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Series / Beauty and the Beast (1987)

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Once upon a time in New York...

"This 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."

"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."
Vincent and Catherine

Beauty and the Beast is a 1980s CBS TV series produced by Republic Pictures (and later integrated into the library of Spelling Television when Spelling Entertainment Group bought Republic in 1994), loosely inspired by the fairy tale of the same name but set in modern-day New York City. The series lasted from September, 1987 to August, 1990. A total of 56 episodes in three seasons.

The premise was simple. Catherine Chandler (Linda Hamilton), a lawyer at her wealthy father's firm, is abducted, beaten and left to die in Central Park. She is then rescued by Vincent (Ron Perlman), a leonine member of a secret community of outcasts living in tunnels under the city ("The World Below"). The series then focused partly on the attraction between the two characters, and partly on the cases Catherine encountered in her new career as an assistant district attorney, facing crime drama situations that affect both her world and his.

Many of the episodes were penned by none other than George R. R. Martin, who later became famous for his A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels.

A remake/reinterpretation of this series, starring Kristin Kreuk and Jay Ryan and produced by CBS Television Studios (now known as CBS Studios, the current owner of the Spelling Television library), premiered Fall 2012 on The CW. Its page can be found here. All tropes for the new series should be placed there.

This series provides examples of:

  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Sometimes it's the sewers. Sometimes it's the storm drains, and sometimes it's an abandoned section of the subways. The implication is that all the systems link together through walled-up, forgotten areas. The inhabitants of "The World Below" have had years, possibly centuries, to dig the tunnels and install the chandeliers and spiral staircases.
  • Almost Kiss: In practically every episode Vincent and Catherine start to engage in a kiss, but at the last moment they always wince and just hug each other instead.
  • Artifact Title: Catherine dies in the first episode of the third and final season, making it all about Vincent, but "Beauty" remained in the title. There was a new attractive female lead in the person of Diana, but she and Vincent weren't a couple and she didn't appear in the new introductory sequence.
  • Badass Bookworm: Vincent is never without a book in his hand (he reads Great Expectations to Catherine as she recovers), and is unbeatable in combat.
  • Badass in Distress: Catherine is very brave and skilled in self defense, but still (or because of this) gets into several dangerous situations that Vincent has to rescue her from.
  • Beast and Beauty: Obviously. But not uncreatively — although she's the beauty and he's the beast, a lot of the time it's he who is bringing out the best in her.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Inverted; Vincent is kind and sweet, and his appearance doesn't change. In the beginning Catherine was a nice person but a bit shallow and flighty, and Vincent's kindness gave her something more to live for.
  • Beneath the Earth: "The World Below", an elaborately Gothic underground colony secretly constructed long ago and connected with the sewers and subways of New York.
  • Berserk Button: Woe unto anyone who tries to mess with Catherine once Vincent becomes aware of it; given the mind link between them, he'll come charging in to her rescue each time.
  • Big Bad: Paracelsus in Season 1 and Season 2, Gabriel in Season 3.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Vincent.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Paracelsus' signature weapons are daggers hidden in his sleeves.
  • Blind and the Beast: Catherine has her eyes covered with bandages when she first meets Vincent, and has fallen in love with him by the time her eyesight has been restored.
  • Can't Have Sex, Ever: It's strongly implied that Vincent's passions would sufficiently overpower his will such that, combined with his great strength and claws, he could well seriously injure or kill anyone he has sex with.
    • Averted by the end of the series; Vincent and Catherine have obviously had sex offscreen at some point as she becomes pregnant and gives birth to their child. She dies soon after giving birth, but not due to the birth itself, and it's never stated or even implied that sex with Vincent harmed her. To be fair, most of the previously mentioned implications were made by Vincent, who was never very good at believing the best in himself.
  • Character Catchphrase: Mouse's "Okay, good. Okay, fine."
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The show takes a very serious turn in Season 3 when Catherine dies.
