The Boyfriend of the Week

October 31, 2006

Last time, I began the write-up by slamming on my tendency to over-utilize what I described as the "cute butt shtick." You longtime readers know what I mean -- the write-ups in which I spend more time talking about a Boyfriend's fine, uh, external qualities to the neglect of expounding upon the shining personality he might have within.

This week, however, I'd like to begin by telling myself from last week to bite me. Because you know what? Sometimes you just need to do a write-up in which you talk about cute butts. And this, my friends, is one of those times. We've got continuing war in Iraq, we've got nukes in North Korea, everybody on Lost and Battlestar Galactica is miserable and/or enslaved, and I have a hole in the toe of my left sock that is driving me insane -- I think it's time for a little ogling of arse, people. Something lighthearted and good-spirited. Something that can bring us all together as human beings, man, HUMAN BEINGS. And seriously, if there's one thing in this world that could bring about instantaneous world peace, I have a feeling it is James Tupper's rear end.

Of course, you can't bring about world peace with lies, lies, lies (listen up, Shrub), and so I probably ought to confess right now that, in all honesty, I actually have no idea what James Tupper's rear end looks like. For all I know, Kim Jong Il is going to take one look at it and be so horrified by what the West has to bring to the World of Behind that he hits the big red button marked, "DO NOT PRESS THIS BUTTON" and blows our scrawny American hineys to oblivion. The next thing you know, you'll turn on CNN and think you're watching a rerun of Jericho. Only Gerald McRaney? WILL HAVE BEEN OBLITERATED TOO. Oh, the humanity!

My god, what have I done?! I've been too blinded by James Tupper's dimples (my god, those dimples kill me), blue eyes, messy hair, amazing biceps, and shy little grins to notice much below his waist, and now I have run the risk of bringing about ARMAGEDDON!

In my defense, however, and before you all go running off to North Korea to report me and ruin all chances for successful disarmament talks, I should say that I strongly, strongly suspect James Tupper's butt is a magical thing to behold, and therefore, I feel the risk that his saggy bottom is going to bring about the ninth circle of Hell on Earth is probably relatively low. It's far, FAR more likely Kim Jong IL will blow us up simply because I used his name in a sentence on a web site that once also used the phrases "Patrick Swayze" and "fishnet stockings" in the same paragraph. In short, I suspect it's really not going to take much to motivate him into hating us more, so if he DOES blow us up, I don't think you can really blame me so much as you can blame the fact he's a raving lunatic (though, come to think of it, calling him a raving lunatic probably isn't going to help any either. I take it back. No really, I do. Pfft, NOT. Nutjob.).

In any case, my working theory here is that there's simply no way you can have an upper body that looks as good as James Tupper's and have a lower body that doesn't match up. And though in the interest of thorough research (yeah, research, that's the ticket!), I attempted to find a picture of James's rear on the web, the only photos I could find were all taken from the front, featuring James from the waist up. Go figure. Defies all logic to ME, but then, that might explain why my career as a celebrity photographer never took off. "Hey, Mr. Pitt. I know I'm supposed to do a head shot for the cover of Entertainment Weekly, however, could you just turn around for a sec? Just for a sec. Seriously. Okay, hold it, hold it, *click.* Great, thanks, we're done here. . .Next!"

That said, take another look at the photo I did find (above). Is it just me, or is James Tupper so cute he makes the aforementioned Brad Pitt look like Ugly Betty? Answer: yes, he is that cute, sorry Mr. Pitt. And this is why I've lately been describing him to everyone I know as "the cutest noob on TV today" (or, for you geekier types, that would be "the cutest n00b," and for you non-geeky types, that would be "the cutest newcomer or newbie," and excuse me while I get back to playing World of Warcraft on my computer because, DORK).

Hey, wow, I'm already about a third of the way into this write-up and I still haven't told you who the heck James Tupper is! So far, I've educated you far more about Kim Jong Il, which is pretty ridiculous considering the fact I don't find HIM cute at all.

Some of you may already know who James is, though, and you girls are closest to my heart this week, you sweet little quirk-loving sweeties. But, for those of you who have better things to do Friday nights at nine than watch TV (i.e. those of you who are still single, and we boring marrieds hate you for this, incidentally), James Tupper is the star of the new ABC series Men in Trees, where he plays an extremely handsome park ranger named Jack, the source of a great deal of sexual tension both in town AND in my living room. Incidentally, I'd like to point out that this is the second year in a row in which a gorgeous guy with dimples has played a park ranger who made me swoon -- last year, if you'll remember, it was Eddie Cibrian in Invasion. What is it with park rangers and dimples? Deadly!

