Format The Shadowlands TV series is a miniseries of three episodes by director Charlie David exploring love –a narcissist grasping to comprehend it (Ep. 1 Narcissus), a couple renegotiating a relationship (Ep. 2 Mating Season) and star-crossed lovers mourning its loss (Ep. 3 Pygmalion Revisited).
The stories transition from one to the next in an anthology fashion and may be watched together and thought of as one film. (Such as in Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Four Rooms or Damian Szifron’s Wild Tales.)
Each episode in the Shadowlands TV series has a companion digital media component such as music videos or an exploration of the artists and technicians involved.
SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES EPISODE 1: NARCISSUS
Synopsis – Alex, a plastic surgeon hell bent on perfection, hosts a house party with an assortment of colorful guests. Amid romantic misfires it becomes apparent that the only person Alex is interested in is himself.
Theme – The pursuit of perfection may become deadly when left unchecked. This theme is explored in a less extreme fashion in Director Charlie David‘s documentary STUDlebrity.
Setting – Mansion. Era is modern but with the influence of 1920’s Berlin. People exploring their sexual freedom and new cosmetic surgeries in the pursuit of perfection.
Companion webisode – In the companion webisode, we explore the costume design in Narcissus.
SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES EPISODE 2: MATING SEASON
Synopsis – A couple explore the idea of opening their relationship while on a remote camping trip when they encounter a mysterious stranger.
Theme – In every culture since time began there have been stories of apparitions. The causes of such phenomena are continually under speculation. It seems that no matter how much data, first-hand accounts and theories are collected, the question ‘Do Ghosts Exist’ is one that may never be answered…
Setting – 1951 post WWII forest
Companion webisode: In the companion webisode, we’ll explore the history of the WWII hit song, My Buddy. A male duet of the song was recorded for the soundtrack as well as a music video featuring clips from Mating Season.
SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES EPISODE 3: PYGMALION REVISITED
Marc Devigne and Charlie David in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 ‘Pygmalion Revisited’
Synopsis – Rudy is a painter who in mourning the loss of his lover and becomes obsessed with creating a realistic painting of him. The resulting piece is so beautiful, so life like that he is drawn under its spell.
Theme – Star-crossed lovers whose romance is cut short by the shears of fate.
Setting – Present day artist’s loft.
Companion webisode: The companion webisode is a behind the scenes look at the creation of the life-size paintings and how the VFX team brought it to life.
THE WORLD of the SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES
Shadowlands is a fantasy world much like our own but where there are paranormal occurrences.
Each episode is in the Shadowlands TV series its own microcosm. The characters and stories do not overlap directly BUT there are ‘Easter Eggs’ for our audience in the form of allusions to the other stories/worlds in each episode. This may be in the appearance of a minor character in two stories. Or within set décor, music or a prop. For example:
SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES EASTER EGGS
Shadowlands Easter Egg 1: The character of Percy Katt (Brian Michael Jensen) belongs in the world of NARCISSUS but in the film festival version of Shadowlands – switches a record on the gramophone with the episode titles to segue between each story.
Gramophones are hidden throughout the Shadowlands TV show episodes.
Shadowlands Easter Egg 2: Gramophones can also be spotted in one of two black and white photographs depicted as Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) by Durban artist Andreas Chasomeris from his photographic collection titled ‘The Gray Scale 1946”. These hang on either side of the mirror in his dungeon in NARCISSUS.
Gramophone seen in photos of Alex in his dungeon scenes in Shadowlands ‘Narcissus’
Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) in his dungeon in Shadowlands ‘Narcissus’
Shadowlands Easter Egg 3: A gramophone can also be spotted in a painting titled DARE NOT (2014) by South African artist Andreas Chasomeris in PYGMALION REVISITED which hangs by Rudy and Xavier’s bed.
Dare Not by Andreas Chomeris. Painting in the gay TV series Shadowlands
Charlie David as Rudy in Shadowlands ‘Pygmalion Revisited’
Shadowlands Easter Egg 4: The man flying fishing in the opening montage of ‘Mating Season’ is seen at the eccentric house party in ‘Narcissus’.
