Jerry Doyle: The loss of a truly unique actor

Jerry Doyle, actor and broadcaster, passed away at 60.

One of my favorite actors ever, Jerry Doyle, best known for his role as Michael Garibaldi on Babylon 5, passed away at 60.  For several years, Doyle had been hosting a syndicated radio program, The Jerry Doyle Show, which was mostly political but, on occasion, veered off into entertainment and life.  In one memorable moment, Doyle touched on “the best advice” he ever received from the late Andreas Katsulas, with whom he worked alongside on Babylon 5.  When speaking about a short-lived failing marriage, Doyle said Katsulas told him to “go where you’re appreciated.”

Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Stracynski issued a statement on Doyle’s passing, published on Epic Times, with this beautiful close:

So dear sweet universe, if you are paying attention in the vastness of interstellar space, take a moment from plotting the trajectory of comets and designing new DNA in farflung cosmos, and spare a thought for those who you have plucked so untimely from our ranks…and knock it off for a while.

Because this isn’t fair.

And Jerry Doyle would be the first person to tell you that.  Right before he put a fist in your face.  Which is what I imagine he’s doing right now, on the other side of the veil.

– J. Michael Stracynski, creator of Babylon 5

Doyle, shown here as Security Chief Michael Garibaldi.  The joke among Babylon 5 fans from Season 4 on was the Garibaldi’s hair went “Beyond the Rim.”

JMS is right – this one, more than most, wasn’t fair.  Babylon 5 has a hardcore following, and many of its core cast has passed away already, many before their time.  It began with Richard Biggs (Dr. Stephen Franklin), being felled by a brain aneurysm.  It continued with the passing of Tim Choate (Zathras), then came the sudden passing of Andreas Katsulas (G’Kar) from lung cancer, Jeff Conaway (Zack Allen) from complications from long-term drug addiction, and Michael O’Hare (Jeffrey Sinclair) who long battled depression and mental illness.  Unlike Star Trek, which lost much of its core cast gradually, Babylon 5 lost its cast in spurts, with Doyle’s passing being the latest to rock this series fandom.

What hurts most of all, however, isn’t just the fact that Doyle passed away so young (a mere 60 years old), but the fact that his loss is a massive crater from an ideological standpoint.  It was uncommon for a man of such conservative political ideology to actually succeed at any level in Hollywood, let alone become the prototypical “tough guy” on a science fiction series.  Doyle was something truly special – a actor who, despite his political differences with his director/producer, was able to find common ground with said producer and work well.  According to JMS’ statement, Doyle held guest stars to the same standards as the main cast, and made sure that said integrity was clearly communicated.  To use a hockey parlance, Doyle was the “enforcer” of the Babylon 5 cast, making sure everyone toed the line and holding everyone, including himself, accountable.  JMS admitted to donating to Doyle’s political campaign not out of ideological agreement, but respect; a greater measure of friendship and American idealism is hard to find in this day and age.

As a broadcaster, Doyle sounded the alarm about President Obama’s platforms and policies, but also was unafraid to call out the GOP on their own excesses and refusal to adhere to their own platforms and strategies.  He was a Libertarian at heart, and his portrayal of Garibaldi showed that as the story progressed.  The character dynamic portrayed between Doyle and Star Trek alum Walter Koenig (Alfred Bester), one in which a paranoid Security Chief had to go toe-to-toe with a “Psi Cop” (telepathic equivalent of internal affairs) brought a level of series intrigue rarely found anywhere in the science fiction world.  Doyle’s portrayal of Garibaldi remained consistent throughout the story arc, and fans knew what to expect, even when JMS threw plot twists about him at the audience.  If it involved Garibaldi, it wasn’t a matter of how he would react, but how his reaction would affect everyone around him.  This was what defined Doyle’s outstanding work as that of a predictable, rugged character with a fatal flaw to his own person.

Doyle’s accurate portrayal of the consequences of alcoholism in Babylon 5 was highly unusual for a science fiction series.

