The Boyfriend of the Week

January 25, 2008

Hello, and welcome to the first Boyfriend of the Week for 2008! This shizznit is BACK! Fo' shizzle!

Annnnd, apparently I've turned into Snoop Dogg while I was away. . . Sorry about that. I have no idea where that came from; let's hope it doesn't happen again.

Okay, so, last September, while I was on hiatus from this site and only writing for my blog (see links, stage right!), I put up a post that offered some brief reviews of the new fall TV season. One of my reviews was for the new Friday night vampire private-eye series, Moonlight. In the review, I said I thought it was a pretty bad show, but that I was enjoying it anyway -- sort of like a guilty pleasure, I guess (except I never actually feel all that guilty about watching bad television or movies, obviously -- see links, stage right!).

And then I made a joke about how the one thing that kind of bugged me about Moonlight was the fact its star, Alex O'Loughlin, kept wearing these silky henley shirts that made his prominent pecs look kind of like man-boobs. Not that there's anything wrong with that. . . Just an observation. I found it somewhat distracting, personally.

Several months after that post went up -- so long after I'd forgotten what I'd said and had stopped watching the series anyway -- someone reposted my comments on a fan forum for Moonlight. And ohhhhhh momma, did that man-boobs joke ever make some people unhappy! When I opened up my email that morning, my inbox was crammed with over two dozen emails and blog comments, some of which were. . . uh. . . not so much with the "friendly." To say the least.

Fortunately for me and my relatively thin skin, most of the fans who contacted me in response were extremely sweet and charming, writing to tell me why they liked the show and suggest I give it another try. Even better, several of them also sent me photographic evidence that those were NOT man-boobs under those henleys -- I wanted to include one of those pictures here for you guys to see, but I was too afraid you might pass out from the delicious shock and conk your skulls. I can't be held responsible for head injuries (don't have the necessary insurance coverage).

Unfortunately for me and my relatively thin skin, others were less, shall we say, courteous in their comments -- there're always a few of those in any group on Teh Interwebs, though, and it's not like I'm not used to stumbling across them. Here's my favorite xkcd comic on this subject, by the way, and while nobody mentioned Louis Armstrong (more's the pity), some of the nastier comments did kind of make me chuckle for similar reasons. That's all I'll say about that there them, though.

In any case, I was instantly swayed not only by the nice fans' arguments, but also by their obvious and intense dedication to Alex. There's nothing that impresses me more than super-dedicated fans, and if a TV show seems to have a lot of them, I always assume I'm missing out on something great. This is how you guys got me to give Damian Lewis's new series Life a second try, remember? (And, incidentally, it's now one of my favorite new shows of the year.) Not to mention the time you all got me to contribute to the send-nuts-to-save-Jericho campaign.

Radness all around.

So, after going back and forth with a couple of really cool Moonlight fans that afternoon, I immediately started downloading their favorite episodes off iTunes and getting caught up on what I'd missed.

It took me exactly 12.6 minutes to become totally and completely hooked. And yes, I actually timed it.

Though I still think a show about a vampire private investigator is inherently silly (it is, it JUST IS!), it sure is a heck of a lot of fun. I totally adore all the characters, especially Alex's Mick St. John (but hey, what happened to Kevin Weisman, who was in the first few episodes as cameraman Steve Balfour? Bring back the Kev!), and the mystery plots are usually really entertaining as well. Ooh, and don't even get me started about the subplot involving Mick's old vamp wife, Coraline, either -- I could go on for paragraphs about how fun that whole thing has been (this storyline includes not just old emotional wounds reopened and salted, but also the premise of a cure for vampirism, which Mick desperately wants). Many of the Moonlight fans who wrote me were convinced I'd dig the Coraline stuff, and they were SO RIGHT!

Put simply, Moonlight is just 100% pure escapist fun, and it's definitely gotten a lot better the longer it's gone on. So if you, like me, had given up on it after the first few episodes, you definitely need to give it a second chance. Alex is an absolute delight in his part -- he's clearly having a blast with this role, and the rest of the cast is too (including Jason Dohring, who I think is more fun here than he ever was on Veronica Mars). I've got my fingers crossed that the writers' strike isn't going to do this one in for good.

Okay, so, 12.6 minutes into my little Moonlight binge, I knew I had to make Alex the first Boyfriend for 2008. That meant the next thing I needed to do was gather up some movie recommendations from that same set of fan forum readers (hi, ladies! thanks, ladies!) and start getting as many of Alex's films as I could from Netflix.

After watching two or three more O'Loughlin flicks, I started to notice something verrrrry interesting: as it turns out, you can predict exactly what type of character he's going to play in something simply by checking out his hairdo. No, seriously! You can! The shorter or weirder it gets, the more evil his character is; the longer, the gooder.

Wait, "the gooder"? Pretend I didn't just say that.

