By Jessica Ritchey
Beauty and the Beast
Season 1, Episodes 15 and 16: “Temptation” and “Promises of Someday”
Original airdates: Feb. 5 and Feb. 12, 1988
On a show called “Beauty and the Beast” it can be a thankless job playing the wisecracking boss who serves mainly to deliver exposition and give the Beauty something to do when she’s not with her Beast. But Jay Acovone as Catherine’s boss Joe is something of an undervalued MVP of this series. Running with a stock part and making something real and funny out of it, his workaday weariness and sarcasm make a vital counter-agent that keeps from the show tipping into starry-eyed silliness. He’s gruff but fair, he’s getting worse at hiding his genuine crush on Catherine, and he finally gets a featured role in “Temptation.”
It’s Catherine’s and Vincent’s anniversary, but that’s back-burnered to Joe ill-advisedly following his heart, or his groin, for a Revlon-covered temptress who happens to be legally representing a client his D.A.’s office is trying to prosecute. The seduction is a trap of course, and it takes Catherine—and a last-minute attack of conscience from his Reaganite Delilah—to get him out of trouble and save him from possibly losing his job. Catherine and Joe’s relationship is one of the things I like best about this series; his frank incredulity at a socialite wanting to do grunt work has mellowed into respect, and more than a little affection.
Family matters dominate the next episode, “Promises of Someday,” which features a prodigal’s return. A mysterious new assistant D.A. turns up the office, and Catherine is none too happy to see him poking around tunnel entrances. She warns Vincent of a possible threat. Vincent surprises the man and receives much more of a shock himself—the man is Devin, Vincent’s adoptive brother he hasn’t seen in 20 years.
It’s a rich story, and one that really doesn’t reflect well on Father. Devin (Bruce Abbott, Linda Hamilton’s real-life husband at the time) has been playing proto-Pretender since he fled Below, hopping from identity to identity His hurt stems from Father’s clear favoritism for Vincent and an adolescent spat that left Devin with three small claw marks along his jaw. He was Vincent’s protector and best friend, and he finally gets a shock when it’s revealed he’s no mere tunnel orphan but Father’s biological son.
That particular revelation needed a bit more fallout than we get here (though Devin does return in a second season episode), as it underlines Father’s character as someone who has an image of himself as a virtuous leader but is just as much a weak human being as anyone else. His excuses for never acknowledging Devin as his child are guff, and inadvertently or not the viewer gets the much stronger sense he wanted an heir—and no dark-haired bastard would do when there was a golden, special lion-boy right there.
But it’s a TV episode, so it has to end with, if not Devin and Father sitting down to a friendly chess match, then at least the sense they are on the road to reconciliation. The ties that bind leave marks of all kinds, but you can heal and move on—or move Above, too.
Next week has crazy love, and there’s gold in them thar tunnels.
- Nice touch putting Catherine in bridal white in the balcony coda of “Temptation;” the iron hand of skittish CBS execs always kept their relationship from processing at a sensible, or consistent pace. If nothing else, that’s why tasteful fades to black or shots of billowing drapes were invented, guys.
- It would have been most amusing if, when Devin was recounting his previous adventures, he had sighed about an unfortunate time he was involved with a “Dr. West.”