As a child of the late 80’s/90’s, I grew up with one particular version of Beauty and the Beast which stuck with me big time. It would remain not just one of my favorite adaptations, but one of my favorite TV series of all time. So welcome back to Tale as Old as Time Rewind, where this week we’re going to explore the underground caves and subway lines of a show you may have heard of. Let’s take a look at the 80’s TV version of Beauty and the Beast – starring Terminator‘s Linda Hamilton and Hellboy‘s Ron Perlman.
In 1987, CBS Television released a new primetime drama that sparked quite a bit of public interest. It told the story of Catherine (Linda Hamilton) – an uptown girl living off of her Dad’s successes, going to lavish parties and dating handsome men within her social circle. But one night, Catherine is mistaken for another woman by a gang. With her face slashed and her body brutally injured, she’s thrown out of a van – left to die on the grounds of Central Park. Thankfully, a mysterious tall stranger picks her up, and brings her to an underground sanctuary for safety.
That person is Vincent. Intelligent, noble, strong and charming – he’s pretty much the perfect dude. The only problem is that he isn’t your typical guy – he’s a mysterious hybrid of man and beast. How he came to be is unknown, except that his adoptive father (Jacob played by Roy Dotrice) found him on the steps of St. Vincent’s (hence his name.)
Many weeks pass since Catherine’s attack, and with her face completely bandaged (including her eyes) the only thing she can trust in her new home is Vincent’s calm voice. But when she unwraps her scars and discovers the truth of who her savior is, along with where she’s been staying, Catherine begins to see the world around her in a completely new light. Unfortunately, the two can’t stay in their subway community paradise forever, and Vincent returns Catherine to her Uptown world.
Though it might seem like the story could end there, that’s where the 80’s TV version gets really interesting. For you see (aside from Vincent himself), there’s a supernatural element to the show, where our two leads form an almost psychic bond of sorts. How that happens is beyond me, but considering the fantasy aspects of the plot, the two having otherworldly powers between them isn’t that surprising. This ability that the two have helps with Catherine’s new career path, working for the District Attorney’s Office. Crime fighting fairy tale 80’s romance? That’s a very fitting description.
And with that, every episode of 80’s BatB falls into one of two categories – a “crime of the week” type story, or continuation of a specific plot line that revolves around the drama of Vincent’s underground world. But regardless of the synopsis, the writers never pull too much focus away from the draw of the show – that being Vincent and Catherine’s budding, somewhat tragic romance.
One episode that highlights this (though there are many) is called “Down to a Sunless Sea”. This revolves around Catherine’s ex-fiancee, Steven. We see that he’s purchased a house and is trying to get his life back together after finding out he’s dying from some form of cancer. Catherine, out of sympathy, finds herself getting tied back into his web – a matter that makes Vincent think she’d have a better life with Steven than himself. Lots of romantic drama talk back and forth leads Catherine to eventually spend time with Steven as he looks for a new house for himself. It turns out that he was actually trying to lure Catherine back in so that she would marry him, and if she disagreed he’d kill her instead. Vincent, of course, comes to help her escape, and Catherine gives Steven a piece of her mind – and a fist to the face. Though very intense, this builds upon the bond between the two leads and gives all the feely feels.
I’m sure many of you are wondering, though (especially since the show was made in the 80’s) how exactly these two could have a romantic relationship, considering certain physical aspects. Well, what also made Beauty and the Beast a topic of conversation is that this couple never really had any physical moments, aside from some super passionate hugs. That’s right – in the time of Dallas and Dynasty, Beauty and the Beast stood its ground in making an oddly believable couple who weren’t about the sexual aspects of their love, and more about the emotion between them. And they kept that going for almost 3 seasons – that is until Linda Hamilton left the show…. I’ll leave you to figure out how that all worked out on your own.
Unfortunately, Beauty and the Beast ended its run in 1989, and though it might not have left the exact same impact on pop culture that Disney’s movie did, it definitely garnered a cult fandom that still adores it to this day. There was even a convention for a short time, and Ron Perlman and many of the other key actors went to it pretty frequently. There were also Fan Vines, and pretty much everything that inspired Tumblr fandom in the future. If you’re looking for something to bring a huge smile to your face (while also being slightly cringeworthy) I recommend checking out this video of a TV special on the show below. It might make you feel that the Yuri on Ice!!! fandom isn’t that embarrassing…
Full of cheesy romance, lots of over the top moments, and actual great acting episode-to-episode, 80’s TV Beauty and the Beast will remain a favorite to many (including yours truly) because it was different. It took the fairy tale into new modern directions without losing the enchanting elements of the original story (unlike a certain remake of the show that was anything but magical) and was also never ashamed of what it was. Bravo to all involved for making a smart show with tons of heart and imagination!
So what do you think of the 80’s Beauty and the Beast TV Series? Have you seen it? Do you have a favorite episode? Did you watch the terrible remake series? Tell us all your thoughts down below. And look out next week for a BatB adaptation that – dare I say – is even more cheesy. That’s right, we’re talking the Canon Films version, baby! So don’t forget your badly written songs and cheesy one liners for that one.