Jim Garrow as Fly Fisherman in Shadowlands TV series episode 1 Narcissus and episode 2 Mating Season
Fly Fisherman (Jim Garrow) in the Mating Season episode of Shadowlands
Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) and Fly Fisherman (Jim Garrow) in Shadowlands ‘Narcissus’
Shadowlands Easter Egg 5: In MATING SEASON, the characters Matteo (Oscar Moreno) and Will (Nicolas James Wilson) are negotiating their relationship and end up having a threesome with Daniel (Vasilios Filippakis). This episode endorses the idea of non-monogamy and polyamory.
The threesome scene in the Mating Season episode of Shadowlands
The character of Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) in NARCISSUS makes disparaging remarks about the Bunny Boys (Basil Hendy & Kato Alexander) and their sexual proclivities in the dungeon. Alex ultimately punishes the Bunny Boys for ‘behaving like a couple of swine.’ In this episode non-monogamy is challenged.
Kato Alexander and Basil Hendy as the Bunny Boys with Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) in the Narcissus episode of the gay TV series Shadowlands
Shadowlands Easter Egg 6: The theme of war is explored in MATING SEASON with Daniel (Vasilios Filippakis) receiving a dishonorable discharge in the form of a blue ticket. Will (Nicolas James Wilson) has a monologue about what scares him about his job as a sailor.
Oscar Moreno, Nicolas James Wilson and Vasilios Filippakis in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 ‘Mating Season’
War is also a theme in NARCISSUS. Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) urges Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) that life before the war (allusion to WWI) wasn’t perfect and neither were any of us. Alex’s relentless pursuit of perfection to fix people (beginning with amputee soldiers and mustard gas victims) takes on a life of its own in the roaring 1920’s of Berlin.
Narcissus with Sean C. Dwyer and Natasha Balkrishnan
Shadowlands Easter Egg 7: The cinematography in MATING SEASON of an overhead view of Matteo (Oscar Moreno) and Will (Nicolas James Wilson) laying perpendicular on a blanket while they agree to open their relationship is mirrored in PYGMALION REVISITED with Rudy (Charlie David) and Xavier (Marc Devigne) in a memory sequence. Rudy is likening their relationship to Greek myth with the line, ‘Eros and Psyche intertwined under the heavy branches of an olive tree, blissfully unaware of the passage of centuries.’
Matteo (Oscar Moreno) and Will (Nicolas James Wilson) in Shadowlands ‘Mating Season’
Xavier (Marc Devigne) and Rudy (Charlie David) in the Pygmalion Revisited episode of the Shadowlands TV series.
Shadowlands Easter Egg 8: MATING SEASON is at its core a classic ghost story.
The theme of apparitions is echoed in PYGMALION REVISITED in Rudy’s dream as well as in his flashbacks of the film he and Xavier were watching on their movie night.
The film is The Terror (1963) in which Lt. Andre Duvalier (Jack Nicholson) is haunted by the Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) who ultimately drives Baron Victor Frederick Von Leppe (Boris Karloff) to suicide from his guilt.
The Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) who ultimately drives Baron Victor Frederick Von Leppe (Boris Karloff)
Shadowlands Easter Egg 9: The castle spires seen in The Terror (1963) movie are echoed by the spires of the church that Rudy (Charlie David) walks into in PYGMALION REVISITED.
Shadowlands series – church spires from film The Terror 1963
Church spires seen in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 ‘Pygmalion Revisited’.
Shadowlands Easter Egg 10: Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) is given a copper box with white Calla Lilies hiding a revolver in NARCISSUS.
Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) receives Calla Lilies in Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus
In the dungeon scenes in NARCISSUS there are red Calla Lilies laying on the table in which Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) keeps his torture tools.
Calla lilies in Shadowlands episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
In PYGMALION REVISITED, Xavier (Marc Devigne) requests Rudy (Charlie David) to have Calla Lilies at his funeral because ‘they’re my favorite, but you already knew that.’ Calla Lilies figure prominently around Rudy and Xavier’s loft in PYGMALION REVISITED and ultimately Rudy paints Xavier holding one in his final painting.
Calla lily at the end of Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited
Shadowlands Easter Egg 11: A painting that sits sideways in Rudy and Xavier’s loft in PYGMALION REVISITED is a reference to Alex in NARCISSUS. It is titled ‘The Devil is…1931’ (2015) by Andreas Chasomeris and is another allusion to the roaring 20s in Berlin. On the wall behind the man in the painting is a poster of the Marlene Dietrich film The Devil is a Woman (1935).