Hmmm, well, now that I think about it, I guess I can't really call James Tupper the star of Men in Trees. Technically, the star is Anne Heche. But honestly, once James Tupper comes into the frame, who among us notices Anne Heche anymore, I ask you? And thank god for small favors, because yes, it's true: Anne Heche gets on my nerves a lot of the time, and she always kinda has. While I'm on the subject, I'd like to also say for the record that I was not at ALL surprised when I heard about that incident a few years ago when she went wandering around town looking for her spaceship. I'd been arguing for years she wasn't actually human. I mean, four words: Six Days, Seven Nights -- I rest my case.

Anyway, I love this show, I LOVE IT I LOVE IT I LOVE IT. And this is why it's extra-super-special unfortunate that I've chosen to both mention it and feature an actor from it here on the site today. Why? Why, because of the now-infamous Meg Wood Boyfriend Jinx of Television Doom. Again, I'd like to apologize to Eyes, Wonderfalls, and the countless other television shows I have smooshed like stinkbugs simply by mentioning my affection for them in a public forum. It's not really my fault that TV executives are stupid, or that 95% of TV show watchers have no love for the weird. But I cannot deny that my kiss seems to be the kiss of death the vast majority of the time. The Seattle Mariners usually lose whenever I attend a game in person, too. It's totally a world of injustice. Sucksville, USA.

That said, I have given Men in Trees about seven weeks to establish itself before going out on this metaphorical limb, and since networks don't seem to take many risks with new shows anymore, often canceling the ones that don't succeed instantly within two or three episodes, I have high hopes that this, coupled with the fact a bunch of you might consider tuning in after you see James Tupper's messy hair (mrrrrow!), might miraculously result in a Jinx Dodge. My fingers are crossed, I have prayed to all that is holy, and I just tossed some salt over my left shoulder for good measure. Aside from sacrificing a chicken or seven virgins (or seven virgin chickens, even), I'm not sure what else I can do at this point.

Now, some of you may have given Men in Trees the ol' college try when it first came on, and then dismissed it as utterly unbearably trite within an episode or two. Hey, I hear ya. I almost did myself, especially when we got to the episode in which relationship-coach Marin Frist (Heche) whined that she didn't know HOW to move her own furniture because she'd always had a MAN do that for her. Good god, we're supposed to believe a woman like that knows how to keep a relationship in good shape? If I tried that with my husband, he'd roll his eyes and snort -- not exactly the kind of reaction that keeps the fires burning, if you ask me.

However, the show has been steadily growing on me for the past several weeks, and it's gotten to the point now that I can't wait for it to come out on DVD so I can watch the whole thing all over again. Marin, a relationship coach who was up in small town Elmo, Alaska giving a lecture when she discovered her fiance had been cheating on her and her entire world fell apart, has started to become more grounded in female reality. She's decided to stay in Elmo and continues to give relationship advice to all those around her, which is something I find extremely amusing because it ought to be obvious to all by now that she has no idea what she's talking about (then again, I also find it amusing that Dr. House on House is considered to be a diagnostic genius, considering the fact he never get any of his diagnoses correct until his patients are two ribbits away from croaking).

In addition to Marin's changes for the better and Jack's extremely drool-inducing upper body, however, the supporting cast of this show is also too excellent to resist. I've always loved Abraham Benrubi (formerly from ER, but even more formerly from Parker Lewis Can't Lose, a show I adored back in the 1990's) and I love him even more as Elmo's bear-like barkeep with a heart, and bank account, of gold. Plus, who can resist the geeky couple played by Derek Richardson (previously seen as one of the backpacking torture victims in Hostel, believe it or not -- I didn't recognize him myself) and Emily Bergl, who is absolutely adorable. Additionally, I was psyched to see Sarah Strange and Suleka Matthews again -- two alums from one of my favorite Canadian TV shows, Da Vinci's Inquest.

Elmo, Alaska is a many-quirkéd town, which is exactly what I like about it (though I do have to wonder if Alaskans ever get tired of being portrayed as a bunch of oddballs on every TV show ever made about them -- except maybe they ARE a bunch of oddballs, so they just think to themselves, "Yep, that sounds like Stan, all right." God, wouldn't it be great if that were true? A whole state of quirky souls! Quick, someone who lives in AK, email me and give me the skinny!).

Those who have described Men in Trees as Northern Exposure meets Sex in the City are not too far off, really, except that thankfully, episodes don't tend to revolve around Marin chatting with her girlfriends about shoes and penises (thank you again, god, for such small favors as these).

