The Boyfriend of the Week

March 20, 2006

For years, I've struggled with conflicting feelings about this week's Boyfriend, Tom Selleck. It all started when, a couple of years back, I read an article about an explosive duke-out between Tom and Rosie O'Donnell when he was a guest on her daytime talk show. The topic had turned to gun control, and things got ugly when Tom said he was against tighter restrictions on guns in this country. I was so upset to hear both that Tom was a sponsor for the NRA and that he'd bickered with the Queen of Nice about it that I immediately pushed him to the back of my mind. When people wrote to ask me if I'd ever consider featuring him on the site, I often wrote back citing this exact exchange.

Well, people. I have a confession to make. I screwed up. Know why? Because I never saw that episode of Rosie, and I had never even read a transcript of it until just last week. And yet I spent all these years using it as an excuse not to feature Tom on the site! But after finally seeing the transcript and reading through it carefully (twice!), I have to say that despite the fact I completely disagree with Tom's stance on gun control, I had really gotten bad information regarding his behavior in that debate.

You know what I think is the biggest problem with America today (and this is hardly a unique opinion, but bear with me anyway)? The fact we all seem to have completely lost the ability to have an argument about something without it turning into a nasty bicker-fest (notable exception: Jon Stewart, who is the most open-minded and reasonable political commentator on the planet right now -- I worship that man more and more every single day). In the last decade or so, we've begun to take it as a personal affront when someone disagrees with us, instead of considering it an opportunity to learn or teach something. We can't have disagreements anymore without resorting to name-calling, spitefulness, anger, accusations of "unAmericanism." And this, quite frankly, makes me sad. Because until those on opposite sides of an issue can actually respect each other, there will be no compromise or growth. There will only be fighting, vitriol, and an utter lack of resolution or consensus.

Though the debate on Rosie quickly turned into a bicker-fest (sigh), I couldn't help but notice that it was really Rosie who seemed to be steering the argument in that direction. Though Tom did use the word "stupid" at one point, he seemed, at least in text format, to be pretty calm compared to Rosie, who was interrupting him every few seconds to tell him how wrong he was, and even insinuating at one point that because he didn't believe in stricter gun control, that meant he didn't care about kids who are killed by guns. Anyway, regardless of my personal beliefs -- and I should note that I completely disagree with just about everything Tom said in that conversation -- I think I made a big mistake in holding this incident against him for so long.

And ahhhh, yes. Making this discovery utterly made my day! You know why? Because I LOVE Tom Selleck. I've had an enormous crush on him for as long as I can remember, and over the last year or so, have been watching episode after episode of Magnum, P.I. and just thoroughly, thoroughly enjoying them. He's such a sweetheart as Magnum -- so gentle and smart and funny and kind. He's the ideal guy. He's the very epitome of the perfect Boyfriend of the Week. The very epitome of the perfect Boyfriend of the Week in a cheesy 70's mustache. . . and very, very short shorts. Mrrrroww!

And so, it's with great pleasure that I announce that this is me, eating crow.

And thank Pete for it, too, because I had a blast finally having the excuse to rent a bunch of his stuff and spend a few weeks chilling with Tom (one reason this one took so long is because I ended up watching FAR too many episodes of Magnum before getting around to putting some of my thoughts into words!). There is simply nothing cuter than Tom Selleck in 1985, with his devious grin and his cute butt and his garish Hawaiian button-up shirts. Magnum and his surf ski. Magnum and another client-turned-girlfriend. Magnum and Rick. Magnum and TC. Magnum and "the lads." And, of course, Magnum and Higgie-Baby, the most hilariously odd couple since, well, since The Odd Couple. I have yet to see an episode of this show I didn't thoroughly enjoy, and some of them I've remembered vividly since first seeing them back in the 1980's. Take, for example, the episode in which Magnum crashes on his surf ski and ends up having to tread water for several long hours trying to survive and stay afloat until he's rescued. Remember that one? As he fights off a hungry shark and starts to suffer from intense dehydration and fatigue, he begins to hallucinate about his long-gone father and to resolve some of the feelings he's had about his relationship with his dad since he was a kid. It's just brilliantly written and extremely well-acted, in my opinion. I haven't seen it in years -- decades even -- and yet I still remember almost every moment of that episode.

