This remake of a (semi) classic '80s TV series tries out that "looks kinda like New York City" thing we do so well.
Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.
For all the amazing diversity of movies and TV shows shot here, our bread and butter seems to be remakes and passing for New York City. Beauty & the Beast, now heading into its third season filming in the Big Smoke, hits both targets. Produced by the same folks who brought Nikita (also a remake, also set in NYC) to town, it brings some nice production values and a bit of Cancon (primarily in the form of lead actress Kristin Kreuk) to a story that, you know, arguably didn’t need to be remade.
If you don’t know, the original TV series featured Linda Hamilton (Terminator) and Ron Perlman (Hellboy). Based on Wikipedia’s description of the plot, it sounds like an improbable hit―but people did indeed come to love a story about “the relationship between Vincent (Perlman), a mythic, noble man-beast, and Catherine (Linda Hamilton), a savvy Assistant District Attorney in New York.” What makes it particularly interesting, at least in retrospect, is that it was written by George R.R. Martin, who has since become hugely famous for writing the five Song of Fire and Ice books, aka Game of Thrones (and, more significantly, still having not finished the sixth!). But that’s history; the present is ours, baby: now Catherine is a hotshot young detective and Vincent is generally much more man, much less beast. But they solve crimes and make out a lot, so it’s all good.
Since Kreuk plays a detective, she obviously works at a police station. We see it many times throughout the series, and you may recognize it as the Ontario Heritage Trust headquarters at 10 Adelaide Street East. Usually you don’t see the Chrysler Building down the street.
The interior is a set, but you’ll note it does a nice job emulating the look of the distinctive windows.
They do a good job, in the first few episodes, of getting some of those tried-and-true “Fake New York” locations out of the way. Here’s what’s supposed to be Times Square…
…which is actually, of course, Dundas Square.
They don’t waste any time getting down into the subway either…
…visiting Lower Bay right in the first episode.
The chi-chi “Stanwyck Hotel”…
…is actually the chi-chi Thompson Hotel.
And this posh restaurant…
…is really the posh Rosewater Supper Club.
Here’s some Reel Toronto inside dirt: the two most annoying kinds of locations to find are (a) anonymous industrial sites and (b) residences. Though it’s not really anywhere near the Brooklyn Bridge, Vincent’s first lair is the old Symes Transfer Station (incinerator), near the Stockyards. We’ve seen it pop up in the odd film; the interior was used in Cinderella Man, for example.
As you may have already noticed, the B&B people are good at sticking a bridge or other landmark in the background to up the Big Apple-ness of it all. So, unsurprisingly, the second episode starts with this shot of the Empire State Building…
…and pans down to this street…
…which we can recognize, thanks to the LED-friendly building in the back, as
Temperance, just west of Yonge.
Much of the mysterious action in the second episode takes place in this distinctive space…
…which you will surely recognize…
…as Massey Hall.
A shot outside digitally erases the hall’s name…
…but we even get to go up on the roof.
We always like a good, quickly edited chase scene!
This one zips through Chinatown, on Spadina.
Look, they did it again! We’re obviously outside First Canadian Place, on Adelaide, but they drop ol’ Empirey way in the back there and, boom, instant New York!
One thing they do on this show, not to mention fellow CW fare, like Nikita, (you can tell this was aired by CW, right??) is to come back from commercial with a lovely, hyper-edited shot of NYC that zooms in. So right before this, we see Central Park…
…but then find ourselves at a university, actually our own Victoria University.
This old loading dock, which also appears in the final season of Nikita…
…is part of the old Unilever plant, just north of the portlands.
In roughly the same neighbourhood, the fourth episode has this scene, on Queen East…
…and a visit to this alley, beside Henry’s.
This alley has appeared in more shows and movies than we can count.
We visit a couple of different “hospitals.”
This one was shot at Metro Hall (you can see the Ritz Carlton across the street).
And, a few episodes later, we have this one…
…which is the entirely different Living Arts Centre, in Mississauga.
We’re not 100 per cent sure on this ball diamond.
We thought it was Smythe Park, but maybe not.
This parking lot is right across from…
…this urban park, which we can recognize thanks to those concrete slabs (actually a war memorial), as Victoria Memorial Square, near the bottom of Portland Street.
The sixth episode starts with this lady strolling through some familiar territory…
…easily recognized as the Distillery District (specifically, Case Goods Lane).
When she goes inside the gallery there, she’s actually a couple of blocks away, in the Fermenting Cellar.
There’s also a visit to this bridal shop, which drove us crazy at first.
Luckily, they eventually go outside and they’re on Victoria Street. That means the bridal shop was actually on the northwest corner of the King Eddie.
Oh, yeah, this is totally a university.
No, it’s actually Casa Loma!
They shot some inside stuff there too.
Remember up above we mentioned that hospital that was actually shot in Mississauga? Here’s the matching exterior, right by the King Eddie, on Colborne Street.
Dou you want to know where Catherine’s apartment is, complete with the fire escape she and Vincent use for late-night canoodling? Then tune in next time, for the second half of the first season of the remake of the TV series of Beauty & the Beast!