Knight at HOME at the Movies
GAY TV IS GOOD TV...
...at least in the "good lookin'" and "guilty pleasure" department as these hot new DVD picks prove.
How different it must be, surely, I think from time to time, to be growing up gay in
America now as opposed to even 10 years ago. A generation stunned by the
“frankness” of “Ellen” timidly announcing she was gay and the initial audacity of “Will
& Grace” on network television was not long after eclipsed by the raw cable Gay-In-
Your-Face dramas “Queer as Folk” and “The L Word.” But now, with the inception of
gay cable channels Here! and Logo and the already gone down in flames QTN, gay-
themed television has finally reached a point that the movies are still dreaming of.
Being gay in these new TV series is a given and in some cases, beside the point.
The point with these shows, Noah’s Arc, Dante’s Cove, and Third Man Out, is to
commodify the time tested formulas of their gay channels network grandparents. All
the better to replicate the large ratings and potential advertising dollars of their
elders. And why not? What could possibly be more tantalizing than to see the
television formats that we all grew up replayed with the delicious simple twist of
casting gay characters in the foreground instead of shuttled off to the side.
Perhaps the most exciting of the new series is the self-proclaimed “Sex & The City”
meets “Soul Food” dramedy, Noah’s Arc. Now Logo, the show’s network, brings us
the first season of the groundbreaking show – the first African/American gay sitcom.
Logo’s description of the show is apt – with each of the four characters easily
identified as male counterparts of the “Sex & the City” gals. Led by Noah, a nascent
screenwriter in LA, the quartet have had their relationship ups and downs throughout
the show’s first season and wisely, the producers have included a maximum of
hunky eye candy and sex scenes in each episode as each character learns yet
another “life lesson.” Aside from the episodes (which includes a branching feature
that leads to a lot of fun and more sexy deleted scenes), spread out over two discs,
there’s a third disc that gives us the unaired pilot and a collection of the deleted
scenes. The cast and creators also provide commentary on various episodes. A
second season is about to get underway and is eagerly anticipated.
A second season of Dante’s Cove on Here! TV is also highly anticipated – or the
eventual release of the sophomore effort on DVD as the channel isn’t offered in my
neighborhood. And based on the evidence in Regent Entertainment’s 2-disc
Dante's Cove: Season 1 set, the wait will be worth it. The cover says it all,
loudly proclaiming the slogan “Your Newest Guilty Pleasure” between the photo of
the show’s two hunky stars, which include out gay actor Charlie David. These are
actually feature length TV films (there are two episodes) and boy is this a case of
truth in packaging. Dante’s Cove may be the dumbest, funnest, guiltiest pleasure I’
ve had the pleasure to endure since laughing through Adored, the gay Italian flick
out from Wolf Video a few years back.
The show has been described as a cross between the cheesy gothic soap opera
“Dark Shadows” and the cheesy young narcissists in heat “Melrose Place” and these
descriptions are apt. All the shapely residents of the sea coastal Dante’s Cove Hotel
where the action takes place are gay, bisexual, lesbian or straight and all have
spectacular bodies. The men, it seems, are banned from wearing shirts except when
the temperature dips below 75 degrees (which apparently, it never does) and
everyone is required to be part of the dumb dumb supernatural plot and occasional
emotional smash ups between the sex scenes which come like clock work (along with
the cast) every ten minutes or so. The acting is on a par with Showgirls but who
cares with a cast this hot? This is like a gay Baywatch but the addition of the reborn
Barnabas and Angelique type characters, warring with each other, is much more
compelling than the typical surfer stuff. Plus the damn thing looks great (the lush
photography is courtesy of the show’s Caribbean island locations).
Finally, another great find is Third Man Out, another release from Regent. This is
the first of a series of feature length shows (ala "Columbo") again for Here! TV that
focus on a fictional gay detective Donald Strachey (Chad Allen) who between working
on his cases, finds time to strut around shirtless in his boxers (no complaints) while
catching up with his lover and housemate, Timmy. The disc includes a making of
featurette in which the gay director Ron Oliver says that he was looking for a Nick
and Nora type relationship between the two but though the banter of Timmy and
Donald never quite comes close to Powell & Loy heights, they make a cute couple
(though the cliché of the butch lesbian rehabbing their house I could have done
The story itself – which revolves around a strident gay activist so hated for outing
closeted big shots in Albany (Albany?!) New York that someone wants to murder him
– isn’t much and Donald isn’t the cagiest of private dicks. But though the script is
weak, some of the acting wooden (to say the least) and the film noir conventions
that the director wants to emulate out of place, Allen is a very winning actor (note his
work in the recent feature End of the Spear) who effortlessly carries the show/feature
on his shoulders. And again, a show with a gay detective in the lead is a long, long
way from the aforementioned Columbo, or too many too mention forgettable
straight dicks. I look forward to further adventures of Strachey and company –
thorns and all.