  • Comet of Doom: A comet was blazing in the sky the night billionaire Elliot Burch was murdered by operatives of his rival, Gabriel. Father marks the occasion by quoting the line about comets from Julius Caesar.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • George R. R. Martin plays a guy who runs from a couple subway punks in the opening scene of "Terrible Savior."
    • Martin also appears briefly in a restaurant in the episode "Fever", reading one of his own books.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Father was a doctor named Jacob Wells who lost everything due to McCarthyism because he accurately reported the dangers of nuclear testing for the health of those nearby.
  • Death by Childbirth:
    • Devin's mother Grace, which keeps Father from acknowledging Devin as his son until he becomes an adult.
    • Hell, even Catherine suffers this by the end, although it isn't the birth that kills her, but a morphine injection by the doctor who oversaw the birth, who's a minion of Big Bad Gabriel.
  • Death of a Child: Ellie is among the pneumonic plague casualties in "Ashes, Ashes". The cruel irony is that she was beginning to see herself as a young woman and disliked adults treating her like a child, only to die before she can grow up.
  • Evil Counterpart: Paracelsus is this to Father. They were both involved in creating the hidden society in the World Below. However, Paracelsus became obsessed with modeling a perfect - and morally bankrupt - community and desired absolute power, which forced Father and the others to exile him. Also an Evil Former Friend.
  • First Time in the Sun: The moon, actually, was the first thing Vincent saw when he ventured above ground.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: Vincent gets to wander around in the episode "Masquerades", and he and Catherine almost kiss at dawn, until they are spotted by a jogger who comments, "Halloween was last night, man!"
    • George R. R. Martin says that they hoped to do the same thing every season on a Halloween episode, but that didn't pan out.
  • Gentle Giant: Vincent is by nature very kind and sweet. Just don't get on his bad side.
  • Gold Fever: In the episode "Fever", the underground tunnel community discovers a buried pirate treasure ship, and starts to violently fracture over the question of what should be done with it.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Vincent, after he loses Catherine.
  • Homage: Vincent's appearance resembles that of the Beast in Jean Cocteau's 1946 film version of the fairy tale.
  • I Am a Monster: Vincent
  • I Am Your Father: Paracelsus tries to do this with Vincent during their second confrontation, revealing that he had discovered Vincent as an abandoned baby and had to talk Father - afraid of letting Vincent grow up in the World Below - into adopting him. Subverted in that Vincent already knows of Paracelsus' evil ways and that Father ended up loving Vincent as a son after all.
    • Paracelsus still attempts to convert Vincent to his cause, during a subtle campaign of driving Vincent further enraged in order to turn him to Paracelsus' dark world-view. All it does is make Vincent angry enough to kill Paracelsus. The villain dies gasping "At last, you are my son."
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: In "Remember Love", Vincent dreams of a world where he died as an infant. Paracelsus rules the Tunnel World, Mouse and Father are on the streets, and Catherine never regained her confidence after being attacked.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Eliot Burch, an ex-boyfriend of Catherine's who worked his way up to be a rich real estate developer. He occasionally clashes with The World Below with his development projects, and he occasionally has legal run-ins that draw Catherine's attention. He also still loves her in his own way and actually does her a favor or two hoping to stay in her good graces, basically becoming a unknowing rival to Vincent. When Catherine dies, Eliot tries to pursue the criminal conspiracy responsible for her death but Gabriel turns the tables to break Eliot's own financial empire, forcing Eliot to set a trap for Vincent. When they meet, Vincent reveals to Eliot that Catherine thought of him as a friend, which compels him to warn Vincent it's a trap before dying in the explosion meant for them both.
  • King of the Homeless: "Father" is a particularly benevolent one.
  • Latex Perfection: Paracelsus infiltrates the World Below's Winterfest party in "Dead of Winter" with a lifelike mask and a masterfully disguised voice, forcing Catherine and Vincent to Spot the Imposter.
  • Love Hurts: A Central Theme of the series. Catherine and Vincent cannot have a normal life together, and they are constantly confronted with whether their stolen moments together make being apart days at a time worth it.
  • Magical Negro: An elderly, blind African-American woman named Narcissa is the Tunnel World's resident expert on spells, charms, curses and hauntings.
  • Masquerade: The existence of the World Below is a secret.
