Ron Koslow's updated version of the fairytale has a double focus: the relationship between Vincent,(a mythic, noble man-beast) and Catherine (an asst DA in New York); and a secret Utopian society of outcasts living in an underground sanctuary where Vincent is protected and loved. Through an emotional bond connecting Vincent to Catherine, he comes to be her protector as well as the man she loves. The series follows the developing relationship between them and nicely fleshes out the underground world of labyrinth tunnels, mystical waterfalls, and people who have come together to form a loving and nurturing family. Written by
Peg McNabb <email@example.com>
When it became obvious that this series, which obviously aspired to be the next Star Trek (not just a TV show but a cult, complete with movies, action figures, conventions, t-shirts, books, calendars, etc.) had die-hard fans but not enough of them to sustain the phenomenon, I recall that CBS started running a little promotional blurb for it. The blurb was not very well done, but in any case concluded with the remark: "Are you ready for a different kind of passion?"
For good or ill, most people weren't. There's a lesson here, or several. I wish I knew what that message was. But here are some thoughts.
(1) We are told that the audience was heavily female. This is not at all surprising, since it's women who read what is called "romance", which its opponents call "mush": the lovers talking in flowery, quasi-religious language about their relationships; no development or change in the characters; and an absolute lack of humor. You find this sort of thing profound or silly, and in our society it seems the majority find it silly. Statistics suggest that significantly more women than men find it profound. This says something weird about our society, although (I repeat) I don't know exactly WHAT it says. That cheesy popular guru who writes about Mars and Venus appears not to know the half of it.
(2) On the other hand, a significant portion of our population likes "fantasy" (as opposed to "romance" in the narrow sense), as is proved by the popularity of the Lord of the Rings films. This series is just about the only unashamed fantasy (for adults) which TV seems to have produced with a mass audience in mind and without intending satire, a takeoff, or "camp." Which is, I suppose, why the promoters of this series thought they had a chance.
(3) I'm not a fan of what is called "romance" (few men are, as I've pointed out); in fact, the overly solemn Winter's Tale is the only Shakespeare play I don't like. And I don't especially like "fantasy", with a few exceptions. But I found this series strangely watchable, and others of my temperament have said the same. Few of the episodes had a plot worthy of the name, but it was often pleasant to hear Ron Perlman reciting poetry. The dialog had a kind of elegance to it, not at all common in TV, which I admit to enjoying. Sort of like enjoying opera, maybe. And Perlman (who from all accounts did take Beauty and the Beast very seriously) did a wonderful a job of acting, through all that getup.
(4) One fine day, Linda Hamilton decided she wasn't going to spend the rest of her life playing this goody-goody role, trying to breathe life into what she must have begun to see as rather bland and stilted dialog and a relationship which never changed or developed. I suppose it was at this point that the producers made a desperate effort to save the show by altering the whole thing to a dark, moody piece with suggestions of "The Shadow" or the "Dark Knight" side of Batman. And BANG, the last season was a totally different concept, in these terms: (a) there is violence and villainy, the nocturnal creep Gabriel, and in one episode Gabriel's Terminator-style henchman, all of which a lot of the original fans found disturbing; (b) Vincent and Catherine have a baby, which again grated on fans' nerves after they'd been hit over the head for two seasons with how platonic their relationship had been (c) bad symbolism, as when Diana the policewoman announces "This is Catherine Chandler's gun!" before shooting Gabriel in cold blood, as if Catherine had been the type who would have wanted revenge in any case; and so on.
So what is "A different kind of passion"? Well, for one thing, the platonic nature of the Vincent-Catherine relationship, which recalls such images as the knight who prefers to worship his lady chastely, from afar, rather than "defile" her. When women want their horny male companions to leave them alone, they say things like "Let's not ruin our friendship" and "You're making me uncomfortable." Well, maybe men should brood on that a little, and ask why so many female reviewers of this series are saying things like "Vincent is the greatest", "I'd love to have a man like Vincent", etc., and follow that up by asking what Vincent's got that we haven't. I'm serious. (A Don Juan could be defined as a jerk who PRETENDS to be "like Vincent" in order to control women, wouldn't you say?)
The last season, with its overthrow of many of the series' basic assumptions, shows how confused things can get when you wed a concept like Beauty and the Beast (which inherently caters to a niche audience) to TV (which inherently seeks a common denominator in its fans). The irony is that this show still has such a following. Not hard to understand, but ironic, that the fans of this series still hold their conventions, StarTrek style, and still hope for a movie. I wish them well.
And I hope that if someone who does figure out the significance of this series' failed attempt to "catch on" will be kind enough to enter a review at IMDb.
Indeed, maybe there's a good reason why Vincent and Catherine never kissed (leaving aside the last season, which doesn't count). What a drag it would be if the kiss turned him into a handsome prince! He would simply cease to be The Beast and would no longer concern us. Who would want Don Quixote without his delusions, or the Flying Dutchman with no curse on him? ... So here, at the end of my comments, we come at last to the beginning of the subject.
"Beauty and the Beast will be continued"? No kidding.
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