The Boyfriend of the Week

April 3, 2005

Hey, everybody! Sorry for the lengthy delay -- I had a span of a couple of weeks there during which I was just really cranky (for a wide variety of reasons). Hard to get with the whole "mirth" thing when you're all "PLEASE DO NOT POKE THE BEAR!" all the time. But, as they say, time heals all wounds and so, apparently, do really, really cute guys on great television shows. And so, here we are again. Let's get this pahty stahted.

Okay, so, just to refresh your memories, in the last write-up I started a series that had actually been started the write-up before that was about two shows I'd seen a month prior to that, as well as a show I had just seen the final episode of not days earlier. Still with me? I named this series the HBOyfriend series, because I am extremely witty and clever, and because all three shows were HBO dramas I'd recently rented on DVD. We started with "Deadwood," moved on to "Carnivale," and are now headed into the stark and frequently naked world of "Oz."

Now, last time I also said I'd work the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle into this week's write-up, and while I'm sure most of you thought I was just kidding about that, the fact of the matter is that I NEVER KID ABOUT PHYSICS. Because the moment you start to kid about physics is invariably the moment that physics decides to have a little fun at your expense. You'll be rushing back to the office after your coffee break, carrying your iced tall Americano, and you'll bust into a run to beat a light. Everything's going just peachy until, all of a sudden, physics sends your coefficient of friction into a tailspin and WHAM! Ass over teakettle, espresso a-flyin', people pointing and laughing (except for that one old man who is a little too creepily concerned that you're okay), totally scarred for life. "Damn you, physics!" you will exclaim, shaking your fist in the air, ruing the day you ever made that stupid, STUPID joke about Heisenberg. So, you see? This has to be done. But I'll do my best to tie it into this week's Boyfriend so it won't be too tedious.

So, okay. Let's say I'm an atom moving around my living room at warp speed while the fourth season of the amazing HBO drama "Oz" is playing on my television set. Now, if you wanted, I could tell you the exact position I was in at the very moment I saw Dylan from 90210, who joined the cast of "Oz" in season four, fully-frontal in a shower scene. I will never forget my exact position at that moment, actually, because that position involved me bounding out of my seat, yelling "GAAAAAHHHH!" so loudly and so abruptly that my cat, fast asleep under the coffee table, leapt three feet straight up in terror and brained herself on the table's underneath. She then gave me a look best translated as, "Oh, HONESTLY," and promptly went back to sleep. I, on the other hand, haven't slept a peaceful night since, and often wake up screaming indecipherable nonsense about the Peach Pit After Dark and a bearded Dylan McKay wearing nothing but a trenchcoat as he slinks around flashing Donna and the other girls on the dance floor. Oh, good LORD, it's just awful. I'm not sure I'll ever fully recover.

But anyway, let's get back to Heisenberg. The tricky thing is, the more precise I am about my position at that very moment (which, to recap, was "GAH!"), the less precise I can be about my MOMENTUM at that moment. Because the more I try to measure myself, the more I disturb myself, thus making measurements that much more inaccurate. This is the "uncertainty" part of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, see? At least, I think it is. And then there's some kind of equation involving Planck's constant, but I'm not even going to pretend to understand how that all works. Or, for that matter, how any of this works. And please, whatever you do, do not use the above example as part of your AP Physics Exam essay question, because I will not be held responsible for costing you your college credits. In fact, a good rule of thumb for those essay questions in general is to avoid at all costs any discussion involving Luke Perry's naked dangly bits. Although, that would certainly be one way to make your essay stand out among the hundreds, that's for sure.


So, as I've been eluding, this week's Boyfriend, the third in the HBOyfriend series, is one of the stars of HBO's prison drama "Oz." Not a show for anyone who is easily grossed out, incidentally. Because in terms of sex and violence, "Oz" makes "The Sopranos" look like "Highway to Heaven" (or, as my brother calls it, "Highway to Heaving"). Before I go much further, though, I should tell you that in some ways, Harold Perrineau Jr. doesn't really belong in this series. In all actuality, I didn't fall in love with him while watching "Oz." I fell in love with him while watching "Lost." And then some more while watching a little movie I stumbled across on TV one afternoon called "Woman on Top."

