The Softer Side
I've been feeling a little guilty for my earlier snarky comment at my beloved Mandy's expense. That the man has been down to chew the odd bit of scenery is hardly news, and the drama he shows in that Larry King clip can be kind of comedic, but two things come to mind.
First is that he was doing Larry King to promote his concert series. Accordingly, the performances he was doing, performances culled from that show were performances designed to play to big 1,000-seat theaters, not to a camera ten feet away. So some of the gestures, the extremity, can be forgiven when you realize that they really are designed for the concertgoer in the back of the house.
Second is that, contrary to popular belief, the man can underplay an emotional moment. Below you will find Exhibit A, one of my favorite moments from one of my favorite TV series ever. This was, I think, the second or third episode of Chicago Hope, and we've just found out that our main character, Patinkin's Dr. Jeffrey Geiger, a character who has already been clearly established as an egocentric, rude, genius surgeon (no, House didn't invent the type), has a wife in a mental institution, a wife who years ago drowned their baby son in a bathtub. This moment was the end of the episode, and it may well have been what won Patinkin the Emmy that year. The way he underplays the grief, the way he lets us see that his wife's request for a song is fraying on his nerves, and how much how part of him is just playing to shut her up, and the way that the music almost makes things worse for him, by making it harder to keep the emotions he's felling buried - all these things are just remarkably played out. Chicago Hope went to the "Geiger sings" well probably a bit too often, but here the device works beautifully.