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Oh Mandy!

March 24, 2010

Pointy eye tuned to the "smackdown" setting

Another reader requested post. If you have a pop culture request, email me (see sidebar). I get tons of requests and I can’t promise to get to every single one, but I’ll do my best. Most likely I won’t get to any new ones until after I finish the H:LOTS thing.

I am a huge Mandel Bruce “Mandy” Patinkin fan from the way back. Back when all I knew of was his voice and had NO idea what he looked like. In fact the first time I saw him he was in Alien Nation drag, though I didn’t actually see the entire film until recently. So I’m thinking Chicago Hope was probably the first place I ever saw this dude or possibly Yentl.

Like Matthew Modine – another actor I adore – Patinkin has a terrible habit of appearing in works I have absolutely no interest in viewing. Thus it’s taken a real long time to actually figure this Patinkin thing out. I know that I enjoy seeing his performances, but most often – as was the case with Dead Like Me and to a lesser degree Chicago Hope – I just didn’t care much for the programs themselves. Chicago Hope always seemed a huge waste of a sublime ensemble cast and that lead girl on Dead Like Me irked the heck of me with her monotone voice and limited acting range. Plus the other characters were annoying too.

Four episodes of Criminal Minds – a show which is a watered down combo of House and The Profiler – and I’m pretty much all set with that. Given that Patinkin left the series after the second year, I don’t feel too badly about my decision. The addition of Fat Tony, while intriguing isn’t enough to motivate me. My only interest in the program was Patinkin, as none of the other characters did anything for me. Most of the other characters – save Thomas Gibson (more on him in sec) – were copies of copies of copies of really poorly written characters from other shows. From the “handsome black guy” played by the go-to handsome black guy Shemar Moore to the bimbo a go go to the tedious socially awkward skinny white guy required on every cop procedural, despite the reality that nobody would let that character so much as push a paper, much less CARRY A CONCEALED FIREARM. There is nothing redeemable about this show other than Mandy and…

Thomas Gibson has really come into his own! I saw glimmers in Eyes Wide Shut, something interesting about his performance, some flash of the brilliance I had observed so very long ago in the stellar film Love and Human Remains. I don’t find him attractive, so that wasn’t at work for me. But I did want more screen time with him. Gibson is interesting to watch and gives the kinds of performances that Dylan McDermott probably “thinks” he gives, but DOESN’T. Gibson takes a scene done a billion times – sitting down reading a file while also talking to another character without looking up – yet always gives a subtle little something worth noticing. Anyway, I liked watching him.

But back to Mandy! Like Snarky, he has dealt with the pointy eye – keratoconus – which considering his back to back corneal transplant surgeries in ’97/’98 is an entirely more plausible reason for leaving Chicago than him merely being a diva, though he is most definitely a diva, and so fucking what. People are assclowns and often are in dire need of having their asses served to them. And generally, the divas of the world have to do it, since everyone else is usually entirely too cowardly. As an aside, TWO TRANSPLANTS and still uses glasses. Uh, me thinks I’ll take a hot bag of “no thanks” on that. Though, I suspect his progression was probably far more advanced than mine. Also, the disease MAKES YOU FUCKING CRABBY. So once I discovered he dealt with it, it is not at all surprising to discover he’s considered “hard to work with” and truculent. Yeah, that’s what daily shifts in vision, skull numbing migraines, constant watery eyes, facial tension and ineffective visual correction treatments DO TO PEOPLE.

As for Criminal Minds, that dog most definitely does not hunt and barely feels compelled to scratch fleas off its back – and it’s riddled with fleas. And I’m with Mandy on the violence tip. The show is entirely TOO VIOLENT. And you know when a gal whose favorite movie is SHARKY’S MACHINE says something is too violent she’s not just trading in hyperbole.

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26 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2010 7:06 am

    that dog most definitely does not hunt and barely feels compelled to scratch fleas off its back – and it’s riddled with fleas.

