10.02.2003

 
The strangest things can affect me profoundly sometimes.

Notwithstanding my desire to maintain a somewhat cool exterior among those who frequent this page, I have mentioned occasionally that JAG is my favorite TV show. Yes, a show whose biggest viewership has started to consider retirement holds the top spot on the Hose Monster pantheon of entertainment. But anyway, last Friday night, the new season of JAG kicked off. With my family here, I didn't have a chance to watch it when it aired live. I finally got to my tape of it tonight.

Now, to take a step back, last June Trevor Goddard passed away of an apparent drug overdose. Goddard played recurring character Mic Brumby during his three or so years on the show, and while I never liked his character very much, I thought Brumby injected some interesting life in the show, and I thought Goddard played him very well.

Coming back to my point, at the end of Friday's JAG episode, they dedicated the show to Goddard's memory, then ran a two-minute clip of Brumby's initial departure from the show's cast (Goddard revisited the role in subsequent years). The scene showed the JAG colleagues all toasting his departure at their favorite Irish pub. As Brumby made his final farewell, Lt. Roberts began singing an Australian tune soon joined by the cast:

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me and he
Sang as he watched and waited til his billy boiled
You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me.


Brumby turns, the sparkle of a tear caught by dimmed light clearly visible in his eyes. With a wave and a smile, he turned and walked out the door, and the camera faded out showing Brumby walking down the alley alone. Across the bottom of the screen, words read, "May he rest in peace."

Certainly the actor's death should occasion no laughter, and among those with whom he had worked, his passing no doubt evoked varying reactions of sadness. But for those of us so far removed from entertainment, for the lives of actors and actresses, such a all-too-common story of an actor or celebrating losing a fight to drug and alcohol demons hits a numb spot in our conscience, and we shake our heads and move on to the next hour-long crime drama.

But something about this particular JAG dedication got to me. Quite possibly, the three hours of Simon and Garfunkel I enjoyed while working tonight could have put me in a somber mood (I could hear "Song for the Asking" in the middle of a Blink 182 concert and still feel the beginnings of melancholy creeping around the edges of my emotions). Of course, you see shows dedicated to cast and crew members with some frequency, and personally it always strikes me as a nice gesture taped to the end of a show. But JAG got it right, the way a dedication should come off. Classy. Sincere. They took the time to bring him back, to show what his passing seemed to mean to the people who worked with him, just as his character, one who never quite found a peace with his colleagues, nonetheless let their voices accompany him on his waltz out.

And that getting it right by JAG just got to me. I don't know why - no doubt my familiarity with the actor and the character had some significance in the whole thing, and my general state of exhaustion made me more susceptible to emotional swings.

I rewound the tape and watched his departure again. And it was perfect. Perfect enough to make me admit what a sissy I can be now and again.