Dec 12, 2020

"The Innocents": Two Episodes, Four Stories, 14 Names, and 11 Hunks


The Innocents is a British tv series about "teeange lovers" who run away from home because their parents disapprove of their true love, only to find that the girl has supernatural powers.  Sounds immensely heterosexist, but a review said something about a "gay best friend." 

 I decide to watch Episode 3, "Bubblegum and Bleach," in which a "friendly stranger" offers the duo a place to stay and a job.  The stranger is played by Andrew Lee Potts, who I think is gay.  Maybe he's the "gay best friend."

Whoops. this is impossible! I only got through 20 minutes before giving up on the five convoluted storylines:  

1. Harry and June running away from the bad guys who are chasing them because June has special powers: she turns into a burly guy at random intervals.

2. Burly Guy and his buddy in a van in Norway.

3. A therapy center in Scotland where they treat shapeshifters, including June's Mum Elena, who doesn't know that June is a shapeshifter.  But June doesn't know where Elena is, so they're even.

4. Christine, a police officer looking for Harry and June  then going back to headquarters to argue with her boss, who is retiring.  

5. Two guys hugging by the side of the road, saying "I can't go on!" and "We have to find June!"

And so many names! Harry, June, Runa, Ben, Elena, Sigrid, John, Ryan, Christine, Doug, all in the first 20 minutes.  

I'll try Episode 1

Scene 1: Burly Guy being chased through a mountainous countryside.  He reaches a cliff, flashes back to bad stuff, and plans to jump off, but his friend Ben tackles him and asks "What happened up there?"

Cut to an examination room. Behind a window, Ben asks why Burly Guy wanted to jump.  He explains: he wanted to go through with Steiner's plans, but "the thought of June coming here made me so angry about what I lost."

Ben reassures him: "We're helping people here.  We're building a new family, my love."

My love?  They must be a gay couple.

Wait -- there's a mirror next to Burly Guy, displaying a woman.  So Burly Guy is a woman in a man's body, sort of transgender?

Suddenly Burly Guy convulses and turns into the woman, Ruma.  But Burly Guy is sitting right next to Ben.  What the heck is going on?

Ben explains how much he loves Ruma.  "I'm not going to lose you.  I can't."

So he wants to make the change from Burly Guy to Ruma permanent?  

I think these people are all heterosexual, and trying desperately to get the bodies of their partners back to the "proper" male-female configuration.

Heck with this. Let's skip to the beefcake.

The Van in Norway

1. Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson as Burly Guy/Steiner

2. Trond Fausa as Alf, who I think is Burly Guy's friend who helps him out of the van in Norway and asks "What's going on?"

The Therapy Center in Scotland

3. Guy Pearce as Ben the Therapist, who runs a therapy center to keep shapeshifters in their "right" bodies.  Sort of like shapeshifter conversion therapy?

The Guys Hugging By the Side of the Road

4. Sam Hazeldine as John, of whom June says: "I can't believe he didn't tell us that he knew where my mother was."  Wikipedia: he is June's father.

5. Arthur Hughes as Ryan, of whom Harry says "We have to go back to the flat and get the cash card that Ryan gave us," but June protests: "It's too dangerous."  According to a news article, Arthur Hughes has a "rare disability" affecting his right arm, but that hasn't stopped him from getting roles.  When he got the part, they just wrote his disability into the script.

Wikipedia: he is June's brother.

The Cops Looking for Harry and June and Having Their Own Adventures

6. Jason Done as Doug, the boss of Christine, the police officer searching for the runaway teens.  He's retiring, and there's a big row about other cases that have nothing to do with anything.  I felt like i had accidentally bumped the channel into another series.

7. Kamil Lemieszewski as Kevin, Christine's partner

Harry and June, The Teenage Runaways

8. Percelle Ascott (quite a name!) as Harry.  I had a choice of displaying his arms or his face.  

9. Philip Wright as Harry's father.

10. Andrew Koji as the boyfriend of a shapeshifting girl befriended by Harry and June.

11. Andrew Lee Potts as a hippie drug dealer who gives the two minors jobs delivering Ecstasy tablets in a nightclub.  Well, at least he doesn't try to have sex with them.

