Friday, December 16, 2005

Goodbye to John Spencer, and Leo McGarry

It's silly to get all worked up about the death of an actor, but I'm feeling really sad tonight to hear that John Spencer, beloved as Leo McGarry on "The West Wing" and, before that, as Tommy Mullaney on "L.A. Law," has passed away from a heart attack at age 58. It seems I watch some episode of "The West Wing" or other most days thanks to reruns on Bravo and my DVD sets, and it's hard to imagine life without Leo. I could spend all day and night remembering and typing out some of that character's wonderful lines, but one monologue seems particularly appropriate to this blog for parents with special-needs kids, who have been down in holes before and helped each other out. Long-time fans of the show will recognize it instantly; for those who aren't, it's said by Leo, a recovering alcoholic, to his deputy Josh, who's suffering from PTSD after being injured in an assassination attempt, to let him know he has his boss' unwavering support:
This guy's walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can't get out. A doctor passes by, and the guy shouts up, "Hey, you, can you help me out?" The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along, and the guy shouts up, "Father, I'm down in this hole. Can you help me out?" The priest writes a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by. "Hey, Joe, it's me. Can you help me out?" And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, "Are you stupid? Now we're both down here." The friend says, "Yeah, but I've been down here before, and I know the way out." (Text from IMDb)
If you're also mourning the loss of John and Leo, and want to share those feelings with people who won't think you're an idiot for mourning someone you've never met and a TV character, there's a bit of a wake going on at the Television Without Pity forums. Bring a big block of cheese.

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