Third Man Out (Movie)

Title: Third Man Out (A Donald Strachey Mystery #1) 
Director: Ron Oliver
Starring: Chad Allen, Sebastian Spence and Sean Young
Distributer: Insight Films, Here TV
Genre: Action/Mystery
Country of Origin/Language: Canada/English
Rating: TV MA
Released: 2006
Length: 99 minutes
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5




A guest review by Lasha



A gay detective is hired to find who has been been threatening a notorious member of the gay community noted for outing people. (IMDB)




Based upon Richard Stevenson’s series, Here TV bought the rights to turn these books into movies. Although they filmed the books out of sequence, starting with number four instead of one, the movies still make sense even if you haven’t read the books. For fans of the books, the movies differ from them in significant ways and while I have read the  books, I have to admit I like Ron Oliver’s (the director) take on Donald and Timmy’s relationship better in the movies. Since the books were written in the 1980’s, they have that era’s flavor and to me were dated. So they needed to be modernized for a current television audience, which is what Oliver did.


In book canon, Donald was a divorced man just figuring out he’s gay. Now in the movies, he’s a former Marine intelligence officer, who was discharged because he was gay, who is out private detective in Albany, New York. In the books, Timothy Callahan was Donald’s casual lover, but in the movies, Timmy is all but his husband – they wear matching wedding bands. Timmy is a state Senator’s aid and a former Jesuit priest. They live together, are completely monogamous and have a dog named Doctor Watson. The movies have taken out the casual sex of the books and added in romance, commitment and fidelity into the storyline, which I feel enhances the Timmy and Donald relationship to make it the core element of the movies.

In Third Man Out, Donald is approached by John Rutka, who runs a web site that outs gay men in Albany. His web site has inspired death threats following a campaign of forced outings of important people in town. Donald doesn’t like Rutka and declines the job until Rutka is kidnapped and burned alive, then he is determined to find out who killed the man. What follows is Donald’s investigation into the seedier side of Albany politics and religion and the secrets everyone seems to be hiding. But will Donald’s crusade to find the truth endanger the ones he loves?

I found out about this series from friends. I did not have Here TV, so I had to get it through other means at the time. 🙂  Now, you can order all of the DVDs on Amazon. What draws me in everytime is the love, trust and chemistry between Donald and Timmy. Chad Allen (who is gay) and Sebastian Spence (who is not gay), do an incredible job of portraying a loving, committed couple who just happen to solve crimes together. If you watch the Behind the Scenes extras, you will see Chad talk about how he and Sebastian wanted the love scenes to be realistic and natural, and Chad wanted Sebastian to feel comfortable. These two actors have amazing chemistry together and it justs gets better and better as the movies progress. Each movie is filled with a topic relevant to the gay community today (forced outings, so-called ‘straight’ therapy, hate crimes, etc.). Plus Ron Oliver evokes a 1940’s flair with the films, especially the last two that are reminiscent of film noir pieces and it fits in just perfectly with the Nick and Nora theme.

So, if you’re in the mood for a little mystery, romance and a detective that kicks ass on the bad guys and comes home to his long-term partner every night, then this is the movie series for you.


This series is so much more than the tagline that Donald is Albany’s “gay detective.” At the core of the movies is the relationship between Donald and Timmy. Deeply devoted to each other, they are the modern-day version of Nick and Nora Charles. Plus in every movie you get a great mystery, some compelling drama, and a wonderful love story that touches the romantic in all of us. Highly recommended.





Next installment in series, Shock to the System:



I’ve been reading romance books since I was 12 and when I found m/m books a few years ago I fell madly in love with the genre. My favorites tropes are: GFY, police partners in love and May-December romances. I also adore paranormals and in my spare time away from Jessewave, I review pararmormal m/m books at my own blog. Give me a good shifter book and I’m a happy girl!


  • As a great fan of Stevenson — who gets kudos for creating the first gay PI (PI in the traditional mold) I have to chime in here.

    I agree the films are lots of fun, and that’s a delightful review, Lasha — I hope you turn lots of people onto those movies and through them the books, which I believe are in a class of their own.

    Don is still an ex-Army intelligence officer in the books but his whole background is handled much more believably and minus the (in my opinion) over-the-top cliches of the movies.