Dec 11, 2020

Groupers: Two Straight Guys Have to Choose to Be Gay in Sixty Minutes or Less


Amazon Prime is recommending the "gay film" Groupers (2019)

It starts with a definition: Grouper: Someone who changes their gender or sexual orientation later in life.

You can't change your sexual orientation.  It's permanent.  I already have a bad feeling about this movie.

Scene 1: A run-down bar full of sleazoid types.  Looks like all guys, so it must be a gay bar.  Nope-- there's one woman.  Two drunk boys, Brad and Dylan, are making unwelcome advances at her.  They follow her out to her van.  She pushes them inside and speeds off.

No beefcake shots of the actors, who have very few previous credits.  This is a random hunk.

When they arrive at their destination, Meg gasses them.

You dope, they're already drugged.  What more do you want?

Scene 2:  Meg gets up the next morning and goes out to an empty swimming pool, where the guys are tied up facing each other.  She explains: they spend a couple of years torturing a gay kid named Orrin, and he finally attempted suicide.  She asks "Do you think you choose to be gay?"  They answer "Of course."  Everybody starts out straight, but some people decide to change.  Why would you choose a pathway that's going to get you screamed at from pulpits, lobbied against in Congress, that will make your parents disown you and keep you from getting a good job, if you're not beat up or murdered?  

She's going to test their belief.  Their cocks are connected; they have to both get aroused at the same time, while looking at each other, to demonstrate that they have chosen to become gay. 

Flawed experiment -- you can get aroused for lots of reasons, especially when you are a teenager.  And if they do get aroused by each other, it doesn't mean that they decided to be gay.  They've always been gay or bi; they just suppressed it.

Dylan gets aroused immediately; he explains that it always happens when he's scared.  Brad freaks out: "Your dick is touching my dick!  Are you a fag?"

Megan says: "You have an hour to choose to be attracted to each other."  If they don't, she will release some sexy photos she took of them while they were unconscious.

Ok, I've had enough of this spittle.  It was written by Anderson Cowan, a radio engineer at a tv station in California who has made some short films, like Everybody Dies.  His qualifications: he friends.  

I got black friends, but I would never dream of  writing and directing a movie about African-Americans experiencing institutional racism.  I would never get it right, and why am I qualified?  White privilege?   Hear that, straight guy with gay friends?  

Dec 10, 2020

Being Erica: Canadian Time Travel Series with Cute Guys but No Canada

Yesterday I analyzed gay representation on ten "tv shows we think you'll like" on Amazon Prime, and Being Erica got the most points.  Plus it's got time travel.  So I watched the first episode.   

Scene 1: On the way to work in downtown Toronto, Erica tells us that she's a screw-up: 32 years old, with an MBA but a series of dead-end jobs, attractive but unable to land a husband.  The reason for her failure at the heterosexist trajectory: bad decisions.  

She goes to her cubicle and starts answering calls.  Suddenly the boss fires her for being "too smart."

That happened to me a lot, too.. "You're overqualified for this job!  We're really looking for someone stupid."

Scene 2:
Erica wants to hang out with her friend Vinessa, but she's busy -- got a meeting.  Successful, you know.  I'll bet she landed a husband, too.  They discuss Erica's date tonight with a nice, stable dentist -- Erica's not into him becauss she's still hung up on Noah  LaFleur (Chris Gallinger) from high school.

After 14 years?  That may be your problem!

Scene 3:  Erica getting dressed for her date. Gratiutious body shot!  Yuck!  Then the guy  (James A. Woods, top photo, a Canadian actor, no relation to James Woods) cancels because he hasn't been to the gym in two weeks and feels out of shape,

Two weeks?  If I miss two days, I get antsy.