Don't believe me? Dude, not only can I PROVE it, I can prove it using Dungeons & Dragons terminology, which totally earns me 86-gazillion additional geek points for the week. Wicked!

And so here it goes, in order from shortest/evilest to longest/gooderest:

The Invisible (2007)
Character: Marcus the parolee
Hair: Buzz cut
D&D Alignment: Chaotic evil
Oddly enough, I had picked this movie up and put it back down about four times at the video store in the last several months. I kept thinking it sounded kind of interesting, but also that it had a very high likelihood of being really, really lame (the box really made it sound like a rip-off of The Sixth Sense, which, as it turns out, it absolutely is NOT). I had no idea Alex was in this film until the fan forum ladies told me, and that ended up being the clincher: I rented it the next day. And guess what -- this is a really entertaining movie with an interesting premise and some pretty good acting from a set of relative newcomers.

It's about a teenager named Nick Powell who, one afternoon, is cornered in the woods by the toughest girl in school, Annie, and her posse of peeps. Annie thinks Nick called the cops on her, and she's out for blood. But when Nick's reaction to her blows is sarcasm (and, incidentally, here's where I yelled, "Dude, stop pissing off the girl with the steel-toed boots in your ribs, man!"), Annie totally loses it and starts aiming her boots at his head instead. Nick finally stops moving and, panicked that she's killed him, Annie orders her gang to toss his body down a manhole.

The next day, Nick walks into class and is annoyed to find everybody ignoring him. He quickly realizes it's because he's not actually there -- he's an apparition. But, as it turns out, he's not a ghost because he's dead -- he's a ghost because he's MOSTLY dead. And, as anybody who's seen The Princess Bride knows, "mostly dead is slightly alive"! Inconceivable! (Sorry, couldn't resist!)

Nick begins trying to use his mostly-dead powers to convince Annie to reveal where his body is, so that he can be revived back to all-the-way-alive. Alex O'Loughlin, meanwhile, plays Annie's ex-boyfriend Marcus (I think that was their relationship?), and he is one extremely bad dude. As it turns out, he's also the one who called the cops on Annie, and when Annie discovers this, she and Marcus have a showdown that ends with both of them getting shot. Will Annie do one good thing before she heads off into the wild blue yonder? Or will she, um. . . not?

Great acting from Alex, of course -- it was totally fun getting to see him play a bad guy, after watching him be all "Joe (Undead) Citizen" on Moonlight. But I was also extremely impressed by Margarita Levieva, who plays Annie (the few dozen of you who watched the short-lived series Vanished will recognize her from that, by the way). I confess I was less inspired by the main actor in this movie -- Justin Chatwin -- primarily because he had a tendency to overact the angst at times. But he's young and relatively new to acting, and his emotions seemed authentic, even when they also felt a bit overly melodramatic. Nothing more authentic about teenage emotions than melodrama, though, I guess.

And, oh my god! I almost forgot to tell you! CALLUM KEITH RENNIE! Sweet!

Anyway, The Invisible isn't flawless and it's a bit on the cheesy side at times, but overall, I found this pretty engaging and I'm looking forward to watching it again someday soon.

Feed (2005)
Character: Michael the fetishist
Hair: Extremely unnatural-looking bleach blond
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
In a word: Weird. This bizarre Australian movie is sort of a black comedy (according to the commentary, anyway), with an emphasis on the black part. It's also totally and completely disturbing. The fact a movie this twisted is also considered by its writer, director, and cast to be a "black comedy" just goes to show you how totally "other" the Australians can be. Which is why I love their movies soooooo much. (Undead, an Aussie zombie movie, made it onto my list of favorites for 2007, in case you didn't notice.)

Anyway, this film takes us into the strange, strange world of "feeders and gainers," a sexual. . . uh, what's the right word here?. . . fetish group? I don't know. But it's a sexual something-or-other that involves thin men who like to hook up with extremely obese women and then get off on feeding them exorbitant amounts of food. (I assume that it's also sometimes thin women feeding obese men, but I don't know that for sure. To be honest, I was sort of afraid to Google this concept.) It sounds sort of cruel, in some ways -- well, actually, in a lot of ways. But apparently, feeders and gainers really love each other intensely, just like couples with other fetishy affections, and in the real world, they care deeply for each other and this is all supposedly good, clean fun. I'm not sure I get it, given what we know about the health effects of extreme obesity. But I certainly don't judge anyone for liking weird stuff (see above, re: loved the movie Undead.)

In this film, on the other hand, things are a bit more twisted. Alex plays a creepy guy named Michael, who sports a head full of extremely-bad-bleach-job hair and runs a feeder/gainer web site that sells video clips of obese women eating food and allows people to place bets on when they will achieve their maximum weight goals. A (cute!) cop for Interpol, however, begins to suspect that Michael is actually taking bets on when the women will DIE, and that he's feeding them huge amounts of food specifically to kill them. As it turns out, he's not only right about that -- it turns out that what Michael is doing is far, far more disturbing than just murder.

