REVIEW: DESCENDANTS

CAST

Dove Cameron (Cloud 9)
Cameeron Boyce (Eagle Eye)
Booboo Stewart (X-Men: Days of Future Past)
Sofia Carson (Adventures in Babysitting)
Mitchell Hope (Never Tear Us Apart)
Melanie Paxson (Saving Mr. Banks)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)
Wendy Raquel Robinson (Miss Congeniality)
Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Daisies)

After their wedding, Belle and Prince Adam form the United States of Auradon from the surrounding kingdoms, creating a prosperous new nation, and are elected King and Queen. The kingdom’s enemies are imprisoned on the Isle of the Lost, a slum where magic is forbidden and surrounded by an inescapable barrier. Twenty years later, Prince Ben is to ascend the Auradon throne and informs his parents that his first proclamation will give the Isle of the Lost’s children the chance to live in Auradon away from the influence of their villainous parents. On the island, Maleficent instructs the four chosen children to find and steal the Fairy Godmother’s magic wand to release the villains. The children, those of the Evil Queen, Jafar, Cruella de Vil, and Maleficent, are Evie, Jay, Carlos, and Mal.
Travelling to Auradon Prep, the four meet Ben and his self-proclaimed girlfriend Audrey, daughter of Princess Aurora, and the Fairy Godmother, who is the school’s headmistress. Evie uses her mother’s pocket-sized magic mirror to locate the magic wand, located in a nearby museum, but they fail to steal it. Learning the Fairy Godmother will use the wand during Ben’s coronation, the four wait it out by attending classes but start to fit in with the students. Jay is recruited into the school’s “tourney” team (a football-like sport), while Carlos surpasses his cynophobia by befriending the school mutt Dude. Evie, though intelligent, acts vain to impress Chad Charming, son of Cinderella, but ends up doing his homework for him. Dopey’s son Doug encourages her to not pander to others and be herself.
Mal becomes popular, using Maleficent’s spellbook to improve the looks of the Fairy Godmother and Mulan’s daughters Jane and Lonnie. Learning that Ben’s girlfriend will be seated close to the magic wand during the coronation, Mal creates a cookie laced with a love potion and gives it to Ben, who falls madly in love with her, much to the shock of his friends. On a date with Ben, Mal becomes conflicted with her inherit goodness and desire to please her mother, unsure how to react to Ben’s feelings towards her. During the school’s family day, the villains’ children are ostracized after an encounter with Audrey’s grandmother Queen Leah, though Ben and Doug remain friendly towards them.  On the day of the coronation, Mal gives Ben a brownie containing the love spell’s antidote, believing it was cruel to trick him, but he reveals he was already freed of the potion when he went swimming in the “enchanted lake” during their date. During Ben’s crowning, Jane grabs the wand from her mother, accidentally destroying the Isle’s barrier. Mal takes the wand from Jane, but torn over what to do, is encouraged by Ben to make her own choice rather than follow Maleficent’s path. Mal recognises that she and her friends found happiness in Auradon, and they decide to be good.

Maleficent crashes the ceremony, freezing everyone in time save herself and the children. When they defy her, Maleficent transforms into a dragon. The four children use a counterspell, turning Maleficent into a tiny lizard, based on the amount of love in her heart. Mal returns the Fairy Godmother her wand and she unfreezes everyone. While the villains watch the celebration from afar, Auradon Prep’s students party into the night, Mal and her friends finding happiness.Excellent film for all family. If you know your fairy tales you’ll love this.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1989) – GOD BLESS THE CHILD

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MAIN CAST

Linda Hamilton (The Terminator)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Roy Dotrice (Game of Thrones)
Jay Acovone (Stargate SG.1)

GUEST CAST

Katy Boyer (Minority Report)

After meeting with a pregnant former prostitute named Lena who called a help line, Catherine convinces Vincent and Father to welcome her to the “World Below” where she can have her baby and be part of the community. Before actually meeting Vincent, Lena hears stories about him and once she encounters him in person, a crush develops into something more for her. After the baby is born, she offers her love to Vincent, who rejects her advances gently but firmly. She runs away, leaving her child behind. Catherine tracks her down and convinces her to return to her new home, where in a naming ceremony Lena calls the baby girl after Catherine.

A great thing about this episode, is that it allows the viewer to vicariously experience what it would be like to go into Vincent’s world and be accepted. Like Catherine once said on the show, Vincent’s world gave her the family she always wanted. That happened to Lena, too. And the viewer gets to experience it in this episode. There is a part of all of us who would love to go live In Vincent’s world. An excllent christmas episode.