    Don and Timmy’s relationship — the way Don learns and grows as they move from casual sex to a deeply committed relationship is subtle and understated, but I believe it’s part of what gives that series such heart.

    Also, the writing is simply top-notch. Both stylistically and in his mastery of the crime/PI genre, Stevenson is one of the best out there — and the closest successor to Joseph Hansen. Plus he’s funny. Really entertaining.

    The movies are fun but the plots make very little sense (especially after the first movie) and they bear almost no resemblance to the books. Which is fine! As you point out, they have plenty to recommend them.

    I think you really kind of have to look at them as almost two utterly exclusive franchises because other than names and titles, the films and books have very little in common.

    I recommend Stevenson — I’d go so far as to say he’s required reading — for anyone in this genre hoping to write classic crime or detective fiction.

    • You made some excellent points Josh about Richard Stevenson’s series, and 11 of the books have been reviewed on the site by Aunt Lynn who is a huge fan as am I. The books are delightful and focus on Timmy’s and Don’s relationship as much as the mysteries. I hope that the review of this movie will prompt some of the readers to check out the Donald Strachey Mystery series.

    • I loved the books. The mysteries, the relationship and hell, they take place in Albany! I know all the streets they take and I feel Don’s pain at Albany winters.

      The movies are vastly different from the books but are still a joy to watch. I love the chemistry between Don/Timmy.
      I just wish they’d make more.

  • I hate you. :)I have spent so much money lately on movies on Amazon. Just last week I bought 5 movies reviewed on this site which should be delivered this week and now I have another 4 to buy. Damn! Bah! Humbug! 🙂

    I love this series and have read all the books and it will be great to see the movies. I’ll get this one first.

    Please check out Aunt Lynn’s reviews of the books.

  • Lasha, I think you have sold me on this set of movies!! The only question I have for you before making my purchases is this: Do the sex scenes rate more of the “R” rated or more to the “X” side of things? I don’t care for the X type movies, but have not problem with regular movie house type sex scenes.

  • I was just going to ask how many there were. They have one on Netflix streaming and one on Netflix DVDs. Of course….I just got rid of my regular netflix because they upped the price. lol I did see where I can buy them all so that makes me happy too. I can’t wait to watch! : )

  • I really love these movies, mainly because the chemistry between Chad and Sebastian is amazing. They are perfect together.

    I found these movies by other means as well 🙂 so haven’t seen the extras. It’s nice to know that Chad was so caring about the way the love scenes were handled.

    I haven’t taken to the books at all, but movie Donald and Timmy are amongst my top favourite gay characters. :love2:

    • I found Donald and Timmy through fanfiction and then wanted to see the movie based on the fic. (Then, I bought the Stevenson book series). Since the original movie was so hard to find when it originally aired on Here!TV and I didn’t know anyone who had the channel, I must admit I got a bootleg copy. But now I own pro copies with all the extras which is great because Chad Allen is such a cutie in the behind the scenes stuff.

  • Thank you Lasha, didn’t know about these and they look amazing. Your film reviews are introducing me to new and good things.

    • I love gay-themed movies and have been collecting the good (and the bad) ones for years. Be prepared for a lot more reviews. 🙂

  • I’m going to check the movies out now that I’ve read your review.
    I agree with you & LadyM; glad they modernized the story and the focus of the relationship.
    I’ve read a few of the novels and enjoyed them, but I like the updates for the movie!
    Thanks for the reviw!

    • I will tell you On the Other Hand, Death is my least favorite of the movies because it has a lot less Timmy/Donald interaction. But Ice Blues and Shock to the System are wonderful along with this first one. Enjoy!

  • I adore the books and I love the movies. The movies skipped through the casual part of men’s relationship and went right to the commitment and I agree with you that this was the right move. So was modernizing of the stories. But incredible chemistry between Allen and Spence is what makes these movies great. Both men are very charming and I was really sad that only four movies were made.

    • Yes, I was saddened they only made four movies too. I used to follow Ron Oliver’s blog and saw some of the behind the scenes filming while they were making Ice Blues (probably my second fav movie of the series after Third Man Out) and I know they struggled to get four done on the budget they were given.

      I keep hoping Logo or someone else will pick it up as a series. Chad and Sebastian are lovely together.


Please comment! We'd love to hear from you.

%d bloggers like this: