Sunday, March 26th, 2023

The first Tales of the City miniseries, reviewed by Stephen O. Murray

Tales of the City

Season 1

Directed by Alastair Reid

Written by Armistead Maupin and Richard Kramer 

Released January 10, 1994
360 min. • Find on imdb

Review by Stephen O. Murray

January 13, 1994.


The BBC production of Tales of the City buoyed me, though Olympia Dukakis has too much edge to be the life force Anna Madrigal, and the homages to Vertigo seemed pretty strained (especially Mary Ann sitting gazing at the portrait of Carlotta Valdez).

As in Maupin’s columns/novel, I sympathized with Brian and Dee-Dee (and the perplexed Lionel). I wasn’t expecting an Italian Brit (Marcus D’Amico with a lot of teeth) as Michael “Mouse” Tolliver, but he is effective as an attractive gay man who wants a lover. Meantime, he gets (Maupin’s fantasy?) of acceptance from a straight male less certain of what he himself is looking for. (Brian doesn’t know that he doesn’t have to look very far…)

TALES-OF-THE-CITY-007How could I forget that John and Beauchamp had a bathhouse encounter? (As I remember the ’70s, almost everyone folded their towels in half before wrapping them around: the not folded-over towels struck me as historically inaccurate. And I thought poppers were kept in the freezer, not the refrigerator.)

Even Norman gets a scene in his underwear (Edgar and Anna get a discreetly covered bed scene). Startlingly to me, Michael gets out of bed with Jon wearing briefs (whereas Jon in the baths removes his towel before closing the door on the camera). Foreshadowing a later, more public appearing by Michael in his briefs? He also appears as an innocent satyr (showing off his formidable chest).

There’s no frontal nudity below the waist for anyone.


©1994, 2016, Stephen O. Murray

13 January 1994


About The Author

Stephen O. Murray grew up in rural southern Minnesota, earned a B.A. from James Madison College (within Michigan State University), an M.A. from the University of Arizona, a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto (both in sociology), and was a postdoctoral fellow at Berkeley (in anthropology). He is the author of American Gay, Homosexualities, etc. and lives in San Francisco.