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View From the Couch

Beauty and the Beast: The Second Season; If....

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BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: THE SECOND SEASON (1988-1989). More a cult hit than an out-and-out ratings success, CBS' offbeat prime-time offering was deemed worthy enough to be brought back for another season, a move that resulted in a second straight Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Drama Series as well as nods for stars Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman. Building on the spiritual love between Catherine Chandler, an assistant district attorney in New York, and Vincent, an underground dweller with leonine features and a poetic soul, the second season also examines various challenges that confront the pair, including Catherine's trip to the West Coast, Vincent's ongoing battle with the villainous Paracelcus (Tony Jay), and, in the season's cliffhanging episodes, Vincent's struggle to control his violent animal nature.

DVD extras in this six-disc, 22-episode set include video introductions by Hamilton and Perlman on six episodes, and previews for other TV shows on DVD.

Season: ***

Extras: *1/2

IF.... (1968). A key British film of the 1960s, this grand prize winner at the Cannes Film Festival has retained its topicality over the decades, as its story about rebellious students who turn to violence as a last resort maintains a spooky resonance in the Columbine era. Immediately controversial upon its release, Lindsay Anderson's biting picture stars Malcolm McDowell as Mick Travis, among the more maverick students attending a repressive all-boys boarding school in England. The administrators and professors are largely clueless about the state of affairs at the institute, placing all the power in the hands of a small band of seniors who lord over their fellow students by treating them as slaves and whipping them for even the smallest of transgressions. Mick and his two mates (David Wood and Richard Warwick) prove to be the most anarchic of all the lads, meaning that they're the ones constantly singled out for the strongest abuse. If.... made a star out of McDowell and served as a launching pad for many others: Assistant director Stephen Frears later emerged as a renowned director (The Queen, Dangerous Liaisons), assistant director Stuart Baird became an accomplished film editor (Superman, Casino Royale), and camera operator Chris Menges eventually copped two Oscars as a cinematographer (The Killing Fields, The Mission).

Extras in the two-disc DVD edition include audio commentary by McDowell and film historian David Robinson, an episode of the Scottish TV series Cast and Crew featuring interviews with McDowell, screenwriter David Sherwin and others, and Anderson's 1954 film Thursday's Children, a Best Documentary Short Subject Oscar winner (narrated by Richard Burton) about a school for deaf kids.

Movie: ***1/2

Extras: ***

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