In some ways, then, Harold is a multi-Boyfriend-series-variable. He fits into the HBOyfriend series (with Tim DeKay and John Hawkes), the Lost series (with Josh Holloway, Naveen Andrews, and old write-ups on Matthew Fox and Dominic Monaghan), and the "Spotted While Flipping Channels, Reminded That I Needed To Smooch Him" series, which is a slightly more nebulous series featuring such exes as Bam Margera, Steve Ross, Sam Neill, Mark Harmon, and Paul Gilmartin.

But, being a multi-BF-series-variable is a really good thing for everyone involved. Because not only does that mean he goes with everything, it means there are many, many ways in which you can experience and worship the handsome, charming devil that is Harold Perrineau.

Now, I've been a fan of "Oz" for years and years, despite the fact HBO's DVD release schedule for it has been nothing short of infuriating. You thought they were bad with "The Sopranos," but they just released season four of "Oz," there are two more seasons still to go, and the show hasn't even been ON since 2003! At this rate, it'll be 2025 before I finally find out what happens to Tobias Beecher, my favorite inmate who totally doesn't deserve all the amazing horror he's been through since he was convicted.

Anyway, as I'm sure you already know, "Oz" is a show about a prison called "Oswald State Correctional Facility" and, in particular, it's a show about a specific, experimental ward in the prison called "Emerald City." Em City is experimental in that it's a place where the inmates get to wander around pretty freely, instead of being locked up in their cells most of the time. The theory is that if you give inmates more liberties, they'll start behaving more like decent human beings. So, our guys get to hang out together and play checkers and watch cable TV and occasionally even get involved in special projects like boxing matches and pharmaceutical studies (note: that was the most ridiculously stupid and pointless plotline of all time, and, actually, season four was pretty much a disappointment from start to finish, though I still loved it).

Of course, four seasons into the show, I'm apparently the only one who's noticed that the experiment is clearly a bust. Because those boys are not sweethearts, no matter how many rounds of checkers they get to play, and all that freedom of movement is just making it easier for them to, say, feed each other crushed glass, inject each other with HIV-infected blood, kill correctional officers in a wild variety of ways (including just by slashing them open with extra-long fingernails), and essentially kick each other's asses ALL DAY LONG. Yeah, guys? I think it might be time to rethink this plan. Because while I dig the whole "teach a man to fish" concept in play here, it sort of starts to fall apart when after you're done with the lesson, your man grabs your fishin' pole and proceeds to jam it through your eyeball.

But, as the chaos whirls around us, there is one inmate who keeps the whole show anchored (primarily by being the narrator, but also just in terms of his character's character in general). And that man, played by Harold, is Augustus Hill. Augustus is kind of a Mumia Abu-Jamal character -- he's in prison for killing a cop during a shoot-out that left him in a wheelchair himself. And there's always been a little hint that he might not really deserve to be there. He's very philosophical and intelligent, and his fellow inmates respect him almost without question. It's funny how Harold manages to get that air across, too, because even before you really know anything about Augustus, you can sense just from his demeanor what kind of character he is. There's so much conveyed simply thought the way Harold makes Augustus look or move or react. And besides, talent aside, he is just DAMN good lookin', as well as the supreme ruler of the kingdom of COOL.

Despite all that, though, I'd seen seasons one through three without ever really thinking of Harold as Boyfriend material. It wasn't until he showed up on "Lost" that my ears finally pricked up. His character there, Michael Dawson, isn't actually all that different from Augustus (I mean, aside from the wheelchair part and, say, the whole convicted felon part). He's a quiet, thoughtful, but passionate man, whose every reaction has just the smallest, tiniest element of fear to it. Michael is the father of the little boy, Walt (played by an incredibly talented kid named Malcolm David Kelley, who is definitely destined for greatness), and the two barely know each other when the plane goes down. Walt's mother had divorced Michael when Walt was just a baby, and then moved away, taking him with her. She had hidden all of Michael's letters from Walt and it wasn't until she died that Michael finally got to be a part of his life. He had just flown to Australia to pick Walt up and take him to his home in the States when the plane went down.

