May 13, 2016

Eerie, Indiana: Omri Katz, Paranormal Investigator

Israeli actor Omri Katz played J.R.'s son on Dallas (seen here hugging his gay-vague nanny, played by Christopher Atkins), and a scientist's son zapped into a world of sentient dinosaurs in Adventures in Dinosaur City.  But he's probably most famous for the gay-vague classic Eerie Indiana (1991-92).

It lasted for only 17 episodes (plus an eight-episode spin-off starring Daniel Clark), but it is still remembered and discussed by fans.  One of the first of the teen-paranormal series of the 1990s, it drew on Twin Peaks (1990-1991) to depict a small town with an overarching mystery to be solved, with minor mysteries along the way.

Marshall Teller (Omri) moves with his parents to a small town in Indiana where weird things happen.  Tupperware containers keep you alive forever. Time stops.  ATMs aren't what they seem. There's a tornado every year on the same date.

A world full of bizarre events, where everyone has a secret agenda and nothing is what it seems?  That's the life of every kid, of course, but it also reflects the journey of gay boys as they try to negotiate the mine-field of adult heterosexism, the constant "What girl do you like?" and "You'll meet a girl someday."

Marshall pairs up with local kid Simon Holmes (11-year old Justin Shenkarow) to investigate. They are often assisted by mysterious grayhaired boy, who has no name and no memory of his past, but calls himself Dash X (16-year old Jason Marsden, right).  But more often he has a hidden agenda of his own.

There were few girl-crazy plotlines -- neither Simon nor Dash X so much as glances at a girl -- but there's lots of captures and daring rescues.  However, Marshall remains just a close friend with Simon, while he is quite obviously attracted to the infuriating, mysterious, powerful yet somehow vulnerable Dash X.  If they had more time, the two might have fallen in love.  Unfortunately, the series ended before they could unravel the mystery or develop the homoromance, leaving viewers with more questions than answers

After the excellent "things are not what they seem" Pleasantville (1993), the Halloween comedy Hocus Pocus (1993), and a tv movie, Omri Katz moved to Israel, where he appeared occasionally in short films (which sometimes feature nudity), including the gay-themed Journey into Night (2002).  He now works as a hairdresser in Los Angeles.

Justin Shenkarow remains an actor and producer with credits in Home Improvement, Picket Fences, W.I.T.C.H., and Aliens in America.