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"There are three flowers in a vase. The third flower is green."
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September 12 2003

R.I.P. John Ritter. The Emmy-winning comedy actor who played Ted back in Buffy season two has died at the age of 54.

I liked John Ritter, thought he was a damn fine comedian and 'Ted' for me was a wee gem of an episode.

There's a very touching tribute to him by his cousin at Ain't It Cool News.

... Johnny Cash died too. The man in black is no more.
The man in black will always be.

And John Ritter was the best guest star Buffy ever had.
I grew up listening to his San Quentin LP *sighs*.
Yeah, I remember the thrill of seeing clips of him playing at St Quentin when I was very young (late 60's). Not understanding, but getting the vibe.

Johnny Cash woulda rocked as a Watcher.
It's odd I heard John Ritter died before I heard about Johnny Cash. Poor Johnny I think I'll listen to Hurt.
Ok, I'm totally stuck thinking sad thoughts now. It was way too early for John Ritter to die, and Johnny Cash will be sorely missed. Definitely time to crank up 'Hurt.'
Objectively speaking, Joel Grey (Doc in season five) was the best guest star Buffy ever had, but John Ritter ran a very close second.

Ritter often got upstaged in life, be it by two buxom blonde bombshell roommates or two girls young enough to be his daughters, but being a team player he rarely seemed to mind. Ritter always made people around him look better, whether it was Sutherland or Sommers. It's a sign of a great acting and comedic talent, to be able to share the limelight without losing face. Very few comedic actors know when to take center stage and when to escort another into the position. Abbott. Ackroyd. Burns. Hope. Radner. Ritter was in good company.

I've recently seen an episode of 8 Simple Rules for the first time, and Ritter was expertly doing the same thing for the ladies he shared that stage with. The man was simply exceptional at making everyone around him look exceptional. In his work on the tv mini-series IT by Stephen King, he simultaneously shined and made everyone around him shine. Ritter also proved with performances like Stay Tuned that he didn't mind having a little fun at his own expense, so long as it meant entertaining the audience.

In fact, I bet Ritter would have something amusing to say about accidently dying the same day as The Man In Black. To be upstaged in death by another John? There's a punchline there somewhere and Ritter woulda found it. Cuz that's what the man did. However, he also wouldn't mind sharing the day with Mr. Cash, cuz Ritter always shared the stage with great talents, making them look good and in turn looking good. In an ironic way it's only fitting.

Ted was and is one of my fave episodes of all time. Ritter was unquestionably believable in a role that, in another's hands would have become either too dark and melodramatic, or too campy and absurd. He danced a fine line there in a way that no other actor known today could have done. Think about it. Ted was an unbelievably difficult character to portray to an audience. To start the role innocently as the potential step father, and then slowly slide into a monster robot antagonist by the episode's end? It's not something even an Oscar winning talent could do believably. Yet Ritter took it and performed as if it were tailor made for his strengths. In every role he undertook, he performed it as if he were destined to make that role his.

Ritter was underappreciated for his stage presence and comic timing. Great artist. Funny man. But I imagine he was not the kind of man who would want people to be depressed over his passing. I'm probably gonna find some place in Deep Ellum tonight to go listen to a local band and have a brew. I'll quietly think of all the times Mr. Ritter made me laugh, AND all the times Mr. Cash made the heart in my ribcage do flipflops. Both men, each in their own way, contributed to humanity.

We are poorer in their passing today, but richer for their lives touching ours both yesterday and tomorrow. They both made their marks, and they both walked their lines. If but the same could be said for each of us when our times come, a full and rich life we too will have led, and a legacy of pride would we leave behind.
What a beautiful eulogy, ZachsMind, thank you.
....eloquently put, ZachsMind.

I didn't hear about Ritter till I got to work and naturally, "Ted" was the first thing I thought of. I think it's a testament to him that he was so memorable in a one-shot ep, because as noted above, with a lesser actor, "Ted" could have easily gone the way of "I Robot" or "Bad Eggs"

re Cash, when I heard about his passing, the first thing I thought was that it wasn't surprising he would follow June so quickly and the second thing I thought was that it was my grandmother that turned me on to him. I remember sitting with my grandmother drinking ice tea and listening to "Folsom Prison Blues" -it kinda freaked me out how much she dug him cause I wasn't used to seeing that kind of reaction (the way I felt about The Monkees!) from my cranky old grandma!

RIP to both.
I have a friend who hardly watches Buffy, he mentions two episodes when I talk Whedon. One is Hush, because of Joss Whedon's talents, the other is Ted, because of John Ritter's. He was a funny man who was watchable in everything I saw him in.
"What exactly is a 'Vampire Slayer?'"

Wow, what a Friday morning. :(
Personally I found Joel Grey's performance as Doc sort of cringeworthy, and not in a good way. Before I saw Ted I thought it was going to suck because of John Ritter, and instead it's one of my favorite episodes.

I think second place goes to Hinton Battle as Sweet, and I think we might all agree Ashanti was the worst.
Okay. For today? I'll agree that Ritter is the best. If however, God forbid we ever have to do a thread like this for Mr. Grey though? Don't make me eat my words. =) This is not an easy thing to say though. Who's the best among ALL the special guest villian actors in Buffy's history? Ooh yeah. Ashanti. Now SHE was major cringeworthy. And that kid from Home Improvement? Ouch. However, for every casting glitch like that, there's twice as many good choices. Ara Celi. John Woodward. Lindsay Crouse. Harry Groener. Brent Hinkley. Jeff Kober. Kali Rocha.

Buffy's got quite a talented rogues' gallery, so when I say Ritter's the best, this is not something to take lightly. This is like the fastest in a marathon, versus the ones who beat their own personal best, versus the person who was slowest but finished - that alone makes them a winner.

Over the years, BtVS has had exceptional talent come and go in the form of antagonists, and you need good villians in a series of this nature or else everything else falls flat. People who can sell the humanity and the inhumanity of a baddie, so we love to hate him. It's performances like Grey, Ritter, Battle, Sachs, and yes even Fillion, that give BtVS its flavor and put it over the top in terms of quality. If you don't love to hate the bad guy, no amount of sweat on the part of little miss vampire slayer is gonna make a hill o beans difference.

Again, Ritter was and is in good company, in many ways.

...okay I'll shut up. =)
Hm, I wonder if the value of John Ritter's Buffy autograph card will go up as a result? :P
Rest in peace, John and Johnny. "Ted" was one of my favorite episodes (in case you couldn't tell from my name).
I just found out (stupid 13 hour time difference).

Rest in peace, both of you.
I think that John Ritter's charm with Buffy was that he came in when the show was just getting on its feet, and did his best. He didn't take it as if he was bequeathing his presence on a show below him. He did it with style, and he acted very well, and even moreso, he came back to give interviews because he liked the show. I think that Ritter was very "accessible" as an actor. Even though he has celebrity, he gave off the feeling that he was very down-to-earth, and seemed like he would be very easy to meet. That was the John Ritter thing, I guess.
oh man this is so sad, and in the case of john ritter also shocking; i'd never read anywhere that he had heart probs. zachsmind that was so well put, and my sentiments precisely, thank you for saying it!
Harry Hooperman! Jack Tripper! John Ritter will be missed on television. He made so much work appear effortless that he was often misdiagnosed as a lightweight. But watch the subtleties in his work in "Ted" or the indie film "Tadpole" and you'll know better. Just yesterday i had a conversation about him with a friend, and I said I thought I was the only one on the planet who watched every episode of "Hearts Afire."
Postscript

Five days after John Ritter's death, ABC decided to continue his sitcom 8 Simple Rules.

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