Although long rumoured to have had only women devotees, in fact BEAUTY AND THE BEAST remains to this day my own favourite American television serial as well. It debuted in 1987, during perhaps the most EXTERNALLY oppressive period in my wife's and my entire marriage. Feeling alienated from so much around us, we drew deeper into our already close relationship and spent countless hours together reading aloud, listening to good music, and drinking MANY pots of tea. So this programme about a couple estranged from the 'normal' world -- whose love, nigh-mystical understanding of one another, and taste for simple joys were so like our own -- was deeply encouraging. Then too, its many literary allusions actually advanced our own interest in classic literature. I credit the scripts with our appreciation of everything from Shakespeare's 29th sonnet to Rilke's LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET to THE VELVETEEN RABBIT.
Of course, the show was not flawless. Its earliest episodes suffered from excessive Beast-to-the-rescue plotlines; and after Linda Hamilton's departure, the truncated third and final season was seriously marred by a misguided decision to escalate action and violence, presumably in hope of better ratings. The serial's middle run was by far its best, focusing on Vincent and Catherine's deeply-romantic yet functionally-platonic relationship, the intriguing history of the tunnel community, and the mysterious wonders and perils of the vast realms even further Below. Yet, whatever its strengths and weaknesses, that the programme came to be at all was a blessing beyond hope in a medium so often glutted with mere ugliness and inanity. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST was that rarest of television phenomena: A true work of art.