It is surprisingly difficult to find a production still of Richard Kind as Dr. Mark Devanow. In fact, there are not a ton of publicity shots available with him in the role. There are some episodes of the revival, which I still haven’t seen, but not a lot with him back in the ’90s. Which is actually where I think of him, despite the astonishing number of roles he’s been in since those days. I think it’s one of those shows I started watching on Lifetime in high school, lo these many years ago, and eventually switched to watching new episodes of as well. And no matter how many places I see him, that’s still just where I think of him. I’m sure I’m not alone.
However, he’s one of those people where I didn’t initially like the role where I got to know them. Mark is annoying. But he’s a kind of annoying that Richard Kind turns out to excel at. Honestly, he’s a kind of annoying I connect to. Likewise Leila Kenzle as his wife Fran. Yeah, they’re the annoying friends of Paul (Paul Reiser) and Jamie (Helen Hunt), but they’re the annoying friends a lot of people have, and I suspect I am that friend for a lot of people. Very strong personalities. Trying too hard. Full of idiosyncrasies.
This is, let’s be real, Richard Kind’s character type. That’s who he plays. Bing Bong of Inside Out. Uncle Arthur of A Serious Man. Frugal Lucre of Kim Possible. Those are the first three other characters I think of when I think of Richard Kind, and they’re very different but also pretty much the same. Probably you could go down every character he’s ever played and find that level of similarity. That’s what Richard Kind characters are like.
Mostly, too, they seem nice. Even Mark. Annoying and nice. Maybe you wouldn’t want to spend a whole day around him, but at the same time, you know he’d never deliberately hurt you. And if you were in the right mood, maybe you’d want to hang out with him anyway, because it was at least familiar and soothing. If you needed someone, he’d be there for you, even if the specific way he was there for you wasn’t actually helpful to you in that moment. At least he was trying, even if one of the things he was trying was your patience.
In short, I like Richard Kind. Someone once said to me that his appearance in something always makes it better, and I dispute that. His appearance in Sharknado 2 made me sad for him, and I wanted to take him by the hand and escort him into a better movie. Movies like that depress me when they have someone good in them. Richard Kind and Judd Hirsch both are in that movie and deserve better. But a good movie, or even just a mediocre one, is definitely made better with Richard Kind in it.