Turn of the Tide is a 2023 Portuguese tv series about four friends who find a cache of cocaine, with ensuing complications. The phrase "based on a true story" is an immediate turn-off, and I doubt that any of them are gay, but who wouldn't want to see a tv show set in the Azores? I'm in.
Scene 1: July 2001. A little boy runs through a small, colorful Azorean village, to a kitchen drug lab, and finds Eduardo (Jose Condesa), a cocaine dealer in a muscle shirt; his friend or girlfriend Silvia, who has pink hair; and Rafael, who wears a backwards baseball cap. He yells that the priest started bleeding and collapsed during the mass. "Fucking hell!" Eduardo exclaims.
Narrator: I could say that the story begins here, but let's go back and talk about the Azores, nine islands in the "middle of fucking nowhere," a 2 1/2 hour flight from Lisbon, with no gay bars and a conservative Catholic population that often exhibits rude and harassing behavior toward gay tourists. Centuries of poverty, isolation, storms, volcanos, earthquakes.
Scene 2: Ten days before: Muscle Shirt Eduardo, Baseball Cap Rafael, and their swishy blond friend Carlinhos (Andre Leitao, left) load their fishing boat and head out into a stormy sea. Eduardo is surprised that Blond Carlinhos knows about soccer: "I thought our little lady here only knew about ice skating." Ok, that's mildly homophobic, but at least there's a (probably) gay character. They head back due to a storm. We don't get to see them fighting the storm?
Scene 3: Silvia dancing and displaying her boobs for five minutes. I knew that would happen.
Scene 4: Eduardo cooking fish for his grungy, not-all-there Dad. Then he takes Dad to the hospital for eye surgery. He says he's going to the bathroom, but instead runs to the American embassy: his visa application has been rejected due to his lack of education. When he returns to the hospital, he discovers that they gave him the wrong time, so no surgery today. As the great Gilda Radner said, "It's always something."
Meanwhile pink-haired Silvia is applying for the "2001 Miss Ponta Delgada Contest." Why is it Miss and not Senhorita? One of the application questions is: "Who should make the first move, the man or the woman?" How heteronormative. Maybe there are two men or two women!
Scene 5: Back to the storm, with an Italian boat tossing in the waves. The rudder broke; they're in the middle of nowhere. The cabin is swamped; packets of cocaine float about. Narrator: "This is where it began, with Italian mafiosi crossing the Atlantic with a boatload of drugs." The mafiosi are Gianluca (Filippo Fiumari, left) and Francesco (Marcantonio Del Carlo). One of the mafiosi wants to radio for help, but they can't let anyone rescue them and find the cocaine. And if they lose the cocaine, their bosses will kill them. Suddenly they sight land!
Eduardo's car breaks down in the storm. And you thought you were having a bad day.
Cut to Silvia at a video store, dancing seductively with her boobs hanging out. Eduardo comes in drenched from the storm, gazes at her with Girl-of-His-Dreams horniness, and asks if any new movies are in. That's what you're worried about? She complains about how horrible everything is, and flirts with him a bit.
Scene 6: Eduardo in bed in a muscle shirt. He looks at risque photos of Silvia and imagines doing sexy stuff with her.
Meanwhile, the swishy blond Carlitos, who went out fishing with the guys in Scene 2. presses-foreheads and hugs but doesn't kiss his older, bald, married boyfriend. Whoa, swishy guy has a six-pack! Boyfriend turns him around so they can have sex.
The Italian mafiosi have reached the rocky shore and stashed their cocaine.
Scene 7: Morning. Eduardo asks Rafael (another fishing pal) (Rodrigo Tomas) to lend him some money so he can get his car fixed, but Raphael is poor, too. He offers to give Eduardo a cut in his delivery of hashish to some drug dealers. Uh-oh, Rafael is dating Eduardo's crush Silvia. The plot thickens.
They deliver the stuff to some guys in a garage, and discuss the new drug legalization in Portugal. That's only for possession; manufacture, trafficking, and sales are still crimes. Uh-oh, the dealers decide that they want Eduardo's dog, too! Rafael pleads with them, but they are adamant.
Scene 8: Driving home, Eduardo in shock. Can we make a list of all the bad things that have happened to this guy? Plot dump: head drug dealer Arrutia is Silvia's sort-of Dad: '"Stop calling him my Dad!"
Cut to a little boy finding a package of cocaine on the beach. Suddenly everyone in town is rushing to grab packages.
Meanwhile, the Italian mafiosi discover that it will take a day to repair their boat. Then they can retrieve their cargo and make the delivery. They discuss how horrible it is to put sweetener in coffee: "Some things are sacred. Fresh water, good wine, a...." Ugh, a gross reference to girl parts. but at least it took three scenes to identify them as heterosexual. Usually it happens right away. They see the townsfolk rushing past with the cocaine, and exclaim "We're fucked."
Scene 9: The phones are ringing off the hook at the Judiciary Police Station. A hunky cop answers one. Cut to townsfolk sitting on packages of cocaine, using some and collapsing, thinking that it's sugar and putting it on their grapefruit, feeding it to pigs, thinking that it's flour and using it to fry fish. A news report states that the police have already seized 326 kilos, worth 9 million Euros. Eduardo rushes to weigh his cocaine package and exclaims "Holy shit." It's worth 22,000 Euros!
Darn, the hunky cop drops from the story, and a middle-aged lady detective is called in.
Cut to the video store, with Silvia and Rafael having oral sex while, in another room, the swishy blond Carlitos gets high and dances. Eduardo rushes in, gazes at Silvia jealously, and tells Carlitos that cocaine makes your dick soft. Carlitos consoles him: "If there's anyone who understands impossible love..." They hug.
He suggests that there's a lot more cocaine floating in the ocean, waiting for the currents to bring it ashore. They could retrieve it and go into the drug business. But no one is interested.
Scene 10: Eduardo in his boat, in the middle of the night, checking the currents for the cocaine packages. He finds some washed up on shore.
The next day, he gives some of the cocaine to Drug Dealer Arruta to get his dog back, then pays to get his car fixed and drives around for awhile, feeling his biceps. He goes home and shows his buds the 397 kilos that he salvaged, worth 23 million Euros!
They disapprove of the plan: the police and the owners of the cocaine will be showing up soon. But Eduardo says that they can use the cocaine to make their dreams come true: Eduardo, to cure his Dad's blindness; Rafael to play soccer; Carlinhos to get a boyfriend rather than random hookups; and Silvia, to leave town. Ok, they're in. Isn't that what they wanted in the Wizard of Oz: a brain, a heart, the noive, a home?
Meanwhile, the Italian mafiosi, Gianluca and Francesco, have dinner and discuss how fucked they are. Maybe they can retrieve some of the cargo? Gianluca says "Fuck it," and calls Don Massimo.
Uh-oh, the three leave Carlinhos and drive off by themselves. Are we going to get a "bury your gays" moment? No, they smash into Gianluca in a "I know what you did last summer" moment!
They check his passport: a foreigner. Are they going to go to the police and say "We..um..killed this tourist while high on cocaine"? Plus he has a centipede tattoo, the same symbol that was on the cocaine packages. "Oh, fuck!" The end.
Beefcake: Eduardo in a muscle shirt. Carlinhos with his shirt open.
Other Sights: A lot of the Azores, but it's usually dark, stormy, and depressing.
Gay Character: Carlinhos gets third billing and appears in all 7 episodes, accepted without question by the other characters. He apparently doesn't get a boyfriend, but just being there is enough.
My Grade: B