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RATED: Not rated
RUNNING TIME: 543 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
Primetime bestiality was never so appealing.
Linda Hamilton, Ron Perlman, Roy Dotrice, Jay Acovone, Stephen McHattie, Jo Anderson.
“Catherine, I have to tell you something. I…I love you.”
“I love you too, Vincent but…”
“I gotta get your ass to an electrologist and a nail salon pronto…”
When New York Assistant D.A. Catherine Chandler (Hamilton) is attacked in Central Park one night, she’s rescued by Vincent (Perlman), an oddity of nature who appears to be half man and half animal, resembling very much a walking lion. He takes her to his underground lair, deep beneath the sewers and subway tunnels of New York, in a catacomb of tunnels that extend for miles. After nursing Catherine back to health, Vincent sees her back to the surface to resume her life. They then begin a clandestine friendship that emerges into a love affair that can never be truly consummated. Vincent can’t live in her world, nor she in his, but they share a connection, in more ways than one. When Catherine is in danger, as her job frequently finds her, Vincent is able to sense this and rush to her rescue. When Catherine eventually becomes pregnant with their child and is abducted by a scheming tycoon she was investigating, Vincent scours the city looking for her, unable to locate her because of a break in their bond. When he does eventually find her, it’s a bittersweet reunion that sends Vincent on a new adventure to find their missing son.
“Vincent, want to go to Vegas with me?”
“Sure. What shall we do when we get there?”
“How about Siegfried and Roy?”
“That’s not funny, Catherine.”
Okay, I have to come clean on something here. It’s an admission that could be deemed quite emasculating…but I’ve been married for several years, so I’m used to that sort of thing. Back in the day, I was a fan of Beauty and the Beast. Not just a fan, but a devoted fan. I never missed an episode. I had liked Linda Hamilton in Terminator and the kooky Black Moon Rising. I thought Vincent was just about the coolest thing on TV and I loved to see him rip up bad guys into chunks of meat. But I wasn’t just hooked because of Vincent’s ass-kickery, but the love affair, God help me. I liked the trials and tribulations that Vincent and Catherine went through, just to be together in a world that would see them driven apart. It pulled at the heartstrings, man. And softie that I was, I was there every week waiting to get my aorta yanked.
In many ways, B&B was the Buffy of its time. Don’t believe me? Compare a couple of these promo photos: here and here. B&B was also possibly the most chick-centric show of the last 30 years at least. The show has survived long after its three-year run with sometimes rabid fans, mostly women, who kept the show alive by trading tapes via the mail. This is especially notable because I haven’t seen a B&B rerun very often in the 18+ years since its cancellation. Aside from the central love story, there’s also a lot of things the show had going for it.
“God, how do I tell Vincent I’m leaving him for a werewolf?”
Aside from some early roles in films such as Jean-Jacques Annaud’s films La Guerre du Feu (1981) and The Name of The Rose, B&B was essentially the big break in Ron Perlman’s continuously awesome career, especially working underneath a metric ton of makeup as he’s frequently known to do, and do well. Vincent was that wonderful study in dichotomy: a large, powerful animalistic being who spoke softly and whose sometimes enormous rage was dwarfed by his intelligence and empathy for others. Vincent allowed Perlman to show his wide range of acting ability, equally able to pull off the softer aspects of his character as well as the violent action. I consider it some of his best work.
Hamilton also was doing some of her best work in this show. Her Catherine was also highly empathetic and her chemistry with Perlman was undeniable. They’ve reportedly remained good friends long after the show has gone off the air and even worked on stage together and in a movie as recently as three years ago. You can tell that they enjoyed working with each other and that real life relationship carried through to their characters. They did justice to a trite old fable and modernized it in an enjoyable way for the TV show.
“Oh sure, Catherine, just go and ahead and walk away! Just because I won’t wear an f-ing flea collar?!! What kind of bullshit is this…?
Aside from the two leads, the show also benefited from a unique look, often being shot in soft colors to highlight the underworld in which Vincent lived. The music was similarly soft and apropos to the show. Similarly, the supporting cast, notably Roy Dotrice and Tony Jay were suitably likeable and sleazy as Father and Paracelsus respectively. In Season 3, Stephen McHattie, as he’s been known to do, portrayed Gabriel, one of the creepiest sumbitch bad guys in recent TV memory.
Season 3 was a turning point for the show, due to the fact that Hamilton decided to leave the show. Season 2 ended with a cliffhanger in which Vincent had retreated into a profound animal madness after being manipulated by the villain Paracelsus into killing who he thought was Father (Paracelsus in reality). Catherine ventured into a cave where Vincent was holed up, threatening to eviscerate anybody who entered, and had to bring him out of it. It was there that, although unseen and somewhat disturbing to think about, they finally consummated their relationship, resulting in Catherine’s pregnancy.
Not long after that, Catherine was investigating corruption at high levels of city government and was subsequently abducted by Gabriel, the crime lord at the heart of the corruption. Vincent spent months looking for her, unable to find her because their empathic bond was inexplicably severed. Catherine was held by Gabriel for the duration of her pregnancy, with Gabriel having discovered the secret of her and Vincent’s relationship. When Catherine delivers the baby, and Vincent finally finds her, she had been dosed with a lethal injection of morphine at Gabriel’s command, and the villain made off with her newborn. Catherine dies in Vincent’s arms after she tells him to find their son in a truly heartbreaking scene. (Okay, yes I cried like a bitch. Wanna make something of it?).
Vincent…coughing up a hairball. You don’t want to know…
The rest of the season focused on Vincent’s searching for his son, his quest to bring Gabriel to justice and his emerging friendship with Det. Diana Bennett (Anderson), who was the new lead replacing Hamilton. But by then the show had run its course. Although the show was critically acclaimed, and had a solid fan base, it teetered on the edge of cancellation from the outset. By the end of Season 3 it finally fell into the Nielsen abyss.
So in retrospect, am I embarrassed by my devotion to this show? A little maybe, but I’m unapologetic about it, goddamnit. Even the hardest fanboy has some skeleton in his closet he doesn’t readily admit to. Not everyone gets to do it in front of such a wide audience. And only a real man – secure in his masculinity – can man up and do it on CHUD. Now excuse me, I have to go cook dinner for my wife and massage her feet.
Beauty and the Beast looks pretty good although it’s TV standard and the transfers are about as good as they’re goi9ng to get for a 20-year-old show. The DVD set is very limited, with no subtitles, commentaries, special features, nada. I really would have liked to have heard Hamilton and Perlman riff on a couple of these episodes, but alas…. Good show, not so good DVD.