One of cable channel A & E's latest offerings is "The Beast", a gritty police drama that stars Patrick Swayze as FBI veteran Charles Barker. At the beginning of the series, Barker is paired up with a rookie in order to try and train the new recruit, named Ellis Dove (Travis Fimmel.) The only issue is that - as experienced an undercover officer as Barker is, he's unaware that Dove is set into motion to follow the older officer and report on his actions.
After inital skepticism and gruffness from the elder officer, the two go above and beyond as they launch investigations into drug lords and other cases. While Dove finds himself heading further and further down the rabbit hole and into the darkness and isolation of Barker's daily existence, he has to keep himself from seeking too deep into character. However, while in the midst of the FBI investigation of Barker, Dove starts to realize that there's a larger conspiracy within the bureau.
The series was not renewed for another season (due to Swayze's continued battle with illness), but the series is still a fine effort, with Swayze's rugged, worn, confident performance being the stand-out of the series. Fimmel also manages to offer a solid supporting effort, too. The writing isn't among the best of the genre ("The Shield"), but it's certainly at least a little above average, and occasionally better.
At the end of the day, this series may not reinvent the wheel, but it provides a very good star vehicle for Swayze, who will hopefully recover and continue his career with solid roles like this one.
• Season 1
1 1-01 15/Jan/09 Pilot
2 1-02 22/Jan/09 Two Choices
3 1-03 29/Jan/09 Nadia
4 1-04 05/Feb/09 Infected
5 1-05 12/Feb/09 Bitsy Big-Boy
6 1-06 19/Feb/09 Hothead
7 1-07 26/Feb/09 Capone
8 1-08 05/Mar/09 Mercy
9 1-09 19/Mar/09 The Walk In
10 1-10 26/Mar/09 Tilt
11 1-11 09/Apr/09 My Brother's Keeper
12 1-12 16/Apr/09 Counterfeit
13 1-13 23/Apr/09 No Turning Back
VIDEO: "The Beast" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 1.78:1. The image quality of this release is generally excellent, as it keeps to the show's general look and feel. Sharpness and detail are usually very good. Although there is minor grain in the image at times (which appears to be an intentional element of the show's gritty "look"), it doesn't effect the viewing experience, and is presented smoothly here.
There did not appear to be any flaws not associated with the source material. Edge enhancement was not spotted here, nor were any instances of pixelation. The source material also appeared to be in excellent condition, with no specks, marks or wear. The show's color palette was also presented accurately.
SOUND: Crisp, clear Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. A mild amount of surround use is heard at times, but this is otherwise a largely dialogue-driven series.
EXTRAS: 13 short "behind-the-scenes" featurettes that should have simply been combined into one longer piece.
Final Thoughts: At the end of the day, "The Beast" may not reinvent the wheel, but it provides a very good star vehicle for Swayze, who will hopefully recover and continue his career with solid roles like this one.