Actually, now that I think about it, if you asked me today to rattle off my ten favorite episodes of any TV show I've ever seen, I think this one would make the grade. And, while I'm on the subject, I'll tell you a few of the others. I'd definitely include the first episode of season one of The Sopranos (the one about the ducks) and the MacGyver episode in which he is judging a contest of college kids who have to create locks for their dorm rooms that are unpickable. Ooh, and for sure the double-episode of Quantum Leap in which Sam gets sent back to the farm where he grew up and he tries to save his father from a heart attack and his brother from dying in Vietnam. Yep, I'm a sucker for the cheese when it comes to TV, that's for sure. Also on there would probably be the episode of Northern Exposure in which Ed has to confront his feelings about death -- the one that ends with him and Ruth Ann dancing on her future grave together.

Actually, this is fun -- I love thinking about this. What would be on your list? Email me! If I get a lot of responses, I'll put a list together of everybody's favorites (anonymously -- I'll keep your names off of it) and post it on the site. You don't have to send a list of ten; even one favorite episode of something that really impacted you would be enough. Fun! [NOTE: Voting for favorite episodes is now closed -- see the final list here!]

Okay, let's get back on track. Of course, there's more to Tom Selleck than just his role as Magnum (though that does indeed remain my favorite thing of all the stuff he's done in his career). And, in fact, one of the best things about Tom Selleck, at least if you're me, is that he's made a lot of bad movies. A LOT of them. A really, really, really BIG lot of them.

And, what do I love, people? What? I can't heeeeear you. . .

Yep, baaaaaaaaad movies.

So, on that note, we start with one of the best examples of bad, cheesy 70's flicks I have ever encountered -- a doozy of a drama called Terminal Island. Now, the premise of this one actually sounded kind of fun, though it's definitely a storyline I'd seen before. Many TIMES before, actually, in everything from Alien 3 to Ray Liotta's stinker No Escape. It's about an island off the coast of the U.S., Terminal Island, that has been turned into a penal colony. You see, we've finally done away with the death penalty, determining that it's both too costly and too ineffective, and instead have decided to simply take our most heinous criminals out to a deserted island and drop them off with the clothes on their backs and a couple of cans of food. After that, they're on their own. If they want to become civilized and make it a nice place to live, they can. If they want to continue to act like animals, well, it's their funeral and at least we taxpayers won't have to pony up for the casket.

Of course, one of the problems with this is that it is, in essence, creating a place where there aren't really enough chicks to go around. And here's where we enter into the world of cheesy 70's soft-core porn. The newest arrival on the island is a lovely African American woman with a suitably enormous hairdo, and she quickly finds herself, along with about four other women on the island, turned into a sex slave for a few of the men. The weird thing about this movie is that I could tell parts of it were being edited for content, and occasionally it seemed like even swear words were being dubbed out. And I couldn't figure out why. It was the DVD version from Netflix -- who edited it? Who cleaned it up?

Not that I wanted the soft-core porn, mind you, but this is the first time I've ever seen anything like this before that didn't come from Blockbuster (who used to edit their rental videos for content without telling customers -- I have no idea if they still do this, though). This really looked like a made-for-TV movie to me, so why the swear words to begin with?

Ironically, whoever it was who decided to edit out the objectionable parts really did a lousy job. Because the whole thing is so bad, so utterly objectionable in every way, it should've been bleeped in entirety and replaced with the soundtrack to Gone with the Wind. Starring Thomas Magnum as Rhett Butler, and Cheesy 70's Lady as Scarlett O'Hara. There was even a woman so traumatized by her heinous crime that she'd become mute -- totally a Melanie (or a "Mel-knee" as Scarlett called her) if I ever saw one. Additionally, the movie is about two warring factions, one side of which wants to enslave the minority class (women, in this case), and the other side of which comes swooping in like the cavalry and liberates them all.

Only to treat them pretty much like crap themselves later on.

