Saturday, July 22, 2006

David Maloney & Jack Warden

I don't generally get too bummed by celebrity deaths and maybe that's because I'm very picky about the celebs who "work" for me. Even my recent Syd Barrett tribute was somewhat removed and cold (or at least I felt it was).

The big one today - the one you'll read about all over the place - is Jack Warden. There isn't a whole lot I can say about Warden that Round-Headed Boy didn't already eloquently cover at his place. Stop in and check out what he has to say about Jack's performance in Shampoo.

Were I to write something extensive on Warden, I too would zero in on Shampoo and how Warden's Lester - almost against all logic - is the heart and soul of this film that's so near and dear to me. Jeanne turned me on to it early in our relationship - prior to that I was turned off by the title; boy was I missing out. If you're going to rent a flick tonight and you've never seen Shampoo, there isn't a more appropriate time to check it out. Hell - even if you have seen it, watch it again. I know that's what I'm gonna do. By the way - IMDB's "6.2" rating is a perfect example of how fucked IMDB users are. Shampoo is a solid 10.

The other noteworthy passing that hit the news today was David Maloney, who died on the 18th. Who? Exactly! Maloney not only directed numerous classic Doctor Who stories but was also the producer of the first three seasons of Blake's 7 (that's noteworthy as the fourth and final season was largely terrible). Lest you think my geekdom has perhaps gone too far, I wouldn't make mention of this had I not once met the guy.

I was headed to a convention in Chicago in the late '90s, saw his name on the guest list, and frankly at that point I hadn't spent much energy cataloguing which Who directors did what stories. Out of curiosity (or perhaps just wanting to be a know-it-all) I looked up his Who directorial resume: The Mind Robber, The War Games, Genesis of the Daleks, Planet of Evil, The Deadly Assassin, and The Talons of Weng-Chiang.

That's some fucking seriously important Doctor Who. Each of those is a bona fide classic and each for very different reasons - reasons I'm not going to go into. If you're a classic Who fan you already know why, and if you're not the minutiae won't matter to you.

Probably the least "important" of those is Planet of Evil, and yet of the bunch it's the most important to me: Planet of Evil is the first Doctor Who story I ever viewed and it transfixed me (as you can well imagine). Hell, I'm sitting here typing about it over 20 years after that viewing.

So I'm at this con, and realizing Maloney's track record I was excited to go to one of the panels on which he was speaking. Afterwards I went up to him for some chat, and then...

...I wish I could sit here and tell you verbatim what he and I said to one another, but unfortunately it's just simply lost. I know I rattled off that list, and I know I said words to the effect of "that's some fucking seriously important Doctor Who" - although I didn't say fucking. I told him that he possessed a manner of storytelling that I only wished current TV directors had.

And I know he paused, and looked deep into my face and said something along the lines of...crap - - I don't remember what he said, and now he's dead and I'm pissed at myself for not remembering.

I could see in his eyes that he was touched and flattered and maybe - hopefully - my recollection of that vibe is more important than the words we exchanged.

The Mind Robber, Genesis of the Daleks & The Talons of Weng-Chiang are all available on DVD and highly recommended.