The Devil is 1939 by South African artist Andreas Chomeris featured in Shadowlands episodes Narcissus and Pygmalion Revisited.
The Devil is a Woman starring Marlene Dietrich
Shadowlands Easter Egg 12: The Bunny Boys (Basil Hendy & Kato Alexander) are tied up in Alex’s dungeon in NARCISSUS.
The bunny boys (Kato Alexander and Basil Hendy) are kept captive by Alex (Sean C. Dwyer)
In PYGMALION REVISITED there is a painting of two men tied up beside Xavier & Rudy’s bed. It’s open to interpretation whether one man is tying up or untying the other. On one of the man’s shirtsleeves is sewn a pink triangle – a sign meant to identify and demoralize homosexuals, similar to the Star of David for the Jewish people, that the Nazis enforced in the lead up to WWII.
Finally in this painting there is a gramophone in the corner of the room. The gramophone and changing of the record by Percy Katt (Brian Michael Jensen) is the first image we see in NARCISSUS as well as a recurring motif in the film festival version of SHADOWLANDS. The painting is titled DARE NOT (2014) and is by South African artist Andreas Chasomeris as part of his 1939 show.
Dare Not by painter Andreas Chomeris featured in the Shadowlands episode Pygmalion Revisited.
Shadowlands Easter Egg 13: Xavier (Marc Devigne) has left the painting in the final frames of PYGMALION REVISITED. He’s crossed over from death to life and tragically Rudy (Charlie David) has crossed from life to death.
Xavier exits the painting in Shadowlands TV series
There is hope for their ultimate reunion by way of a painting of two naked men in an embrace which the camera slowly pulls out from in the opening party montage in NARCISSUS. The painting was originally created in 2007 by Scottsdale, Arizona artist James Angel for Charlie David’s film MULLIGANS in which his character Chase also plays a painter.
Charlie David as the young painter ‘Chase’ in his film Mulligans.
Shadowlands Narcissus – the Easter Egg painting by James Angel originally seen in Charlie David’s film Mulligans.
Shadowlands Easter Egg 14: The song ‘Ça va’ written by Montreal musician Michael Daniel Murphy and performed in PYGMALION REVISITED by Xavier (Marc Devigne) is also hummed by Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) in NARCISSUS after he kills the Bunny Boys.
Shadowlands Easter Egg 15: Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) threatens suicide by lethal injection in NARCISSUS.
Thalia threatens suicide by lethal injection in Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus
Rudy (Charlie David) assists Xavier’s (Marc Devigne) death and ultimately commits suicide in PYGMALION REVISITED.
Assisted death in Shadowlands episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
Suicide in Shadowlands episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
The ‘play within the play’ or The Terror archival film clips in PYGMALION REVISITED include a scene where The Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) encourages the Baron (Boris Karloff) to take his own life. She consoles him by saying, ‘my own hand will guide you. And we can be together forever. Forever.’
The Ghost of Ilsa (Sandra Knight) encourages the suicide of the Baron (Boris Karloff) in Rudy (Charlie David’s) dream.
Shadowlands Easter Egg 16: There are black and white framed photos done in the style of Paraty, Brasil artist Aecio Sarti (two faces conjoined) of Rudy & Xavier in PYGMALION REVISITED and of Thalia and Alex in NARCISSUS.
A painting by Aecio Sarti is seen in the background in episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited.
Photo in Shadowlands TV series episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited in the style of artist Aecio Sarti.
Photo in Shadowlands TV series episode 1 Narcissus in the style of artist Aecio Sarti.
Aecio Sarti painting
Shadowlands Easter Egg 17: In PYGMALION REVISITED Father Malik (Michael R. Buchanan) commissions Rudy (Charlie David) for a painting of Saint Bacchus. Saint Bacchus is most commonly paired with Saint Sergius and they are known as erastai or lovers.
Alessio Ciani (1946 – living) Italy. © 2013 Mounted on wood, printed on canvas with frame and halos hand painted with acrilic gold
For centuries Sergius and Bacchus were upheld as ‘gay Saints’, often depicted in icons and statuary together. Saints Sergius and Bacchus were martyred and the tale of how Bacchus came to Sergius in a dream before he died and promised they would be reunited in heaven is relayed to Rudy by Father Malik in the first scene of PYGMALION REVISITED.