Yep, it's the Civil War all over again, folks! And, heck, Magnum even gives a speech at the end about how the "(is)land is the only thing that ever matters, the only thing that lasts" (of course, he doesn't actually use that exact line -- this movie surely wouldn't have been able to afford the legal fees after they spent so much money on production quality (note: sarcasm)). All we needed for this to be a perfect redo of GwtW would've been for them to find a carrot in the sand on the beach and exclaim, "As God as my witness, I'll never go hungry again!"

The weird thing is, after thinking about this Gone with the Wind thing for a while after watching Terminal Island, I couldn't shake the idea as I continued to pop in more Tom Selleck movie DVDs. Pretty soon, I began to realize that every Tom Selleck movie is essentially a remake of GwtW. I couldn't believe my eyes, but there it was! Every single one! Don't believe me? Read on.

Okay, so up next was an old favorite of mine -- a sci-fi movie called Runaway. You guys may remember I mentioned this one in the Katee Sackhoff write-up last time as being a movie the humans from Battlestar Galactica probably should've rented before they decided making a race of helpful household robots was a brilliant move. You're about to discover why.

This movie is set in the future (you can tell because the characters wear shiny clothes), and in it, Selleck stars as Jack Ramsay, a cop from Los Angeles. His job? To police the robot population. See, people have made lots and lots of the little suckers, and they've been programmed to do a variety of tasks. Jack even has a robot just like Rosie from The Jetsons, which may be the primary reason why I so loved this movie when I was a kid (I always wanted a Rosie robot when I was little). Though life with the Rosies is for the most part pretty rosy (ha ha!), occasionally, a robot here or there will go haywire and flip out, and it's the job of the LAPD Special Anti-Wonky-Robots team to stop them before they hurt anybody.

Recently, though, more and more robots have started to turn to the Dark Side. One almost killed a baby(!), which is a sure sign in a sci-fi movie that the apocalypse is nigh. Jack Ramsay is brought in on the case, along with his extremely sexy, crimped-80's-hair newbie partner, Officer Karen Thompson. Sexual tension ensues, followed by a heartwarming scene in which Karen gets shot with an explosive device that doesn't go off and Jack has to dig it out of her arm while she cries softly and tries to act strong. Awwww, I love that scene! Li'l trooper!

Ultimately, it turns out there's actually a human behind the whole thing -- a bad dude who's been going around sabotaging the robots and turning them into his own personal hit men. A bad dude who is, believe it or not, none other than Gene Simmons from the metal band KISS, thus proving once and for all that rock music really IS the work of the devil.

I'm betting that right about now you're wondering how in the hell I'm going to go from here to Gone with the Wind, ye of little faith. Oh no, I get it. I see it. I know there were no robots in GwtW, and there definitely weren't any rock stars with extra-dexterous tongues (at least, not that I'm aware of, anyway -- I suppose it's possible Leslie Howard was rockin' out with his garage band in between takes). But, if you think about it really hard. Really REALLY hard. You'll see it's actually completely obvious.

See, first, you have Magnum playing Rhett Butler again. Only this time, Rhett's clearly falling for the wussy Melanie character (no offense to Officer Karen, but she really needs to suck it up). His robot maid is none other than Mammy -- that couldn't be more clear. And there's the rest of the plot right there, actually. Los Angeles has turned into a metaphoric Deep South, enslaving another minority group (the robots) and forcing them to do whatever they demand, or else risk having their circuit boards removed for good. Gene Simmons is Ulysses S. Grant -- a man with a noble cause, but a fairly violent method. Or, wait, maybe he's Abe Lincoln -- a man with a noble cause and the determination to pursue it no matter what the cost in human lives? I haven't gotten this part fully worked out yet.

And yes, you did just hear me compare Gene Simmons (GENE SIMMONS!) to Abraham Lincoln. You won't see this kind of clever deductive reasoning on just any ol' web site, people.

Anyhoo, by the end, the robots are free, LA is left battered but on the right path, and Rhett Butler has once again swaggered out the door into the fog, a hero to the causes of humankind.

And if you thought that was a stretch, let's talk about Three Men and a Baby!

