When you think about down-home TV lawmen whose methods may have been unconventional but still got results, one name comes to mind: Marshal Sam McCloud, as ably portrayed by the likable Dennis Weaver, who also died this year, sadly.
But just as likable and unconventional was Don Knotts' bumbling deputy Barney Fife, who got no results whatsover—unless you count making every single episode of the otherwise slow-moving Andy Griffith Show in which he appeared eminently watchable. Of course, you may also know him as nosy Lothario landlord Ralph Furley from Three's Company or from roles in such poultry-themed projects as The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Robot Chicken, and Chicken Little.
He was a flat-out comic genius—as well as some kind of human-chicken hybrid, evidently. Frankly, it's a surprise lung cancer claimed his life, rather than avian flu.
It was sad to see the rugged, tougher-than-rawhide, one-handed-pushup-doing cowboy actor hang up his tack this year, but on the other hand, the road is now clear for treasure hunters seeking to pursue the legend of Curly's gold.
Speaking of City Slickers, Bruno Kirby died this year too, come to think of it. Not to be mean, but why not Billy Crystal? Let's be honest: Billy Crystal hasn't been funny in years. Let's get rid of him before Analyze This and Analyze That are inevitably followed by Analyze the Other Thing. That's a trilogy to which we just don't need closure. Instead, why not get closure on that trio of Comic Relief hosts? We don't need Billy Crystal. No one's going to miss Whoopi Goldberg. And it's pretty much universally agreed at this point that Robin Williams has got to go. Get to work, Death.
Penn's passing was undeniably a sad example of an enormous acting talent cut down far too soon, but on the bright side, at least we won't have to put up with a few things we won't miss. All that wife-beating and punching out of photographers. The obvious Oscar-bait roles in which he played retarded guys and politicians even though the movies themselves were actually pretty awful. His intolerable humorlessness, self-righteousness, and strident political activism, which only made him look foolish in his dust-ups with Chris Rock and the South Park guys. Nobody likes the war on Iraq or Hurricane Katrina, but on the other hand, if this douchebag is against them, can they really be all that bad?
Oh wait. That's his brother, Sean Penn. Chris Penn was Nice Guy Eddie in Reservoir Dogs, not to mention Kevin Bacon's sidekick in Footloose, the guy who couldn't dance a lick but was still an underrated screen presence who made everything he was in better. Shoot. We liked that one.