    I can’t stop laughing at this line. This is one of the funniest things I’ve read in months.

  2. March 24, 2010 7:14 am

    Well it’s producing, that’s what it is. I tell you someday when they tell this story…

  3. March 24, 2010 7:54 am

    You can never tell that story!

  4. March 24, 2010 8:13 am

    Yeah, I know, but if they do tell that story!

  5. March 24, 2010 8:21 am

    See, I’m mostly familiar with Patinkin from his musical theatre work. And I have to say, while he’s good in some things (Evita and Sunday in the Park With George), he eventually started being really…um. His mannerisms and singing style started getting more and more forced and kind of awkward-making. I can’t listen to his tracks on the 1985 Follies concert recording–I get too embarrassed for him.

    He’s significantly more awesome on film and TV, though. This is true.

  6. March 24, 2010 8:31 am

    If he was sight reading that might account for some of his issues. I don’t know how badly his disease process was in 1985, but I had to abandon playing instruments because my vision was too inconsistent at the time. Plus he had the condition in both eyes, which I gotta tell you pretty much affects every aspect of life. You can’t really do anything and on really bad days basically it’s just meds to relieve symptoms and off to bed to ride it out.

    Have you heard recent recordings? I thought his Sondheim CD was fab.

  7. Hank permalink
    March 24, 2010 9:29 am

    I’m an old school dork, so he’ll always be Inigo Montoya to me.

  8. badhedgehog permalink
    March 24, 2010 10:00 am

    I first saw him in The Music Of Chance and then Chicago Hope. I love it when his film and TV parts make use of his singing.

  9. March 24, 2010 10:03 am

    my mom adores him 😀 We had a tape of him singing show tunes that she’d play in the car, when cleaning the house, etc. I had no idea she was on Chicago Hope. My mom loved that show, I’ve never watched it, but now I wonder if that’s why she watched it!

  10. hsofia permalink
    March 24, 2010 12:48 pm

    I remember Patinkin from Alien Nation … he was so good. I saw the movie again about a year ago and he was still soo good. I watched “Chicago Hope” until he left and then I didn’t watch it again. I think it was on that show that he sang a song to his character’s wife (?) at a piano. I can’t remember the song but it broke my heart at the time.

  11. Cassi permalink
    March 24, 2010 1:53 pm

    Oh, I vaguely remember that scene of him singing in CH… wasn’t it after he died? or perhaps was on the operating table? I keep seeing him in a white tux??

    I didn’t know he had keratoconus. My sympathies to you too Snarky and anyone afflicted with that. It’s an unbelievably painful disease. My sister had it and had a corneal transplant (also cataract surgery in both eyes while still in her 20’s). It was truly awful, especially when her surgeon insisted that rather than remove the stitches they should wait and wait and wait… eventually the healing cause each one to break individually at which point she’d be in massive pain (since she now had a microscopic thread STICKING IN HER EYE) and she’d have to go to his office and have it plucked out with a teeny pair of tweezers (having that coming at your eye is just extra added joy to an already bad day). It was a horrible thing to go through, but I will say that she’s now doing extremely well. She does still need glasses, but before she could not drive at all, so for her, the surgery made a huge difference.

  12. March 24, 2010 2:01 pm

    @Hank: Ha! That’s what I love about you. Keeps it real!
    @Badhedgehog: Me too. I want him to sing more. I don’t think I’ve actually SEEN him sing. I have hear him sing and seen him act, but not at the same time.
    @MA: Yeah, Mandy played the Lothario! TV worth watching.
    @hsofia: OOh, I should check that episode out. Also, I really enjoyed Alien Nation. It reminds me of Sharky’s Machine, which perfected a genre a couple of years too late. Still worth watching.

  13. badhedgehog permalink
    March 24, 2010 5:02 pm

    hsofia – yes it was in Chicago Hope that he sang a song (and I’m pretty sure it was to his character’s wife, too) at the piano, and yep, it was very very moving.

