I must really love this job. That’s the only explanation as to why I keep reviewing for this site. Then I get across my desk a copy of Dante’s Cove – The Complete Second Season. (I guessed I missed the first one). On the cover they show three quite buff men (in the background two women, hey that’s Tracy Scoggins), all with pants being a little too low. Uh-oh. *flips to the back*; oh geez is that two men kissing, *sigh*, it is. From the here! network for openly gays and lesbians comes the guilty pleasure show; Dante’s Cove, a soap opera that let’s just say really pushes the envelope. The backdrop or the events to season one are as follows.
One hundred and sixty years ago, Ambrosius Vallin (played by William Gregory Lee) had been imprisioned by Grace Neville (played by Tracy Scoggins) after she found him fraternizing with a man (they were engaged to be married). Okay, they were doing it doggy style. (if I have to live with the image, so do you). So Grace gave Ambrosius advanced age and threw him in the basement. He is returned to his former self by a kiss from Kevin (played by Gregory Michael). Naturally Ambrosius becomes obsessed with Kevin who is really in love with Toby (played by Charlie David). By the way, Ambrosius and Grace use the powers of a mystical religion called “Tresum”. However in order to satsify this religion and keep their youth they have to fufill certain rites and passages. It’s a blend of fantasy, soap opera, and really really open gay people in a beautiful island setting (second season was shot in Hawaii).
The first word that comes to mind when you watch Dante’s Cove is disturbing. Sure, there is open gay sex all over the place (with full frontal nudity); but let’s actually take that out of the picture. The acting in this show is downright laughable. The characters in the show don’t even seem realistic and almost seem like they were banished to this island cause they couldn’t act to save their life. The only exceptions to this are the characters of Ambrosius, Grace, and Diana Childs (sister of Grace, played by Thea Gill). This season, Dante’s Cove decided to throw in more stories geared towards the lesbian community. However, it still seems like mostly an afterthought. The main female relationship circle is between Grace, Van (played by Nadine Heimann), and Diana. Van is being lured because she shows great promise for the “Tresum” but all the while she is really in love with Michelle (played by Erin Cummings). However, Van’s character seems rather shallow and seems to be mostly there for her striking beauty. Her character should be mostly a serious one but it comes off as anything but that. The main focus here is the men and the relationship between Toby and Kevin and that Ambrosius is trying to take Kevin away for himself.
The video is in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The color to be honest seems washed out to me. I know their budget isn’t the greatest in the world but you would think they could have spent a little more time or money on it. I appreciate the fact they went to widescreen but they need to do more to show off the beautiful locale as well as the handsome and gorgeous bodies of the cast.
The audio is a very flat Dolby Digital 2.0 English. The dialog is clear but the background effects like the surf or thunder doesn’t really use the bass and surrounds all that much. It’s standard for tv fare but when they are shooting in Hawaii you tend to expect this vibrant soundtrack to go along with it. The one shining aspect is that they do use their theme music very well and that seems to come through the speakers nicely. Subtitles are provided for the English SDH crowd which is appreciated.
Disc One & Two:
- Episode Commentaries: Commentary is provided on episodes 1,4 & 5. They are hosted by the director, Sam Irvin and Charlie David (Toby). These actually are pretty informative and provide a lot of information about the series. If you are into this series, these will be incredibly useful to you.
- The Guys of Dante’s Cove 3:18: A quick featurette about the male leads in Dante’s Cove.
- The Girls of Dante’s Cove 3:26: A quick featurette about the female leads in Dante’s Cove.(still not convinced that the females are supposed to be vital in the series).
- Deleted Scenes 18:46: Some good, mostly dialog enhanced scenes (one exception being a pretty intense and sexy scene between Van and Diana) that were cut from production. With or without Director’s Commentary is included as an option.
- Out on Set 3:33: A featurette dealing with the openly gay members on the set and how they are treated in the acting community. I honestly agree with what they have to say, they shouldn’t be treated any different merely because of their lifestyle. Unfortunately Hollywood is a pretty cruel place.
- Backlot 20:08: A fluff piece for the here! network showing a lot of backstory and information about the cast and characters of Dante’s Cove.
- Bonus Trailers: The Lair, Dante’s Cove Season 2, Shock to the System (A Donald Strachey Mystery), The DL Chronicles, Race you to the Bottom & a promotional piece for the here! network.
Dante’s Cove is supposed to be a guilty pleasure. One for the soap opera fans who just can’t get enough and two for those of the homosexual lifestyle who are wishing for something to call their own. The problem is that the characters and the stories behind them are outright laughable. The few actors and actresses who are decent here are overshadowed by the rest in what is supposed to be a serious fantasy setup. It actually just looks to be an excuse to show full frontal (mostly male) nudity and a whole lot of gay loving. I’m still trying to get the image of 10 men (I didn’t count, so I might be off) on my screen at once doing things I don’t ever want to see again. Really, please tell me that was necessary and vital to the plot cause I’m now considering therapy. The strength of the female influence is almost non-existant which would be fine but the director makes mention that they were trying to show more of the female side this season. The picture and audio are not as strong as they should be. The best part of these discs are the extras as the commentaries and featurettes should keep the fans of the series informed and interested. I would like to recommend this for the gay community, however I can’t. There has to be better series on the here! network or other networks that show quality homosexual actors and actresses with good stories. Now if you will excuse me, I need to go find something with a lot of naked women. Or actually just one that’s really hot. That will help to ease the pain of the last 5 hours.
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