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    Thursday, February 22, 2007

    Teresa Celebrates the Return of Romance to DVD

    I think I just heard a chorus of celestial angels singing because at long last and after many heartwrenching delays, one of the most romantic television shows ever made was finally released on DVD this past Tuesday! BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, a delicious blending of classic fairy tale and urban fantasy that was definitely ahead of its time, first ran on CBS from 1987-1990. From the first strains of its opening theme (the aptly titled The First Time I Loved Forever) to its lush production values to the remarkable acting from Ron Perlman, Linda Hamilton, Edward Albert, Jr., and a host of others, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST remains one of those rare viewing experiences where they actually got everything right. It’s no surprise that writer and executive producer George R.R. Martin has since gone on to stellar success as the author of one of the most popular fantasy series ever penned--A Song of Fire and Ice.

    BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is the story of Catherine Chandler, a spirited assistant D.A. in New York City and Vincent, a mysterious half-man, half-beast who dwells in the long-forgotten tunnels beneath the city. When Catherine is disfigured in a brutal knife attack, it is Vincent who rescues her and carries her to his lair so she can recover. Catherine quickly discovers that Vincent may have the face and strength of a beast, but he also has the heart and soul of a poet. When she returns to her life, both she and Vincent find it impossible to forget the time they spent together or the psychic bond they forged. From that day forward, he is destined to be her champion and she both his joy and his torment as he fights to tame the beast within so he can be worthy of her love.
    I had the pleasure of meeting Ron Perlman at a BEAUTY AND THE BEAST conference in Orlando a few years ago. He’s spent most of his career as a character actor and he admitted to the adoring conference-goers that he now realizes that the role of Vincent was truly the role of a lifetime. The premature demise of the series was also a painful demonstration of how little the networks valued both romance and its core audience of women. Since the show was very expensive to produce, they publicly announced that they needed to attract more of a male audience in the third season so they decided to accomplish that by KILLING OFF THE HEROINE (!) and trying to turn Vincent into some sort of crusading vigilante. (In CBS’s slight defense, Linda Hamilton had decided to leave the show at that point but I still think they should have just ended the show or devised a better exit than having her character butchered by a maniac.) Needless to say, the show only lasted a few more episodes. (And no, I WON’T be buying the third season on DVD! Although it has its fans, I prefer to pretend it never happened.)

    If the show is a beloved favorite of yours or if you missed it entirely when it originally aired, I strongly recommend that every romance fan go out and buy or rent these DVD’s. We’ve seen so many bad attempts at capturing the magic of the romance genre on both the big screen and the small that I can’t help but rejoice when somebody finally gets it right!