It’s a tale as old as time: a beautiful assistant D.A. gets mugged and left for dead in Central Park, only to be rescued by a giant lion-faced creature who lives in the sewer system below New York City. This is the premise of the 1987 CBS live-action series “Beauty & the Beast” which ran for three seasons, inspiring a four-season remake on the CW, sparking major fan communities — dubbed “Helpers” and “Tunnel People” (and are still sorta active today) — and ranked 17th on “TV Guide’s” Top 30 Cult Shows Ever.
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Full of ’80s romance, melodrama, and gauzy lens work, “Beauty and the Beast” the series played out like a tawdry Harlequin novel, choosing long soliloquies about truth and love over catchy musical numbers. After emotionally imprinting on Vincent (Ron Pearlman), the man-lion with the Bon Jovi mane and a love of Dylan Thomas quotes, Catherine Chandler (Linda Hamilton) begins to split her time between her above-ground world and his World Below.
While fighting ruthless crime rings, mad scientists and the occasional IRA bomber, the two fall in love and have a child before Catherine is murdered and Vincent stomps around the sewer tunnels mad with grief: All epically Shakespearean stuff — which makes sense when you realize who wrote it.
Among the scribes in the writers room were none other than Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa of “Homeland” fame, and George R.R. Martin, the creator of a little series on HBO called “Game Of Thrones.” Sadly, the series is now only available as a DVD box set (what that?). But, there are plenty of amazing clips and fan videos on Youtube, courtesy of its hardcore fan community.
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It turns out they truly are Helpers. Here are the standouts: