TV series ~ 1987-1990 ~ Linda Hamilton as Catherine & Ron Perlman as VincentI recently watched this series for the first time, and really wanted to introduce newcomers to what I think is often a forgotten gem.
(Minimal spoilers only. Photos and caps are of varying quality unfortunately!)
; once upon a time, in the city of new yorkVincent: Our bond is stronger and deeper than either of us can begin to imagine.Father: As if both your destinies were inextricably linked...After wealthy, privileged lawyer Catherine Chandler is attacked and left for dead, a stranger finds her and nurses her back to health. His name is Vincent, a half-man and half-“beast”, with leonine features, teeth and claws. Catherine’s shock over his appearance quickly fades as she sees Vincent’s compassion and benevolence. As her bond with Vincent grows deeper, Catherine begins to juggle two live: one below with Vincent, and one above as crusading attorney. This is a Gothic romance transported surprisingly well to a contemporary urban setting. I love how they mix very classic and old-fashioned story elements with the modern time frame.; catherine chandlerThis is where the wealthy and the powerful rule. It is her world, a world apart from mine. Her name... is Catherine. From the moment I saw her, she captured my heart with her beauty, her warmth and her courage. I knew then, as I know now, she would change my life... forever.Vincent’s opening narration
I’ve loved Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor for years, and always associated her with that hard ass type of role, so watching her play the elegant, ethereally beautiful Catherine was a pleasant surprise. She fits the part of the traditional “Beauty” at first glance – soft-spoken, graceful, thoughtful, but she’s also the epitome of the 80’s working woman – ambitious, sharply dressed (oh how I love her outfits), and forthright. Though Vincent saves her from danger on many an occasion, I don’t see Catherine as a damsel. She has too much spirit for that.
He comes from a secret place, far below the city streets, hiding his face from strangers, safe from hate and harm. He brought me there to save my life... and now, wherever I go, he is with me in spirit. For we have a bond stronger than friendship or love. And although we cannot be together, we will never, ever be apart.
Catherine’s opening narration
I’m a massive fan of Ron Perlman especially in Hellboy and Sons of Anarchy, but Vincent is his most nuanced, layered performance of all. Ron won a Golden Globe for Best Actor for playing Vincent, and I can see why. The “beast” makeup is excellent. Vincent’s face always looks realistic, and Ron’s expressions show through well. The hushed voice and British accent he affects also fit the character perfectly. Unlike the popular image of the Beast, Vincent isn’t bad-tempered, cursed and has never looked like a man. He was just born the way he is, and was brought up by his adoptive father to be educated, cultured and kind. To me, Vincent harkens back to a chivalric Victorian gentleman, or a noble medieval knight. He’s respectful and gallant, but will switch to a single-minded hero in a moment to protect his loved ones.
; vincent & catherine
Vincent: When I see you, Catherine, I'm filled with a happiness sweeter than anything I've ever known. At the same time I'm reminded of a life that can never be... and I feel great pain.
Catherine: I know... so do I. Vincent, what will we do?
Vincent: The only thing we can do. We will endure the pain and savour... every moment of the joy.
This is an old-school love story. They read each other literature, write love letters, meet under cover of darkness, share hushed conversations, and passionate embraces. All of this heightens their romance into a sort of timelessness. They can’t do things a normal couple would, so what they do share is all the more special. The tunnels Vincent lives in provide the setting for many of their “dates”, like when they sit underground below gratings in Central Park, dressed in their finest just for each other, and listen to a concert being held above. Vincent’s love for Catherine gives him a new life he never thought he could have, and seeing Catherine love him back not in spite of, but because of how he looks, is all kinds of heart-warming. This is basically the pinnacle of an epic, impossible, “but we love each other so we’ll make it work” kind of romance.
; the world above
Vincent: I've seen your world. There is no place for me in it. I know what I am. Your world is filled with frightened people, and I remind them of what they are most afraid of.
