BatB rewatch: Eps 1-4
Arright, to start with you should actually go read Steve Aryan’s commentary, because it’s much more thoughtful and insightful than my own, and he’s my co-pilot on this BatB re-watch. :)
Here is my relationship with Beauty and the Beast in a nutshell: I had never read GREAT EXPECTATIONS when the first episode aired, and did so just to find out what the last chapter was, because in the hospital at the end Catherine wonders if someone might read the last chapter to her, because Vincent has been reading it to her and didn’t quite have time to finish before she left Below and went back to her world.
It never occurred to me to just read the last chapter.
When Ted put the first Beauty and the Beast DVD in for me I said, “Once upon a time, in the city of New York…” and a moment or three later the first episode came up with that title. Ted looked at me with an expression of bemused horror, pity and affection, and said, “Those are brain cells you’re never going to get back.”
In my defense, I said, I had looked at the DVD information prior to him putting it in; I wasn’t sure I’d have remembered the first episode title, otherwise. (I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t have, either.)
What I did not say is, “No, the brain cells dedicated to knowing the lyrics to the BatB theme music, those I’ll never get back!” But the only reason I didn’t say it was I didn’t think of it at the moment. :)
It’s a little odd to watch a show that aired when I was a teen and to have it look like a period piece. I can’t decide which is more disconcerting, the clothes or the cars. The cars are all, well, mid-to-late-80s make, long boxy things, and when there’s an establishing shot of Catherine getting out of a taxi, the taxi tends to fill the entire screen, left to right. It’s very strange.
And the clothes, oh dear. Linda Hamilton is a petite woman, and the oversized boxy 80s styles utterly swamp her. She looks fantastic on the occasions she’s wearing something fitted, but mostly she looks like she’s borrowed a large man’s clothing (even the skirts. Perhaps she knows Billy?). And high-waisted pants aren’t flattering on short-torsoed people, a fact which never occurred to me in the 80s but which is quite clear after a decade or so of low-riders.
I’d forgotten that Catherine goes to a fight teacher in the second episode and learns how to take care of herself. She actually handles herself quite respectably in the episodes where she gets in trouble (which is virtually all of them), leaving me to wonder, now, why exactly Vincent has to risk being seen to rescue her time and again. This is a somewhat different take than my original Catherine/Linda Hamilton mindset, which came after watching BatB and only *then* seeing Terminator. I spent the entirety of that film waiting for Vincent to show up and rescue her. :)
Ron Perlman, even under all the makeup, looks very young. Linda Hamilton and Roy Dotrice not so much, largely because pretty much everything I’ve seen them in has been from a 5-7 year period around BatB, so they just look like themselves. Perlman, however, has worked a lot more/I’m aware/have seen more of his work in the, oh, twenty years post-BatB, so his youth is striking. And I’d forgotten how much acting he does with his eyes, and how much body language he employs, and to what effect, so that’s kind of cool to watch. Awfully good actor, that man.
Somewhere around the third episode I remembered why it was I really loved this show. It’s not just that Vincent is rawr, though at sixteen that was certainly a large part of it (and who are we kidding, at 40 he still works for me). But in the long term, and in lasting effect, what really made the show wonderful is the poetry, and Perlman’s gift for reading it. I was never much of a poetry person before BatB; he changed that. (And made me like my name. I don’t particularly care for being called Catherine. Ron Perlman is the only person on Earth I’d introduce myself as Catherine to in hopes that he’d actually call me that.) In fact, in the pre-Internet days when BatB was on, I went to quite a lot of trouble to look up the poem from the last Catherine episodes–Dylan Thomas’s “And Death Shall Have No Dominion”–which probably changed my relationship with poetry forever (and to the good).