The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Canadian Sex Symbol

Canadian Sex Symbol

A review of Men in Trees


Patricia Parkinson

(It's our month of love and this show is all about love, oh, and that other thing, oh yeah, sex!)

TV. It’s not something that interests me. This is due in part, to scheduling, the fact that the season that used to, in the old days, go from September till school got out, now ends in…March? And even then, with reruns and hiatuses for this and hiatuses for that, the new episodes run so sporadically, it’s difficult to maintain interest. Yet every September I continue to I check the TV Guide for the announcements of the returning shows, hinting at storylines left as cliffhangers in last seasons finales and introductions of the new arrivals. Checking is a habit from my much younger self when I mourned the loss of Mary Tyler Moore and celebrated the renewal of such shows as Knots Landing, how I hate to admit that, however, this fall, the new and not predicted to be successful, “Men in Trees,” was the show that caught my interest.

Staring an ensemble cast lead by Anne Heche, who is one of the reasons I made a mental note to watch it - out of curiosity more than anything, after all Anne Heche played twins Marley and Marnie in Another World (a teenage habit) this, combined with the fact that Heche’s personal life hasn’t exactly been a secret, intrigued me. But my main interest in her work stems from the knowledge of her recent Broadway success in both “Proof,”one of the longest running non musical plays in recent Broadway history, and her performance in “Twentieth Century” which earned her a Tony nomination. The woman’s got range.

In “Men in Trees,” Heche plays the part of Marin Frist, a relationship coach/writer who, during a speaking gig in of all places, Alaska, discovered her fiancee has cheated on her. Marin decided to take a break from the big city and concentrate on her novel, about, well, men! and stay "temporarily" in the fictional village of Elmo, Alaska. Elmo. Brilliant name. The scenery in this show is also a star. Did I neglect to say it's filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia? Marin brings with her best friends, some from New York who pay surprise visits, and new friends, the quirky cast that offer their own strong storylines and neurosis. Heche is real, open, gives me that, "I'm comfortable in my own skin," sort of feeling that I admire. Sometimes she’s a bit too Anne Heche, you know what I mean? But hey, she’s flawed. I can relate. In Men in Trees, Anne Heche, I believe, is playing herself. Bottom line? I'd love to go for coffee with her and can’t see any other actor playing this role. She nails it.

And now to the main reason my curiosity in the show was piqued.

Meet James Tupper from Halifax, Nova Scotia - the breakout star and the newest sex symbol to hit network television since, well, that other guy.

James Tupper plays the part of Jack Slattery. Marin’s on again, off again, forever smouldering, love interest. He’s square jawed and handsome and handy and another “h” word that he makes me feel too. Jack can build a fire and has a job saving the environment and is the only man I'm aware of to whom the words, "I just want to hold you all night," mean just that. Jack recently held Marin naked on top of him for an entire night, all in the name of hypothermia! Jack Slattery is a “good man” and perhaps I’m being cynical, but good men don’t come around that often. His portrayal is so believable that I'm led to believe Tupper too, is playing himself. This is my fantasy. In a recent interview when asked what he thought about his newfound sex symbol status, Tupper replied, he may have even blushed - a good man and a humble actor - James Tupper is the real deal - “A sex symbol, eh? (he did say that) Well, my dad can’t understand it, I don't quite get it myself, but Dad did ask me to send ten autographed pictures.” You gotta love this guy.

Originally billed as a “Northern Exposure” wanna be, which in my opinion, couldn’t be farther from the truth, Men in Trees, which is created by a headwriter and an executive producer from Sex in the City, bears the network censorship laws of its thumbprint. Anne Heche is a writer, (her character was recently published in The New Yorker) blonde, nice body, bisexual in real life, which is far more intruiging than being married to the star of The Producers, great wardrobe, and I mean great, forget about Manolo Blahnik, which I’m sure are all ultra chic in Manhatten but so not in Elmo. Marin Frist wears funky boots and jackets and sweaters and as we all know winter is the best season for fashion. In Elmo, Marin meets Jack, Mr. Big in hiking boots and a Mac jacket. But, Mr. Jack with eyes like my husband, who's been a sex symbol long before James Tupper came along, had best be watching his P's and Q's, as there's a new man in town with great abs and a bad boy attitude. In Elmo, men, the odder the hotter, are everywhere!