  14. March 24, 2010 5:23 pm

    Youtube and Hulu seem to have no memory of this event! I will find this moving scene and report back.

  15. hsofia permalink
    March 24, 2010 6:54 pm

    SM – that would be awesome. I spent a little time looking for it before I posted about it, but only got as far as finding out that the Mrs. Geiger character was in about nine episodes. Then I had to go take care of my puking child.

  16. March 24, 2010 9:59 pm

    hsofia – still searching. I’m determined though. Well see what happens. In the meantime, I can dream!

  17. IrishUp permalink
    March 25, 2010 9:53 am

    Wasn’t the CH storyline with his wife that she had some kind of early onset dementia or other severely dementing mental illness? I recall that he sang and played for her (one of?) “their song” or perhaps her favorite song, as one of the only ways to connect to who she used to be before her illness. It was a definitely a pass-the-Puffs scene!

  18. IrishUp permalink
    March 25, 2010 10:33 am

    The episode in question might be “Love and Hope” from season 1, where Gieger does the Christmas pageant at his wife’s mental institution. The plot summary I found on this great CH website:
    http://www-cs-students.stanford.edu/~clee/chicagohope.html

    says that the stress of the xmas show overwhelmed Laurie Geiger’s fragile mental state. I remembered the scene as being Mandy comforting his wife, so perhaps this is it.

    Also, it wasn’t dementia, it was schizophrenia that his wife had.
    Sorry, Snarky, for the double post. I should have researched first and posted second!

  19. March 25, 2010 10:35 am

    No worries, Irish up and welcome. You made it past the velvet ropes!

  20. hsofia permalink
    March 25, 2010 10:46 am

    I found it. It’s the 2nd episode (episode after The Pilot) called “Over the Rainbow,” and it’s literally one minute of him singing before the credits roll. He visits his wife in the mental institution, and she requests “I Dreamed a Dream.” I’d upload it to YouTube, but I dunno how. Altho, I imagine it can’t be too hard as millions of people upload stuff to YouTube.

  21. March 25, 2010 11:25 am

    Ooh, I think I can watch it on Hulu.

  22. March 25, 2010 11:32 am

    and this one’s just funny!

  23. IrishUp permalink
    March 25, 2010 12:00 pm

    Thank you, Snarky, I am really enjoying it!

    In looking over that website, Mandy got to sing and play on a lot of episodes actually. Including the 2nd episode that hsofia found, it looks like at least 4 in the first season: “Love and Hope”, “The Quarantine” “Full Moon” all look like they have playing/singing Dr. Geiger in them. As for other video performances, I found this clip from the David Letterman show of Mandy singing “Brother Can You Spare a Dime”

    and I think there is a fair amount of video out there from “The Falsettos”, which I found trying to find video from “Man of La Mancha”. I swear I saw part of that on PBS – maybe from a Great Performances? Alas, I haven’t found anything yet. What good is being a professional researcher, if I can’t find Mandy in “Man of La Mancha”, I ask?!

  24. hsofia permalink
    March 25, 2010 12:05 pm

    I was really touched by him talking about missing his kids.

  25. March 25, 2010 12:26 pm

    IrishUp – You’re welcome. It’s so weird for me, because when I was kid my mom had his music and she alternated between Babs’s Greatest Hits II and Evita. And I didn’t have any idea what Patti or Mandy looked like.

    OMG, he’s so HAWT with his beard and parka!

    I mean my mind was blown by the concept of a guy named Mandy, but thrilled just the same.

    I love his voice and I feel a kinship with him, as I’m kind of a NOTORIOUS C.R.A.B.

  26. March 25, 2010 12:27 pm

    hsofia – omg, the thing about playing Hang-man, nearly made me weepy. He really does seem to dig his family. I wonder if he’s an aries.

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