Thursday, September 15, 2016

CW's "Beauty & the Beast" Series Finale Airs Tonight (& Thus Begins the End of the Fairy Tale TV Series Golden Age)

We haven't posted much on the CW's Beauty & the Beast over the years. This "Summer series" is somewhere between a star-crossed lovers romance and a police procedural - vacillating wildly from one extreme to the other at times - but overall it's had as many passionate fans as did the original from 1987 to 1990. Finishing at the end of four seasons, this modern reboot of the eighties New York city fantasy romance has lasted a year longer than it's predecessor, likely due to the active social media support it's received (despite it's lack of fantastical underground libraries and candle-lit dens). Unfortunately for fans, even with that advantage, the network didn't feel it rated strongly enough to continue and has finally pulled the plug.

The story, however, is set to a large and clearly final conclusion (according to reports and rumors), so hopefully it will still feel satisfying for folk who have been following the against-all-odds couple of Cat and Vince.

The series finale episode is titled "Au Revoir" and the plot is teased as:
Vincent and Catherine will be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to stop an attack and rid the world of beast makers once and for all. 
It's a tribute to the popularity of the concept and fairy tale source that this underdog series survived as long as it did. Although seeming to suffer from inconsistencies of writing and plot from time to time, the show did attempt to explore some of the themes in the original fairy tale and find their own contemporary "solutions" or outcomes to the inherent issues of such a couple (woman and beast-man) existing in this age.

We're going to wait to catch up until we can see it as a whole, to perhaps follow some of those themes and ideas through in their development and ultimate resolution, but in the meantime, even though it's not a show for everyone, it is bittersweet to see a TV series with a fairy tale-based idea, come to its conclusion. (You can currently "begin the binge" via Netflix.)

It won't be the only fairy tale show we'll be saying goodbye to in the coming months so this is the beginning of the end of an interesting era, in which regular people around the globe were discussing fairy tale plots and ideas via social media and creating fanfics (writing their own versions and developments of the stories and characters, ie. fan fictions), delving much deeper than the show did into some of those ancient roots.

In the meantime, we're back in a fantasy feature film golden era once again, even if most of them are reboots of old material (ahem - Disney), the best part being that many of those are fairy tales as well. While we've done our fair share of complaining of the lack of fresh material, it is wonderful to have new fairy tale films, of this time, (many surprisingly better than expected) to share with families and watch the responding social media and commercial trends. We haven't had that since the 80's, which isn't a complete coincidence. There are an amazing number of parallels between the eighties and the mid-twenties both in terms of pop culture (including entertainment) and popular concerns. The parallels even extend to the volume of fairy tale publishing in both fiction and scholarly texts. It's a pretty great time to be interested in fairy tales! (Someone should do a study...)

Following this Beauty and the Beast incarnation is the one everyone is waiting for: the Disney live action reboot, with Emma Watson as Belle, so B&tB fairy tale fans are a little distracted by the upcoming shiny to mourn too much at this point. What happens after that, since the Christophe Gans Beauty & the Beast is available for purchase and the TV series is done, remains to be seen. We've had a plethora of B&tB themed shows in the form of vampires, werewolves and other beasts so public preference for fairy tales may turn elsewhere for a spell (we have money on The Little Mermaid...), though there are bound to be ideas pitched to cash in on the popularity of the Disney blockbuster once those expected numbers are confirmed. It all depends on the numbers. And the climate. Who knows where the world's attention and cultural temperature will be in March 2017 when the next B&tB fix is released? I do look forward to watching which fairy tale rises back into the spotlight next...

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