Oct 22, 2012

Jerry O'Connell's Secret Identity

During the late 1980s, the conservative political atmosphere resurrected the old "I've Got a Secret" sitcom genre of the 1960s (Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Mr. Ed, My Favorite Martian).  Nuclear families were harboring a child-robot (Small Wonder, 1985-1989), wisecracking aliens (Alf, 1986-1990), and a Bigfoot (Harry and the Hendersons, 1991-1993).  Kids were aliens (Out of this World, 1987-1991), superheroes (My Secret Identity, 1988-91), and spies (The New Adventures of Beans Baxter, 1987-88).  Not surprisingly, many of them featured gay subtexts.


My Secret Identity starred Jerry O'Connell, aged 14 to 16, no longer the chubby, buzzcut kid of Stand by Me (1986), but getting noticeably taller and more muscular before our eyes.










Until by the final season, he had become a teen hunk,  ready for shirtless roles in Calendar Girl (1993) and Sliders (1995-2000).









One episode even involves him becoming a media sensation after he is photographed in his underwear.






His character, Andrew Clement, was accidentally zapped with a photon beam in the lab of his scientist friend, Dr. Benjamin Jeffcoate (Derek McGrath), giving him an unknown number of unpredictable superpowers.  Plots involved learning to use and misuse his powers, plus the standard evil teachers, bratty little sister, bullies, sports teams, and dating -- but not a lot of dating.  Only 7 episodes out of 72 involve Andrew being in love with some girl.





Instead, in the second season, Kirk (Christopher Bolton) comes to town, and the two display an instant, stammering, tongue-lolling attraction (so as to not make it obvious that they have fallen in love at first sight, the script makes them old friends who are reuniting).

They are inseparable for the remainder of the series, taking jobs together, working on sports and hobbies, breaking up and reconciling.  And more than once, Kirk requires rescue, leading to a "my hero" moment.