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Monday, June 30, 2008

Don S. Davis has entered the White Lodge

Wondering how many people will get the reference. If you did, buy yourself a cherry pie...

Ain't It Cool News is passing along the sad word that Don S. Davis, who had a real-life military career before turning to acting and becoming one of the best-known character actors of the past twenty years, has passed away at the age of 65.

A lot of folks will remember Davis as Dana Scully's father on The X-Files. About the same time in the Nineties, Davis played Major General George Hammond on Stargate SG-1, a role he would have for the duration of the show. His repertoire included mostly "authority" types like principals and judges and doctors, although he could also be spotted in other roles... like the driver of the car that Pinball's body crashes onto in the movie Con Air.

I will most remember Davis, however, for the role that may have started it all in terms of his success: United States Air Force Major Garland Briggs on the ABC television series Twin Peaks. And had that show gone into a third season, I've no doubt that we would have really seen Davis shine. It was obvious throughout Season 2 that there was some very heavy stuff being set up for Briggs, and that this most kind and honorable man was being revealed as a Gandalf-type "elder soldier" in the spiritual warfare against the Black Lodge. That's kind of the direction I thought the show was going into, anyway. Too bad we'll never know for sure. But regardless of what happened to the show, Davis's moments on Twin Peaks were amazing. The scene with son Bobby in the first episode of Season 2, where he shares his dream... okay, 'nuff said. Even as a high school student, I thought that was an especially powerful scene.

Very sad to see him go. We don't seem blessed with many actors of his caliber anymore.

EDIT 2:10 p.m. July 2nd 2008: Here is Major Briggs's "vision speech" to son Bobby from Twin Peaks second season premiere...

"A vision, I had in my sleep last night. As distinguished from a dream, which is a mere sorting and cataloging of the days events by the subconscious; a vision fresh and clear as a mountain stream, the mind revealing itself to itself. In my vision I was on the veranda of vast estate, a palazzo of some fantastic proportion. There seemed to emanate from it, a light from within this gleaming, radiant marble. I had known this place. I had, in fact, been born and raised there and this was my first return, a reunion with the deepest well-springs of my being. As I wondered about I noticed happily that the house has been immaculately maintained and there had been added to it a number of additional rooms, but in a way that blended so seamlessly with its original construction that one would not detect any difference. Returning to the house's grand foyer, there came a knock on the door. I opened it, and my son was standing there. He was happy and carefree, clearly living a life of deep harmony and joy. We embraced, a warm and loving embrace, nothing withheld. We we're, in this moment, one. My vision ended, and I awoke with an overwhelming feeling of optimism and confidence in you, and your future. That was my vision Bobby, it was you."
That was one of the most powerfully delivered monologues in television history. I think even Dana Ashbrook, who played Bobby, was floored by it. And only Don S. Davis could have done it with such power and gentleness.

Here is the scene itself...

Very incredible stuff. And once again I am regretting that Twin Peaks never made it past its second season. But on the other hand it definitely paved the way for Lost and Battlestar Galactica. Those would never have had a chance at success had Twin Peaks not first shown the way.


Anonymous said...

Awww. I loved General Hammond. Godspeed.