Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Reel Thoughts: Easy as GayBC

Recently, I received DVDs of the latest seasons of Desperate Housewives, Dirty Sexy Money, Ugly Betty, Brothers and Sisters and Samantha Who? My first thought was, "Where is my Pushing Daisies DVD, dammit!" My second thought was, “Wow, ABC could be called GayBC with all the great gay-friendly shows they have in their line-up.” (Editor's note: This review was written and scheduled prior to yesterday's news regarding a certain other ABC show.) Now that the fall season is in full swing, it’s the perfect time to pick up these great boxed sets and do a little catching up.

Desperate Housewives- This is the fourth season for the gals on Wisteria Lane, and what a wild year it was. A gay couple moves in (bringing along a hideous lawn statue), Dana Delaney's Katherine almost out-Brees Bree as the neighborhood’s iciest perfect hostess, Lynette finds out that dealing with cancer is easier than dealing with Tom’s evil daughter Kayla, and Edie’s suicide attempt fails to prevent Carlos from romancing his ex-wife Gabrielle. This is a great season full of suspense, action and humor. A tornado rips through Fairview, and an even more dangerous foe stalks Katherine. Get ready for a doozy of a season finale, that’s five years in the making, literally. The extras include a “concept-to-production” special about what goes into each episode, deleted scenes, a couples’ commentary and bloopers. This was my favorite apple in the bunch — it was by far the juiciest!

Brothers and Sisters- If you aren’t watching Brothers and Sisters, shame on you. It has no fewer than five major gay characters involved in the wacky Walker family’s dysfunctional dilemmas. Plus, the show stars Sally Field, Calista Flockhart and Rob Lowe. In its second year, uptight gay brother Kevin discovered that he’s not the only festive apple in the Walker family tree, and he has to decide between sweet Scotty and his absentee missionary of a boyfriend (tough call). Field as matriarch Nora referees her unruly brood, but couldn't stop baby of the family Justin from returning to the war. Life imitated art as Balthazar Getty was caught with a young blonde, much like his character messed around while his wife was away. This DVD has the most extras, including a guest book, Walker family recipes, an open house, deleted scenes and bloopers. Creator Jon Robin Baitz is an esteemed playwright, which explains why Brothers and Sisters is so well written.

Ugly Betty- Either you love Ugly Betty ... or you’ve never seen it! America Ferrera is wonderful as the good-hearted nerdette who becomes everyone’s pawn. Vanessa Williams is a hoot as vain, botoxed Wilhelmina Slater, who goes to extreme (and extremely yucky) measures to take over Mode magazine. Michael Urie as Marc, the toadiest toady of them all, and Mark Indelicato as Betty’s show tune-loving nephew, are the gayest reasons to love Ugly Betty, but the hyper-comic reality the show possesses makes it must-see TV. There are lots of extras to enjoy as well, and I don’t just mean Freddy Rodriguez as Gio the Sandwich Man.

Samantha Who?- This was the one collection without direct GLBT subject matter, but Christina Applegate and Jean Smart star in it, so what gay man (or woman) could resist it. Samantha Newly used to be a bad, bad woman. Then a conk on the head erased her memory and her nastiness, too. Applegate is hilarious as the pratfalling amnesiac who moves in with her obnoxious mother (Smart, who won an Emmy for her performance), and starts being friends with all the “losers” her old version wouldn’t have spoken to ... kindly, that is. The DVD collection is a little sparse, with just deleted scenes, a blooper reel and an audio commentary.

Dirty Sexy Money- I couldn’t really get into this fictionalized drama about a man who goes to work for the rich, messed-up family that may have been responsible for his dad’s death. Candis Cayne plays a transsexual who has caught the eye of the elder son (William Baldwin), a politician running for office. The cast is great, but the forced merriment of the screw-up Darling family members wears a little thin.

Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

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