What do you do when you’ve got a camp, amusing, reasonably original series that might appeal to the gay community? You take the ‘gay’ bit of it and make a spin-off which wouldn’t appeal to anybody with a sense of comic timing, a love of good drama or, indeed, half a brain.
The Lair was the name of the vampire gay sex club in magic-based comedy-drama Dante’s Cove. Taking a few of its characters and none of its appeal, this series was presumably aimed at those viewers who enjoyed the man-on-man action but couldn’t be bothered with any of the subtler qualities. Trouble is, what those viewers will get will be a seriously watered-down version of what they were expecting, with not a lot else.
It stands to reason that you’d see a commercial opportunity in the ‘gay sex’ aspect of anything, and that’s clearly what’s happened here. But the one part of the series which doesn’t work is exactly that. Any so-called ‘erotic’ scenes might as well be acted out with robots – they’re oddly stilted, sterile affairs which offer nothing in either plot or atmosphere. The sex in Dante’s Cove was the show’s guilty pleasure – far too well-acted and clearly enjoyed by all involved. Here, however, it’s rubbish.
It wouldn’t matter so much if the drama itself was any good, but it’s pretty weak. A journalist called Thom (David Moretti) begins to investigate mysterious deaths, caused by vampires at The Lair being a bit overenthusiastic. Head vampire (Peter Stickles) decides Thom is actually the reincarnation of his lost lover, ‘Sheriff Trout’ (seriously) hangs around to investigate, and it doesn’t get any less soap opera than that. Blah blah blah. You’ll probably be slightly confused, you certainly won’t care, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be immediately thrown by the characters having names like ‘Colin’ and ‘Ian’. They’re not attractive and Colin will immediately make you want to stake him through the heart.
There’s not much comedy, either. Dante’s Cove had a self-awareness and sense of fun which carried it along nicely; The Lair‘s brand of ‘humour’ isn’t funny and has an unpleasant, sleazy edge that would make you back away from it in a nightclub.
This is such a terrible, terrible shame. I had really hoped that they would take everything that was good about the main show and carry it over, with added silliness and an inevitably larger dose of gay ‘action’. It just doesn’t happen, crying out for the stronger talent of Tracy Scoggins, a much better plot, and far less belief that it’s ground-breakingly brilliant TV. Stick with Dante, and if you’re going to watch both, make sure you see this last.