TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles was rocked by the tragic suicide of Lee Thompson Young, who played Detective Barry Frost. He was a regular since the show’s 2010 start, and his death caused a shutdown of season five production. When work on the show resumes, it will be tricky to move forward without Young as Rizzoli’s (Angie Harmon) partner. Here are five ways the show can potentially fix this tragic dilemma.
Rizzoli & Isles starring Angie Harmon airs on TNT Tuesdays at 9:00 pm ET/8c.
Take Enough Time to Grieve
The production shutdown was a wise choice. Young has been around since the pilot episode, and his death was unexpected. Since it was a suicide, it’s doubly painful to those who are close to him. The cast and crew needs enough time to work through their grief from losing a close co-worker. I know that choices need to be made on how to handle his absence, but recovery has to come first.
Don’t Try to Replace Frost
Young’s character had some defining quirks, like his fear of dead bodies and aversion to blood. Whoever steps in to fill his shoes should have a totally different personality. I hate it when shows try to slip in a carbon copy when one of the actors leaves, and this trope has been going on for a long, long time. Saunders taking over for Benson on Soap and dumb blonde Cindy picking up for dumb blonde Chrissy on Three’s Company are two good examples. Normally it happens when an actor simply decides to leave the show. The circumstances here are much more tragic, and the replacement should be handled sensitively. Sometimes a complete opposite works out well, like replacing Marcy’s original husband with a lazy boy toy on Married With Children.
Stick With the Tasteful Tribute That Aired on August 20
The show aired a memorial card in loving memory of Lee Thompson Young and then showed silent footage of his work on the series. I thought it was tasteful and well done, and I hope the producers leave it at that. It reminds me of the low-key dedication of “Bart the Mother”, the last episode of The Simpsons featuring Phil Hartman’s voice before he was killed by his wife, and the wise decision to retire all the characters Hartman voiced on that show.
Keep Us Loving the Characters
I like the little bits of character development and relatable traits that the writers keep throwing in. Korsak (Bruce McGill) is already likeable for his protectiveness toward Rizzoli, and we know about his offer to help Rizzoli with her tax debt and his ongoing love of animals, but his concern for the puppies in a recent episode brought that home nicely.
Tread Carefully With the Family Turmoil
For example, things are going in an interesting direction with Maura (Sasha Alexander) and Cailin (Emilee Wallace), and it will be interesting to see where Hope ends up. The writers should keep things interesting but not let the family plots get too convoluted. They also need to be careful with how they write Young’s character out of the show.