BENJAMIN GOLD has been a teacher at Capeside High for the past seven years. He went to college in upstate New York, and started teaching high school English to inner city youth in Boston. Always an avid movie buff, he minored in Film Studies in college and volunteered for the Boston Film Festival while teaching there. Benjamin, "Benji" to his friends, fell in love with Cape Cod during frequent visits there with his boyfriend Jeff, an architect. They bought a beach home in Provincetown, and Mr. Gold took the first high school English teaching opening on the Cape -- at Capeside High. He introduced a film class to Capeside's curriculum in his second year, and it quickly became one of the most popular electives at the school.
When Benji and Jeff split up two years ago, Benji bought out his former love's half of the beach house. The Capeside High School Board, though very appreciative of Mr. Gold and the prestige his film class has brought the school, does request him to downplay being gay. Mr. Gold complies, as he commutes from Provincetown, and doesn't have many social ties in Capeside. Mr. Gold's wish for a co-worker he can bond with is fulfilled in a synchronistic way when he gets a call early in the summer from his former college friend and fellow teacher Tamara Jacobs, who's restless and looking to make a change in her life. It just so happens there's a newly-open teaching position in the English department at Capeside High, and soon Benji is helping Tamara find a great beach house rental in town.
On the first day of the new school year, sophomore Dawson Leery pleads with Mr. Gold to allow him into the film class. Though impressed with the kid's knowledge of the medium and his comparative maturity, Mr. Gold knows too well that opening up the class to underclassmen will create wait list nightmares, so he has to refuse Dawson's request. That night he and Tamara go together to Capeside's old movie house, the Rialto. There, a student named Pacey starts hounding Tamara. Benji steps in, but the student gets punched in the face by a burly moviegoer sitting in the row behind them. Dawson returns to Mr. Gold a few days later with a proposition: Dawson can sit in on the film class as his study hall period, and not be officially enrolled. Amused by the kid's ingenuity, Mr. Gold agrees. Dawson does not stay a passive observer for long, and his comments concerning the class's current film project "Helmets of Glory," which Mr. Gold is submitting to the Boston Film Festival, are right on the nose.
Now impressed, Mr. Gold tells Dawson that if he can tough out the class's upcoming shoot as a production assistant, he'll allow the young film buff to officially enroll. Meanwhile, Benji is enjoying having Tamara working in his department, and starts spending more social time in Capeside, renewing his friendship with her. They meet up together once the school day is over in "Prelude To a Kiss," and at an outdoor cafe. When rumors start circulating Capeside High that Tamara slept with that sophomore student Pacey, she refuses to discuss them with Mr. Gold. Knowing what the Capeside High School Board is like, Mr. Gold is not surprised when Tamara resigns even after Pacey tells the Board he made everything up. Benji's sad to see his friend leave town, and resolves to keep his own off-hours time spent in Capeside to a bare minimum.