Sunday, March 4, 2012

Andy and Steve: So who's really the most friendly?

Wow, I’m sorry about the quality of that last entry. I was upset and in a fog, and it shows. The only part of that entry I really like is where I’m describing and musing on the climax of The Empty Tin.

I’ve been pondering on whether to do the weekend post this time at all, since as I mentioned, I’ll be posting on Tuesday. But there’s several topics floating through my mind, so I guess I’ll surprise myself and see what one I pick for today.

I’m still puzzled over why Wesley Lau left the series. I know I said in the past about him being let go because they thought Andy was too friendly, but that’s only a rumor, as I learned later. There’s also the story that he had signed on to appear as a regular on a different show, but there’s holes in that idea too. He didn’t appear as a regular on any series that season. The closest was his recurring role on The Time Tunnel, but he was only in a handful of episodes, according to It’s possible that he thought he would appear more than he did, but that’s also only speculation. In the end, no one seems to know for sure.

The main problem with the concept of him being let go because of Andy’s friendliness is that his replacement often appears to be more friendly, not less. Lieutenant Steve Drumm sadly gets mostly ignored by the fans. The majority, of course, prefer Tragg, although many of them are accepting of Andy too. But Steve doesn’t seem to get much fan recognition. Maybe it’s because season 9 is generally disliked (although largely not for the same reasons I dislike some of it), but that shouldn’t affect the fact of there being an awesome and interesting character in it.

Steve seems to be inspired by hardboiled detectives of the 1940s. He sometimes comes off like that when he’s questioning suspects. (“Oh come on, Mr. Soandso. That isn’t what really happened, is it?”) And in The Silent Six he tells Perry that in his line of work he’s not supposed to have friends. (Although he clearly considers his partner his friend.) But on the opposite end of the spectrum he often dines and jokes with Perry and company and has an obvious friendship with Paul.

Paul quite likes him; in an early season 9 episode he calls the police station and ends up talking to Steve about whatever it was he wanted to know. He perks up and asks, “Is that you, Steve?” He and Steve share some very friendly and relaxed conversations throughout the season. Paul seems much happier to see him than he even is at times to see Andy.

Of course, friendliness is what Andy is known for. That, and not really caring about catching Perry and Paul on their law-bending. But although he has also shared friendly exchanges with them, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him dining with them or being as relaxed in general as Steve often is around them. And Andy does get upset if he thinks Perry and Paul are bending the law, so it isn’t as though he just turns a blind eye to it, which is the impression some fans seem to give off.

Andy, I’ve noticed, can sometimes get wound up pretty tight. In some ways, fascinatingly, I think he gets more upset than Tragg ever has. But whether he’s supposed to be that way is still up in the air, as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t always appear to gel with what else we’ve seen from him. He seems stressed in some season 6 episodes, such as The Golden Oranges, but it’s still not to the extent he was upset in those season 8 episodes I’ve mentioned before. I’m still trying to figure out if the latter was bad/over-done writing or if it’s something to be incorporated into his canonical personality. His frustration and even aggravation in The Careless Kitten is such a far cry from easy-going scenes such as his stroll into Perry’s office in The Prankish Professor.

But what bothers me most is how Paul seems to think Andy is out to get him and Perry in season 8. Actually, it seems like they don’t even call him Andy as much in season 8 as they did before. They’re more likely to be formal and say Lieutenant Anderson. I still wonder if these changes all had to do with Ray Collins’ departure and they decided that they needed to make Andy’s character a bit harsher and less friendly since Tragg was no longer around to be the counter to Andy’s previous congeniality.

Ha, maybe Wesley wasn’t let go for Andy’s friendliness, but because they ended up changing the character. Not likely, but it seems just as possible as any of the other ideas.

Now, let me make it clear that I don’t think Perry and Paul should be excused for their law-bending. Of course none of the police should allow it or turn a blind eye to it. But Andy didn’t anyway, so I just don’t understand the reason for making him harsher at times in season 8.

In The Wooden Nickels, when he warns Paul about the possibility of his license being taken away, his behavior could be interpreted as worry, not wanting Paul to dig himself in that deep. That is the clear reason for Hamilton’s outburst in The Careless Kitten. But Andy’s actions in that same latter episode, however, do not seem to have a clear explanation that fits with his established personality.

As for Steve, facing the law-bending problem. To be honest, I can’t even remember if he ever went up against it. If he did, it seems to me that it must have been in one of those episodes I did not like, perhaps in The Vanishing Victim. But I do know that he would not like those antics, either. He’s a good cop, by-the-book a lot, and any sort of law-bending would make him very unhappy.

I’ve praised The Sausalito Sunrise more than once for its handling of showing a character’s darker side. It does not ignore prior character development; it builds on it by having the other characters recognize that something is wrong. It surely would not have hurt in The Careless Kitten for someone to say that Andy was really stressed that night, instead of making it sound like he was always that way and out to get Perry and Paul. Which he just isn’t.

That angle was Paul's fault rather than Andy's, although in the end it was really the writers' fault overall. When there's obvious out-of-character behavior going on, I blame the writers. It's when I can't quite tell whether it's out-of-character, such as Andy's extreme stress in that episode, that I scratch my head in bewilderment.

In any case, surprisingly, Steve honestly usually seems to come across as more easy-going, even in spite of his hardboiled attitude on police work. He certainly seems to be Paul's closest friend among the main police on the series.

Both he and Andy are very good characters and should be accepted and enjoyed for what they have to offer and bring to the show. I love them both, dearly.

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