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
Country of Origin/Language: Canada/English
Rating: TV MA
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.
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: