"Game of Thrones" isn't George R.R. Martin's first fantasy saga on television

Illustration for article titled Game of Thrones isnt George R.R. Martins first fantasy saga on television

We're all dying to see Game of Thrones brought to our television screens next year — but it's not George R.R. Martin's first foray into televised fantasy. In the late 1980s, he was a producer/writer on Beauty and the Beast.


The television show, which ran from 1987 to 1991, featured Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton as the titular couple in then-present day New York. Vincent, the Beast, lived under the city in a subterranean area under the city's tunnels, and Hamilton's character was an assistant district attorney with the city. And Martin wrote a ton of the show's scripts, including some pivotal episodes. And true to Martin's form in the Song of Ice and Fire books, he wasn't afraid to explore the darkness of human nature — or kill off pivotal characters. Beauty and the Beast was a landmark show in the development of urban fantasy on television, and a precursor to shows like Buffy and Angel.

Martin had already worked on The New Twilight Zone prior to that. Asked about the show by Elder Gods Rave, Martin said:

It was just so beautifully done. I looked at he pilot, [creator Ron] Koslow had filmed the pilot already, and he sent it to me, and it was a quality series. If you work in television, you want to work for Hill Street Blues, not Three's Company. And you want to be associated with the highest quality of material, and I could tell looking at this that it looked beautiful, it was well directed, it was well written, the actors were superb, and I said this is the kind of show I want to do. And there was the fantasy element, of course. Koslow was also very generous. He had had the initial vision, but there was still a lot of room to create; for the other writers to add things to that vision, and not not just be executing his vision but to make their own contribution. And I appreciated that.


He told that interviewer his favorite episode was "Brothers," which certainly contains some classic Martin dialogue, like the following:

Vincent: When I walk the city streets, I wear a cloak with a hood to shadow my face.

Charles: But your face is-

Vincent: A mirror, like yours. Where frightened men see the shape of their own fears, and small men see only ugliness.

And then this exchange, later in the episode:

Vincent: When I was young, I only knew these tunnels. I would hear the other children talk about the world Above and all its wonders. I wanted to see them too. So one night, Devin took me up to the park. The lights went on forever and the night was full of sounds and smells and music, so much so that it made me dizzy. When I looked up ...

Charles: Was it an airplane?

Vincent: No. It was the moon. It was the most magical thing I had ever seen. I was afraid that if I looked away for a second that it would vanish and I would never see it again.


Here's one of the episodes Martin wrote, "Terrible Saviour":

In the book Dreamsongs, Volume 2, Martin adds:

The show was twice nominated for an Emmy Award as Best Dramatic Series. I wrote and produced thirteen episodes, did uncredited rewrites on a score of others, and had a finger in everything from casting and budgeting to post-production.


Sadly, Martin's attempts to pitch his own TV show after BatB died were unsuccessful, including a stint in development hell with a universe-hopping show called Doorways. He told Maureen Ryan that his frustrations in Hollywood were part of what drove him to create the A Song of Ice and Fire series in the first place:

My scripts were always too long, they were always too expensive. I was always having to cut them. So when I went back to books, I said, 'I don't care about any of that any more. I'm going to write a story that's going to be as gigantic a story as I want. I'm going to have hundreds of characters, gigantic battles, magnificent castles and vistas — all the things I couldn't do in television.'


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I remember when this show ran on Si-Fi channel in the mid-90s. It was usually a signal that a show that I actually wanted to watch was over. Keep in mind that I was 9.

Also: Did the success of this show play a part in Disney's decision to make their Beauty and the Beast? Were their fans of the TV show that were just a tad miffed that the show ended, just as the Disney movie came out to taunt them?