A few months back, I reviewed the new web series “Where the Bears Are.” I thought that it had potential if it could get over some problems: carboard characters, stiff line delivery and not taking its murder-mystery premise seriously enough. Unfortunately, the characters are still cardboard and a lot of the laughs fall flat. The series originally billed itself as The Golden Girls meets Murder, She Wrote, but it’s trying too hard to be the former while not trying hard enough to be the latter.
There’s Wood Burns played by Joe Dietl as the ditzy Rose Nylund character; though not as charming. There’s Nelson played by Ben Zook as stand-in for Blance Devereaux, if Blance were a struggling middle-aged acctress vs. a maneater. Finally, there’s Rick Copp as Reggie; the Dorothy Zbornak character, Rick has all of her bite minus the ugly jokes. If these men weren’t trying so hard to fill these archtypes, the show would be a little more funny. I, actually, went back to some YouTube clips of The Golden Girls to see what made these original archtypes so funny and charming, and I think it was two things: 1) These characters weren’t archtypes when Golden Girls first aired; at least not for the senior set. 2) Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Bea Arthur had so much more believability in their delivery. “Bears” seems too much like a production of the archtypes they portray vs. being actual living, breathing humans. The Girls just did it better.
Bears totally isn’t without laughs at all. Episode 12: Bear Reunion with the drag queen is hysterical. I loved the tear down she gave to the stage manager. This is an instance of a archtype that works because we all know someone like it. Episode 19: Bears to the Rescue has another funny scene between Detective Winters and Wood as they plant a wire on Wood. What makes this scene funny is it’s more believeable; more true; more natural. And this is where “Where the Bears Are” tends to succeed. When it isn’t playing so much to comedy, but playing more to the natrual development of the plot and the characters. One of the better scenes comes in Episode 21: Bear Fight. Reggie and Nelson have it out about how their characters really feel (about the 4:00 mark).
This is much more believable because its relatable. A lot of us know how it feels when our friends tell us the harsh truth that we may not want to hear, and a lot of us know the feeling when friends aren’t treating us as friends. This is what we are looking for when we tune into shows driven by gay characters; someone who is a little more like us.
“Bears” is looking to do a second season, and they are looking to you to help finance it. As they state in the openings to the last 5 episodes, they have a DVD for sale that includes the first season as well as some extras like bloopers, Wood’s webcam and nudity. While all of that wouldn’t be enough to entice me to buy the DVD on it’s own, it does include a 20 minute Christmas episode where Detective Winters, played by the handsome Chad Sanders, and Wood Burns finally hook-up with one another. From the preview that comes at 30 seconds into Episode 25: Bear Trap (Part 2), it looks pretty hot, and worth watching. But there is also something else that makes me want to support these guys.
They are trying to highlight another segment of the gay community; a segment of which I am particularly fond. And I recall other shows from back in the day that didn’t start out as phenoms and became one. I think that “Where the Bears Are” has a good concept. I really like the episodic adventure of three friends; something that’s different from the usual gay love story we find in entertainment. I’m willing to give the guys the opportunity to do a second season–a season that I hope will bring imporvements to the characters and the plots. So, yes, I will be buying my own “Where the Bears Are” DVD. Be looking for my review on that to come.
Visit the “Where The Bears Are” Website to get your own.