But the real reason for the success of this show, why I’ll celebrate if it’s renewed this coming season, is the chemistry between Heche and Tupper. Their storyline at present, has them off, there's nothing like longing and the forbidden to get thing heated up. This combined with rumors that Heche’s husband has sited a relationship between the two actors as grounds for divorce, make this pairing worth watching. The plot thickens.

Like Sex in the City, Men in Trees has the voice over of the main character at the end of each episode. Marin either resolving an issue, or finding her way around a new one, with questions or answers or affirmations that yes, we are flawed, we just need a little guidance.

Move over PatrickWhatsyourhead, the Canadian has a better time slot.

Check out the other Canadian talent on Men in Trees. Seems we're everywhere these days. I'm liking it.




A sidebar in the event a writer from ABC happens to read this. One weakness in the storyline: It’s hard as a viewer to buy into Jack hooking up with Lynn again. Sorry, but it just doesn't wash with me. Jack's a "good man," but he suffers no fools, is a no bullshit sorta guy with a whole lotta sex appeal. Will Marin and Jack reunite? I hope so, for at least one night! and hey, wouldn't it stir things up if Marin got pregnant? Wouldn't it though?



Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

Patricia, I moved to Toronto to meet other gay men in their forties. And there are plenty and they love opera and good wine, etc..., but in my fantasy life, I'm cuddling with someone in a cabin somewhere. Why isn't there a gay Alaska? Is Vancouver a gay Alaska? Please say yes and send me a ticket.

Sat Feb 17, 12:25:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Patricia said...

well of course there is a gay in Alaska!!! more than one my friend!

Sat Feb 17, 12:31:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

I need more than one! I like a smorges... a smorgesboa... a shmjorsgesba... a buffet. I need at least a gaybourhood- like ten city blocks- full of gays.

Sat Feb 17, 12:35:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Patricia said...

I'll arrange it, I have pull you know..xo

Sat Feb 17, 12:41:00 pm GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terrific review, Patricia!


Sat Feb 17, 01:21:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Myfanwy Collins said...

I need to watch this show now, Patricia! I haven't seen it yet but you've got me interested.

Sat Feb 17, 01:28:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Patricia said...

Thanks you Kathy and Myfawny, you ladies are sooo terrific, thank you sooo much, it was actually alot of fun researching for the review, looking for the "canadian content" happy to find lots of us canucks working on the show..xoxoxo

Sat Feb 17, 01:33:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Phil Jones said...

So let me get this straight. Is this where I post my latest favorite story, or do I comment about the blog?
Great review Patricia. I've seen the show a handful of times. Enough to pick up a few story lines. It's quite engaging, in that juicy, anyone could end up with anyone sort of way. Throw in a sprinkling of quirky peripheral characters, some parkas and toques, the steady bass line of unrequited love. Dress it up with mountaineous backdrops and cut shots of the snow-encrusted village and viewers just plumb forget it's all the same show. The variations are the ketchup that hides the meatloaf. Just my opinion. What do you want from a fifty year old male?
The review, however, was a great deal more interesting. Very professional. Lots of detail and background. I think you've honed in on why people watch these shows in the first place. It's all in he details. I had no idea how Canadian this production is either. Encouraging to see that. I thought thr review was thorough and polished.
By the way Jack is a nancy-boy. If he were the rough and tumble character he's supposed to be he would have beaten all other suitors in a drunken armwrestling contest at the local pub, dragged Marin off into the bushes and ended this story like a man.

Sat Feb 17, 03:37:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Patricia said...

aren't you the manly man, nice to see you sweetheart, you always make my day. Love you, and me and you, Thursday night, fire, Men in Trees, I know, I know, I owe you..xoxo

Sat Feb 17, 04:07:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

If I watched TV, I might watch this! Thanks, Patricia.

Sat Feb 17, 07:52:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Patricia said...

I know what you mean Tricia, TV, it just irritates me, you know, the sound, but I do like this show, it's cute, and funny and no one dies and there's no violence or forensic science involved. Thanks for reading. xo

Sun Feb 18, 12:42:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger J.A. McDougall said...

I'm finally reading this! Great review, Patricia, for some reason I've missed this show every time catching either the first five mintues or the last five. Need to move it up the priority list!

Wed Mar 07, 11:57:00 am GMT-5  

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