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Excerpt #3: Michael Kozoll’s Compassion for Minor Characters

by R Heil last modified Feb 23, 2017 08:10 AM

 

        An even more significant difference between Bochco and Kozoll’s scripts for Delvecchio lies in Kozoll’s compassion for minor characters.  This quality became evident toward the end of his stay with Glen Larson’s unit.  In his rewrite of the Quincy episode “Who’s Who in Neverland,” for example, Claire Gardner is a forty-five-year-old neighbor and friend of Margo Bentley, the woman who has been murdered.  Claire’s primary function in the narrative is to contact Quincy and give him a valuable clue that takes him a step closer toward solving the crime.  Here is how Kozoll sets the scene up:

 

INT. QUINCY’S BOAT – NIGHT

As Claire moves down the stairs ahead of Quincy, her voice carries a forced ring of gaiety.

                                             CLAIRE

                    Wow – this is some kinda place to live – what was it?

                                             QUINCY

                    A boat and whaddaya mean was – She’ll take me around 

                    the world some day. You want a drink?

                                             CLAIRE

                    Do I dare?

                                             QUINCY

                    I prescribe a tall mai tai followed by a loose tongue.

                                             CLAIRE

                    Sounds fascinating. When do we begin?

Quincy’s eyes have fastened on Claire’s.  Her smile enlarges and suspends itself on nothing.

                                             QUINCY

                                   (tender)

                    Hey, are you all right?

Claire’s eyes dampen. The smile fades.

                                             CLAIRE

                    No.

He steps toward her and she comes into his arms.

                                             QUINCY

                    I know, I know. Margo meant a lot to you.

                                             CLAIRE

                    She didn’t have anyone – not anyone.

                                             QUINCY

                    Are you talking about Margo – or yourself?

Claire composes herself and utters a bitter little laugh.  She tries wandering away, but Quincy has a grip on her hand as:

                                             CLAIRE

                    What a joke we must’ve been! Two overage beach-bunnies.

                                             QUINCY

                    Why are you putting yourself down? I think you’re one 

                    of the prettiest, nicest people I’ve met in a long time.

                                             CLAIRE

                    How can you say something like that?

 

        At this point, the narrative returns to Margo’s murder, and Claire soon provides her important clue.  But before this point, Kozoll has written four distinct dialogue beats (or bits) that add dimensions to Claire:  1) Claire and Quincy talk about Quincy’s boat, 2) they discuss the drink Quincy is about to pour, 3) Claire expresses grief and pity for her friend Margo, and 4) she reveals a degree of self-loathing.  One could argue that these four beats have been written to demonstrate Quincy’s kind nature or that women find him sexually attractive, but the suspicion lingers that Kozoll is less interested in Quincy than in Claire Gardner.  This suspicion is strengthened by the closure Kozoll brings to the scene — after Claire has provided her clue:

 

     She removes the phone bill from her purse.

                                             QUINCY

                    D’ you have any idea who it might be?

                                             CLAIRE

                    I haven’t the foggiest. Did I do good?

                                             QUINCY

                    You’re doing fabulous.

                                             CLAIRE

                    Drop in any time, will ya?

                                             QUINCY

                    I could be back in nothing flat.

                                             CLAIRE

                    I know better than to wait.

     Hold on Claire who is less than smitten; she’s terribly lonesome. 

 

The moving final character description specifically de-emphasizes Quincy’s impact on Claire and instead emphasizes her solitude.  As a result, the viewer is briefly channeled away from the plot and away from the dynamic lead character and toward an empathetic relationship with a minor character whom we will never see again.  

        This same quality is manifest in the Delvecchio scripts.  In “Death Rush,” Kozoll extends compassion to a low-life heroin dealer who ends up committing suicide.  In “Hot Spell,” he adds dimension to a retarded boy, who becomes the second murder victim.  Remarkably, he continues adding dimension after the boy is killed, when we learn the boy tried to realize an artistic impulse through painting rocks:

 

INT. BEDROOM – DAY

Joey Alt’s. The trappings of an artistic child. Open on a rock whose smiling face is just short of completion.  It rests on a newspaper tarp amid paint bottles and brushes. There’s a silver smudge at the base of the stone in the area suggesting an upper body. A finger is tracing the stone’s surface, its touch almost a caress.  Pulling back we discover the finger is Delvecchio’s Shonski and Mr. Alt are with him. Shonski is thumbing through the boy’s possessions.

                                             MR. ALT

                                   (of the stone)

                    That one was pretty special to him. He kept painting 

                    it over and over. He spent a couple days on it.

 

Delvecchio ends up keeping one of Joey’s rocks, and is seen contemplating it in his father’s barbershop.  With Kozoll, death has consequences, and those who die are remembered.

 

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by R Heil last modified Feb 23, 2017 08:10 AM