REVIEW: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1987) – MASQUES

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MAIN CAST

Linda Hamilton (Chuck)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Roy Dotrice (Hercules: TLJ)

GUEST CAST

Michael Bacall (Urban Legends 2)
John McMartin (As The World Turns)
Kimberly McCullough (General Hospital)

MASQUES

It does seem at times as though the stars were aligned against this show. Doing a big Halloween episode was going to be a tradition, but the 1988 writers’ strike scuttled the second season’s attempt, and Hamilton’s departure the third. Which is a pity, as “Masques” is a breath of fresh air against the sometimes stifling romanticism of the show’s interiors. And watching Vincent and Catherine wander around above ground and mostly content is a rare treat.

 “Masques” does have an awkwardly grafted-on subplot about The Troubles—which, amazingly, was insisted on by the producers, as credited co-writer George R.R. Martin was content to leave doom and gloom at home and just have an evening of the two wandering the city having various adventures. It’s not too much of a strain at least, with Caitlin O’Heaney making an appealing heroine as a Northern Irish peace activist who finds herself at the center of a would be assassination plot.
Vincent and Catherine come to her rescue and reunite her with her ailing father in the bargain. Taking to heart her words to make the the most of the time they have, Catherine and Vincent wander through a montage of NYC at night and greet the sunrise at a bench overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge. We get our first “they’re about to start making out like teenagers, but…” moment when they are interrupted by a startled jogger and Vincent decides to make his goodbyes instead. Catherine watches him go with a wistful expression and we get one of thew few episodes that feels fully fleshed out in the terms of the richness of both the glittering city high life and the smoke and mystery Below.

REVIEW: BEAUTY & THE BEAST – SEASON 1-3

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MAIN CAST

Kristin Kreuk (Smallville)
Jay Ryan (Young Hercules)
Austin Basis (J.Edgar)
Nina Lisandrello (The Devil Wears Prada)
Nicole Gale Anmderson (Mean Girls 2)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes)
Brian White (The Cabin In The Woods)
Max Brown (The Tudors)
Amber Skye Noyes (One Life To Live)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Yannick Bisson (Murdoch Mysteries)
Britt Irvin (V)
Khaira Ledeyo (Just Cause)
Peter Outerbridge (ReGenesis)
Rob Stewart (Painkiller Jane)
Elizabeth Blackmore (The Vampire Diaries)
Luke Macfarlane (Kinsey)
Lara Jean Chorostecki (Hannibal)
David Richmond-Peck (Sanctuary)
Kelly Overton (True Blood)
Mike Dopud (Stargate Universe)
Rachel Skarsten (Reign)
Bianca Lawson (Buffy)
Rena Sofer (Heroes)
Bridget Regan (Agent Carter)
Luke Roberts (Black Sails)
Brendan Hines (Lie To Me)
William deVry (Stargate SG.1)
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
Edi Gathegi (X-Men: First Class)
Shantel VanSanten (The Flash)
Steve Blund (Bitten)
Ted Whittall (Smallville)
Brian Tee (Jurassic World)
David de Latour (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)
Annie Ilonzeh (Arrow)
Riley Smith (Eight Legged Freaks)
Haley Webb (The Final Destination)
Elisabeth Rohm (Joy)
Paul Johansso (Highlander: The Raven)
Michael Filipowich (Earth: Final Conflict)
Tom Everett Scott (Scream: The Series)
Brennan Brown (The Man In The High Castle)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Steve Valentine (Mike & Molly)
Danielle Bisutti (Curse of Chucky)
Anthony Ruivivar (Starship Troopers)
Charlotte Arnold (Patriot)
Zach Appelman (Sleepy Hollow)
Natasha Henstridge (Species)
Alan Van Sprang (Reign)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Lochlyn Munro (Little Man)
Jason Gedrick (Iron Eagle)

