Beauty and the Beast has received the Disney fairy tale treatment, both in animated and live-action form, but amid all the Oscar-winning songs, talking candlesticks, and Belle pride, you may have missed the television series from the '80s. On the surface, it was a daring interpretation of a classic story starring Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton. But dig a little deeper, and it's a pretty weird take on the classic tale.
Sure, there was a guy decked out in makeup to look like a beast who had a close relationship with a beautiful woman, but that was about all the show offered to connect it to the original Beauty and the Beast (which was actually based on a real couple). It was more of a fantasy-fueled Law & Order than a fairy tale. Still, the show aired for three seasons before getting canceled in 1990. And TV didn't give up on the concept: a reboot of Beauty & the Beast, starring Kristin Kreuk and Jay Ryan, aired from 2012 to 2016.
Although the series was a cult classic and became one of the TV shows Perlman is most known for, Beauty and the Beast doesn't usually pop up on the list of the best primetime shows from the '80s. Looking back, the entire series was pretty horrifying - and no one sings.
Beauty And The Beast Have A Baby
Before Catherine's untimely passing, she and Vincent consummate their relationship, and she has a baby. The baby (born without a tail or whiskers) serves as a key plot device in the third season and continues to tie Vincent to Catherine.
Vincent spends most of his time in Season 3 trying to find the baby, who is taken by those responsible for slaying Catherine at one point. Unfortunately, the plot didn't do much to keep the show interesting, and without Catherine, the series faltered and was canceled by the end of the third season.
Ron Perlman Says The Show Is 'Near And Dear' To His Heart
Ron Perlman has done a lot in Hollywood since he started acting in 1979. He's known as a character actor who often wears makeup for his roles, which is why you may have seen him in something and not even known it was him. He's played a Neanderthal in Quest for Fire, a hunchback in The Name of the Rose, and the goblin Gnarlack in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Perlman went on to play Hellboy and other iconic roles following his time on Beauty and the Beast, but according to the veteran actor in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the series will always be special to him:
Beauty and the Beast is a project that remains very near and dear to my heart, for a full assortment of reasons. When I got the part, I had been kicking around Hollywood for a while but hadn't yet made it. The show was the first mainstream gig I ever got. Friday night, 8 pm on CBS primetime, playing one of the title characters. So it was a momentous event in the creation of a career.
Perlman has been acting continuously since the show went off the air, with no sign of stopping.
Beauty's Replacement Didn't Help The Ratings
Catherine's absence left a vacuum, and without a "beauty" to keep the premise of the show going, the writers introduced a new woman, Diana Bennett (Jo Anderson), a profiler from the NYPD tasked to investigate Catherine's slaying.
Diana becomes a friend to the residents of the World Below, but without Catherine, ratings for this new Beauty and Beast pairing were mediocre during Season 3. CBS canceled the show, even though devoted fans spearheaded a letter-writing campaign to keep it on the air.
The Beast Never Receives A Magical Makeover
The point of the original Beauty and the Beast story, and its many adaptations, is to show that beauty is only skin deep. What matters most is what's on the inside, not the gruff exterior on the outside. When the Beast finally realizes this, he magically transforms back into his original human form.
But in the TV series, Vincent remains a half-lion/half-man throughout the show's run. To be fair, the series wouldn't have lasted if Perlman stopped wearing the Beast makeup halfway through the first season, so the lack of a magical makeover makes sense. And in a way, keeping Vincent's beastly visage proves even more that what matters most is inner beauty. His innate gentleness and goodness remain intact, and he doesn't need standard handsome-guy looks to show his humanity.
As Perlman described his character in a 2014 NPR Fresh Air interview:
[T]his was a character that was an outcast physically and... not even allowed to roam the earth because... it was too dangerous for him because he would've been a target. And yet, who had more humanity than any 15 people you could think of and a bigger heart and a more beautiful soul.