Sunday, June 3, 2012

Notable Guest-Stars: Richard Anderson

Whew. This has been a very busy last twelve hours, from hurrying to finish Crystal’s birthday gift to working on today’s prompt for the Perry story idea I mentioned last post. These stories seem to be turning out by and large longer (and more detailed) than the ones I wrote for the other theme sets. I’m barely keeping abreast of the current theme, whereas before I was usually several themes ahead. By the way, I’m gathering all of the prompts at this link, for the interested:

While musing earlier on what today’s post could be I thought of a very interesting phenomenon that has happened more than once on the series: when a guest-star later becomes a regular cast member (albeit rarely playing the same character). To that end, I decided to spotlight Richard Anderson in his two guest-star status episodes.

Richard has quickly become one of my favorite actors, as I am very fond of Lieutenant Drumm. I’ve started to look up Richard’s work on other series. And Richard is one of the few guest-starring actors I like enough to get me actively interested in deliberately choosing an episode without Hamilton in order to see the guest star. True, I like his episode in season 7 best, but both were really quite good. And the out-of-town prosecutor in the season 8 episode didn’t have a lot of screentime, and for once, I rather liked him anyway, so I didn’t have to think a lot about how different he was from Hamilton.

Richard first appeared in episode 14 of season 7, The Accosted Accountant. He plays the titular character, a man faced with evidence that the president of the company (and his own father-in-law to boot) has been mismanaging the company and even embezzling. He feels the man needs to resign, which causes friction between him and his wife. And the plot only gets more twisted when the president, B.K. Doran, feels he has evidence that Edward Lewis, the accountant, is the one embezzling. Of course, this comes out to bite Ed when B.K. turns up dead, killed by Ed’s letter-opener.

Ed is a friend of Perry’s and had asked for him and Paul to help with the case he’s building concerning B.K.’s embezzlement. Now he has to have their help when he’s accused of murder.

It’s one of the delights of season 7, for many reasons. There is some excellent interaction between Perry and Hamilton, which will be discussed at length when this episode gets its own spotlight post. And it also gives us some intriguing and ironic interaction between two more people: Wesley Lau and Richard Anderson. It’s impossible to watch them in the same scene and not think of Andy questioning and arresting Steve. While it’s a pity their detective characters never met, it’s still a treat to watch the only interaction between them on the series. Within a season and a half, Wesley would be passing the torch to the man his character arrests here.

Season 8’s The Paper Bullets features Richard portraying Jason Foster, a Senatorial candidate. His campaign is marred by the attempts of his competitor’s brother to involve Jason’s younger sister in scandal. (And for once, the competitor himself seems to be upright and is upset by his brother’s actions. I love it.) It doesn’t help that the sister, Susan, doesn’t believe she’s being used and is very bitter towards Jason, feeling that he keeps her on a tight leash. And things go from bad to worse when her boyfriend turns up dead, it looks like Jason’s wife may have killed him, and Susan is certain Jason did it.

Susan is one of the most teeth-grinding characters I’ve encountered on the series. Gah, the way Jason looks when he tries to talk to her and she continually rejects him, totally breaks my heart. She even has a horrid outburst right in court, saying she’s not hostile towards the prosecutor, but she is towards Jason.

Unless the episode is missing a scene, she somehow has a complete turnaround after that low point. She goes to Jason and apologizes for ever thinking he would kill that guy and let Maggie take the blame. I was glad to see her shape up, yet the scene left me somewhat unsatisfied, as I couldn’t quite figure out what led to it. Did she just need to vent, and once it was out, she calmed down and realized how asinine she was being? Or were the writers being lazy?

In any case, Susan is nice for the remainder of the episode and in the epilogue, she and Maggie both embrace Jason as the press snaps their picture. In addition to Maggie being cleared, Jason wins the election. A nice ending all around.

And the whole thing left me wondering what it would be like if Steve Drumm had a sister around Susan’s age. I can just imagine him being overwhelmed with all the problems that would crop up. Hopefully she wouldn’t be as frustrating as Susan was for most of the time, but they would definitely have their disagreements.

Overall, both of Richard Anderson’s guest-spots are very enjoyable to watch. It’s easy to see why he became a prime casting choice when, for whatever reason, Wesley was no longer around.

Richard is one of the few cast members still alive. I’ve even seen him on Facebook and a couple of Blogspot accounts, albeit he doesn’t seem to have time to update the latter. But it’s exciting to see him wanting to connect with his fans in these ways. From all I’ve seen and read, he’s not only an awesome and professional actor, he’s a gracious and friendly person.

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