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last update 12.Jun.16
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Coming Out: Season 2
dir-scr-prd Mathieu Blanchard
with Mathieu Blanchard, Melanie Pilon, Patrick Martin, Sebastien Beaulac, Marc-Andre Poliquin, Rosalie Julien, Ansia Wilscam-Desjardins, Ariane Castellanos, Vincent Leclerc, Laetitia Belanger, Sylvie Demers, Natalie Tannous
blanchard and martin
release Can 2.Dec.14;
UK 26.Oct.15
14/Canada 2h04

coming out 2 There are 12 more brief episodes in this second season of the Canadian gay soap opera. And this time the drama kicks off right from the start, assuming that the audience recalls these characters from two years ago. The problem is that they're not that memorable. But delving back into their tortured lives is rather entertaining.

After 18 months trying to find work as an photographer in New York, Mat (Blanchard) arrives back in Montreal to find his friends getting on with their lives. After a personal tragedy, Caroline and Marie (Pilon and Julien) are splitting up, and there's also trouble for Mat's best pal Hugo (Martin) and his boyfriend Olivier (Beaulac). Meanwhile, Mat needs to find work, but is still distracted by his ex Ian (Poliquin), who has a new boyfriend (Leclerc). And Hugo challenges him to regain control of his life and to let people in for a change.

Everything is much more melodramatic now. For example, Olivier deciding to take a shower before dinner is a sign of imminent doom in their relationship, sparking concerned stares into the middle distance. And once again social worker Caroline has a client (Castellanos) whose precarious journey involves drugs and violence. To keep things in a state of chaos, Blanchard's scripts never really allow the characters to work on their relationships, instead throwing them into a series of wrenching clashes followed by emotional catharses.

Thankfully, the natural, realistic cast members are both sympathetic and likeable. Blanchard's open-faced charm drives this series. Martin is a standout as the guy unwilling to remain quiet about issues that are important. Poliquin has strong presence as the man Mat simply can't get out of his head, and neither will admit that perhaps the feeling is mutual. Pilon is also excellent as the seriously conflicted Caroline, managing to keep her grounded even in her save-the-world story strand.

But then every plot point relies on cliches like the shocking death of a never-seen parent, waking up in a strange bed after a drunken night out or catching a lover in bed with someone else. There are also strong comments on taking control of your life and seeing the difference between passion and real love. And even though it's oddly timid about sex and overwrought about emotion, this series of 10-minute mini-dramas is packed with intriguing characters who have enjoyably messy lives.

15 themes, language, violence
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dir Lloyd Eyre-Morgan
scr-prd Lloyd Eyre-Morgan, Rob Ward
with Lloyd Eyre-Morgan, Daniel Wallace, Verity-May Henry, Rob Ward, Simon Keen, Ali Kahn, Chris Hoyle, Janet Bamford, Joel Keating, Nathan Morris, Amy Jane Ollies, Andrew Madden
eyre-morgan and ward
release UK 13.Jun.16
16/UK TLA 1h20
Outings The first three episodes of a planned British TV series are released to disc with a plea to demand more. But that's rather unlikely, as the show has very little that will connect with viewers aside from friends and family of the cast and crew. It's comical but never funny, and packed with big emotional issues that don't quite resonate. But the real problem is that it's never sexy, unlike shows it's trying to echo like Queer as Folk, Sex and the City or Skins.

In Manchester, a group of 20-something friends is struggling with issues relating to love and sex. Kane (Eyre-Morgan) has just broken up with his boyfriend (Morris) and is interested in an actor (Keen) who has other things on his mind. Kane's friend Kiegan (Ward) is a party boy who finds himself conflicted when his brother (Keating) asks him to be best man. Their friend Tim (Wallace) is dating Lucy (Henry), who is willing to overlook his gay past, although his colourful friend Hoppy (Kahn) sees trouble ahead. Then secrets emerge when Tim throws an 80s-themed birthday party for Lucy.

There's a lot of talk about sex, mainly the problems the various couples have at finding even a hint of satisfaction in bed. But it's depicted so coyly in the film that it's no wonder they're all frustrated. Everything happens under heavy bed covers, including fully clothed kisses. So the way the script continually moralises about promiscuity feels plainly inauthentic. Not to mention the problem that every plot strand screams that no one is complete without a man to love.

The cast is fresh, but can't make much out of the underwritten situations. Each person is made up of a few random characteristics, which makes everything that happens feel obvious and corny. This means that there's no real sense of the friendships between these people, so their clashes feel scripted for plot purposes rather than as something that might emerge between them. And the histrionic arguments feel especially silly.

There's definitely a need for a series touching on these kinds of issues, but this one simply isn't professional enough to make the grade. The slim budget shows in the barren production design, limp pacing, choppy editing and inexplicable visual effects. Which leaves the entire thing feeling oddly static. About the best that can be said about this series is that it's intriguing enough to wish that it was better made.

18 themes, language, sexuality
Dream On NB. Most of my video reviews are now on the blog, so this "video" strand ends here. Dedicated releases (like the two on this page) will appear as independent, foreign or shorts, as appropriate. And here are a few links to recent blog posts...

Spring 2015 TV roundup
Parks & Recreation, Wolf Hall, Looking, You're the Worst and more...

Summer 2015 TV roundup
Grace & Frankie, Dig, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, How to Get Away With Murder and more...

Autumn 2015 TV roundup
Sense8, Wayward Pines, Wet Hot American Summer, The Brink, Ballers and more...

Winter 2016 TV roundup
You Me & the Apocalypse, Master of None, The Man in the High Castle, Downton Abbey and more...

Spring 2016 TV roundup
War & Peace, The Night Manager, The X Files, The Grinder, House of Cards and more...

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