My rewatch of the classic TV series Beauty and the Beast with C.E. Murphy continues. We watch one episode a week, try to watch it at the same time and chat over twitter. We’re about halfway into series one now, so there’s still time to catch up if you want to join in.
Ep. 9 – Dark Spirit – This was for me the weakest episode so far of the series. The basic concept was interesting; a high profile figure is apparently killed by voodoo, but then all of the little weird details that were probably meant to be interesting, just felt a little too contrived for me. The evil voodoo spirit just happened to look a lot like Vincent. The one person Catherine turns to for help just happens to be the person responsible, and there were a few other bits that made me roll my eyes. Father tells Vincent it’s all nonsense, people preying on the weak, the power of suggestion and so on. There were some interesting moments, a strange weird woman who lived underground, and yet, it just felt a bit ham-fisted to me. Catherine was drugged and in terrible peril and Vincent rescued her. Her transformation and paranoia was handled very well and Linda Hamilton did a great job, plus she looked incredibly sexy all vamped up in red, but I just really struggled with this episode. I’m hoping it picks up again in the next episode.
Ep.10 – A Children’s Story – This was a return to form for me after the previous episode which was quite disappointing. We get a glimpse of the underground network that later comes to be more important in the series. In this episode one of the many children who live underground comes across a boy from above who is in trouble. He reports it to Father and Vincent who then get Catherine to investigate the foster home, as Vincent can’t look into it during the day above ground. It was very Oliver Twist at times, kids disappearing, being trained to steal if they want to eat, lost in the system, forced into a life of crime with the constant threat of violence from their so-called protector who tries to foster the idea that they are all a family now. Edie, the IT genius, gets a moment to shine, to play the seductress and distract a nerdy guy in the records department who looks suitably flustered. Strong supporting performances from Catherine’s boss, Joe, who is ever the realist. He knows they have a lot of cases to work through without Catherine finding new ones by herself, but he’s also a stand-up guy and trusts her to find the time around other projects. Roy Dotrice has a nice moment as Father with the latest orphan, where he lets the boy make his own decision about their secret, while the adults smile on as Father nimbly but subtly guides the boy to the right decision. A great episode and I hope it continues like this.
Ep.11 – An Impossible Silence – This was another great episode, one that was actually really emotional as well. The premise was pretty simple, a dodgy cop kills another cop and there is a witness. Someone else is blamed for the crime and arrested and the deaf girl, who lives below, has to come forward to see that justice is done. She has to step out of the shadows and face up to the risks that come with being the witness in a very sensitive case. Catherine’s boss Joe wants her to leave it alone and for the first time we find out a bit more about him and his background. A tragic event shaped him at an early age and quite possibly put him onto the path of becoming a district attorney. Vincent also shows great sensitivity and awareness in this episode and he disagrees with Father’s approach to the situation. We also had our first glimpse of Pascal, a character that crops up a lot in the future, portrayed by the talented Armin Shimerman, who people will know from a host of SF shows including Star Trek Deep Space Nine and Buffy. The pacing in this episode was a lot slower than more modern shows, but it really helped give the actors space and time to breathe in the scenes, to build the atmosphere and explore character. Catherine was tough as ever, even going so far as to not let Joe off the hook when he later apologises for his attitude. There were a few pretty harsh moments, some things I doubt we would see happen on TV these days to a main character, but they did it here and didn’t flinch away from it. Definitely a favourite episode so far.
Ep. 12 – Shades of Grey – This is the first episode where the balance of the story felt more in favour of Vincent and the people below than Catherine, which is not a bad thing. It opens with a large group of people gathered to render judgment on one of their own who has broken one of their most important rules. Father is trying to get the boy to understand what he’s done but he doesn’t see it as a problem leaving them no choice but to decide on a punishment. Mouse is sentenced to a month of the Silence, where no one will talk to him which sounds easy but is actually pretty tough given that they’re a small and close community who rely on each other. Meanwhile Catherine is dealing with issues of her own at work as someone tries to exploit her past relationship with Elliot Burch to help the DA’s office get rid of someone even worse. This was still a relatively simple episode compared to modern standards, but it started to pull different threads together from previous episodes. Elliot Burch, Father and his firm but fair approach to punishment, the difference in opinion between Vincent and Father, an orphan from above who ended up living down below with his sister and also Catherine’s relationship with Joe. We also are introduced to Winslow for the first time, played the late and very great, James Avery, a giant of a man, who was a remarkably talented actor. We get another glimpse of Pascal but only a little and several other adults down below. Another cracking episode, one that while I could predict what was going to happen for the most part, I was still surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Rewatching some old TV shows makes me realise I really am wearing rose tinted glasses, but definitely not with this show. If you’ve not seen it before, you really are missing out.