This season revolves around Catherine and Vincent trying to pursue a relationship together, whilst being hunted down by a top-secret government organization named Muirfield who want Vincent dead. Muirfield are revealed to have conducted a high-profile secret experiment on soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. These experiments resulted in every soldier becoming physically stronger and faster, hoping this would win the war quicker. But, something went wrong, as the entire force went out of control with their new abilities. The government gave orders to kill them all, but Vincent escaped and has been in hiding ever since. Muirfield make several attempts to capture Vincent during this season, and even enlist the help of Cat and those close to her to capture him.Catherine’s family history is delved into in this first season, as her mother’s unsolved murder has preyed on her mind for nine years. Catherine witnessed her mother shot and killed by two hitmen who were then killed by Vincent. Catherine refused to believe the official police report that her mother’s death was that of carjacking gone wrong since the men who killed her mother suddenly appeared and began shooting without saying a word, as well as that the two dead killers identities were never found in any police record, leading Catherine to believe that her mother’s killing was that of a government conspiracy. It was later revealed that Catherine’s mother worked for Muirfield, conducting the experiments, and ultimately helped turn Vincent into a beast. Catherine must deal with conflicted feelings of her mother’s memory across this season, having been determined to solve her case for all this time. When Catherine watches her father get run over in the season finale, she then learns that, biologically, he was not her real father after all.

Vincent’s DNA mutates as the season progresses, as he becomes more beast-like. He begins experiencing black-outs, which J.T. associates with Catherine’s interference. Cat and Vincent will stop at nothing to see each other, however. Assistant District Attorney Gabriel Lowen visits Cat’s precinct to investigate the beast-like attack in the city and over time he reveals that not only does he know about Muirfield but that he shares the same ability as Vincent. At first an enemy, Gabriel goes on to become an ally to Vincent by the end of the first season and suggests he has found a cure to the virus inflicted on them by Muirfield. Vincent ultimately wonders if he wants to be cured or not.

Vincent is captured in the season finale as a helicopter drops a net on him and flies him away, leaving Catherine heartbroken. With Vincent captured, a gun is then aimed at Catherine’s head. But, someone orders them not to shoot; Agent Bob Reynolds –Catherine’s biological father.

A modern day take on the story which has Kristen Kreuk as ‘the Beauty’ & Jay Ryan as ‘the Beast’. A great series, plenty of ‘edge of your seat’ drama with a gentle love story woven through the plot.

Vincent was captured by Muirfield, an underground government organization that has been hunting him, in the previous season finale. Cat, the woman who he has fallen in love with and who accepts what he has been changed by Muirfield, will do anything to find him. This season, their love faces more challenges than ever before.  During the season, Vincent and Cat briefly break up with each other, due to Vincent having changed so much because of Muirfield wiping his memory. Cat starts a relationship with Gabe, a previous beast, now turned ally, while Vincent starts to date Tori, a wealthy socialite who has discovered that she is also a Beast. Eventually, after regaining his memories and Tori’s death during the season, Vincent realizes that he is still in love with Cat and tries to win her back, but she rejects his advances. However, slowly she starts to realize that she still loves him and they both get back together near the end of the season.

However, Gabe does not take the break up very well and starts to become obsessed with hunting down Vincent, by framing him for murder. He tries to hide his jealousy by claiming Vincent is dangerous, and he is only trying to protect Cat, while at the same time trying to win her back. However, he becomes more dangerous, as he suspends both Cat and Tess from the police force, becomes more ruthless and even goes so far as to kidnapping Cat’s sister Heather, who then later learns Vincent’s secret. However things become much worse after Gabe becomes a Beast again and starts killing those closest to Cat and Vincent. A final showdown will come between them finally ending the feud once and for all which could possibly end Vincent’s life.

The sizzling, on-screen chemistry between the two leads is not bettered by any paring on TV, anywhere. It’s what keeps the extensive, loyal fanbase watching this show. This Season exploring more and more the mythology the show add greater scope to the story.

Beauty and the Beast started off with a clear cut mission – save Vincent (Jay Ryan) from his unpredictable beast-infused self. As the narrative evolved and Vincent became both hero and victim in a multitude of ways, the writers took fans on a roundabout journey guided by Catherine’s (Kristin Kreuk) romantic entanglement with his character and her convenient position as a police detective. Although his beast side is still in tact after a series of near misses with potential antidotes, the writers have essentially given him a full pardon and put him squarely on the side of the do-gooders as he reenters the realm of living a “normal life.” No longer does Cat have to concern herself with the ramifications of his violent outbursts, for the most part, now they have other concerns. With Muirfield out of the picture, who has stepped in to fill their vast secret government agency shoes? This leads us to the overarching premise of season three.

With Vincent’s origin story largely revealed, the writers have veered away from some of the old storylines and brought in what appears to be a new antagonist, Liam who has links to the the past.


