Who watches the Zalman King's Red Shoe Diaries? It's been on Showtime as long as I can remember, and there must be about 100 episodes by now. That's 50 hours of producer Zalman King's sexual sensibility. King is the rather interesting character actor who fell into the realm of erotic straight to videos, for which he became the genre's Hugh Hefner. After Two Moon Junction, and starting around the time of Lake Consequence, King gave up theaters and just stuck with video and television. One consequence of this focus is Red Shoe Diaries: Forbidden Zone, three episodes culled from the series. Other compilations include Red Shoe Diaries 2: Double Dare, from 1992, Red Shoe Diaries 4: Auto Erotica, from 1993, and numerous others. Forbidden Zone seems to be from 2000.
One wonders what the allure of this series could be. I suspect that, like the Saturn automobile, it is geared to women. Hence the overhead lighting, the shadows, the fast music video editing, the general softness of the whole enterprise, and the fact that in most of the shows the women characters have the power. If I recall correctly, the whole series started when David Duchovny, as Jake Winters, was betrayed by a woman. He placed an ad soliciting stories from other people about their sexual betrayal, and every once in a while walks his dog to the post office to catch up on the latest missive. After a smoky tango theme, the current story than starts. Anyway, whether women actually watch this series is unknown to me; but the series is obviously directed at what the producers take to be their sensibilities. It's the only sex show with very little sex, no penises, and few breastsóbut a lot of talk.
Zalman King's Red Shoe Diaries also offers a way to contrast Showtime, its host channel, and HBO, the more wildly successful and award wining subscription channel service. While HBO has had the raw, witty Sopranos and the comedic soap opera Sex and the City, Showtime has had RS and a series of unmemorable failures. Just as King's series seems soft and unfocused, all of the Showtime shows lack bite, focus, wit, energy. When the history of the two channels is written we may than come to know the producers and executives who make decisions about these shows and unleash the money, but for now we just know one thing: which channel we look forward to Sunday night.
The three episodes are "Forbidden Zone," "The Art of Loneliness," and "The Picnic." Frankly, I couldn't make out much about them. The first is a strange account of a woman (ex-model Beverly Johnson) telling a story to a man, with flashbacks to some event in the past, or future, that has something to do with wild dancing in a warehouse to techo music, with some sex on a cage-carrying truck. The second story has something to do with female disc jockeys and a guy with a sax. I couldn't figure out this one either. The last one was a little clearer, and takes place outdoors, in daylight. Mostly. It has a country western twang. It's about two buddies who have a falling out over a woman, who pulls out a gun to shoot one of them at the behest of the other. I think.
VIDEO: This Showtime disc makes the series look better than it appears on TV. It's clear, bight, and colorful. Naturally, there are no imperfections.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround audio track picks up the nonstop music well. Surprisingly, there is a lot of dialogue in this show.
MENUS: An animated, musical menu offers five chapters for each of the three just-under-half-an-hour episodes.
EXTRAS: Supplements are minimal. They include a two minute "Look Inside," which amounts to a music video about the three episodes. They also include an ad for other Red Shoe DVDs, and a two minute animated photo gallery called "Snap Shot." There are also filmographies for Zalman King, host David Duchovny, and credits for the main members of the cast for each of the three shows, credits that include a lot of soap operas, Silk Stalkings, and Red Shoe episodes. Finally, for PC owners, there is a weblink.