What I love about their relationship is the way they both started out a little bit scared of each other, and how over time, that fear has slowly transformed into trust, responsibility, and love. The fear isn't gone -- but it's changed. It's very realistic -- I'm feelin' it. I feel like I understand it. And that's due in no small part to the incredible talents of both guys.

And, just in case you still harbor any more doubts about Harold's abilities, you might want to consider renting "Woman on Top," a decent little movie starring Penelope Cruz (who usually I don't like, but who I was sufficiently charmed by in this) as a Mexican chef who moves to America to get away from her two-timing husband and start a better life for herself. I flipped past this movie one day a couple of months ago, just as Harold's character made his entrance, and was so shocked and amused by what I saw that I ran out and rented it so I could see it from the beginning. Because, ladies? He plays one of the most ridiculously good-looking drag queens of all time. And he sure looked like he was having a ball doing it, too. Gotta love a man who can run in heels, after all. Especially when you're a woman like me, who can barely walk in them.

Of course, another great movie featuring Harold is one of my all-time favorite action flicks, "The Edge," starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin. In this movie, which I've seen at least thirty times, Anthony, Alec, and Harold wind up crashing in a small plane in the middle of the frozen wilderness of Alaska. It's winter, so it's freezing cold, and they have virtually nothing in terms of supplies. Despite that, they start out okay, really -- they have fire and water, which are the two most important things, and Anthony's character has just finished reading a book on wilderness survivorl. But then a bear enters the scene. And then the bear refuses to exit the scene. And then the bear exits the scene for a little while, but not until after he's torn Harold to bits and then devoured him (ew). And then the bear's gone for a little while. And then bear gets hungry again. And then the bear comes back into the scene. And then he leaves again. And then he comes back one more time and this time is promptly impaled on a large stick. And then Alec Baldwin is likewise impaled on a large stick, but only after Anthony Hopkins finds out he's been sleeping with Elle McPherson. There's really a lot of bears and impalements and, unfortunately, not enough of Harold Perrineau. But, at least we get Sir Anthony, and that's certainly nothing to sneeze at.

Great movie. Great fun. Great acting. Great Harold! And you're convinced now, right? Convinced he's the perfect choice for this week's Boyfriend? Because, if you want, I can go into more detail about the Heisenberg thing. You know, if that would help. Or, you could try renting a couple of his other films, including the last two "Matrix" movies (featuring ex-Boyfriend Keanu Reeves), "Smoke" (featuring ex-Boyfriend William Hurt), "Flirt" (featuring ex-Boyfriend Martin Donovan), or "Romeo + Juliet" (featuring. . . Jamie Kennedy?! Really? Oh god, that sounds AWFUL! Who's brilliant idea was that? Oh, I see. Baz Luhrman. Never did understand that man's vision.)

Harold was born on August 7, 1968 in Brooklyn, New York, which is also where he spent most of his childhood. I couldn't really find out that much about him -- a quick Google search didn't turn up any fan sites (gasp -- what is wrong with you people?), and the IMDB was sorely lacking as well. But, I did learn that he has studied both music and theater at the Shenandoah Conservatory, which is pretty nifty, and that in addition to his numerous film and television roles, he's also made quite a name for himself on stage. He's been nominated for two awards in the past as well -- first an Image Award nomination for his role in "The Best Man," and then an Independent Spirit Award nomination for his role in "Smoke."

Up next for Harold, of course, is several more seasons of baffling clues and no plot resolution on "Lost" (I love it, but it is tormenting me), as well as a movie in 2005 called "Random Acts of Kindness." It's described as a comedy about a grown man who gets a second chance at the childhood he never experienced when he's taken in by an old man who claims to be his long-lost father. I haven't actually heard any buzz about it, but it sounds like it might be watchable.

As for the HBOyfriend series, there may be one more installment before I wrap it up. It all depends on how I do with season one of "The Wire," which I've been working on this week. Will Dominic West make the cut? You'll just have to wait and see!

MacGyver Factor Score: 92.456%. Points off for POKING THE BEAR.

Boyfriend-Related Links

Harold's IMDB Page
ABC's Official Lost page
An interview with Harold (about being in drag)

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