  • Master of Disguise: Paracelsus, thanks to a combination of his own Voice Changeling skills and his minion Tamara's ability to sculpt realistic face masks.
  • Mindlink Mates: Vincent and Catherine could usually tell when the other was in trouble. When the mind-link broke, it almost drove Vincent crazy. The mind link carries over to their child.
  • Monster and the Maiden: The leonine creature Vincent aids female Assistant District Attorney Catherine Chandler in her cases while the two deal with their attraction to each other.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Despite his appearance (or perhaps because of it) Vincent is dead sexy.
  • Opening Narration: Paired voiceovers from Vincent and Catherine describing their love for each other. Until Catherine is killed, after which Vincent gives a solo voiceover about how he fights the corruption that engineered her death.
  • Overlaid Societies: The tunnels beneath New York City are occupied by the Tunnel People, who have created a subterranean world of their own. They are aided by some allies who live Above and help provide supplies to the Tunnel society, but most New Yorkers have no idea they exist.
  • Rescue Romance: Vincent and Catherine first met when he brought her home after she was attacked and left to die in Central Park.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Vincent's origin before he was found as a baby is never definitively revealed and likely was never meant to be.
  • Romantic False Lead: Wealthy developer Elliot Burch is briefly this for Catherine.
  • Runaway Fiancée: One episode has Catherine and Vincent helping a young Chinese woman who's a friend of Vincent's hide out with her true love to escape an arranged marriage. Unfortunately, the man she was to marry was the son of a high-ranking member of a Triad which knew all about the World Below.
  • A Scar to Remember:
    • In the pilot Catherine is kidnapped off the street by thugs who have mistaken her for a woman scheduled to testify against their boss in court. They make a number of ugly cuts on Catherine's face, intended to serve as a reminder every time she looks in a mirror for her to keep her mouth shut. After she is saved by Vincent and Father and returns to the World Above, Catherine gets expert plastic surgery, but one scar remains below her ear, and when she locates the witness she was mistaken for, she shows her the scar, saying, "I think this was meant for you."
    • Catherine later declines to have the last scar removed when given the option, saying she doesn't want to forget how much her life has changed.
  • Silent Treatment: Rule-breakers in the World Below can be sentenced to a month of this.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Catherine fell in love with Vincent while unable to see, and constantly stresses to him that he is a good man, not the monster he thinks himself to be.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: The underlying premise of the series; Catherine can't live in Vincent's world without giving up her job and her life, and he can't live in hers at all.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Diana Bennett replaces Catherine Chandler in the final season after she is killed in the season opener. In the new dynamic, Vincent has no romantic bond at all with Diana, while her budding attraction to him is mostly just suggested by her having a recurrent dream about him.
  • Teenage Mutant Samurai Wombats: A somewhat grown-up version, with just the one not-conventionally-human hero.
  • The Un-Favourite: Vincent's childhood friend and surrogate brother Devin was constantly singled out for criticism by Father as a boy, which is part of the reason he ran away to travel the world. It is revealed Father was unfairly harsh with Devin because he is his biological father and he didn't want to show favoritism so he overcorrected into not favoring Devin at all, not even making him aware of the fact they were related by blood. Also, there may have been a bit of Maternal Death? Blame the Child! involved.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Vincent, particularly when Catherine is in danger.
  • Urban Fantasy: A low-key but definite example.
  • Wainscot Society: The denizens of the "World Below" have their own society but also interact occasionally with surface dwellers.
    • It was loosely based on stories about a deep tunnel system underneath Manhattan meant for an early 19th Century version of a subway train that was never completed, which have become a home to the city's homeless.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: In "Fever", Mouse, one of the tunnel dwellers, unearths a cache of gold objects. They come to Vincent and Catherine's attention. When questioned, Mouse answers that he found them. He adds that when melted down, they make good wires.
  • Yandere: Steven Bass, Catherine's ex-fiancé in "Down to a Sunless Sea". Driven mad by the loss of his parents and a terminal illness, he builds the perfect country house Catherine talked about when they were together, then tries to force her to play the role of his wife.