Wednesday, August 13, 2014

oh, it's a Robin Williams post

One on my FL is chiding the world for paying more attention to Robin Williams' death than more urgent problems, but the point is, I don't have anything to say right now about global warming or transphobia or the Middle East that I could possibly expect you to want to read.

We learned of his death from one of the 38 channels of television offered by JetBlue on the flight home from Boston, during one of the brief intervals when they weren't all playing commercials.  This is the first time that I've learned of any significant news event from television news, excluding only live feeds directly connected with presidential elections, for well over 25 years.  After this, I'm not minded to shorten the interval.  I spent most of the flight listening to the classical radio station.

I was never a fan of Robin's standup, inasmuch as I saw any of it.  It seemed to me that its humor lay more in the speed and intensity of his delivery than in anything he actually said.  I did enjoy Mork and Mindy, insofar as I saw any of that, but my real appreciation of his work probably dates from seeing The World According to Garp in first run in 1982 - I was in Spokane on the way back from Moscon, as I recall - a movie that earned my highest accolade, "That was weird."

So I appear to have thought of him primarily as a dramatic actor.  Certainly he had the desirable quality for a comedian wishing to broaden his range of being able to be serious - you didn't look at him waiting for the jokes to crack - and that in itself puts the lie to the statement that he was on permanent manic and couldn't turn himself "off".  Of course he could.  I liked him in movies like Insomnia - crooked urban cop Al Pacino chases elusive rural creep Robin Williams through the wilds of Alaska, what a weird concept, and, like RW and SMG in The Crazy Ones, they worked well together.*

Of the manner of RW's death I have only this to say: that the bios have reminded me that he was a friend of Christopher Reeve, which in turn brought to memory this story, that after Reeve's accident he felt suicidal, so his friends snuck Robin Williams into his hospital room in the guise of an eccentric Russian doctor intent on performing a colonoscopy.  Reeve laughed, and it was then, he later said, that he decided to live.  So of Williams you could say: Others he saved.  Himself he could not save.

I have a memory of a Robin Williams movie role that I can't identify in the filmographies.  Or maybe it's a dream.  He played an uncredited cameo as a research doctor or bioscientist of some kind who suddenly bustles in to a lab or hospital scene or some such well into the course of the movie.  Anybody recognize what I'm talking about?

*SMG issued a memorial statement describing RW as her father figure (like Buffy, she was largely absent of a real one), which sounds strange until you realize that she's 26 years younger than he was. So, yeah, that's about right.

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