Now, I know that as a cool punk-music-listening, horror-movie-watching, hipster librarian, I should eschew all cheesy movies about men who fall head-over-heels for babies. But I have to confess, this one gets me every time. It's just so funny! And so ridiculous! And Tom Selleck plays such a sweetheart! I mean, honestly, didn't you wish he was your dad too when you saw this one for the first time? Along with Steve Gutenberg and Ted Danson? Okay, okay, maybe not the Gute. But Selleck in this movie -- a wealthy, successful, sexy architect just longing for some personal responsibility and the excuse to grow up -- I just can't get enough of him.

And that scene with the diaper! And the duct tape! That's pure comedy GOLD, people! Plus, it has a sequel (Scarlett, anyone?)! And you know what? I love the sequel too! I can't believe I'm admitting this on the Internet -- I am such a DORK.

Of course, the GwtW comparison for this one is a cinch as well, because this movie could just as easily have been named Three Men and a Scarlett O'Hara. Baby Mary is clearly our Scarlett, Rhett Butler is once again played by Magnum, and Ted Danson is totally the ever-clueless Ashley Wilkes. Which just leaves The Gute as. . . uh. . . well, for the sake of argument, let's make The Gute Charles Hamilton.

All these men adore Mary (our Scarlett) and would do anything for her. Mary's real mother, who returns near the end and threatens to take Mary away from them forever, is clearly a metaphor for Tara -- motherhood is, after all, "the only thing that matters, the only thing that lasts," right? Huh? Huh? Is this not brilliant? Of course, the whole subplot with the heroin and the powdered milk I haven't quite gotten figured out yet. However, I'm pretty sure it's got something to do with the Tarleton twins. When I get this mapped out with more detail, I'll be sure to let you know.

Next!

An Innocent Man. Now, this was a movie I'd never actually seen before, and I was pretty surprised by how much I liked it. Wait, wait, don't forget yourself here -- that is not the same thing as me saying it is a good movie. Don't run right out and rent it expecting it to be, you know, Gone with the Wind, or anything like that. But for what it was, it was fairly decent. And besides, it costarred F. Murray Abraham, who is great if you love cool tough guy acting, and none other than Sledge Hammer! star David Rasche himself, who is great if you love really bad, cheesy acting. Which I do.

In this one, Magnum plays airplane engineer Jimmie Rainwood, who is wrongfully accused of shooting at two cops trying to bust him for a coke deal and sentenced to six years in prison. The two cops are actually dirty, and they accidentally shot Jimmie Rain (his nickname in da joint, you dig?) and had to cover it up, so they decided to plant a gun and phony up a story to put the blame on Jimmie himself.

Now, where's Gone with the Wind in all this? Oh, please, people. It couldn't be any clearer. You remember that scene in GwtW when the sleazy Union solder breaks into Tara and is about to steal the "ear bobs" and Melanie kicks down with the shotgun and blasts a hole in his chest? In An Innocent Man, Jimmie Rain is on "the inside," as they say, a good person, a gentle person, a man with a solid soul, when all of a sudden, he is accosted by an evil, fat, hairy, smelly stinkpot (the Union soldier in GwtW) who is threatening his life. Jimmie Rain/Melanie knows if he doesn't kill that guy, he's going to be killed himself. So, he sucks it up, makes a shiv out of a piece of plate glass, and stabs the dude in the showers.

F. Murray Abraham in this story is clearly the Scarlett to Magnum's Melanie, and after Jimmie/Melanie has committed the heinous crime, F. Murray/Scarlett, seeing that J/M is shaken, offers to clean up the mess. "No. . ." J/M stutters in reply, "I'll. . . I'll clean it up. . ." And clean it up, Jimmie Rainwood does. Down the drain goes the shiv, into the trash goes his bloody shirt. Spic-and-span, just like Melanie using her nightie to mop the hemoglobin off the wood floors at Tara.

There you have it.

