Thursday, December 02, 2010

Day 30 - Saddest character death

As in, the one that makes me saddest?  Hmm.  Probably Grady Long.

This is the part where most of you say, "Who?"  And justifiably so, because he's not a regular on any show.  I don't even know who played him, because his only appearance is so brief, it's uncredited.

Grady Long is the soldier who dies at the beginning of "Far From the Brave," one of my favorite episodes of (you guessed it) Combat!  Grady Long was never in any previous episodes, and he's only in about three minutes of that one.  We never see his face clearly.  He has no lines.  All he does is walk up a hill, firing a B.A.R. at an enemy machine gun nest, and get killed in the process.

But the rest of the episode revolves around him, around his squadmates processing his death, which has sent Saunders -- yes, Saunders! -- reeling.  Saunders, who has emotional armor six inches thick, is so affected by Grady Long's death that he withdraws within himself so deeply it seems for a while he may never come out again.  And, in a sense, he doesn't.  In the eps following "Far From the Brave," Saunders is a different character from the one before.  He's more serious, he's more focused, and he's more empathetic than he was previously.  I don't know if this was intentional on the part of the writers and directors, if it was a conscious choice Vic Morrow made, or if it happened organically, but the difference is there whatever the reason.

Fans disagree a lot about Grady Long.  How long he and Saunders had known each other, what sort of man he was -- it's all very debatable because none of that is established canonically.  I myself have written and co-written several stories involving him, and I'm currently revising a story that's my take on how he and Saunders met.

But why is Grady's death the one that makes me saddest?  Because of how sad it makes my beloved Saunders, of course.

Sgt. Saunders (Vic Morrow) and Lt. Hanley (Rick Jason)
 Here ends the TV meme.  Next up:  movies!

And doggone if this post hasn't made me want to finish revising that fanfic story!

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