Now that I’ve made it to the conclusion of my beloved Remington Steele series (even though at the end, I was counting chapters until it was put out of its misery), I wondered what I should watch next. My darling husband solved that problem by giving me another 80s TV series DVD set:
Beauty and the Beast began in 1987, and it shows its age, both physically and in terms of content. The film quality isn’t all that great at times, and as for the story… Linda Hamilton plays a spoiled corporate lawyer, bored with her job at daddy’s firm, who’s mistakenly attacked and cut up one evening. She awakes to find herself wrapped in a full head of bandages in a secret underground society of outcasts.
Her rescuer and protector is Vincent, a lion-like man with a fearsome exterior and a sensitive, romantic heart. After she recovers and returns to her yuppie life (albeit one where she’s now working in the district attorney’s office), the two will forever be kept apart by their different worlds, although the show will keep finding ways for him to rescue her, thanks to a mysterious psychic bond they share.
All that said, it’s a very nice escapist entertainment, especially if you have a bent towards fairy tale romance and/or nostalgia for its original run. I was surprised to find that the series was nominated for a variety of acting, makeup, sound, and cinematography awards, including Emmys. It is that good, and different from the usual, too, but I didn’t realize it had been recognized as such at the time.
It works for me in large part because of the beautiful voice of Ron Perlman, who does a wonderful job creating a three-dimensional portrayal underneath a four-hour makeup job, just as he later did in Hellboy. (If you’ve ever wondered why women find Marvel’s Beast so sexy, Perlman demonstrates, live and in color.) I also liked the work of Roy Dotrice, who plays the leader of the hidden culture and Vincent’s adoptive father. Hamilton’s work, on the other hand… maybe it’s more subtle than I had eyes for, but I used to think she was a better actress than she appears to be here. I should reserve judgment on that, though, until I watch more of the episodes.
The show, during its heights, touches a basic need inside us. It’s the part that wants to believe that special people can build a better world where strange appearances don’t matter, where people truly care for each other, where all that counts are one’s intentions and spirit and heart. It works best as an experience if you’re willing to give yourself over to the atmosphere and believe, if only for 40 minutes, in star-crossed eternal love.
The set has 22 episodes on six discs, but no extra features. The second season is due in July.
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