Good one, Wilson!
Good one, Wilson!
Succession and my Sammy J segment — 3 great screen eulogies

Succession and my Sammy J segment — 3 great screen eulogies

I chat to Sammy J on ABC Breakfast every few weeks about speeches. The most recent segment featured great TV and film eulogies, inspired by the amazing writing on Succession S4e9.

Like many others, I’ve become a passionate fan of ‘Succession’, and yes, I might have even rewatched the finale last night, 24 hours after I saw it for the first time. The writing is beautiful, the acting spellbinding, and Nicholas Britell’s crashing, discordant notes tumbling into scales over the jerky video 8 footage of kids riding an elephant mean I have never once skipped the titles. He very much deserved his Emmy for best original title theme.

The speechwriter in me, however, was drawn to episode 9, written by series creator Jesse Armstrong, which contained (spoiler alert) three amazing eulogies for family patriarch Logan Roy. They were all brilliant. Brother Ewan Roy spoke of a traumatic event, a life defining event, in Logan’s childhood.

Kendall’s speech was impromptu, as the result of Roman’s meltdown at the lectern, and it’s maybe the character’s finest moment in the show. Certainly the actor, Jeremy Strong, nails that intensity, the grandiloquence, the complicated expression of a complicated love. I loved how he delivered, ‘my father was a … brute’. What a word! And this towards the end:

And now people might want to tend and prune the memory of him. To denigrate that force, that magnificent, awful force of him. But my God, I hope it's in me. Because if we can't match his vim, then God knows the future will be sluggish and grey.

But the eulogy that actually drew a tear from me was Sarah Snook’s speech as Shiv. Again, the character is fumbling for words on the fly, she wasn’t scheduled to speak, and she starts with a ramble about how terrifying her father was when he’d fly out of his office to yell at them, and then finishes with this perfectly written screen paragraph:

He kept us outside. But he kept everyone outside. Yeah. When he let you in, when the sun shine, it was warm. Yeah, it was really warm in the light. But it was hard to be, his daughter. I can't not, y'know, he was, it was, oh, he was hard on women. He couldn't fit a whole woman in his head. But he did, okay. You did, okay dad. We're all here and we're doing okay. We're doing okay.

So goodbye my dear dear world of a father.

In my Thursday morning Sammy J segment, we focused on Shiv’s eulogy. And to make it something other than a Succession recap, we also played snippets from Matthew’s (John Hannah’s) eulogy for Gareth in Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Jack Donaghy’s (Alec Baldwin) eulogy for his mother in 30 Rock.

Farewell Succession. I’m having some succession problems of my own as I try to decide which series to move onto next. I’m bereft!

My segment with Sammy is 6.15am every third Thursday. Yep, my nickname in there is ‘prime time’.




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