick Swayze

(2009)

by Laura Tucker




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By now we all know about Patrick Swayze’s courageous fight with stage four pancreatic cancer, and just one week ago, days after we saw his touching interview with Barbara Walters, he checked himself into the hospital with a bout of pneumonia. Watching the premiere episode of his new show, The Beast, I kept thinking it must be the illness that is now supplying him with more grit that is much needed with this new character.

While it may be the lighter dramas like Dirty Dancing and Ghost that made Swayze a household name, he has a long list of movies and TV show appearances. When I watched him in The Beast, I kept thinking his character, Charles Barker, a veteran F.B.I. agent, was similar to the one he played in Roadhouse, with both being tough as nails. There’s a difference, though, as Barker seems to have a little more grit and seems to be a little more real than the bouncer in Roadhouse.

In the first few moments of the premiere episode, it reminds me of the beginning of the premiere episode of The Mentalist. Patrick Jane played it cool and showed us how he handled interrogations straight on, having a good sense for the truth, and challenging the others, prompting a woman to shoot her husband cold. Barker takes on a rookie in Ellis Dove (Travis Fimmel) and shoots him in their first bit of undercover work, knowing Dove was wearing a bulletproof vest.

Barker is a very hardened F.B.I. agent and wants to bring about this rookie to his side. The rookie is idealistic as they come, and Barker just wants him to see it’s not about playing by the rules, it’s about just getting it done. It’s not an easy ride for Dove, and you can see him start to question it all. In addition, he’s starting a relationship with his next door neighbor, but they’re taking it nice and slow, which makes it much more fun for us.

One of the reasons for the relationship going so slowly is because Barker always has some new tricks up his sleeve, calling on Dove to help him bring down arms dealers. At one point Dove has to pay a visit to a man to get some information, and has to put up with the guy playing Russian Roulette with himself, then forcing Dove to either play the game or smoke something that can’t be legal from a pipe. What would you choose?

There’s no doubt about it that Barker as the veteran has become very hardened. I couldn’t help but wonder while I watched if it wasn’t Swayze’s illness coming into play. That’s the difference between this Swayze and the one in Roadhouse. In Roadhouse he was kind of all about pretty hair while he was being tough, but in The Beast, he’s 100% grit and toughness. There’s no pretty hair this time, and you can see the hardness in Swayze’s face. It’s what he brings to this new role, and it’s that that makes it work.

It’s unclear how the newest developments in Swayze’s health will affect the future of The Beast, as it reminds me a lot of when Jerry Orbach, ironically Swayze’s costar in Dirty Dancing, when he announced his battle with cancer, started a new show in Law & Order: Trial by Jury, then was too ill to continue after a few episodes. The latest reports on Swayze are that he’s doing much better after his pneumonia, and with that and a little more hope, maybe he’ll beat this particular Beast after all.

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker is a freelance writer providing reviews of movies and television, among other things, at Viewpoints and Reality Shack, and operates a TV blog, What’s Hot On TV as well as a celebrity gossip blog at Troubled Hollywood. She is also an Associate Instructor and 2nd dan black belt in tae kwon do with South Elgin Martial Arts. Laura can be reached at LauraBelle@realityshack.com



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