There were also some notable differences in the aesthetics of the latest beast. In the season three premiere of Beauty and the Beast, you’ll notice that there are almost no physical signs besides the increase in strength and agility, and glazed over eyes. This is unlike Vincent or any of the other past beasts who undergo a noticeable transition each time they beast out. One of the most interesting aspects of season three is clearly watching Cat and Vincent reconcile what it means to be a couple. It’s not a new concept for the show, entirely, but at the same time the writers have never had the opportunity to explore it without the constraints of Vincent’s under-the-radar lifestyle, which for the most part has been expunged along with his unflattering record. At the end of the season three opener, Vincent proposes to Cat. This proposal has been building over time.

At the core of Beauty and the Beast is Vincent and Cat’s relationship, and its ups and downs give the show a depth that balances out some of the more unrealistic events in the storyline. Despite the beast elements, there is a sense of relatability within their romantic struggles that fans find attractive.

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The return of Nicole Gale Anderson’s character, Heather, was an excellent choice for the season. Her relationship with her sister, Cat, offers fans a break from the monotony of the catching-bad-guys motif that streamlines its way through the show. Both sisters now being engaged also adds a lighthearted element to the proceedings. Heather is often times one of the most refreshing parts of BATB. Her limited knowledge previously made her a bit of a buzz kill at times, but overwhelmingly her avid perkiness acted as its own character on the show. Heather also represents the light at the end of the tunnel for Cat, in a way. After all of the tragedy that has enveloped her character in the last two seasons, somehow her relationship with her sister is stronger and more open than ever.


The third season breathed new light into the show, having a decent villain play out through the season was a good choice, hopefully season 4 will continue making this a show a great series.

REVIEW: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1987): THE COMPLETE SERIES

MAIN CAST

Linda Hamilton (The Terminator)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Roy Dotrice (Game of Thrones)
jay Acovone (Stargate SG.1)
Renn Woods (Xanadu)
Jo Anderson (Roswell)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
Stephen McHattie (300)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Ray Wise (Agent Carter)
Michael Bacall (Django Unchained)
Doarian Harewood (Earth: Final Conflict)
Delroy Lindo (The Cider House Rules)
Branscombe Richmond (The Scorpion King)
Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory)
Merritt Butrick (Star Trek II)
Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator)
Nancy Leneham (Two Guys and a Girl)
Cliff De Young (The Craft)
Richard Herd (V)
Jason Bernard (The Flash 90s)
John M. Jackson (BOnes)
Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: DS9)
James Avery (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air)
Rosalind Chao (Freaky Friday)
James Hong (Blade Runner)
Tony Jay (Lois & CLark)
Bruce Abbott (The Net: The Series)
John Franklin (Children of The Corn)
Alan Blumenfeld (Heroes)
Rutanya Alda (The Deer Hunter)
Mimi Craven (Vampire Clan)
Joseph Campanella (Guiding Light)
Adrian Paul (Highlander: The Series)
Remy Ryan (Robocop 3)
Piper Laurie (Carrie)
Kenneth Kimmins (Network)
Lance Henriksen (Millenium)
Tony Plana (Ugly Betty)
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)

Beauty and the Beast was created and showrun by Ron Koslow, and its writing staff featured novelist George R.R. Martin, best known today for A Song of Ice and Fire/A Game of Thrones. Other writing staffers included Alex Gansa & Howard Gordon, David Peckinpah (season 1 only), and P.K. Simonds, with Paul Junger Witt & Tony Thomas (best known for various sitcoms) as the executive producers along with Koslow. The series had only the loosest connection to the fairy tale of the same name.

Linda Hamilton played Catherine Chandler, a pampered corporate lawyer who was subjected to a brutal, random attack (a case of mistaken identity, since ’80s TV didn’t demand that every plot point be part of some vast conspiracy directed at the main characters) and was nursed back to health by Vincent (Ron Perlman), a powerful but gentle lion-man who lived in the tunnels underneath New York City, part of a secret utopian community led by Father (Roy Dotrice), a stern but kindly older man who adopted Vincent when he was found abandoned as a baby. (The series never explained Vincent’s origins or nature.) Catherine is initially shocked by Vincent’s appearance once her bandages come off and she can see him, but she’s had time to discover his caring, educated nature, and the two form a powerful bond that enables Vincent to sense her emotions emphatically and feel when she’s in danger. And that comes in handy later, since she leaves her cushy law firm and gets a job at the district attorney’s office, which often leads her into danger on the gritty streets of a New York City that was portrayed (at least in the first season) as a rather hellish, squalid place. Though Vincent was a soft-spoken, compassionate being with the mind of a scholar and the soul of a poet, he had a ferocious animal side that came out with lethal effect whenever Catherine was endangered. Vincent’s leonine makeup was created by FX legend Rick Baker, and it’s one of his finest creations. It works so well with the planes of Ron Perlman’s face while also transforming it utterly and making it beautiful. Perlman also uses a very different voice than he usually does, a soft, contemplative, highly articulate growl that probably had female viewers swooning.