Note to the squeamish: you probably shouldn't watch this movie.

I can't really say I "enjoyed" this film, but I was definitely unable to stop watching it once I started. There are lots of elements that are darkly ironic or funny in an extremely unfunny kind of way -- it's hard to explain, but it's a very uniquely Australian kind of humor that not everybody will get (in fact, I'm sure I missed half of it myself). Nevertheless, the acting is great -- I was stunned by how easily I was able to accept Alex in this role, a major testament to his acting chops -- and the plot is definitely. . . how shall we say? Unique? It's not a movie I will ever watch again, I confess, but I am glad I saw it.

I think.

The Oyster Farmer (2004)
Character: Jack the thief
Hair: Medium-short
Alignment: Neutral

Okay, look, the thing about this movie is that it took me THREE TRIES to actually get through the whole thing, and even then, I never really ended up getting INTO it. It's got a lot of good qualities -- gorgeous scenery, a good concept, some very authentic characters. But the main storyline just never really did much for me.

In this one, Alex plays Jack, a city-dweller who has just moved to a small riverside town to help take care of his sister after a car accident. He gets a job farming oysters, but quickly realizes it isn't going to cover her bills, so he stages a heist and robs the fish market, slipping the money into an overnight envelope and mailing it to himself. When the mail delivery goes awry and his package ends up at the bottom of the river, Jack is forced to spend the rest of the season waiting for either his money -- or the cops -- to show up. Meanwhile, he's started to get sucked into small town life, with all its gossip and infighting, and has especially gotten sucked into the life of fellow resident Pearl, whom he gradually begins to suspect is the person who actually has his dough, even while he's falling madly in lust with her.

The problem I had with it was that even though Pearl and Jack were supposed to be crazy-hot for each other, I never got any sense of that heat whatsoever. To be honest, I thought Alex's character was the least interesting of the bunch, and greatly preferred the subplot surrounding his boss Brownie's problems with his ex-wife (who first left him, and then opened her own, much more successful oyster farming business. Oy, the agony!). Brownie's father is a real hoot, as well, and the river itself is a blissful character all its own in this nicely-shot and extremely good-looking movie.

To be sure, I don't blame Alex himself for the failings of his character, who gets a "Neutral" alignment here, by the way, because he DOES rob a fish market, after all. (I almost gave him a "Neutral Good" just because of his utterly disarming grins, and then I realized that utterly disarming grins are, like, the PERFECT SECRET WEAPON, and I knocked him back to to Neutral instead, fearing for my safety.)

Alex really did do a great job with his part, and I don't think it was his fault that his interactions with Pearl left me sort of unsatisfied. I blame the movie's overall lack of focus and feeling of being somewhat underdeveloped plot-wise, which made it hard for me to settle down and focus. Not sure this is one I can really recommend, though I definitely can see why a lot of O'Loughlin fans like it (for one thing, hello, NAKED!).

The Shield
Character: Kevin the Copper
Hair: Medium-short
Alignment: Chaotic Good

It's been a while since I saw last season's episodes from The Shield, so I don't remember everything there was to know about Alex's character Kevin. However, I do remember he was brought in to serve as Vic's replacement (Vic being the head of a squad of dirty cops in inner city LA). And though he's initially supposed to be sort of the ethical guy brought into push the unethical guy out the door, I either suspected there was more to him than that, or else they made it evident there was more to him than that. Can't remember now. In any case, his hair was absolutely adorable, as was his overall scruffy look, and what's more, his character was so thoroughly different from Mick St. John that when Moonlight first started up, I didn't even recognize him. Craziness!

The Shield is a brilliant series, by the way, and, alas, is ending very soon. It's final season (thankfully completed before the writers' strike, I've heard) begins on FX later this year. It'll be one not to miss!

The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant (2005)
Character: Will the Prisoner/Husband
Hair: Medium-long
Alignment: Neutral Good

This made-for-TV miniseries features the amount of cheese you'd expect from such a venture, but with a surprising twist: it's actually really, really fun. It's based on the riveting true story of Mary Bryant (here played delightfully by the gorgeous Romola Garai -- total girl-crush on her now, by the way), a young British woman in the 1700s who was arrested for theft after stealing food to keep herself from starving to death. Convicted, she was loaded onto a ship with a group of fellow criminals and some British soldiers and supplies, and the whole gang set sail for Australia, where the British government planned to set up a penal colony to be lead by a character I kept calling "Captain Bupkis" in my head (here played delightfully by the gorgeous Sam Neill), because I could never remember his name and he seemed sort of unimportant even though he was supposed to be zee boss.

