6 July 2008 | rambler-9
When I saw the first season, I posted a review and commented on the bad acting and sub-par writing. But, I really enjoyed the show anyway. I'm glad I stuck with it, because it's gotten better. A LOT better.
It has all the basic elements I like - Gothic plot line, romance, and skin on screen. The writing, acting, and directing have come a long way since Season 1 - in fact, I would have to say Season 3 is by far the strongest yet. The writing is tighter, the performances turned in by series veterans have improved enormously (Charlie David in particular is giving substantially-improved performances) and the show is just plain FUN! Gothic Horror is a genre I love, and Dante's Cove delivers that. Especially in Season 1 (the show moved shooting locations to Hawai'i starting Season 2) there are great locations with old architecture and some spooky native locales. The cast is hot, the sex is getting hotter by the season, and the plot lines are engaging - covering all the territory from "jealous boyfriend" to "jilted fiancée" to "mind-controlling warlock" as time rolls on in the show. There is humor (both intended and not, I think), drama, and by Season 3 the camp atmosphere feels more intended than accidental and the show has finally hit its stride.
One ding - every season the show appears to move. Between Season 1 and 2, shooting moved to Hawai'i (O'ahu, to be exact) so some established locations either just changed (The Hotel Dante) or "closed for renovations" (the Historical Society building.) Between Seasons 2 and 3 we've moved locales again! For reasons I won't get into here, we're not spending any more time at the hotel. The feel of the locales has moved from Gothic to Paradise Beach - while Hawai'i is gorgeous, it's a bit sunny and fun for the feel I got from the first season. Personally, I find the constant venue changes jarring, and hope we'll get to see some of the same locations for Season 4 when it arrives, or perhaps return for a bit to some older ones.
In any event, I love this show. For those who haven't figured this out yet, it does feature full-frontal nudity (male) and lots of sex - gay, lesbian, and IIRC a straight scene or two. The show (with the sole exception of the opening five minutes of Season 1) doesn't show full-frontal with erection, which occasionally looks strange given what's supposed to be going on, and which seems strange given where it went in the show's opening five minutes of Season 1. A couple of the actors are obviously not planning on full-frontal, and occasionally contort to avoid it, while extras are frequently (and occasionally pointlessly) nude, and soft even when horn-dogging someone. Perhaps more creative set staging or action blocking could help them cover up without looking so odd doing it, or maybe they'll decide one day that full-frontal in a gay soap is not career-ending. While I'm not looking for pornography here, a touch more realism would help with "suspension of disbelief" quite a bit.
All in all, if you like horror, and like gay themes, give "Dante's Cove" a try. Try to watch at least two seasons, and I really recommend going for the third - it's the strongest yet, and starts to deliver on the promise of the premise that we've been waiting for from the beginning.