The show was always literate, with characters constantly reading books and quoting poetry and literature and listening to classical music, and the production values were excellent, particularly the lush musical score (initially by Lee Holdridge, but mostly by future The Matrix composer Don Davis and occasionally William Ross), one of the last great, lyrical orchestral TV scores before the age of minimalist atmospherics and electronic scores took hold in the ’90s. But the first ten episodes were quite formulaic and rather boring after a while.

 

The stories were mainly focused on the surface world (“The World Above”), with the underground “World Below” given very little exploration, even though it was the most interesting part of the premise. The World Below was based on the real-life phenomenon of homeless people living in the extensive abandoned tunnels beneath New York City, but it was a fantasy extrapolation beyond that, a warm and inviting cavern world filled with books and artwork and ornate hand-me-downs from the World Above, and with gorgeous underground settings represented by elaborate matte paintings.

But for nearly half a season, the inhabitants of the World Below seemed to consist entirely of Vincent, Father, and occasionally a few orphan children. It was a secondary element tacked onto an otherwise fairly conventional crime drama, with Vincent as your formulaic superhero who was constantly running through tunnels and riding on top of a subway train to race to Catherine’s rescue. Those episodes that didn’t involve Vincent saving Catherine usually involved Vincent getting captured or trapped up above and needing Catherine to rescue him. The main exception was an episode where Father had to venture above when summoned by an old love, but immediately stumbled upon a murder and got arrested for it.

 

But about halfway through the season, that suddenly changed, as if the producers were finally given the freedom to explore the side of the show that the network was uneasy with. In the course of just a few episodes, the World Below was fleshed out into a whole community of recurring characters including: Pascal (Armin Shimerman), the master of the tunnelers’ communication system based in tapping code on underground pipes; Mouse (David Greenlee), an eccentric, semi-feral tinkerer and troublemaker with an idiosyncratic speech pattern; Jamie (Irina Irvine), a plucky teenage girl; Mary (Ellen Geer), the matronly midwife of the community; Winslow (James Avery), who started out being just the big angry guy who was wrong about everything but who got to be on more or less the right side in later appearances; and the main recurring bad guy, Paracelsus (Tony Jay) — a co-founder of the underground world with Father, but long since exiled due to his supervillainous ambitions. For the rest of the season, although we still got a few more conventional Above plots, most of the stories were about events Below or about the impact that people and events from one world had upon the other. There was also a decreasing emphasis on action and a shift more toward more character-driven, dramatic stories.

These trends become even stronger in the first half of season 2, which focuses primarily on the World Below, or on above ground plots driven by characters and situations from Below. The tunnel world and its culture are fleshed out more fully, and the show becomes less about the romance between Catherine and Vincent and more about Catherine’s relationship with the entire underground community, her role as the bridge between worlds. Personally, I liked the show far better in this vein. There’s only so much you can do with “a love that can never be,” especially when it’s defined as vaguely as it was here. The relationship between the two remained totally chaste; they never even kissed, for reasons that were left vague. I suppose the implicit reason was that Vincent’s fangs and claws and superstrength made it too dangerous for her, and that the “beast” within him would go out of control in the heat of passion. But when they finally did an episode that gingerly addressed this, fully halfway into season 2, it was clearly the first time Vincent and Catherine had even spoken about it, which was deeply implausible. It’s startling from a modern perspective how utterly chaste the show was, never talking about sex overtly. But then, it was an 8 PM show back when 8 PM was considered a child-friendly viewing hour. And maybe the show was designed to appeal to female viewers who were drawn to a fantasy of a heroic, perfect male companion with the thrill of danger but no need to worry about the complications of sex.

Season 2 also toned down the action and violence in the first half, mercifully avoiding the Catherine-in-danger formula and the recycled footage of Vincent racing to her rescue. On those few occasions that Vincent did give in to his rage, we finally saw how it troubled him, how he feared and hated that side of him, something we’d never really seen in season 1 when it was a handy device to kill off the bad guys of the week. For a show that was so prudish about sex, it was surprisingly cavalier about killing, and I was glad to see it get away from that. Plus I found the exploration of the World Below more engaging than the action and romance elements. The problem with romance series is the need to keep the characters constantly apart or in turmoil through one contrivance or another, and that was something that really got tedious to me when I watched the show in its first run. I was happiest at the point when Vincent and Catherine’s relationship was just this stable background element in a show that was about fleshing out this charming fantasy world beneath the city. The World Below was the kind of fantasy that drew me, a safe haven free from violence or cruelty, a place where outcasts and the vulnerable could be taken in and nurtured.

