I wanted to get this up hours ago, but it’s been a rather busy day. I’ve definitely been thinking about it, however, and I like to think that Wesley knows I haven’t forgotten him.
Today would have been his birthday. Such a gifted actor and a kind man, taken from us much too soon.
The Perry crew must have been aware of his amazing talents, as they very likely specifically requested him for the role of Amory Fallon in The Impatient Partner. And he brought the distressed and high-strung character to life in such a real way. It’s a common thread with many of Wesley’s characters—how they feel so three-dimensional that you feel you could reach out and touch them.
He must have impressed audiences and the staff extremely, as well he should have, since when someone was needed to lighten Ray Collins’ load, the crew turned to him as one of the possibilities. (As a prior entry states, it was Gail Patrick Jackson who asked him to come aboard as a policeman after enjoying his performance as Amory.) They tried several things, from having Sergeant Brice play a larger role to bringing in new police characters, including Lieutenant McVey (portrayed by Med Flory, who also played Captain McVey of the United States Air Force. Twin brother characters, perhaps?) and Lieutenant Anderson. In the end, it was, of course, Andy whom they decided to develop as a character.
I still wonder what their intention was by giving Andy dialogue specifically written for Tragg at first. Did they ridiculously believe they actually could make another Tragg? Or did they think Andy’s role would only be temporary and Ray Collins could later return full-time? It is sad if they thought the latter, since it could not be.
As always, Wesley adapted to the material as best as he could and really tried to make Andy a unique character. He certainly became a different character than Tragg, thank goodness. And he has some fun bursts of personality in season 6 especially. I love him in The Bogus Books and The Hateful Hero.
For whatever reason, the staff or the writers or all of them, did not allow Andy to develop anywhere as much as he could have with Wesley at the helm. But Wesley gave his all and they kept the character for four seasons.
It is a shame that television characters almost always faded into obscurity back then. If the actor left or was fired, the character just vanished without a trace. We don’t really know what happened to Tragg or to Andy. It’s nice to think that they stayed around and just remained unseen by the audience. If they followed the paths of their actors, then we would sadly have to believe Tragg died, and Andy . . . well, we don’t know what would have happened to Andy, since we still don’t know for certain why Wesley departed.
Andy gradually takes the torch from his mentor and friend Lieutenant Tragg, becoming more prominent in the stories while Tragg’s involvement fades. In season 7, however, Tragg is shown to still be active in the cases, just often unseen. And, if The Capering Camera is any indication, Andy continues to go to him for advice and as a sounding board. That’s rather cute, actually. I love the unspoken idea that Tragg is mentoring Andy and they’re very close friends.
I wish we could have seen a bit of interaction between Andy and Sergeant Brice similar to some scenes that happened between Tragg and Brice around season 3, where they discuss the crime scenes and Tragg points things out. One thing with Andy and Brice that I will always find amusing now is in The Careless Kitten, when Andy is ready to blow his stack over Perry beating him to the murder weapon and Brice is just standing there silently laughing over Andy’s frustration. I have this feeling Brice has probably seen Andy’s increasingly short fuse a lot of times, especially in season 8. It must be a source of entertainment to the very easy-going Sergeant. (Unless it really is motivated largely by Tragg's absence, in which case Brice would understand and feel sad too.) On the other hand, if Tragg is still around, I can picture him counseling Andy not to always take things so seriously and that life is too short to go through it always frustrated.
It’s been several months since I’ve seen any Andy episodes other than season 8 offerings, although the other day I re-watched The Impatient Partner on my DVD set. I’m hoping to watch my favorite Andy episodes again soon.
I have run across quite a few people who remember Wesley and Andy fondly, and with good reason. To have Wesley Lau is a great feather in the cap for any series. Perry really snagged a wonderful actor when they got him. I just wish they would have let him develop Andy the way he was most certainly capable of doing. But I’m thrilled he was there in any capacity, and for so long.
Here’s to you, Wesley: still remembered and loved.