"I'm the most fabulous fag in Pittsburgh."
The mark of a good television show is in its ability to draw in new viewers. Before popping in the first disc in this six DVD set, I had never seen an episode of "Queer as Folk." Sure, I had heard plenty about the show; as for the last few years it has been one of the most controversial programs on television… and Showtime's answer to HBO's "Sex and the City."
Now, for you newbies out there, I will attempt to answer a few questions for you…
Is this a good show?
Most definitely. Once the "shock" has worn off, what we're left with is a well crafted show packed with witty dialogue, serious drama, and some dark humor (for instance, a man is watching a gay porno on his computer at work while making himself coffee. He spills creamer on his pants, someone catches him, and they exchange looks. He is fired, and he feels it's because he was watching gay sex, instead of straight sex).
Can I pick up the DVD set and not be lost?
As always, I advise going out and watching a television show from its very first episode. Since I didn't have the opportunity to do that with "Queer as Folk", I have to say that it is pretty easy to follow, as the storylines aren't too complex that it would alienate new viewers.
How strong is the "sexual content" in this show?
This show is fairly explicit. There's tons of male nudity and gay sex (if you're uncomfortable with the sexual content of HBO's "OZ", then you're not going to be comfortable with "Queer as Folk"). This show does rely on "shock" every once in awhile, but if you're comfortable with homosexual (both male and female) content, then you'll be fine with this show.
"Queer as Folk: The Complete Second Season" features 20 episodes, each with a running time of approximately less than an hour. Below are episode summaries. Be forewarned again, there are some potential spoilers in their descriptions.
Episode 1 - Michael is back and things are different. Brian's promiscuity has escalated since the attack on Justin last season, which we learn more about. Lindsay's sister is getting married. In order to not make a scene, Lindsay and her girlfriend Melanie are invited, but bring men as their dates.
Episode 2 - Justin's having nightmares about Chris Hobbs, and rejects the physical contact of his mother. Ted gets busted at work for surfing a gay website. Michael returns to his old job. Emmett wants to buy himself a new butt, and Lindsay throws Gus a birthday party, which jars Justin's memory of the night he was attacked.
Episode 3 - Brian is chosen to receive an award for saving Justin's life, until a gay newspaper labels Brian as a promiscuous pedophile. At his new job, Emmett is seduced by a "monogamous" couple, and Michael is stood up by Brian.
Episode 4 - Michael agrees to march with PFLAG, and Lindsay and Melanie march with the Dykes on Bikes contingent in a gay parade. Ted has pity sex, and Emmett's drag queen friend dies.
Episode 5 - Justin drops out of college, and turns to alcohol and sex to soothe the pain of his attack. Ted's addiction to pornography grows, and Michael quits his job and sells a comic book so he can start his own business.
Episode 6 - Michael is asked to give a lecture on homoeroticism in superhero comics, and develops an attraction to Ben. Unfortunately, Ben has a secret. Ted's website is having trouble getting off the ground, so he enlists a porn star to appear on his site. He no shows, and Emmett takes his place. Justin moves out of Brian's condo
Episode 7 - Michael's new boyfriend is HIV positive, which worries those around him. Lindsay's parents refuse to help pay for her wedding. Brian turns a dull party upside down when he spikes the punch, and Emmett and Ted argue over who is truly responsible for the success of the website.
Episode 8 - Michael places an ad with a dating service with the "help" of his friends. Justin breaks his relationship rule with Brian by kissing a freshman at a Frat Party. Emmett is a bona fide star, and has lots of fans (one of them even sends him a gold bracelet).
Episode 9 - Brian's mother learns of his sexual preference when Justin emerges from the bedroom. Michael and Ben give their relationship another shot. Ted takes some Viagra for his upcoming date, and is left with an erection for the next couple of days.
Episode 10 - Debbie discovers a dead body of a boy in the dumpster behind the diner, and Justin is fascinated. Emmett and George go to the Babylon, and later, the opera. Lindsay's ideas for the wedding do not amuse Melanie.
Episode 11 - A Tarot reading warns Lindsay and Melanie not to get married on their wedding day, and as a result, everything goes wrong. Things turn around when Brian helps to plan things out.
