Beauty and the Beast
March 24, 2007

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.

Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast
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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.

10 Responses  
Jim Kosmicki writes:  

George R.R. Martin had quite a lot to do with the writing IIRC, so that had to have helped with the general quality. My wife and I were newly married when this was on, and it was our “romantic” show to watch. I ordered the set when it was announced (it came out right at Valentine’s Day), but we had to debate whether to watch it again. Older shows do not always live up to one’s memories. We were very surprised at how well this show did, and our two sons (13 and 10) also liked it and want to watch more episodes.

it’s definitely worth Netflixing, and I heartily recommend purchase if people remember it at all fondly. Now we’re waiting for the Picket Fences set to get a new release date so we can see how well that one holds up to our fond memories of the early seasons.

Ali T. Kokmen writes:  

Ah, yes. I remember this series fondly. You do have to give yourself over to the atmosphere, but it’s easy to do so with this series.

I also remember the show for a few other reasons:

– for its tie-in comic “Portrait of Love” by Wendy Pini, which was beautiful;

– for demonstrating the “jump the shark” phenomenon before that phrase entered the lexicon when the show continued after Linda Hamilton left the show; and

– of course, for the Saturday Night Live parody with Vicent (Phil Hartman) and Catherine (Jan Hooks) doubledating with Demi Moore and Vincent’s-hapless-cat-faced-pal Jon Lovitz…

~chris writes:  

“Portrait of Love” was indeed beautiful. :-)

It may be considered sacrilegious to say so, but though the story jumped the shark after Hamilton left, her “replacement” Jo Anderson portrayed a much better character (Diana) than Hamilton’s Catherine.

James Schee writes:  

You know, for some reason as a kid I hated this show. I don’t even know why now, but way back then I just really disliked it and I don’t think I even watched more than a few minutes.

Maybe I’ll Netflix the first disc and see if I’ve changed my mind or at least am reminded of my hate of it.

Johanna writes:  

That would be cool, too, to get a contrary opinion. :)

Dorothy Goldstein writes:  

I watched the show faithfully when it first came out in 1987, and I was hooked. Totally. I taped all the episodes and re-watched many times over the years. It has been several years since I revisted my tapes again, and it was perfect timing, since I found out it was the 20th anniversary, found out about the wonderful Convention in Culver City, and the DVD was being released, and the CD “Of Love and Hope” was released again (I had it on cassette). The best CD ever.

It is not only a fantastic love story, but the music, the poetry, the tunnels, everything about it was a real fantasy land where people really cared about each other. A 2-1/2 season show will be with me always.

I have already ordered and received the 1st Season, have pre-ordered the 2nd Season which should come this week, and hopefully Season 3 will be released. I know it is a short season, but we do need to have this DVD to complete the series.

Thank you all so much for all your work and participation in Beauty and the Beast a work of excellence. We need more of this kind of writing.

Christopher writes:  

I disliked this show back then. I now think its one of the greatest. I been watching it every night with my wife Deb who I have to thank for buying season 1. My heart is mature enough to appreciate the characters now. I miss the 80’s and it’s lack of reality (shows).

kaan writes:  

im not sure but suppose wacthed when i was 5 or 6. i was like and affraid to vincent,because it was so interesting be a hero and wild lionman and later i was trying to understand,how would they do sex :) in 24 hours and 45 times:) = dead woman…now whenever i see pics of beast,i feel so sad,,perhaps i remember my childhood times :)

beth farmer writes:  

i think that beauty and the beast was way ahead f fanstasy and darma from its era and is a wonderful piece of art to watch now.And ive only jus begiining to watch the prgramme.

Bobbi writes:  

The series came on when I was fourteen and I was hooked from then on. I loved it up until they killed Cathrine’s character off. I refused to watch after that. I confess I did buy the series on DVD and I watch the final season and I tell I did not like it. I highly recommend the first and second season.


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