This, however, merely scratched the surface of Doyle’s commitment to storytelling integrity.  In a commentary, it was revealed that when the notion was floated of Garibaldi’s alcoholism returning after a run-in with Bester, Doyle himself insisted that plot point be done right.  The idea would be predicated on Garibaldi discovering he had no way to exact revenge on Bester because of a neural block put in his brain – known in science fiction as an “Asimov.”  Doyle insisted alcohol abuse be shown in all its ugliness in the story, and that the “rock bottom” phase not simply be glossed over, but that it also showed how it affected everyone else.  In “The Ragged Edge,” it was his overindulgence which caused him to pass out and not hear the assault which felled his longtime friend during an intelligence operation.  During “And All My Dreams, Torn Asunder,” Garibaldi was passed out drunk, unable to respond to an urgent message from the Ranger fleet, which led to the start of an interstellar war which eventually devastated the Centauri homeworld.  Finally, in “The Wheel of Fire,” he was forced to face his greatest demons when, upon arriving late and drunk for a briefing, he was placed on suspension and later came face-to-face with himself in the form of Captain Elizabeth Lochley (Tracey Scoggins), who herself admitted to him her own addiction issues as well as that of her late father.  Doyle’s insistence upon treating this illness with the respect it deserved earned the series the respect of the sci-fi universe the world over; it was highly unusual for a future-set series to address real-world problems, as they were often considered “taboo” and “solved” centuries later.  Doyle and JMS were realistic, and that is perhaps his greatest acting achievement; the ability to make real-life issues plausible in the distant future.

We will miss you, Jerry.  Your politics, your tough guy attitude, and your integrity.  You were a man who was not only rare, but also irreplaceable.  So I ask my readers, especially Babylon 5 fans, to indulge me this parlance-laden farewell tribute to Jerry Doyle.

Jerry, you’ve gone beyond the rim to the place where no shadows fall.  We hope to join you someday but until then, please get the inside of your eyelids tattooed, make sure your ghost comes back to swap out Claudia Christian’s breakfast for lunch, slap a certain blonde’s actress’ butt when she least expects it, pour the whiskey down the sink, drink plenty of orange juice and club soda, play plenty of tennis, smoke those good cigars, and slap Walter Koenig across the face so we can all laugh and say “Garibaldi was here.”  Most of all, have an epic journey and an epic time.  We shall miss you, but now you will finally understand this was what you were born for.  Also, please, say “hi” to Richard, Tim, Andreas, Jeff, and Michael for us.

Farewell, old friend.

Rising to the occasion in politics, among other things *wink wink*

There has been a great deal of consternation in the world recently, such as the use of words such as “consternation” in sentences.  As many of you go about your daily business, such as attempting to not walk across the sets of weather anchors who playing Pokemon GO, there is an issue which must be addressed immediately and with all deliberate force – political openness and how it relates to the pending rise of the sex robots.

A recent spy report about the Board of County Commissioners of Sumter County, Georgia (Species:  E Pluribus Corruptus Govermentum Confusum), indicates the Board of County Commissioners, when cornered about a lack of openness, rose to the occasion and recently posted a collection of minutes of the commission dating back to around 2015, or the Jurassic Era, but definitely one of the two.  These minutes are still being analyzed by scholars and scientists for evidence of potential foolishness but, considering these are the same researchers who recently determined dinosaurs may have actually cooed and hummed instead of roared, a finding will likely be published around the same time the City of Cleveland wins its next pro sports championship.

In a semi-related story, Democratic heartthrob and super-icon Bernie “Feel the Sellout” Sanders openly endorsed Hillary Clinton to be the nominee for the Democratic Party.  Note, this was a statement of his endorsement of “nominee” but not for what.  As of this moment, this is what we do know – Hillary is courting many groups to her cause, including the Suicide Squad and Deadpool, but has been unsuccessful.  It is widely believe that bringing Sanders to the cause will unify the Democratic Party for approximately three days, and it’s been almost that long so, splintering and fracturing should occur any day now.  That being said, President Obama is expected to make a sweeping policy statement sometime later this week, but the inside line is that the statement will digress into something completely unrelated and activist in nature, such as lobbying for equal rights for sewer bacteria.’