 

Season 2 was the reverse of season 1, in that the half-season devoted to gentler, dramatic stories driven by the tunnel community was followed by a half-season devoted to action/danger plots in the World Above. second half would  return to the formulaic and familiar, with the tunnel characters all but disappearing in the back half of the season. Even in the episode where Catherine’s father dies and she retreats below to grieve, that sense of the larger community is absent and it’s solely about her and Vincent. Even a scene between her and Father would’ve been welcome. And then there’s a whole run of episodes set topside and dealing with various crime/danger or courtroom-drama plots. It’s only in the last two episodes, as the Paracelsus arc comes to a climax, that the World Below is featured again.

The show went through more radical changes in the third season, as Linda Hamilton’s pregnancy forced the producers to write her out. Also, Ron Koslow left the series after co-writing the season premiere to set off the new course, although the rest of the staff remained intact. Most of the season revolved around a new archvillain named Gabriel (Stephen McHattie), a nebulously all-powerful crime boss who secretly rules the city, and who’s prone to rambling monologues about his evil philosophy . Although he’s played with effective menace by McHattie, it’s never really all that clear just who he is, what he does, or how he got so powerful.

Anyway, the second season ended with a cliffhanger where Vincent was lost in his rage and Catherine went in to try to help him, and in the third season premiere, that “help” evidently consists of the physical intimacy the show aggressively avoided until now. Although the avoidance is still intact, because their “love scene” is in the form of a hilariously cheesy video montage of blooming roses and explosions and hands clasping, with the song version of the main title theme playing over it. This cheesy montage has two effects: One, it gets Catherine pregnant, and two, it breaks their empathic bond so that Vincent can’t find her and save her when Gabriel abducts her (before she can tell Vincent about the child). But Gabriel learns of Vincent and wants to possess his child, keeping Catherine alive until she delivers and then killing her, with Vincent just too late to save her. The show remains intensely euphemistic about sex even in her dying words to Vincent: “We loved. There is a child.”he show then introduces a new female lead, Jo Anderson, as Diana Bennett, an NYPD profiler/analyst who gets assigned to Catherine’s case in the second episode and eventually finds her way to Vincent about halfway through the 11-episode season. Now, when this cast change happened, most of the show’s fans were outraged. Vincent and Catherine are eternal lovers! How can you kill off our beloved Catherine and expect us to accept this interloper in her place? But I never felt that way, because It was Linda Hamilton’s decision to leave it was through no fault of the writers.

While Jo Anderson didn’t seem all that striking to me at first glance, she had the kind of face that gets more compellingly beautiful the more you look at it. She was a redhead with enormous, soulful blue eyes and luminous skin, like a Titian painting brought to life. And she had an earthier, subtler appeal than Hamilton had; Diana was more of a middle-class character with a New Jersey accent that I found rather charming.

Season 3 also makes a regular out of the late Edward Laurence Albert, who’d had a recurring role in the first two seasons as Elliot Burch, a morally ambiguous industrialist who was a rival for Catherine’s affections, and whom Vincent approached for help in investigating her death.  Albert was the son of comic actor Eddie Albert, but he did terrific dramatic work as Burch, so it’s no wonder they made him a regular. Although it was odd in story terms that Vincent went to him instead of the other male regular, Catherine’s boss Joe Maxwell (Jay Acovone), who’d been a stalwart friend to her throughout (and secretly in love with her, though it was never made explicit until season 3). As it was, Joe became a somewhat adversarial figure as he latched onto Vincent as a possible suspect in Catherine’s murder (albeit without knowing more than his name). He was the one who brought Diana into the story, though.

It’s far more plot- and action-driven than the previous two seasons, a lot less thoughtful and rarefied and a lot more violent. It’s striking how heavily serialized it is, with almost every episode ending on a cliffhanger. I tend to think of that level of serialization as something that didn’t develop in SF/fantasy TV until Babylon 5, but B&tB had it beat by several years. Oddly, though, the Gabriel arc wraps up after 9 episodes, with the series concluding with an unconnected 2-parter.  Season 3 became the final season, but all in all its a great show, and I am very pleased to own it all on dvd.