Heroes In Drag
"Men In Pink" Plot Summary:
While Autolycus is robbing Salmoneus and the generous king for whom he works, the king's greedy brother has the monarch murdered. Hearing shouts, the two men rush out of the treasury to find the dying ruler, only to be caught holding the knife when soldiers burst in. Salmoneus follows Autolycus when he flees, and the two hide in a dance hall, dressing as women to disguise themselves from the guards. The Widow Twanke, who taught Hercules to dance, permits them to join her chorus girls.
"Autolyca" promptly falls in love with Cupcake, a Marilyn Monroe lookalike who sings a seductive song about how much she loves sweets. Turns out she means it literally, however, and Autolycus covers for her when she's caught with a forbidden dessert by claiming it belongs to Salmoneus. The older man gets grounded while the rest of the girls go to the spa, where Autolycus gets to know Cupcake's secret yearnings. Meanwhile, the prince searches for the criminals who "murdered" his brother, and falls in love with "Salmonella."
Autolycus dresses as a man and impresses Cupcake while Salmoneus shaves his legs, though his roommate has to jump in the tub with him when Cupcake comes by to tell "Autolyca" about the wonderful man she's met. The prince comes to the theater that evening, and the Widow Twanke expects the new recruits to perform a strip show. Using strategically placed oversize fans, they do, and are lauded while the prince fantasizes about marriage and children with Salmoneus.
After Salmoneus receives flowers and an invitation to dinner from the prince, Autolycus secures a date with Cupcake. The prince gives Salmoneus a diamond necklace while Autolycus gives Cupcake a donut, then begs her to give him some sugar. But he feels guilty when she praises his honesty and selflessness, and rushes off. Meanwhile, the prince makes a pass at Salmoneus, whose wig falls off. He is arrested, and when the soldiers arrive to arrest Autolycus, the prince finds Cupcake in the room searching for "Autolyca." He declares that he always knew she was a man, and tries to pull her hair off until Autolycus appears.
Autolycus picks the lock to escape from the executioner, and the three flee to the theater, where the Widow Twanke has gone onstage in Cupcake's place. The men fight the soldiers while dancing, ultimately squashing the prince, whom Autolycus accuses before the entire audience of having killed his brother. Autolycus apologizes to Cupcake while Salmoneus expresses dismay at the prince's abandonment: "I thought he loved me for ME!" Still, he has the diamond necklace, and the Widow Twanke says they're always welcome at her place, since she thinks every man should walk a mile in women's shoes.
A Hercules episode in which Hercules is barely mentioned, and never seen, "Men in Pink" is nonetheless a delightful triumph for the series. Bruce Campbell actually looks good in drag, while Robert Trebor looks so dreadful that it added terrific humor to his scenes with the besotted prince. As for "Edith Sidebottom" as The Widow Twanke, let's just say that I won't be devastated if Hercules decides to ditch Iolaus and take her on as a sidekick. The three boys in dresses were a scream.
Cupcake is terrific, a combination of Marilyn and Madonna with a little bit of Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors thrown in. When Twanke catches her with a man - a no-no - she exclaims, "I was just stroking his poodle!" She's a little dumb, but entirely likeable - sort of like Autolycus, in fact. The two men look strange without the trademark moustache and beard respectively, and are never convincing as women, which is part of the fun of their immediate acceptance by the bawdy house audience.
There were many sight gags, from the hideous caricatures of Autolycus and Salmoneus which the prince was showing around town on "Wanted" posters to the way Cupcake skewered the donut suggestively with her finger before taking a bite. My favorite comment was the widow's upon bursting in on the two men in the tub together: "Who do you think you are, Xena and Gabrielle?" But the episode was full of trademark one-liners. It's a credit to the producers that a show targeting young men has done two drag episodes this season. I love Kevin Sorbo, but this week I didn't even miss him.