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Re: [probe_control] Grover: Actor or Writing?

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  • John
    I enjoyed the Lockwood episodes more than any of the others. The others stories were good but didn t grip me as much as the Lockwood stories. John ... From:
    Message 1 of 55 , Jan 9, 2011
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      I enjoyed the Lockwood episodes more than any of the others. The others
      stories were good but didn't grip me as much as the Lockwood stories.


      -------Original Message-------

      From: John
      Date: 1/9/2011 5:00:27 PM
      To: Probe Control
      Subject: [probe_control] Grover: Actor or Writing?

      This is a direction I think might be interesting for the Grover/McClure
      threads to go.

      I don't care how good an actor is...if the material is not there, but the
      characterization is still required...it will be a problem.

      You've heard the old saying "he's so good he could read the phone book and
      make it interesting?"

      It's true...those first few seconds can be very, very good and even
      amazing. But after a minute, no matter who is doing it, you ask yourself
      "When is this idiot going to stop reading that stupid phone book?"

      I think the Grover episodes were very unevenly written from start to
      finish. I think McClure was in a bad position...he was last in line, the
      creator was gone, things were on auto pilot with everyone chiming in about
      how to steer, and his episodes suffered the most from it. (I am hoping Don
      will have more to say about that.)

      Let's start off with the basic premise: Grover is the stand-by Probe. He
      is called in last minute when there is a major problem. No time for
      anything...he has to hit the ground running and get his bearings as he goes

      With apologies to our dear friend John Christopher Strong, if there is time
      to report to Control for a briefing, than it should not be a Grover case.
      Look at Stevens' one and only script: Grover is called in just to drop off
      a package for the agent on the case. Suddenly he is fighting for the life
      of his entire organization. He's a stand-by...and as someone who has done
      temp and fill-in work, I can tell you it gets pretty cozy doing very little
      for a paycheck...and when work rears its ugly head, it is a major drag to
      have to kick it into high gear. Of course you don't tune into the
      briefings...even when you are actively involved...who wants to listen to
      that stuff? It never concerns you anyway. So Grover always has to punt.
      And with the early format of the series, it makes for good and amusing
      conflict with Cameron...since there was more on-screen involvement with

      Next you have Midas. Grover is in Control for a briefing? So much for
      hitting the ground running having to choose direction on the way...so that
      element is gone. The episode itself was good enough, but it could have been
      handled by any agent. And the humor of a Grover outing was more from
      slapstick rather than from his unorthodox methods and a fuming Cameron.

      7 weeks later he makes Honeymoon. Once again he is there for a briefing.
      Not an emergency if there is time to go in before hitting the road...and not
      much of an emergency if there is time to fly half way around the world to
      take care of it. However, I think this was one of his best because of
      Grover's unorthodox methods, his sparring with Cameron and the deeper he
      kept getting despite his best efforts. The episode was written specifically
      with how this character acts and reacts and the story points were driven by
      how the character dealt with things.

      Packagers...and the last of the fifteen...and once again a briefing...but at
      least it was different...he sat in Cameron's chair. Once again, an overseas
      assignment. Otherwise a straight forward episode with less Control (Grover
      goes into a dark building and no scans of readings off presence?). The one
      humorous thing I can think of is Cameron waking Grover with the alarm
      clock...something he would never have done with Lockwood or Bianco. The
      actions of the episode don't warrant such treatment by Cameron.

      So now we are at the break, waiting for the back order. We've had four
      Grover episodes, and by my count, we have had none that fully fit the mold
      of the first one, one that had genuine, natural humor stemming from the
      actions and set backs of the character, and two that could have been done by
      any agent (the more I think about Packagers, the more I can see Bianco doing

      Time for a "what the hell just happened?" As late as 2000 or so (that I
      know of) Martin Short was still talking about a "what the hell just
      happened" from a series he did in 1980-1981. Our's of course is the back
      order...the final 8. Stuff has changed.

      At least a month has gone by, and the next Grover episode is Numbered. With
      all the changes they made, how is it they actually started it off in a way
      that made sense for a Stand-by? He is suddenly on a case because of trouble
      that an in-law finds himself in...which has major implications that could
      bring down the banking system (obviously fiction...we know that could never
      happen.) They even manage to show a second of character history when Grover
      thinks Cameron is going to stop him going to Switzerland on a commercial
      flight...nope....Cameron is chartering Grover a jet...this is top
      priority.) This was a good episode, but except for that one interchange
      with Cameron, this could pretty much be a remake of Lockwood's Flight...a
      case with a personal interest. Any agent could fit into it.

      Another month goes by and Goddess is made. To me there are two stinkers in
      the batch of 23, Let Us Prey, and Goddess. For me, Goddess is one of those
      that reads better than it plays. But anyway...time for another
      briefing...not much of an emergency...an overseas trip...all in all just a
      story that could fit anybody. And this episode commits a writing sin that
      may be hard to avoid...and maybe not something you can bother about. They
      did it in the first episode of Space:1999 (if you will recall, the premise
      was in the far off year of 1999, there was a moonbase, and man had been
      burying nuclear waste on the moon...which was now undergoing changes...and
      the larger burial site was in danger of flaring up.) Cmdr Koening (Martin
      Landau) realizing how big a blast it could be says in shock "We are sitting
      on the biggest bomb man has ever created." That is a great line, until it
      is used snippily by critics to say Landau could have been referring to the
      show itself. In Goddess, Grover is in a library, Cameron contacts him and
      comments he is not getting a picture along with Grover's audio. Grover
      replies "I'm not sending any. The view here is pretty dull." Pretty much
      true of the video of the entire episode someone could snippily say.