It's amazing, really. I mean, the more I think about this, the more I can find a way to make every Tom Selleck movie into Gone with the Wind. The man's a genius! A chameleon! Just watch as he plays pretty much every cast member from GwtW there was! I swear, in Her Alibi, he even plays Prissy! He's also been in a ton of Westerns, most of which can be boiled down to stories of North v. South, not to mention the fact they're also dedicated to the idea that land (home, home, on the range) is the only thing worth caring about. And then, of course, there was his torrid affair with Kevin Kline in the comedy In & Out -- clearly about what would've happened had Ashley and Scarlett actually followed their hearts and gotten together. Or wait, given the subject of the movie (it's about a gay man who didn't realize he was gay until someone else outed him), maybe it's about what would've happened had MELANIE and Scarlett actually followed their hearts and gotten together.

But let's not go there.

Anyway, these days, Tom Selleck is busy starring in a new series of made-for-television movies based on the Jesse Stone novels by one of my favorite writers, Robert B. Parker. I've seen both of these so far, Stone Cold and Night Passage, and while they aren't brilliant, they aren't too bad either. He still looks as handsome as ever -- thank Pete he grew the mustache back (did you see him as Dwight D. Eisenhower in Ike? He just looks so wrong without the 'stache!). And I think the more of these they make, the stronger they'll be. It's got fairly decent banter -- I just object to two elements so far: A) that Jesse Stone is always chewing gum (stop it! just stop it!), and B) that Jesse Stone is always acting like someone just ran over his puppy.

Cheer up, Jesse! They let you grow your signature facial hair back for this part!

Tom's also been showing up in episodes of Boston Legal, lately, but I got burned out on that show after the 87,000th time William Shatner used the phrase "Denny Crane" to punctuate an argument. How do you spell "tired schtick"? B-o-s-t-o-n-L-e-g-a-l.

By the way, for those of you poised at the ready to email me demanding to know why I didn't bother mentioning Tom's critically-acclaimed turn on the TV show Friends, it's simply because I couldn't figure out a way to turn that one into Gone with the Wind (starring Joey as. . . Frank Kennedy? Big Sam? See -- I'm stumped). And if it ain't about Magnum or Tara, it just didn't fit into this week's utterly ridiculous theme. Such is life.

Okay, quick bio and then we'll get out of here. Tom Selleck was born on January 29th, 1945, officially making him the latest installment in my "Grave Dodgers" series, with apologies to my parents who were actually born even even earlier than that (fogies!). His career started off with a few bit parts in film and TV as a contract actor for Universal Studios. But it wasn't until he was awarded the role of Magnum that he became a huge hit. During and after the show, he starred in a variety of movies, most of which did their best to capitalize on his good looks, sex appeal, and strong sense of humor (hence Three Men and a Baby). Though he's an actor everybody knows and recognizes (and was even voted one of People Magazine's 50 most beautiful people in the world in 1998), he never did really develop into a major film star, and has also never been able to reestablish himself as the star of a TV series.

Why, I have no idea. Had he been one of the castaways on Lost, I would only have loved the show that much more. Shut up -- I'm totally serious.

Tom is married to actress Jillie Mack (alas) and has been since 1987 (but good for him). The two have a daughter, and Tom also has an adopted son from a previous marriage, Kevin. Do with this information what you will. Or won't. Or whatever.

MacGyver Factor Score: 93.2589%. Of course, as much as I like to claim that a Boyfriend's personal beliefs don't matter to me, I still can't get past something Tom Selleck said in that infamous Rosie interview. He had just been featured in advertisements about the NRA, but he told Rosie he wasn't their spokesperson. Just because he was in an AD for them, he said, doesn't mean he's a member or that he thinks they're a good group or that he supports what they do. But, dude? It ought to. And if it doesn't, then you've lost your focus on what's important.

Points back, however, because I still feel really badly for Tom because of that whole Indiana Jones debacle -- something that probably cost him one hell of a career. You guys know this story, right? Tom was starring in Magnum when the first Indy movie was being made, and he was their top pick for the role -- but the TV studio wouldn't let him out of his contract long enough to make the film. The part went to "Old Shoe" Harrison Ford instead, and the rest, as they say in Quebec, c'est histoire. I'm sorry, man. If it makes you feel any better, I think you're way, way cuter than Harrison Ford. He never could've pulled off those short-shorts, that's for sure.


Boyfriend-Related Links

Tom's IMDB page
Tom Selleck TV (fan site)
Tom's Wikipedia page
Marco's Magnum PI site


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