Twelve days left to Halloween.
I've talked about Dark Shadows already, and I've also talked about soap operas before. But a lot of what we see now on television is technically serials; most series now are serials, where the action of each episode is picked up from where it left off in the previous one; continuity is important; and what happens in each episode has a causal effect on the characters for many episodes (and seasons) to come. I can remember, while True Blood was airing, and I was describing it to a friend who didn't watch...and finally, I said, "It's kind of like Dark Shadows with nudity, sex, and a lot of blood." (I intend to talk about True Blood before Halloween, but this is not the entry.) It was kind of true, and I intend to draw those comparisons when I talk about True Blood --but today I am going to talk about another serial television show involving the supernatural (I don't know that I can call it, fairly, horror) that Paul and I enjoyed watching: Dante's Cove.
I probably would have never known about Dante's Cove if I hadn't been working as an editor for Harrington Park Press at the time. Here TV was doing those adaptations of the Richard Stevenson/Don Strachey novels, and were also developing a series called Dante's Cove. HPP was bringing the Strachey books back into print with tie-in editions, and Here was interested in having Dante's Cove be novelized with tie-in editions. I thought it sounded interesting (it was pitched to us as "gay Dark Shadows"), and was interested in doing the novelizations myself, so Here sent me the pilot and the first season on DVD to watch.
The story is, actually, rather similar to Dark Shadows opening: a young person comes to Dante's Cove/Collinwood at the same time as a centuries old supernatural creature arrives, released from being imprisoned apparently for all time. Dark Shadows had Victoria Winters and Barnabas Collins the vampire; Dante's Cove had Kevin and Ambrosius "Bro" Vallin. While Barnabas spurned the love of the witch Angelique, who cursed him and turned him into a vampire, leading his family to chain him up in his coffin; Ambrosius was a practitioner of magic called Tresum, and was engaged to a high priestess of the religion, Grace Neville. Grace caught Ambrosius literally being fucked in the ass by another man, whom she killed with magic, and she, too, cast a spell that locked him up for all eternity. Except Kevin, who comes to Dante's Cove after being thrown out by his homophobic family to be with his lover Toby, unknowingly releases Ambrosius from his prison--which also triggers Grace to return.
Grace was played by Tracy Scoggins, best known for playing Monica Colby on first The Colbys, and then later on Dynasty.
There were various characters, lesbians, gay men, straight boys, and varying storylines. Toby, the male lead, was played by Charlie David.
Kevin was played by Gregory Michael, who also later turned up on the show Greek.
Arrow's Stephen Amell was in the first season as an asshole straight boy who was recast in Season 2.
There was lots of male nudity--including full frontal--and the men always looked like they were covered in oil. Reichen Leimkuhl, who won The Amazing Race and was later on the terrible rip-off of Real Housewives type shows The A List--New York, joined the cast in Season 3. And Thea Gill from Queer as Folk, also joined in Season 2 as Grace's sister and mortal enemy, Diana.
Like I said, lots of pretty shirtless men, bare male asses, and the occasional male full frontal.
The primary problem with Dante's Cove, I felt, was bad writing and bad directing, as well as some serious continuity problems. The actors did their best with what they were given, but they just weren't given enough, and it seemed like it was trying to be too serious. But a supernatural-themed soap opera with gay and lesbian characters that could get away with nudity shouldn't have taken itself quite so seriously; it should have gone for humor and camp, and I bet it would have really caught on. (As I've said about other shows, "it wants to be Tennessee Williams when it should be going for Melrose Place.") We were entertained, and we enjoyed watching it, but there was always such a sense of what it could have been. In the third season, the show went more along a campy route, giving the characters great bitchy quips, and it looked liked it had found its way...but alas, it wasn't to be. It was cancelled. There was a spin-off show about a lair of vampires who lived in a sex club called The Lair that was also fun, and looked like it was hitting its stride at the end of its first season...but there wasn't a second season, alas.
The novelizations, alas, never happened, which was also incredibly disappointing. I really thought I could make it a lot of fun...but alas, it is another one of those 'wasn't meant to be' things.'
It would be kind of fun to rewatch...
And now back to the spice mines.