Directed by Victor Lobl et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 543 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo English
MSRP: $ 49.99
Release Date: February 5, 2008
Review Date: February 2, 2008
What does a series do when its top-billed female lead bails on the show? In the case of Beauty and the Beast, the leading actress (Linda Hamilton) was killed off in the second episode after giving birth to the Beast’s child and had it stolen by a notorious Manhattan drug lord (Stephen McHattie). The remaining episodes of the season then became a long, stretched-out search for the missing child and obviously vengeance against the mobster and his confederates.
Ron Perlman playing the beast Vincent rose to the top of the billing list after Linda Hamilton’s Catherine was no more. And because the strong romantic attraction between Vincent and Catherine had been the most compelling thing about the series during its first two years on the air, a new relationship with another woman (Jo Anderson playing policewoman Diana Bennett) was launched in these episodes, obviously hoping lightning would strike twice (it didn’t). Beauty and the Beast was canceled after this abbreviated 12 episode third season.
Ron Perlman deserved his top-billing in the majority of the season episodes. After garnering Emmy nominations for the show’s first two seasons, he clearly earned the honor by continuing to play the Beast with a combination of rage and longing that gained in intensity as the season progressed. In fact, his mercurial performance in episode 3 where he grieves uncontrollably for both the lost Catherine and his missing child might rank as the most tear-stained male performance in the history of series television. This isn’t meant as a slam; I was astounded by his ability to weep on-screen and sustain it for an entire episode without seeming ridiculous.
Some other actors also earn plaudits for their performances this season. Stephan McHattie was the personification in cultured evil as the criminal Gabriel, and Father Jacob was nobly enacted by Roy Dotrice. Joe Acavone’s Depty D.A. Joe Maxwell is stubbornly set-in-his-ways, and the wonderful Edward Albert, though he doesn’t last all season, makes the most of his millionaire entrepreneur Elliott Burch. Jo Anderson had fewer colors to display as Diana, and Lewis Smith didn’t get many opportunities to shine as her rejected suitor Mark. Mention must be made, however, of the season’s greatest guest performance: Lance Hendrickson as Gabriel’s hitman-brother Snow. In a chilling, consummately evil portrayal, Hendrickson gave new meaning to the word “sinister.”
The program’s Emmy-winning sets, costumes, and music continued to impress in this abbreviated last season, and the show looks like it was very expensive to produce. Direction of the action-oriented episodes was strong and sure (veteran Gus Trikonis helmed several of them), and Ron Perlman even got a chance to direct an episode near the end of the season. However, too many of these episodes were less action based and more about ruminations on feelings and desires, not always dramatized for the maximum impact.
Here’s a list of this season’s 12 episodes contained on three discs.
1 - Though Lovers Be Lost, Part 1
2 - Though Lovers Be Lost, Part 2
3 - Walk Slowly
4 - Nevermore
5 - Snow
6 - Beggar’s Comet
7 - A Time to Heal
8 - In the Forests of the Night
9 - Chimes at Midnight
10 - Invictus
11 - The Reckoning
12 - Legacies
The program’s original 1.33:1 aspect ratio is reproduced faithfully in this boxed set. Though the color is very strong and lighting is used in interesting ways (many of the scenes are situated in the world of abandoned tunnels under New York City), the lack of anamorphic enhancement leads to a myriad of visual artifacts: line twitter, moiré patterns, flashing, pixilation: all are present in almost every episode. On the other hand, the blacks here are just about the deepest I’ve seen on any series and shadow detail is outstanding. Each episode has been divided into 5 chapters except the season premiere which has 7 chapters, and the Ron Perlman-directed episode and the series finale which have 4 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track makes immersive use of the two time Emmy-winning musical score which often deepens the emotional resonance of the episodes. Otherwise, the dialog is rooted properly in the center channel with no evidence of hiss, pops, crackle, or age in the audio rendering.
Apart from previews for other Paramount TV releases, there are no bonus items in this set.
The final season of Beauty and the Beast may not have earned the series much glory (unlike its first two seasons, it earned no Emmys from this final spate of episodes), but the series concluded on a worthy and upbeat note which likely pleased the majority of its fans.