Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Diana's Adventures in TV Land: Dante's Cove

Oh lordy. Someone's going to die for inflicting this horror on me. It's so bad, I can't tackle it alone, so I've invited some guest commentators to pop up here and there.

The biggest problem with this review is that I have no idea whether I've just watched 90 minutes of softcore porn aspiring to basic storytelling, or 90 minutes of a soap opera determined to sink as low as it possibly can. It's an important distinction to make, because plotty porn - as awful as it can get - at least makes a minimal effort in the act of creating a narrative, in which case there's no reason to take the creators up Mount Hackwork and feed them to Cthulhu.

See? He's got his tentacle-bib on and everything.

As with "Hex", this is more or less a series that would like to be classified as "the (adjective) Buffy": if "Hex" was the British Buffy and "Supernatural" is the Boys' Buffy, "Dante's Cove" purports to be the Gay Buffy. Orly, do you have anything to say about the Cove's claim to fame?

I thought so. :) As with most imitators, it takes a little more than stated intent to hit anywhere near the mark. I mean, "Supernatural" may not have Whedon's creative genius behind it, but it offers an intense atmosphere and interesting characters. "Hex" at least got the atmosphere right. "Dante's Cove" gives us naked people. Now, I'll admit I'm appreciative of buff guys in the buff, just like other women; isn't that right, Marguerite?

Well, maybe not all other women. But for me, The Pretty can only can cover up so much. The pace goes something like this: five minutes of plot, fifteen minutes of extended gay sex montage, five minutes of flashbacks, fifteen minutes of Disney's Magic Carpet Ride (Themysciran Remix).

I wish I was! I mean, yes, we get it, Toby love you long time. We figured that bit out after the taxi sex. Why we needed to see him and Kevin do it again, and again, and again over the course of a single episode is thoroughly beyond my grasp.

Enough about the sex. Let's talk actors/characters. First off, Tracy Scoggins (who I knew only as Kat Grant from "Lois and Clark") looks amazing for a woman in her fifties. I don't know if it's just natural grace, makeup or plastique surgery ('cause she's "da bomb" and all... oh geez, there goes another brain cell), but it works for her. I don't even mind the diabolical British accent.

Well, maybe just a little. :) I also give props to William Gregory Lee, who hasn't improved much since his time on "Xena" but actually had me convinced he was getting borked in the opening scene. The rest of the cast doesn't stand out much, but again, here's where my major difficulty lies: if they're working with mildly-doctored porn scripts, they're expected to act badly and speak in Austenisms, but if this is supposed to be genuine, then they're a bunch of oiled-up Antizombie and Bitch models who couldn't deliver a line if they had GPS precision-guidance.

And could someone please explain to me why "Dante's Inferno" keeps being referenced even though it has nothing to do with anything in this series?

The plot is... well, it's equal parts "yeahbuhwhat?" and "ohnotheydidn't". In 1840, a sorceress (?) discovers that her fiance is sleeping with a male servant (!). This isn't the first time I've had cause to shout "The butler did it!" during a TV show, but it is the first time I was met with "Nah, the butler got done." Anyway, the witch locks her betrayer in the basement (which, I suppose, is better than a closet) and instantly turns him into an old man (!!), and only the kiss of a beautiful young man will free him (?!?!). About 150 years later, said beautiful young man (whose elevator doesn't run to the top floor, naturally) turns up with his boyfriend, and they and their friends get caught up in some kind of mystical conflict, and the witch's fiance decides to fuck, marry and kill his savior (not necessarily in that order). I've sent "Dante's Cove" to an analyst, let's see what he has to say:

See? If a superintelligent android can't figure it out, what's the point? Maybe a second viewing would clear things up, but I'm not volunteering for the Lot's Wife treatment.

Ah, what can I say? "Dante's Cove" bravely takes a stab at the neo-Gothic, and the neo-Gothic promptly stabs back. The setting is right: desolated beaches, crumbling buildings, the sea, the dark basement... that's all great. But the Gothic is more than just looks, and it clashes horribly with the faux-drama and hysterics of campy soap (or porn, whatever). Remember that scene in "Gremlins 2" where they've all assembled in the plaza lobby, going into a chaotic frenzy of dancing, singing and wreaking havoc, and then they all melt into green muck? Yeah, that's a nice analogy for this show. A lot of noise, then it's all toxic sludge. Someone should page Captain Planet.

To conclude, we have with us an expert on The Stupid: tell us, sir, how much does it suck, really?

That about sums it up.