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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Undertones?? What undertones?

Earlier this week, the website IGN posted its review of Warner Archive's The Herculoids: The Complete Original Series DVD. For the most part it's a pretty even-handed, fair review; its bottom line (like mine) was that this is a must-have for fans of the series, calling it "campy, nostalgic fun." (One factual error: the review states that the episodes are presented in the original broadcast order; I tweeted @WarnerArchive asking if that was true, and got back the answer that they're actually in original production order.)

But there is a statement in the review I have to take vehement exception to: opining that the series "has slowly evolved over the years into something much funnier than it was back in 1967 when it first hit the airwaves", the (uncredited) reviewer writes, "There's a thin layer of hilarious homoerotic undertones reminiscent of today's Ambiguously Gay Duo."


I'd love to know what constitutes a "homoerotic undertone" for this guy (yeah, I'm assuming it's a guy), because the only element I can find at all in the series that might be considered such is that the two male leads (Zandor and Dorno) both walk around in some pretty skimpy clothing.

But that wouldn't have anything to do with them living on what is sometimes nicknamed "the jungle planet", would it? Where the weather is presumably hot all the time? And heavier clothing would be cumbersome and impractical? I mean, look at Tara: she's wearing as few clothes as the CBS censors probably allowed, given the time period (late 1960s) and the fact this was considered "children's programming". Why, then, aren't there "heteroerotic undertones"?

Finding these supposed "homoerotic undertones" vis-a-vis Zandor and Dorno, actually, is perverted given the fact that these two are father and son! I've not seen anything in the way Zandor treats Dorno that is in any way outside the bounds of how you'd expect a dad to interact with his son. (Not that a lot of screen time was devoted to character development anyway; the most unusual aspect of the relationship between Dorno and his parents is that he addresses them by their names instead of as "Father" and "Mother", or even as "Mom" and "Dad". But that may be because there was an ultimately short-lived and limited vogue at the time for some "enlightened" parents to encourage their children to refer to them by first names. And maybe the writers of The Herculoids simply thought it made the characters sound just a bit more "alien" this way.)

Okay, maybe I'm just so straight that a homoerotic undertone has to walk up and bitch-slap me before I'll recognize it. But to me, supposition of these "undertones' says more about the reviewer than it does about the show.


  1. Vis-à-vis your last sentence: Indeed.

    That said, America’s humor default setting has been “cynical” for some time, David. I don’t worry overmuch about people who can’t watch yesterday’s innocent fare without filtering it through today’s s***s and giggles “comedic” sensibilities. It’s just “in.”

    (No more quotation marks, I promise.)

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  3. The comparison to the Ambiguously Gay Duo was definitely off the mark. Zandor's relationship with Dorno was nothing more than aloofly paternal.

    There was no evidence of sexual attraction between them. If anything, Zandor seemed slightly indifferent to Dorno's fate. His response to Sarko's threat to exterminate his son was to sling another energy rock at his direction.

    As for the homoerotic undertone, the inference is probably difficult to avoid when you have attractive, athletic guys in skimpier outfits than the attractive, athletic mother. Perhaps, an attractive, athletic, older sister for Dorno with an even skimpier outfit would have done it.