Fired, dumped, and then rained on.  Worst day ever, right?

Not yet.  Erica seeks refuge in a coffee shop and takes a sample of a new mocha drink -- which turns out to have nuts in it! She collapses.

Scene 4: The mysterious Dr. Tom (Michael Riley) visits Erica in the hospital and commiserates with her, isn't it a terrible tragedy to be 32 years old with no husband or kids!  She's an utter failure as a woman and a human being, but he can help.  He leaves her with his card.  

This episode was written by Jana Sinyor and directed by Holly Dale.  Two women who apparently haven't heard the news: we had Women's Liberation 60 years ago.  You've come a long way, baby.   Your self-worth no longer depends on whether or not you have a husband. .  

Scene 5: 
Erica is recuperating in her old room in her parents' house, looking at all the photographs on her bedroom wall of her friends smooching with men and surrounded by  kids.  Some of those kids are teeangers.  When did Erica leave home?

Vinessa, an aunt and uncle, Erica's sister younger Samantha, and her husband Josh (Adam MacDonald) come by for a "get well" brunch.  It was just an allergic reaction.  How much recuperation does she need?  

They rub their various careers in Erica's face: investment banker!  surgeon!  "And Erica, dear, what job do you have now?"  Then their various relationships: "What about that dentist you were dating?  He's succcessful -- you should land him!"  Finally Erica can't take it anymore and blows up at them.

Scene 6: Erica leaves, still in her pajamas, and wanders through suburban Toronto. She somehow appears at the house where Dr. Tom has his practice. The receptionist points her up a scary circular staircase. 

Dr. Tom has a gigantic portrait of Sigmund Freud behind his desk, and has the annoying habit of speaking in quotations (and then giving you the author). 

He asks Erica to write down all of the bad choices she has made in her life, and they'll work on them.  She writes down dozens.  This reminds me of the Peanuts strip where Lucy offers to write down all of Charlie Brown's faults.  "Get a piece of paper, fold it in half so you have columns, and number 1 to 50.  Then turn to the back and number 51 to 100.  You'd beter label this page A.  We'll need several more.

First up: high school Harvest Dance.  She got drunk and passed out on the dance floor.  Afterwards her boyfriend Noah broke up with her, and the other kids shunned her, labeling her a "slut."  But isn't drinkin acceptable among high school kids?  And doesn't "slut" mean something else?

Dr. Tom pressures her into making a commitment: "Do you want to change your life or not?"  I'm smelling con artist.  Legitimate life coaches let you think it over.  But Erica says "Yes!"

Scene 7:
Zap!  She's 17 again, back in high school, but with her memories intact. Won't being freaked out ruin her day? She freaks out with best friend and then the yearbook editor, Mr. Leeds (Mark Hildreth, no beefcake photos). 

At home, she acts bizarre with Dad, the Young Samantha, and Young Samantha's boyfriend, the Young Josh (John McGill).  Finally she concludes that Mr. Tom sent her there to correct the Harvest Dance mistake.  If she succeeds, she'll go home.

This is probably not the same John McGill.  It's just difficult to find beefcake photos of actors who have appeared in nothing else and have the same name as 35,000 other people.

Scene 8: Morning.  Erica helps Dad fix his old-fashioned computer (like 1970s vintage). Brother Leo (Devon Bostick), who apparently has died since, appears. Erica makes a scene by dramatically hugging him.

Out on the street, Mr. Tom appears as a hot dog vendor..  Erica yells at him: "I didn't sign up for this!  I want out!"  He insults her.

Then she argues that fixing her mistake will change everything.  Butterfly Effect?  He assures her that changing her life will have no impact on world events.

Scene 9:  Erica goes to school and makes out with Noah in front of staring students. 

That night, Erica is getting ready, trying to shave her legs, when Samantha's boyfriend accidently bursts into her room. This will be important later.

Scene 10:  Erica and Noah are making out in a parked car.  She tries to give him a blow job, but he resists; he's not ready to have sex yet.   She starts talking crazy; he leaves.