Definitely redefines “Rise of the machines.”

All of this pales in comparison to the recent news that scientists have confirmed that, by 2025, sex robots will be available to keep women satisfied.  One can only assume that these particular “Products” will not be available at your local adult bookstore, though I could imagine the sort of options offered under “Preferences.”  Our best scenario is that possibility that these robots will be programmed by our friends from Iceland, who seem to have cornered the market on research in the field of the male apparatus.  Rumored settings include “delicate,” “permanent press,” “Chris Hemsworth,” and “Christian Grey.”  No word if optional features or “add ons” will be available.  As for safety features, manufacturers are reportedly applying for a trademark waiver of the recent advisory of “Don’t Poke and Drive.”

Writers Note:  Until it is no longer deemed funny, Icelandic phallic jokes will continue to made from time to time.  This means that it will be likely be funny until 2026, when the warranties for the sex robots expire.  

Five Souls Now Stars In The Sky

Five lives snuffed in an instant
Victims of evil’s hand.
The backstory is unimportant
What matters is the bullets were fired in malice.

When does it become right to take a life?
Is it in defense of one’s person?
Of one’s nation?
Of one’s cause?

When we allow ourselves to judge
To become the law, personified
We become the worst of us
Regardless if who you are.

Some will say it was coming
Does it make it right?
Can’t we find a solution to this morass
And support those who serve and protect?

All deserve a life of dignity
All deserve to come home at night
All deserve to be surrounded by loved ones
All deserve to go where appreciated.

Blue is the color of calm
It is the color of the sky
Those who died Monday night
Join those in the sky, flying
Becoming as the stars they wore in life.

Five shows well past their prime

Family Guy: once considered cutting edge and groundbreaking, Seth MacFarlands satirical animated comedy has begun to not only show signs of its age, but is also become less edgy and more formulaic by the season. The greatest single problem for FG now is predictability. It’s almost possible to do a drinking game based on the episodes. Fox does have a giant wheelbarrow of money contract with MacFarland but it’s a safe bet that contract will likely not be extended. When you’re doing Game of Thrones cutaways, time to retire. It’s time for Quahog for return to normal.

The Simpsons: even Matt Groening has admitted he’s really stunned the show is still going. James Brooks is going for the all time episode record and Fox execs recently confirmed reports the series may indeed wrap up after season 30 which would leave it with the all time longest running series in history. Even though the show has had its share of gaffes and flubs, it does still have reasonable fresh writing. Unfortunately it’s just not the same in this day and age.

Big Brother: after a while you start to wonder what sponsors are making big money? The entire series aside from a giant cat fight appears to be a product placement course. CBS needs to stop being cheap in the offseason and let this show pass away. If Idol can be cancelled, so can Big Brother.

Days of our lives: rumors swirled at NBC a few years back that Corday Productions was ready to pull the plug but for a fan letter and email campaign. There’s a saying about Days “Nobody is ever really dead on Days” well that went for the series itself. It’s time for that mythos to cease and Days hourglass to run out.

Jerry Springer: is there some sort of cult out there which has a ritual involving white supremacist lesbian jello fight weddings? That’s the only possible explanation why this show is still running!

The Writer’s Arrow

A playful artist he was
Soulful, skillful, unafraid
Where his peers used brute force
His weapon was the pen
Its tip, like an arrow
Ink held in a well
Much as a quiver.

He was a man of ideas.
Thrust upon the great stage
Far too soon, before his time
Still, he held firm, fired his arms
Faithful lieutenants all around
He chose his battles with care
He learned the ways of the enemies

Before long, the young man
Was respected, feared, exhaulted.
But he suffered a darkness
His was an addiction of the heart
A thirst only quenched by woman’s touch
It drove him mad beyond reason.
Soon he would fall from grace.

Some still speak of him in whispers
Other don’t speak at all
In the end all that matters to him
Was getting the story, telling the truth
Even if doing so would lead to his fall.

Power of Words