NYC in this show is like a land in a fairytale. The cinematography and sweeping score as we pan over the city, make it sparkling and enchanting. Notable places are Central Park, with the drain through which Catherine and Vincent both enter the tunnels, the DA’s office where Catherine works, and Catherine’s apartment, most importantly her balcony. This series is like a love letter to NYC, and is my personal favourite representation of it.
; catherine’s balcony
Vincent: This balcony is our window, our vantage point. And perhaps Catherine, someone behind one of those lights is watching... and smiling on us.
In almost every episode, Vincent and Catherine meet on Catherine’s balcony. It’s the only place above ground that they can be together in the open air. Some of their most romantic and meaningful moments happen there. Vincent is like the respectful gentleman caller at times, lingering at the door, but never entering Catherine’s apartment.
; joe maxwell
Joe: Oh, did I tell you how gorgeous you look?
Joe: Well, consider it done.
Catherine’s likeable, funny boss at the DA’s office. Joe is one of her best friends in the world above, and though he hints at times that he has deeper feelings for her, mostly he’s just loyal and caring. I really love their friendship. I knew Jay Acovone only as Kowalski in Stargate SG-1 so I was happy to see him in a more expanded role as Joe
; diana bennet
Vincent: For all that you have done, I cannot thank you enough.
I love Diana so much, though I know her addition to the show is contentious among some hard core fans. I knew Jo Anderson in the small role of Liz’s mom on Roswell, so I liked seeing her play a more in depth character her. Diana is driven in her work, introverted, a little strange, with a mind always picking out details no one else sees. I loved her interactions with Vincent especially. She was for me, a great new character in a difficult phase for the show and I think she worked well.
; the world below
Vincent: We're below the city, below the subways. There's 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. It's our city down here.
This is my favourite aspect of the show. The tunnels are such an awesome idea – an entire society of people living and thriving below ground. It’s quite medieval visually: dark, enclosed, lit by candles, and especially the old-fashioned clothes the tunnel dwellers wear, but also like a free-thinking commune: everyone having equal say and caring for each other. The world below evokes an otherworldly fairytale with its endless staircases, gaping caverns, underground mountains and rivers, and a labyrinth of interconnected tunnels and caves. I love how the spread-out community sends messages to each other – by tapping out code on the pipes. You can constantly hear that tapping in every scene in the tunnels.
Vincent: You were a father not only to me, but to anyone who needed one. You were there for more children than I can name.
Known by everyone as “Father”, he adopted Vincent after he was abandoned as a baby. Father is an English doctor disillusioned by how society cast him aside when he was blacklisted in the 50’s, and so he sought a new society that included everyone. Learned and refined, Father is a diplomatic and beloved leader. His relationship with Vincent is a highlight for me. Roy Dotrice plays Father perfectly and I love how in sync he and Perlman are as this father and son duo. Dotrice has had a long career, but he is more known to me as the father of Karen Dotrice – Jane in Mary Poppins, and Michele Dotrice – Betty in Some Mother’s Do ‘Ave ‘Em, both things I watched as a child. They bear more than a passing resemblance to their father!
; the tunnel dwellers
When I left the world above, I was disillusioned, heartbroken. I had lost my faith. Here it was that I learned to listen to my heart and heal my wounds. Here, I learned to believe again. Hopes and dreams created this fragile world. Pride and vigilance maintain it, and it survives only because it is separate and apart. It is a refuge, where the disillusioned regain their vision, where the lost become found. Where each one of us can explore the best of our being, the best of what it means to be... human and to be alive.
Like I mentioned, the world below is one of my favourite aspects of the series, along with the large society of “tunnel dwellers” living down there. They have their own customs, politics and even history. Favourites are Pascal, played Armin Shimmerman (Principal Snyder in Buffy!). As the “pipe master”, the slightly neurotic Pascal interprets the pipe messages and passes them on. Mouse as well is hilarious – hyper-active and child-like, he doesn’t get basic social constructs and rules, but possesses a genius level of knowledge in engineering and construction.
Beauty and the Beast opening credits
Pretty awesome trailer which wraps up the entire plot and feel of the show very well.
Thanks for taking a look! Hopefully this picspam will inspire newcomers to check this show out!