Scene 11: The dance.  All the couples seem to be boy-girl.  Erica's friends tell her about a rumor that she pleasures herself with a vibrator (based on what the boyfriend saw, no doubt).  I see where this is going; you can't change the past.  Remember the men who tried to kill HItler?

Noah comes in, accuses her of being a skank, and loudly breaks up with her.

Scene 12: Erica rushes out to the hot dog cart and yells at Dr. Tom that she's making the same mistakes again -- you can't change the past.  She wants to go home.  Dr. Tom says "You're right where you need to be."  New Age BS

Scene 13: Back in the school, the girls grab Erica to drink vodka.  She refuses, and they yell at her for ruining the dance.  So you're screwed if you drink, and screwed if you don't drink.  Welcome to high school.

Scene 14: Big mess.  One of the girls overdoses, and pulls of Erica's top.  Undaunted, she rushes into the dance to ask for help.  Now everybody thinks she's a skank!  The girl has to be taken away in an ambulance, and it's Erica's fault for some reason.  

Distraught, she confides in Yearbook Editor Mr.  Leeds: "I'm a 32-year old woman in a 16-year old body!"  She came here to fix her mistake, but screwed up.

But he's perfectly ok with the time travel thing.  "You didn't screw up.  You did what you had to do to get your friend some help.  You didn't care what anyone else thought of you."

Scene 15:
Whoosh!  Erica waks up at home. She rushes back to the therapist's house, but it's not there anymore.  But Dr. Tom shows up and tells her the moral of the adventure: don't worry about other people's opinions of you.  Do what you think is right.

Is this an After School Special?  The more you know....

Beefcake:  Cute guys everywhere, but nobody takes their clothes off, except Erica. Most of the guys appear only in this episode, anyway, but there are hunky regulars coming up, like Morgan Kelly and Adam Fergus (left).

Other Sights: No.

Canada: Disappointingly generic, no Canadian references except for one establishing shot of downtown Toronto.

Dr. Tom: Annoying.  I really want to smack this guy for his holier-than-thou attitude.  Maybe he's an angel, and therefore literally holy.  But still...

Sexism:  Women are worthless unless they have a man!  Oh, and a high-power career, too, as an afterthought.

Gay characters: No. "Uncle Ruby" appears in only two episodes, and the two gay guys won't show up until a nice, safe Season Two.

Will I Keep Watching: Probably.  In spite of its numerous faults, it was fun to watch.

Dec 9, 2020

The Gay Representation Game on Amazon Prime


Time for another game of  Gay Representation on Amazon Prime.  Here's how it works: 

I go through the list of Amazon Prime's "TV Shows We Think You'll Like," skipping ones that I've seen or that are more than ten years old.  

If I can read the blurb without running across "after his wife dies/is kidnapped" (drama) or "the girl of his dreams" (comedy),  1 point

Episode list (if there is one), 1 point

 Plot synopsis on Wikipedia, 1 point.

Gay character in any of those places, 1 point.


1. Plebs.  Three young men in a modern-storic Ancient Rome, working about jobs and "getting laid."   Episode 1: Two attractive women move in next door.  Score: 1

2. Life in Pieces. 
The "hilarious" adventures of one eccentric family, starring James Brolin and Colin Hanks.  So, like Modern Family, without Cam and Mitchell?  In Episode 5, Tyler brings "his gorgeous new girlfriend" to meet the family. Gorgeous to whom?  Heterosexual male gaze.  Score: 2

3. The Green Room.  Sounds like stand-up, but it specifies "a scripted comedy" about a medical marijuana dispensary. 5 episodes, each 15 minutes long.  No wikipedia synopsis, and trying to google "The Green Room" and "gay" yields lots of real-life green rooms (the room where you wait to perform). Score: 2

4. The Weekend Warriors
. Mitchell films his friends' "hilarious" shenanigans.  They play poker, go kickboxing, go to a bachelor party, a barbecue, the zoo.  Tell me this is a scripted series, not some amateur home movies!  No wikipedia page, no review online except for the Amazon reviews which say "offensive humor."  I'm going to guess no gay representation, and probably homophobic jokes. Score: 2.