Episode 12 - Michael is jealous over the fact that Ben and Brian have slept together. Debbie finds out the identity of the dead boy she found in the dumpster behind the diner.
Episode 13 - Justin gets a job dancing at the Babylon, although it doesn't pay as well as he originally thought. As a result, he has to perform "favors." Melanie and Lindsay believe that their child is being unfairly rejected from a pre-school because they're lesbians.
Episode 14 - Justin continues to dance, even though it's taking a toll on him. George and Emmett attempt to join the mile-high club, only for it to end in disaster. Michael has issues with Debbie, as she is dating the detective who is working the dumpster case.
Episode 15 - Michael and Justin create a new comic super hero while high on drugs, which leads to Brian's unfounded jealousy. Ted and Emmett have been informed that they will receive the "Crystal Dick" award.
Episode 16 - It's Ben and Justin's birthday, and unfortunately, Brian has some bad news about his health. Brian ignores Justin's birthday. Ted takes a grief-stricken Emmett to a gay church, and winds up meeting a school teacher who is weirded out by what Ted does for a living.
Episode 17 - Brian has one week to save his job, which results in him skipping out on a planned getaway with Justin. Emmett inherits $10 million from George and buys gifts for everyone until his bank account frozen as a result of the Schickel family's upcoming lawsuit.
Episode 18 - Ben is hospitalized after a sudden collapse. Justin's romance with Ethan continues to flourish. Emmett is offered $1 million by Melanie to admit that he has never had any relationship with George. Melanie and Lindsay try to spicen up their waning sex life.
Episode 19 - It's bowling night, and it's cops vs. queers. Michael catches Justin and Ethan kissing, and informs Brian. Ted's love for pornography has subsided. Gus' crying helps Lindsay and Melanie ward off a second ménage-a-trois with Leda.
Episode 20 - Michael and Justin's comic is being released, and Michael reveals the truth, that he informed Brian of his relationship with Ethan. Ted reveals a little secret to Emmett. Ben wants to go to Tibet to study with monks, but is talked out of it by Debbie.
Showtime presents "Queer as Folk: The Complete Second Season" in anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1. The picture is terrific, rivaling the quality of HBO's "Sopranos" DVD sets. Colors and flesh tones are vivid. There is a minimal amount of grain or artifacting present as well. Overall, Showtime has impressed me with their presentation of their flagship original television series.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish 2.0. The 5.1 soundtrack sound good, especially in the scenes taking place at the Babylon dance club (the techno beats sound excellent on my system). Aside from that, "Queer as Folk" is mainly dialogue driven. There are no audio dropouts whatsoever, and character dialogue is crisp and clean.
Every DVD, except for the sixth disc, has the same exact menu. You are given the option to play an individual episode, play all of them, read an episode synopsis, or set up your audio.
All the extras are located on the sixth disc. In no particular order, here is what we're given:
"Folks on the Road" (a 15 minute featurette of the actors promoting the show)."A Day in the Life of QAF" (their favorite sets and costumes, and the challenges). "What is it?" (explaining the Babylon dance club). "Wrap" (funny outtakes). "The Unexpurgated" (fixing an attic). "Rage" (the gay crusader comic book, and how it was made).
"2002 Queer as Folk" (Gay Pride Parades). "The Folks" (character bios, as well as interviews with the cast). "Animated Photo Gallery". "TV Spots & Trailers." "Season 3 Sneak Preview". "Queer Duck" (an animated cartoon about a queer duck). There's also some other stuff, but nothing really noteworthy. The only thing missing from this DVD set are audio commentaries! C'mon Showtime, why give all these extras and offer up zero commentaries?
If you're a fan of "Queer as Folk", there is no reason (other than the high MSRP of $119.98, ouch!) that you should not own this set. You get all 20 episodes (nearly 1,000 minutes) of the second season presented in an excellent package (audio/video/extras). When broken down, you are only paying $6 an episode, instead of the $7.70 an episode that most of the HBO dramas cost (it still doesn't hold a candle to the insanely reasonably priced Buffy TV sets). Anyways, for the newbies… If you're looking for a really good drama, then this is perfect for you. Otherwise, those of you who'd rather their dramas lack extreme homosexual content, you may be best off skipping this title.