Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Day Fifty-one - Murder, She Wrote: Season 1, Episode 3, or "Why are there no gay men here?"

You may think that's a strange thing to ask, especially concerning an 80's murder mystery about a middle-aged female author who solves killings as a sort of hobby, but, I assure you, the question is definitely begged by this episode.

It does so not because the episode is set in San Francisco, what could be the prime city for Friends of Dorothy in America, but because it's set in San Francisco at a Drag Club.

Wait! Excuse me... it is a nightclub, no one says anything about Drag Queens. In fact, its feature act is a comedian who plays the drums. Wha-huh? Did that just happen? I know, I can't believe it either, but what is even worse is that, even though it's just billed as the top hot spot of The City's nightlife and two of the three acts we see are men in women's clothing, it's not a Drag Club.

No, it's a nightclub... that features "female impersonators." Not Drag Queens... impersonators. What's weirder? These impersonators are completely straight. And I mean completely straight. One is having an affair with the club owner's wife and the other is engaged to Jessica Fletcher's niece (one of the many she accumulates over the series).

I'm sorry, but there's just something wrong about a Drag Club that isn't a Drag Club... and Queens who aren't Queens. Now, I've got nothing against transvestites who are straight, BUT THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE SAN FRANCISCO!

And not a gay man in sight.

You know, at least until we get to the police station where a butch biker propositions Zack Allen (the late Jeff Conaway) for a date, which is, of course, met with hostility instead of a polite refusal.

I realize this was the 80's and we were right in the middle of the Reagan culture war... that Will & Grace's much hyped kiss between two men and Ellen's very public coming out were more than a decade off, but still... I'm more than a bit disappointed.

Anyways, most everyone is annoying in this episode, even Jessica. The bit players have no depth and the suspects all make you hate them. Jeff Conaway is obviously a fall guy, but he's only in the situation because of a plot hammer that is hard to believe. Martin Landau is horribly underutilized as the victim (would've been MUCH better as the killer), and Gabe Kaplan? Woof.

What could have been a progressive episode for its time was either too cowardly or two overwritten by network censors. The latter seems most likely to me as it was a CBS show... and said network is not entirely known for its forward thinking views.

Ah well. No use crying over spilled milk, but I know that this episode's preposterous notions did sour me on continuing to revisit Murder, She Wrote for the near future.

Maybe I should watch The Birdcage next to balance it out?

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

1 comment:

  1. Why are there no gay men - it was 1984. You couldn't show gay people on television. *grins* Oh, and ESPECIALLY not on CBS in 1984 - as you pointed out - in Reagan's America. I've been watching for about 2 weeks now and some of the episodes are hopelessly dated but overall fun to watch.