The late 1970’s and 80’s were a prime time on TV for the miniseries. With the success of Shogun there was a rush of other grand adventures created. Here is Marco Polo from 1982. An all star cast included Leonard Nimoy as Lord Achmed – who is sort of good and evil, a bit conniving. (Well, of course he’s evil, look at that beard!) He did well with a moderate part, although he first comes off as a bit…Shatner-esque? (A bit breathless with lots of pauses in his speeches) But by the time his character dies we at least get a feeling for some of his personal traits! Nimoy never got the girl in these movies, and was again relegated to a ‘heavy’ – but hey, he got a free trip to China!
Nimoy so often played villains in his varied career, especially when it was his bread and butter, for a good part of two decades before Spock and Paris. But even after his legendary status as the ever-good Spock, he was always happy to play ‘the heavy’, often with charming overtones as seen here in the Columbo episode “A Stitch in Crime” as the evil Dr. Barry Mayfield. And there was Miller, the nasty bounty hunter you rooted for, who lost his life (and clothes) in Catlow, Mustapha Mond in Brave New World, and even as the evil Achmet Khan in the TV movie Marco Polo. (video)– Probably not the most memorable of movies, but I recall a line of his from that character where he was attempting to seduce a young woman “Don’t be afraid to touch me” he said. She was repulsed, of course. (was she crazy??) Most recently, he’s been the evil William Bell of Fringe, at least I think he’s evil, but to be honest, I haven’t been able to watch any of it, it’s too creepy! But kudos to the man for coming out of retirement to play him: “I’m a sucker for a good role!” he joked. Rock on.