      Less than a month later, Moment of Madness. A last minute emergency...call
      in the stand-by agent...good. He does go to Control, but since that is the
      scene of the crime, it makes perfect sense. Good. But this is where it ends
      for the Grover character, because it was completely a Cameron episode.
      Cameron managed to free himself. Cameron managed to track down Byron's
      house. All Grover had was a quick wrestle at the end of the episode, and
      even then Cameron ultimately soothed Byron into complete submission. None
      of Grover's characteristics were used in this episode, although that can
      make sense because it hit close to home, so he was deadly serious.

      Grover's final episode? We shall never know. Although I have no
      confirmation of it, I am fairly sure that the order would have been for 24,
      but NBC or Warners pulled the plug, McClure was at the back of the line, so
      he lost out again.

      So, the back order by the numbers. Two episodes had no briefing...Grover
      was just thrown into the middle of things...good. One episode had a
      briefing. None had Grover's particular playing loose with the rules as
      events hit him square on. No situations that kept getting him deeper no
      matter what he tried. The episodes could have been done by any agent.

      Ok, you're now an actor. You have been hired to do a specific role, which
      calls for specific behavior and style. How do you play it when the material
      is not calling for it, and there is no direction from the front office that
      the character is going to change and you need to change with it? I think
      that was the situation that McClure faced on Search. He was supposed to be
      the happy-go-lucky one of the agents...but most of the scripts didn't
      provide for that. Does he start playing a detached coolness like Lockwood
      in those episode that O'Brian could have done? How about a razor-sharp, in
      your face personality like Bianco for Franciosa fitting scripts? Not good
      alternatives. His episodes would become "guess the personality this week"
      if he had taken that approach.

      I think McClure was ill-served by the material for the most part.. It is
      possible that writing an episode for that character was harder than the
      other two...getting the right mix of curve balls he had to swing at, and the
      resulting problems that would require more corner-cutting, and the resulting
      problems with his supervisor looking over his shoulder may have required
      more structural planning in the stories. But the problem of writing
      challenges is nothing new for Search...I have mentioned before that like
      Trek, I think Search had a problem with writing around the capabilities of
      its technology...so they slowly eliminated it. One of the characters needs
      a certain type of story because of how the character was written? To hell
      with it...just give him standard stuff.

      Of course that's just my opinion, it's time to tell me why I am wrong.

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    • Robert McNay
      I ve always liked Doug McClure. He was a reasonable actor. I always classified him in that 2nd tier of actors, the ones they used to call B actors. Nothing
      Message 55 of 55 , May 4, 2011
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        I've always liked Doug McClure. He was a reasonable actor. I always classified him in that 2nd tier of actors, the ones they used to call "B" actors. Nothing wrong with that, a lot of them ended their careers just as comfortable, or even better, than some of the big stars.
        Rob McNay
        Chicago IL

        --- On Wed, 5/4/11, dmanmetz@... <dmanmetz@...> wrote:

        From: dmanmetz@... <dmanmetz@...>
        Subject: Re: [probe_control] Re: Grover: Actor or Writing?
        To: probe_control@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Wednesday, May 4, 2011, 6:27 AM


        Yes John, I concur. This not a knock on McClure, it's just that he started out in a supporting role as most actors do and then rose to leading man status and then fall from. I guess I was just implying that I wish he had kept his leading man status like fellow peers Lee Majors or Michael Landon. Of course had "Search" been a hit like the "Six Million Dollar Man" or "Little House on the Prairie", then perhaps things may have turned out a little different. Not knocking McClure the actor, but the roles he had to take at the end of his career. And yes, I am not an actor, but from what I understand, being able to continue to work is the name of the game.


        -----Original Message-----
        From: John <actingman6@...>
        To: probe_control@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Tue, May 3, 2011 9:19 am
        Subject: Re: [probe_control] Re: Grover: Actor or Writing?

        I can think of something far worse than ending your career in weak
        supporting roles or some dumb comedy...not being able to get an acting job
        at all.

        On Tue, May 3, 2011 at 12:34 AM, <dmanmetz@...> wrote:

        > Nic,
        > I have been working some Looooong hours in the Pentagon and I am just
        > getting to this e-mail. OUCH!!! I must have missed with the 200 some e-mails
        > I get a day. Please, by all means, feel free to use my background Grover. I
        > am honored that you like it and Doug McClure was one of the first actors
        > that caught my imagination as a kid. I had alwas wished his later career had
        > turned out better than it did. I hated that he ended his career in weak
        > supporting role or some dumb comedy. This was Doug McClure we're talking
        > about!!
        > Chris

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