Beauty and the Beast

by Alan Rapp on September 30, 2008

in Home Video

How many shows can you name which center around lawyers, doctors, cowboys, explorers, families and space travelers?  Now how many prime time fairy tales do you remember from television?  Here’s one…

  • Title: Beauty and the Beast – The Complete First Season
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“We’re below the city, below the subways.  There is a whole world of tunnels and chambers that most people don’t even know exists.  There are no maps to where we are.  It’s a forgotten place.  But it’s warm and it’s safe, and we have all the room we need.  So we live here and we try to live as well as we can, and we try to take care of each other.”

After being attacked society girl Catherine Chandler (Linda Hamilton) is nursed back to health in the bowels of New York City by Vincent (Ron Perlman).  Here begins a fairy tale love story between a beautiful Assistant District Attorney and her protector, a beast with the soul of a poet.

This first season introduces us to the world of “down below” and the characters who will become staples of the series.  It also sets up Catherine’s world above with her boss Joe (Jay Acovone) and her on-again, off-again, suitor Elliot Burch (Edward Albert).  “Son of Orpheus” reveals Father’s (Roy Dotrice) past and his reasons for retreating from the world above and creating the underground society.  “An Impossible Silence” and “China Moon” are set in the distinct worlds of a deaf girl (Terrylene) and Chinatown.  “The Alchemist” introduces the recurring villain of Paracelsus (Tony Jay), and Vincent’s childhood friend returns in “Promises of Someday”.  The nature of the lovers relationship is put to the test in “A Happy Life

My favorite episode of this season, other than the pilot “Once Upon a Time in the City of New York”, is the Halloween episode “Masques” where Vincent walks openly above and helps a writer (Caitlin O’Heaney) with her own history of tragic romance.  This theme of tragic love as a mirror to the Vincent/Catherine relationship would be one often revisited over the series, but never done better than here.

Other memorable episodes from this season include the voodoo episode “Dark Spirits” (often left out of syndicated reruns of the show) and the morality tale of “Fever” as the community deals with the discovery of treasure.

  • Title: Beauty and the Beast – The Complete Second Season
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“Even the darkness is nothing, so long as we share the light.”

The second season brings more danger for Catherine, more rescues for Vincent, and the addition of several more characters from “down below.”

Winterfest is celebrated in “Dead of Winter,” complete with an unexpected guest.  The Underground deals with a plague brought to them by Duncan MacLeod in “Ashes, Ashes.”  Vincent and Catherine both deal with unexpected crushes in “Sticks and Stones” and “A Fair and Perfect Knight.”  A longtime tunnel dweller (Scott Jaeck) is forced to deal with a mistake from his past in “A Gentle Rain.”

Season Two is no easier for Catherine, who deals with death of her father (John McMartin) and considers leaving life above in “Orphans,” and learns about a woman from Vincent’s past who returns in “Arabesque,” has an encounter with a ghost in “When the Bluebird Sings,” tries to take down a child abuser in court in “Trial,” and is targeted by a stalker who has seen Vincent in “The Watcher.”

And in the final arc of the season Paracelsus returns to toy with Vincent’s mind in “What Rough Beast,” “Ceremony of Innocence” and The Rest is Silence….”  The result of which would be an unleashed beast and a cliffhanger set-up to change the series forever.

  • Title: Beauty and the Beast – The Complete Third Season
  • link

“Though lovers be lost, love shall not.  And death shall have no dominion.”

The show is turned upside down with the kidnapping and murder of Catherine by the villain of the third season known only as Gabriel (Stephen McHattie) in the two-part season opener “Though Lovers Be Lost.”  Vincent, his bond to Catherine damaged as a result of the end of Season Two, is unable to save her, but arrives just in time for her to die in his arms and to learn that she has given birth to a son.

Aside from the final storyline of Father trying to live up above as the past comes back to haunt him in “The Reckoning” and “Legacies,” and “In the Forests of the Night” which wraps up the unfinished tale of Rolley (Terrance Ellis) introduced in Season 2’s “Chamber Music.” the entire season is devoted to solving Catherine’s murder and finding Vincent’s son.  Unlike the previous two seasons this one takes on a continuing arc which will introduce a new beauty to the series in the form of Detective Diana Bennett (Jo Anderson) and Vincent’s unlikely partnership with Elliot Burch in “Nevermore.”  Leading to the conclusion “Invictus

Although the series is hurt by the absence of Catherine, I like the structure of the third season moving into a continued story arc instead of the series of increasingly stagnant standalone episodes.  McHattie makes a good villain for the series, perhaps its best.  As for Jo Andersen, who was was given the unenviable position of trying to take Hamilton’s place, she does well with crafting an interesting character and friend for Vincent.  However, if the show had continued I think a “beauty” of the week might have been a better way to go than developing this relationship into something more.

Beauty and the Beast is what it is, a fairy tale.  As such it’s deeply romantic, extravagant, and filled with love and tragedy.  At times it’s a little emotionally sloppy and moralistic, but its heart is always in the right place.  It’s not for everyone, but there’s something to enjoy in even the worst episodes as the show presents some of the best sets, costumes, and use of lighting, of any network show.  Hamilton is charming an beautiful, and Perlman is the MAN!  For a Valentine treat you could do far worse than snuggle down to a few episodes of Beauty and the Beast.

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