Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams (1951 - 2014)

Just like the rest of the world, I am shocked to hear that not only is Robin Williams dead at 63, but it sounds like he took his own life.  I was aware he was in and out of rehab in recent years, battling alcoholism, but didn't realize he suffered from depression.  It's a terrible thing that doesn't care if you're poor or rich, famous or unknown.

Truthfully I never cared for Robin Williams as a stand-up comedian.  Sure his mind worked a mile a minute, too fast for even his mouth to keep up, but his comedy never really won me over.  But, surprisingly, as a dramatic actor, he was almost unmatched.  It amazed me that that wacky guy who played Mork from Ork could deliver such amazing performances as he did in 'Good Will Hunting', 'Dead Poets Society', and 'Awakenings' (which literally brought me to tears.)  Occasionally his comedies worked for me (including 'Mrs. Doubtfire', which I would've bet money on that I'd hate but I actually love) but more often than not it was his darker films that really struck a chord with me.  His dark trilogy in 2002 ('One Hour Photo', 'Insomnia', and 'Death to Smoochy') showed a whole new side to him.  'Bicentennial Man' was a totally underrated film and 'Patch Adams' is way better than critics give it credit for.  'The Final Cut' is possibly his most overlooked gem.  And now, under the circumstances, 'World's Greatest Dad' (which isn't for everyone, because it's both terribly sad and weirdly quirky) strikes an even more fitting chord.  Though, for me, I will most appreciate and remember him for something he did in 1994.  Back then a fledgling new series called 'Homicide: Life on the Street' was struggling to avoid cancellation, due to inconsistent airings and frequent changes of timeslots on NBC.  Enter movie star Robin Williams who did what movie stars didn't do back in 1994.  He guest starred on a TV show!  (And one with only 9 episodes under its belt.)  On one very poignant episode called 'Bop Gun', he stole the show from the huge talented ensemble cast, brought in viewers, and is often acknowledged to be the person who saved that show from cancellation, after which it went on for another 5 seasons and 110 amazing episodes.  It's just one of many reasons I will miss Robin Williams.  Rest in Peace.  And Nanu Nanu.

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