Anyway, while on the ship, one of the officers, Lt. Clarke (here played delightfully by the gorgeous Jack Davenport, AKA Norrington from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies) takes a major interest in Mary. He finds her intelligence and willfulness intriguing and begins to take her under his wing, releasing her out of the cells each day and teaching her to read and stuff. When he falls in love with her and then discovers she's already pregnant with another man's baby, he's horrified, casting her back down into the slums below-deck. There, she meets the dashing Will Bryant (here played delightfully by the gorgeous Alex O'Loughlin!), a fellow prisoner, and the two forge a bond.

When they land in Australia, Will and Mary get married, in part because married prisoners are allowed to build themselves an actual house. They fall in love, over time, much to the chagrin of Lt. Clarke, who has allowed his mixture of love and disgust for Mary to fester into a mass of scowl-y looks and haughty walks. Clarke soon builds his own house right across from Mary and Will's, where he continues to stalk her like the icky creep-o he is.

Things in Oz get bad fast, as the colony struggles continually for fish, food, and everything else, and it eventually becomes clear to Mary and Will that if they don't get away, their children are sure to die. The two hatch an elaborate escape plan (one that includes Lt. Clarke, in fact, in a way that seemed a bit on the cruel side to me, but it's not like that goob didn't deserve it). And, long story short, Mary Bryant goes down in history as the first person ever to escape from an Australian penal colony. Chicks rule!

A lot of times, miniseries feel like they've been crammed with a bunch of useless filler -- scenes that add nothing to the story except the opportunity to pack in a few more commercial breaks. I was expecting that from this one, and was pleasantly surprised to find this movie never once gets tedious or repetitive. I really enjoyed it -- it's got a great cast, an exciting storyline, and, well, it's sort of like The Fugitive meets Survivor, now that I think about it. All it needed was Tommy Lee Jones and Jeff Probst and it would've totally gotten an Emmy, I feel certain.

And Alex -- ohhhh, Alex. Alex has many of the films cheesiest moments, mostly involving big dopey grins that both totally cracked me up and completely charmed me. He's an absolute sweetheart as Will, but he's not at all above doing whatever it takes to protect the people he cares about (hence "Neutral Good" instead of "Lawful Good" for his D&D alignment, in case you were wondering). But when Mary goes to Clarke . . . Well, I don't want to blow what happens for you, but Alex's scenes of emotional torture there alone by the fire at night, just a few hundred yards from where his wife is, you know, um -- well, those were some good scenes. The man does emotional torture, in other words, and he really does it WELL.

Definitely recommend this one! And why isn't Romola Garai a superstar, by the way? Gorgeous!

Character: Mick the Vamp PI
Hair: Long
Alignment: Lawful Good

I already told you why you should be watching this show, but it was definitely worth pointing out that this is the O'Loughlin thing that features Alex with his longest hair, and his most lawfully good personality. I think I done proved my theory, in other words. (Though, was it just me, or did he cut his hair slightly shorter about halfway through the season? I wonder what THAT means in regards to this theory?)

I am missing a few of Alex's films here, of course -- 2007's August Rush isn't out on DVD yet, for one, and I just couldn't bring myself to rent a movie called Man-Thing. So, if you've seen additional Alex stuff that DOESN'T fit into the theory, please let me know in the comments section of the blog post announcing this write-up (and, of course, you can comment on other stuff about Alex or the write-up in there too!).

But personally, I think my theory's genius, not to mention extremely interesting. Like, what's the deal with this, anyway? I've never seen anything like it, and I've been doing this for over TEN YEARS, people! I find this trend in Alex's career/hair fascinating, and if I ever meet him in person, you can bet it'll be the first thing I ask him (incidentally, if YOU ever meet him in person, I'd appreciate it if you asked him too and then let me know -- and also, get me an autograph. And also, give him my phone number. And also, tell him I love him. And also. . . okay, I'm shutting up now!).

Cute, talented, smart, funny, clever, unique, and hellaciously charming, Alex O'Loughlin seems like a pretty great way to start off the new Boyfriend year.

So do me and the rest of the show's fans a huge favor and tune in to Moonlight Friday nights on CBS -- it'll be in reruns now until after the strike, but I bet if we can get the rerun ratings to stay up, that'll help its case when the writers come back to work and the networks start figuring out which shows to keep and which to ditch.

Refuse, and I'm totally going to make you roll a saving throw against death at -4.

Love always,
Your Dungeon Master

MacGyver Factor Score: 98.245%. Points off because even though I know what is under there and it is truly lovely, those silky henleys still make his pecs look like man-boobs to me (*duck*).

I can't help it! They're just so perky! And boobish!

Please don't hate me. My brain is a strange place to live, and sometimes it's best just to roll your eyes and move along.

Boyfriend-Related Links

Moonlight Fans (forum and other fun stuff)
Alex's IMDb page
Adoring Alex (fan site)
CBS's Moonlight page

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