I was never a great fan of Mandy Patinkin. He was great in a little Broadway show called 'Evita' and that shot him to stardom and it seemed, at least to me, that the shot went straight into his head and he seemed a little too pleased with himself. Of course, that could have just been his character on 'Chicago Hope.'
But I watched 'Three Rivers" on CBS (actually, I watched it Monday from On Demand through Comcast) and he blew me away.
He played Victor, a man with ALS who is in a car accident that puts him on a ventilator. With the ALS, he will never get better, but he will be alive. But it isn't what he wants and after speaking with a patient who needs a heart transplant, he decides to take himself off the ventilator so he can donate his heart. Another woman walks in with her daughter and asks if he will give a portion of his liver. Another doctor walks in and asks for his lungs. Victor feels thrilled that he can make a decision about his life that the ALS cannot touch.
But Victor has a daughter. And this daughter was neglected when she was younger and having her father need her in the throes of his disease is her way of keeping him with her. She wants to stop his decision and even speaks to her attorney to stop it. Also, Victor's doctor doesn't think he should end his life because even though he will be tied to the ventilator and even though the ALS will continue to ravish him, he would be alive.
But that's not a life to Victor and he tells Andy that he wanted to be able to die with dignity and to give life to others and that would be his way of beating ALS one last time.
He gets his wish except the man he wants to have his heart gets a fever on the day the transplant is supposed to take place and it cannot go on but as Victor is willed into the operating room where his ventilator will be removed, he will die and his organs harvested, the people who will receive his organs are lining the hall to thank him and at the end of the hall is his daughter who is really proud of him.
Patinkin's performance is amazing. His speech and body movements, his emotions are moving and compelling and he keeps it from being over the top which it easily could have been. If there is not an Emmy nomination at the least then there is something seriously wrong with the process or there have to be some other kick ass performances out there that I haven't seen.
If you can get to On Demand and see the episode, you will see a truly moving performance.
Well done, Mr. Patinkin, well done.