Father Malik (Michael R. Buchanan) comissions a painting of Saints Sergius and Bacchus from Rudy (Charlie David) in Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited
In 1969 the Catholic church de-canonized Sergius and Bacchus and their churches, alters and art were renamed or destroyed. Coincidentally 1969 was also the year of the Stonewall Riots and what we now mark as the beginning of gay liberation – Pride.
GREEK MYTHOLOGY REFERENCES IN SHADOWLANDS TV SERIES
Shadowlands Easter Egg 18: Xavier (Marc Devigne) wears a gold medallion of Zeus throughout PYGMALION REVISITED which is later claimed and worn by Rudy.
Xavier (Marc Devigne) wearing the Zeus medallion in Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited
Rudy (Charlie David) wearing the Zeus medallion in Shadowlands Pygmalion Revisited
Zeus coin pendant
In the original Greek mythology of Pygmalion and Galatea, Athena empathizes with Pygmalion and brings his statue Galatea to life.
The goddess Athena taking pity on Pygmalion and bringing his statue to life.
Zeus is known as a jealous and vengeful god and the ultimate tragedy in PYGMALION REVISITED may be interpreted as his revenge at Athena showing undue empathy to mortals.
Rudy references several gods in PYGMALION REVISITED while contemplating how to complete his commission of a painting of Saint Sergius from Father Malik (Michael R. Buchanan). Among these are Pallas Athena, Heracles, Eros, Psyche, and Zeus.
Shadowlands Easter Egg 19: In MATING SEASON, Daniel (Vasilios Filippakis) can be imagined as the incarnate god Pan known for trickery of travelers in the woods as well as his sexual appetite.
The Greek god Pan represented in Shadowlands episode 2 Mating Season in the character of Daniel (Vasilios Filippakis)
Shadowlands Easter Egg 20: In NARCISSUS, the character of Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) represents the title role while the character of Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) is his cast off lover, the nymph Echo. Echo is also alluded to in the final exchange between Alex and Drew (Brian Woodford) when Drew echoes each of Alex’s lines.
Narcissus is a painting by the Italian Baroque master Caravaggio, painted circa 1597–1599
Echo and Narcissus (John William Waterhouse, 1903, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool)
Shadowlands Easter Egg 21: The dimensions of Rudy’s (Charlie David’s) art studio in Pygmalion Revisited are the divine ratio used in Greco-Roman architecture as well as classical art. The divine ratio or golden mean is found throughout nature, art and architecture such as the Great Pyramid in Giza, the Parthenon in Athens, and the Great Mosque of Kairouan. In art it is found in Leonardo da Vinci’s illustrations of polyhedra in ‘De divina proportione’,
Golden Mean ratio in the Pygmalion Revisited home of Rudy (Charlie David) & Xavier (Marc Devigne)
Salvador Dalí explicitly used the golden ratio in his masterpiece, The Sacrament of the Last Supper. Mondrian has been said to have used the golden section extensively in his geometrical paintings.
Charlie David’s Phi tattoo seen in Shadowlands episode 3 Pygmalion Revisited
The actor Charlie David has tattoos of the Fibonacci sequence on his inner left wrist identifying his personal numerology of 3-5-8 and the symbol Phi on his inner right wrist which correlates to the Fibonacci sequence. If a Fibonacci number is divided by its immediate predecessor in the sequence, the quotient approximates the Divine Ratio or Phi.
Shadowlands Easter Egg 22: in episode 1 Narcissus, Thalia (Natasha Balakrishnan) stands on a silver statue of an owl. A statue of the goddess Athena is seen in the background.
The owl is the totem animal of Athena and she is known as the goddess of wisdom. In this scene Thalia is trying to save Alex (Sean C. Dwyer) from his ultimate demise by offering wisdom that could ultimately save him from himself.
Athena, goddess of Wisdom ancient coin with her totem animal, the owl on the reverse side.
Statue of Athena hidden in plain sight in a scene in Shadowlands Narcissus
Thalia stands on the totem animal of the Greek goddess Athena, the owl in Shadowlands episode 1 Narcissus.
Additional wardrobe, props and set decor from the three episodes in the Shadowlands TV series may be hidden in plain sight allowing for an immersive re-watch for the curious viewer.
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