The only thing not to like about this show is, in my opinion, the people who have developed the web site for it over at ABC.com. First of all, they are not offering free online versions of each episode, the way they have with a number of their other shows (incidentally, this feature works really well and is a great way to catch episodes of Lost, The Nine, Ugly Betty, or Desperate Housewives if you've missed any). But, even worse, they have have seriously, seriously misidentified their audience -- something for which there is simply no excuse. I went over there in the hopes I'd find a plethora of amazing photographs of James Tupper in cabled fishermen sweaters with messy "I just woke up in the woods" hair, and instead, I'd say a good 75% of the photos in the "photos" section are of the various WOMEN on the show. Who do they think is watching this program? Forty year-old men? Honestly, ABC web developers, your audience is ME and women just like me, and for that reason, I reckon a solid 99% of your viewers would rather see more photos of James Tupper without his shirt on than Marin Frist in a skimpy top.

Am I wrong, girlfriends? Yell it out! MORE HALF-NAKED JAMES TUPPER NOW. Or else! And it would be nice if at least one of those photos contained a close-up shot of his rear, too. You know, for the purposes of research and world peace.

Anyway, I know there are going to be a few of you who have tried and failed to get into Men in Trees, and for whom no number of cute photos of James will help. Hey, it's okay (as long as people blame you if it gets canceled instead of blaming me and my television curse, that is.) There are a couple of other options for catching James Tupper in action, so all hope is not lost. No, no, wait, that too is a lie. The reality is that pretty much, all hope is lost, as aside from an episode of CSI: New York, the only other thing I was able to track down via Netflix was the unwatchably bad third installment of Hallmarks Love Comes Softly series (based on the novels by Janette Oke).

Love Comes Softly was actually a movie I quite enjoyed. It starred ex-Boyfriend Dale Midkiff and Grey's Anatomy's Katherine Heigl as two people who marry for convenience in frontier times (both having lost their former spouses tragically) and end up falling in love. Alas, Love's Long Journey is so ham-handedly cheesy I was worried I might have to go get an angioplasty at the halfway point just to live to see the end. Plus, as if that weren't bad enough, James Tupper's role is fairly small -- he plays an ex-preacher (who lost his faith when his wife died, if I remember correctly) hired on as a cowboy by a newlywed couple who have just settled their first farm (the wife of the couple is the daughter of Midkiff and Heigl's characters in the original). Unfortunately, though Tupper's character might've been able to play an interesting role as a counterpart to the main characters' strong Christian beliefs, he's really not given much of anything to do except hang around the farm looking strong and silent. So, though there could've been some interesting conversations about faith, instead it's just sugary sweet "Look, we had a baby! Ain't we cute?" type stuff instead.

Feh.

We'll see whether or not his role is expanded in the next one, which is due out in a few months (Love's Abiding Joy). I won't be holding my breath, though. I just hope I remember to fast for a few days before I watch it, so I can clear out as much cholesterol from my system as possible before the artery-clogging cloyingness begins anew.

James has had a few small parts in other TV shows, though, and it might be worth trying to track some of these episodes down on DVD if you're desperate. He was in two eps of Gilmore Girls, for one thing, as well as the CSI:NY episode I mentioned above, plus an episode of How I Met Your Mother. He's also got a small part in an upcoming film called For Heaven's Sake, about a dead grandmother in Heaven trying to convince her grieving granddaughter that life is still worth living without her (sounds heavy and/or cheesy, but it's actually being billed as a comedy, so who knows). Tupper plays the granddaughter's father, with Florence Henderson as the grandmother.

In any case, I suspect that if Men in Trees survives (still no word, that I know of, on whether or not it's been picked up for a full season), James Tupper will soon be showing up in more and more things. I mean, scroll back up to the top of this write-up one more time and take a final look at that photo -- my GOD, people. Honestly, I think if I made a list of all my favorite physical features from each of the 300+ ex-Boyfriends on this site, and then cobbled them together to make the Ideal Exterior Boyfriend, he'd turn out looking just like James Tupper. Lucky for MacGyver, he doesn't appear to know how to make a rocket launcher out of bubble wrap and ballpoint pens, nor does he have a catchy theme song or a houseboat. Mac continues to reign supreme -- at least until James has time to read up on improvised incendiary devices.

MacGyver Factor Score: 98.295%. Points off for James for letting us get so close to global nuclear annihilation simply because he has refused (consciously or not) to pose for posterior photographs. Dude, how do you sleep at night?


Boyfriend-Related Links

James's IMDb page
An interview with James from Blogcritics Magazine
Another James interview (About.com)
ABC's Men in Trees site


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