Richard Biggs died Saturday. I mainly care because he played Dr. Stephen Franklin on Babylon 5, the best TV science fiction show at least since Earth 2 and probably since the first season of Battlestar Galactica. And, from what I’ve read, he was a helluva guy.
As my brother pointed out, it wasn’t obvious why a doctor on Babylon 5 would be such a major character, other than Star Trek did it–even Battlestar Galactica made the the doctor do double duty as the robot specialist, and he was a minor character at that. Still, Biggs took it and made it his, being one of the most consistent actors on the show. He also got to do some stretching in seasons 3 and 4, as well (as did just about everybody).
It was a tough role–for 3 seasons he only got to be the high-minded idealist, which is an instinctively broad and boring character; preachy and smug. He managed to put a little more passion in it without letting it become a charactiture. When his character had a drug addiction, he played it well. When he had to be paired with a freer character, such as Marcus (annoying anglophile ranger) or Garibalidi (cynical ex-alcoholic head of security) he could be extremely good.
Without seeing Babylon 5 in syndication, it’s tough to get into it, but if you have a friend with the DVDs, borrow them but be prepared to overlook some of the first season as they get things going. By season 3 it could be as good as any political/war drama that was ever on TV. I’m glad for this show I was actually there from the beginning.