5. The Family Man.  A "family man" is a man who has reproduced, and therefore is more moral, upright, stable, and just plain better than the rest of us.  He's had sex with a woman -- big deal.  Why does tha make him so darn holy?  In this case, the Family Man (Wasim Khan) works as a secret agent or something.  He may or may not be the same person as bodybuilder Wasim Khan. Who cares?  Score: 0..  


6. Small Town Security.
The staff of JKK Security in Ringgold, Georgia prove that "truth is stranger than fiction."  Wait -- isn't this fiction? No, it's a reality show.  I hate reality shows, but that's not on the rubric.

 In Episode 2, someone suggests that The Captain (Dennis Starr Croft) have sex with a potential client to seal the deal, but he refuses, stating that "this life's husband for him is Irwin." Wait -- Irwin is Joan's husband.  This doesn't make sense.

However, Dennis -- called Denise in the first episode -- comes out as transgender, so a point for LGBT representation. Score: 4.

I'm still not watching any reality tv.

7. Forever. 
Married couple June and Oscar try new things and "learn about love, commitment, and marriage." Score: 0

8. Intruders. A paranormal series about a secret society of people (or beings) who jump from body to body.  Ex-cop (Jack) has escaped his past "for a quiet life with his wife.  When she goes missing....."

With Tory Kittles as Jack's friend who becomes unstable after one of the intruders takes over his infant daughter.  After all the girls named Sam and Dave in these series, it's nice to see a boy with a girl's name for a change.  However, missing wife: . Score; 0.

9. Being Erica.
Erica Strang meets the mysterious Dr. Tom, who offers to fix her life.  In each episode he sends her back in time to relive her high school graduation, an encounter with a nasty professor in college, her first sexual exeprience.  Sounds like an interesting premise.

In Episode 6, "Sam and Josh" are getting married.  Five to One Sam is a girl.

Yep. But according to Wikipedia, Erica has a gay uncle named Ruby, and two other people with masculine names get married: Dave and Ivan.

Dave is Erica's boss, introduced in Season 2.  He comes out as gay shortly thereafter, and marries Ivan in Season 4.  I'll take it.

Score: 4

10. Comic Book Men.  The "hilarious" antics of patrons and staff at Kevin Smith's comic book store.  Tell me this isn't reality tv.

It's reality tv.  And it lasted for seven years.  

According to a reviewer quoted on Wikipedia: "It’s diverting, a little sad, a little boring, full of geeky macho posturing and ultimately pointless, much like a Wednesday afternoon in a comic-book shop."  Another reviewer mentioned some homophobic jokes.  Score: 2

Two of the ten series got a 4.  Not bad

Dec 7, 2020

Zip and Zap, Peter Pan, A Crush on Dad, and A Gorilla Sherlock Holmes

The Spanish bad boys Zipi y Zape, sort of Dennis the Menace squared,  first appeared in a comic strip in Pulgarcito magazine in 1947, and have since spun off into many more comics, three movies, a television series, a video game, and tons of merchandising.  But Zip and Zap and the Captain's Island (Zipi y Zape y la Isla de Capitain, 2016) is, as far as I know, their first appearance outside el mundo español.

Zip (Teo Planell) and Zap (Toni Gómez) are lanky androgynous teenagers who remind me of the Sprouse twins on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, except that they're constantly insulting and yelling at their parents: stick-in-the-mud novelist Pantuflo (Jorge Bosch) and his wife (who is so mousy and withdrawn that she doesn't get a name in the cast list).

At Christmastime, they visit an isolated island to meet with a publisher.  They get lost, and end up at a children's home run by the enigmatic Miss Pam (Elena Anaya), a sinister butler, and a cackling, demented nun.

