Review of “Dante’s Cove” Season 2

I have to admit that I approached the DVD of Dante’s Cove: The Complete Second Season with a bit of apprehension. The fact that out actor Michelle Wolff has been added to the cast gave me something to look forward to, as did the new character of Diana Childs, played by Thea Gill (Lindsay on Queer as Folk). But Season 1 was, well, disappointing is the kindest thing I can say.

But don’t let that stop you from checking out Season 2 — I was certainly pleasantly surprised. The improvements from the first season are numerous, and Diana Childs is a delicious new character. The production values are much improved, as is the acting. And one of the main story lines involves the lesbian characters, so it’s not quite as male-centric as Season 1.

Dante’s Cove tells the story of a beach town steeped in history and magic. Think Dark Shadows, Charmed and a little Melrose Place mixed with a queer vibe. Most of the main characters live in the Hotel Dante (a different building than in Season 1, so continuing viewers will need to practice a little Dallas-style amnesia).

In Season 1, Van (Nadine Heimann) and Toby (out actor Charlie David) learned about a type of magic called Tresum. When a spell is cast on Toby’s boyfriend, Kevin (Gregory Michael), they learn what they can about Tresum to literally bring him back to his senses.

Van continues to be intrigued by Tresum in Season 2 and wants to learn all she can about it. This interest scares Van’s girlfriend, Michelle (Erin Cummings), and it becomes an issue in their relationship. Not that they were drama-free anyway — it seems Michelle wants a monogamous relationship, but Van, not so much.

Sexy scuba instructor Brit (Michelle Wolff) also has her eyes on Michelle, and when a spell of Van’s goes awry, Brit and Michelle hook up. The resulting sex scene is hot and very clever; Michelle has flashbacks of making love with Van, so it ends up appearing as if Brit, Michelle and Van are having a threesome. The editing and acting in this scene are just one example of how much more professional this season’s production is than the last.

Bad guy Ambrosius (William Gregory Lee) hasn’t given up on Kevin. New character Kai (German Santiago), the local “I-can-get-anything-you-want” guy, notices Ambrosius’ obsession with Kevin and advises him to be a bit less formal. Kai starts calling him “Bro,” which sticks.

Bro, who is also engaged in a centuries-old feud with his former fiancée, Grace (Tracy Scoggins), cashes in some 18th-century currency and gets a new haircut, new clothes and buys a convertible in an attempt to court Kevin’s favor.

Toby continues to warn Kevin away from Bro, but Kevin thinks the guy is cool. And besides, Kevin has other things to worry about when his ex-boyfriend shows up at the Hotel Dante.

A nod to the gay community’s problems with crystal meth is seen when Toby’s predominantly straight friend, Adam (now played by Jon Fleming, last seen in Will & Grace), gets hooked on “saint.” Adam will do anything for a fix, including making visits to the men’s sex club run by Colin (Dylan Vox). Yes, the scenes at the sex club are explicit; Season 2 has plenty of full-frontal viewing for those who are into men.

Grace, learning of Van’s interest in Tresum, attempts to entice Van into becoming her apprentice, which will allow Grace to gain more power at the forthcoming Libra Solstice. She learns that her sister, Diana (Thea Gill), is alive. Diana plays both sides of the fence in the war between Grace and Bro, using Van as an unwitting accomplice to thwart them both. Ultimately, Diana has a moment of conscience and sends the story into an interesting direction for Season 3, set to air this fall.