Jan 24, 2020

"October Faction": Elderly Dad, Gay Son, and Monsters

October Faction: "Monster hunters Fred and Delores tangle with evil -- and family drama."

IMDB specifies that Fred's family includes "a thrill killer, a witch, and a warlock."

Sounds like Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets The Wizards of Waverly Place.  But the title card on Netflix looks creepy and atmospheric, reminiscent of Ray Bradbury's October Country. So I turn on the first episode.

Episode #1: "The Presidio."  Presumably they mean the Presidio in San Francisco.  Maybe there will be some location shots in the Castro.

Scene 1: An extremely elderly, dessicated man is talking on the telephone. I assume he's one of the monsters, maybe a vampire who hasn't had a blood infusion in awhile, like the Barnabas aging to his real 178 years on Dark Shadows.

A much younger woman -- his Renfrew? --  hugs him from behind, and smooches him -- very loud, theatrical, producing a literal "smooch" sound.

Ugh!  Intergenerational vampire-human heterosexism! Next!

Then I read an article about how the teenage son (played by Gabriel Darku, top photo) is "out and proud," so I give it another chance.

Scene 1: The extremely elderly, dessicated man is actually the monster hunter himself, Fred Allen (named after the 1940s radio star?) , played by J.C. MacKenzie, who is actually only 49.  Whoa, I would have guessed 97!  No doubt he'll be getting some age-regenerating treatment, or maybe touch up the portrait hidden in the attic.

Fred and his wife Delores (Tamara Taylor) work for a multinational monster-hunting initiative disguised as an insurance agency.    For the last few monthes they've been living in Osaka with their twin teenage children:

effervescent, pop-culture-quoting Geoff (pronounced "Jeff") and morose "life is unrelenting agony" Wednesday Addams Viv (Maggie Allen).

The phone call brought news of the death of Fred's father, Samuel (what was he, 150?), so the family must go back home to Barrington-on-Hudson (how old money is that?) for the funeral.

Scene 2: Ham-handed exposition in the car ("You're a straight-A student, but you find it difficult to relate to other people, and have no friends.").

Scene 3: They stop for gas and are angrily turned away.  "She isn't welcome here," the owner says, pointing to Delores.  I assume because she's a vampire or sentinel of dark forces or something -- no, she's black.  He doesn't sell gas to black people.  In New England in 2020?  Is that plausible?  It's not all about burning crosses, you know.  How about some nice subtle microaggressions?

Scene 4: Fred's ancestral home is an absurdly huge Gothic mansion, like Collinwood on steroids (yes, this show reminds me a lot of Dark Shadows)) , dank and gloomy, full of horrid, disquieting features like claw marks on the walls and a photograph of President George W. Bush (shudder) shaking hands with his father.

Seeing the old homestead, Fred flashes-back to the Roaring Twenties, or whenever he was a teenager (played by Charles Vandervaart).  He returns from visiting his brother Seth in the city, dazed, bloody, gun in hand, while his parents yell "What happened? Where is Seth?"

Scene 5:  Estate manager Sandra St. Clair (or something snooty like that) doesn't remember Delores from when they were both in high school; therefore, the show screams, she is racist, too.

Class of 1987: Delores must be about 50. I still think Fred is much older. He must have been about 80  when they married.

Scene 6:  Flashback to Fred's parents disapproving of his relationship with Delores because she's black...er, um, not good enough for the Presidio, which I assume is a mystical Skull-and-Bones Illuminati Trilateral Commission responsible for keeping Atlantis off the maps and Martians under wraps.

Scene 7: Back in the present, Fred and Delores start wrapping up the techno-weapons and surveillance equipment, uploading all of Dad's  intel to the New York office, and informing headquarters that Agent Samuel is dead.  The Boss re-assigns them to Oslo, where lots of hot-spots are opening.

Well, that was unexpected.  Apparently the Presidio is the monster-fighting club, and Dad was an agent, too.  Why does it need such top secret spy stuff?

I'm getting bored, so I fast-forward past:

Scene 8: Jawboning about Fred's "complex" relationship with Dad.
Scene 9: The funeral, all rich white people in suits.
Scene 10: At the post-funeral party, Delores runs into her best friend from high school.
Scene 11: Viv tries to break into the clique of snooty local teens, and is rebuffed; one guy rushes off in anger -- racism again?

I'm back for:

Scene 12: Nope.  He's Phil Mishra (Praneet Akilla), the future mayor's son.  Fred introduces them both to Geoff, and they're perfectly nice.  (Wait -- if they've been gone since 1987, how does Fred know Phil?)

Phil says "Swell party, huh?"  When was the last time anyone said "swell"?  1953?

Scene 13:  Fred and Delores head into town to buy more supplies for the post-funeral party.  At a grocery store, they smell sulfur and copper -- a monster is nearby!  And they don't have their monster-fighting gear! So they wing it.

The monster begs for his life: He used to be in advertising (figures).  He wrote the jingle for J Money's Pink Lemonade.  Plus he's got a wife. 

Right, I've heard that a thousand times.  Heterosexist garbage.  I got a wife, I'm worth something, let me go.

But Fred blasts him anyway, and Delores goes after the monster-wife.

Scene 14: Back at the mausoleum...um, I mean mansion..Viv tries to bond with the snooty teens by leading them in a seance to contact Dead Grandpa.

But they barely knew the business associate of their grandparents.  Couldn't she try for someone cool, like James Dean?

Scene 15:  In the kitchen, Geoff and Phil hook up.  I'm glad they didn't wait until episode #8 to out him.

But the blow job ends with the ghost of a 1950s teenager appears.  Seth, no doubt.  He's played by Donald MacLean Jr. (no relation to the guy who sang "American Pie") in all his square-jawed blond Harvard Yard beauty.

Scene 16:  As Viv continues the seance, a young woman with matted hair climbs out of the river.

That was unexpected.

In spite of the ham-handed exposition and grade-school racism-clobbering, there are some intriguing plot twists.  I'll probably keep watching.

Beefcake:  No one unbuttons a button.

Interesting Location Shots:  No.  I don't think they shot a single scene in the picturesque but racist New England town.

Gay Characters: Geoff and Phil.  Maybe Seth, but probably the dead girl is his girlfriend.

My grade:B.


  1. Maybe it's where Lovecraft grew up?

    But you'd be surprised by the degree of racism out there. Rich people can afford tricks, e.g. gated communities, discriminating based on ZIP code. And TBH I think that's why MAGAts are given disproportionate air time, to show that bigots are only poor while buying black babies is a Hollywood trend.

    Hell, even in the gay community, "no chocolate, no rice" is acceptable, but refusing to hook up with someone with an STD isn't.

    1. In a later episode, we discover that Gas Station Guy, aka Basil, and Delores were best friends in high school. Her actions cause him to go to prison for two years, so he's holding a grudge. But in the scene, nobody gives any indication that they know each other. For some reason the director ("Director X") wants us to conclude "racism."


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