The next day, Miss Pam tells Zip and Zap that, due to all their mischief, their parents have abandoned them. They will live at the children's home forever.  Oh, and won't you meet two other new residents, the too-cool-for-school Macky (Máximo Pastor, top photo) and super-inquisitive flibbertigibit Flecky (Iria Castellano).

Zip immediately starts a gay-subtext buddy-bond with Macky, while Zap gets a goofy hetero-crush on Flecky.

Did you figure it out?  Yep -- Miss Pam has lured the family to the island. She is using a retro Frankenstein machine to regress "troubled parents" to their 11-year old selves, before they lost their primal joie de vivre.  She's Peter Pan, making her own crew of lost boy-adults who shouldn't have grown up.

The children's home is occupied mostly by regressed parents, except they're not really regressed.  The parents are locked in a chamber while their young selves...but not really.  At the end of the movie, all of the regressed parents leave the island to rejoin their parents.

Wait -- Zap gets a crush on his own mother?  Why does that bother me, when Zip crushing on his own father seems fine?

But we're not done.  Miss Pam is also collecting people who look or act like literary characters...then...turning them into other things. So she turns a detective who acts like Sherlock Holmes into a gorilla.

Why not turn him into Sherlock Holmes?

A girl who looks like Pippi Longstocking has an octopus-submarine like Captain Nemo's Nautilus

The children are being controlled by a magic snow globe kept in an aquarium.

Did I mention that it's Christmastime, for no apparent reason?

I think you're just supposed to give your brain a rest, let the bizarre imagery flow over you, and wait for the father-son and mother-son couples to hug. 

By the way, in the 3 years since the movie came out, Toni Gomez has lost his androgynous long hair and hunked up a bit.  He does mostly modeling.

And Maximo de Pastor has hunked up quite a lot.  Look for him in Lucas in 2019.

Wait -- why is it the Captain's Island?  There is no captain.....

Dec 6, 2020

Lanigan's Rabbi

 I didn't meet anyone who was Jewish until my junior year in high school, when a rabbi's son named Aaron was in my English class.  He was lean and wiry, with thick black hair and expressive hands, with a preference for lumberjack shirts and a sky-blue yarmulke. He was always surrounded by a crowd of girls who knitted him sweaters and baked him cookies and sighed a lot, but occasionally I managed to push through the crowd to ask him a few questions about kosher laws or Hebrew School or his bar mitzvah, anything I could think of to keep his attention.

At the same time, our English teacher assigned Chaim Potok's My Name is Asher Lev and I read on my own his gay Jewish Romeo-and-Juliet story, The Chosen.

So I must have been very receptive during the spring of 1977, when two tv series with homoerotic Jewish subtexts appeared, Busting Loose and Lanigan's Rabbi.

On Sunday nights, NBC had a recurring series, The NBC Sunday Mystery Movie, with an alternating series of detectives.  My friends and I weren't impressed.  We called McCloud McClod, and Colombo Clod-Dumb-Bo.  But Lanigan's Rabbi became must-see tv, "good beyond hope."

Lanigan (Art Carney, right) was police chief in a small town in California. When he investigated a murder in a synagogue, he had to collaborate with Rabbi Small (Bruce Solomon, left), whose keen mind, trained in Talmudic scholarship, figured out whodunit.  They continued to be thrown into mysteries for three more episodes, with corpses including guest of honor at a Man of the Year celebration, a miserly millionaire, and the guy who accused Lanigan of malpractice.

The stories were by-the-books stuff, not very interesting.
Bruce Solomon, who also played a cop on Mary Hartman, was very attractive, but his shirt never came off.
Art Carney was 58, too old to be of interest.
 And they both had wives.

What was the gay angle?

It was about two men from different worlds finding common ground, mutual admiration, and finally a deeply intimate bond.  Why did the Rabbi keep tagging along on Lanigan's investigations?  Was it the joy of sleuthing?  Or were they in love?

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