Sunday, June 03, 2007

Charles Nelson Reilly

I was sorry to hear of the death of Charles Nelson Reilly, and sorry, too, to see that most of the published obits omitted (for me) the high point of his acting career: playing the tart-tongued writer Jose Chung in the X-Files episode "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" and the Millennium episode "Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense." That second outing, which features the funniest Scientology parody to date (yes, even funnier than South Park's), earned Reilly the second of his three Emmy Award nominations. Alas, writer Darin Morgan killed Chung off at the end.

Reilly was a fixture of my childhood thanks to his roles on two Saturday-morning kids' shows: He was the villainous green-skinned magician HooDoo on Lidsville and the snarling title character on the seriously subversive, short-lived and now impossible-to-find kids'-show parody Uncle Croc's Block -- sometimes referred to (when it's referred to at all) as an ahead-of-its-time forerunner of Pee-wee's Playhouse, but really far more cynical and disturbing. The whole point was that Uncle Croc hated kids, his colleagues and his show; I now wonder whether the role had some personal resonance for Reilly, a respected stage actor, director and teacher who was known to millions only as the No. 2 wacky gay man of '70s TV game shows -- No. 1 being the genuinely self-loathing, and tragic, Paul Lynde.

1 comment:

Barry said...

>...the No. 2 wacky gay man of '70s TV game shows -- No. 1 being the genuinely self-loathing, and tragic, Paul Lynde.

And what's Wayland Flowers? Chopped liver?