Found-Again Friday: The Original Beauty & The Beast TV Show

An article on io9 about the rebooted Beauty and the Beast series inspired me to give the original another look.

Why Found-Again? I was 13 when the series began and immediately fell in love with the entire idea; I’ve never had many nightmares about things I watch on TV, but I can still remember a very detailed, happy dream about spending time in Beauty & The Beast‘s subterranean tunnels. I even had a poster of Vincent on my closet, next to INXS and Morrissey and REM and the rest of my musical interests. But the series eventually got…not great (I was about to write “strange.” Hah!) and like a lot of viewers, I drifted away. Now that it’s on Netflix, I took a peek at season 1.

The Premise: (Don’t laugh.) When a case of mistaken identity ends with lawyer Katherine Chandler left for dead, she’s taken in by a secret quasi-medieval society of people who live beneath New York City. Most are the ordinary lost souls of any large city, but one—lion-faced Vincent (Ron Perlman)—becomes her true love and her protector. In between times when Vincent is shredding bad guys by tooth and claw (offscreen), they read and quote a lot of poetry.

Given that I’ve been writing about Highlander for months now, I’m surprised it took me so long to realize this was another supernaturally inflected “gritty New York” show, and years before urban fantasy became popular as a book genre. But this is one of the few series in which, for me, the crime-show aspects take a distinct back seat to the romance. I gravitate to art whose central theme is “the weird are deserving of love,” I suppose, and Beauty and the Beast is certainly not the least of these.

The Verdict: This is the part where I would ordinarily say my opinion is mixed; it’s not. Instead I find myself having two divergent opinions at the same time, able to see the flaws in the story and the cheesiness of the characters even as my inner teenager revels in the poetry-reciting, face-ripping hero who lives in a modern-day fairy fortress.  The result, honestly, is that I feel a little weird rewatching it: I like it but don’t feel entirely comfortable liking it.

Hey, I said don’t laugh.

Might go well with: Champagne, sonnets, the Cocteau movie based on the original tale…and I only just realized this is the second Friday in a row in which Gummi rats wouldn’t be out of place.

 

Next time: What’s it all about, Highlander?

J. A.

It reads. It writes. It watches. It researches. It overdoes many of those things!

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