Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Just Because You Are A Character Doesn't Mean You Have Character

Joss Whedon lists his Top 25 TV Characters. I'd like to give that a try. Here are mine (reserving the right to revise) in no particular order:
  • Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) - I just think about the character and start laughing. Kind of like how I can't control myself when I think about the bear jumping on John Candy in "The Great Outdoors".
  • Basil Fawlty (Fawlty Towers) - Right up there with Larry David as funniest character ever.
  • Archie Bunker(All in the Family) - Sublime.
  • Kramer (Seinfeld) - More funny.
  • George Costanza - (Seinfeld) - Shaking his hands, glasses off, pleading shrinkage. Falling on the floor, pants around his ankles.
  • Swearengen (Deadwood) - Badass. More than a little evil. Pure capitalist.
  • Jayne (Firefly) - Badass. Goofy, but a little evil.
  • Xander (Buffy) - Should I have started with two Whedon characters? So many are so good! I pick Veronica later over a strong supporting cast, so why Xander over Buffy? Maybe it's because when the show started to slide, Buffy became insufferable. And Xander was our 'in'. Willow got witchy, Cordy left, Giles was a watcher, Buffy was the Slayer, and Xander was pretty much just Xander all the time.
  • The 4th Doctor (Doctor Who) - Tom Baker, all teeth and curls, petulant and proud.
  • The 9th Doctor (Doctor Who) - Eccleston was brilliant for the role. Sad to see him go.
  • #6 (The Prisoner) - So aggrieved, even when he's trying to be charming and act like he's playing along, you can see the simmering hatred and rage.
  • Mrs. Peel (The Avengers) - I don't feel the need to justify this!
  • Lorelai (Gilmore Girls) - Hyper-realistically charming, all that dialogue to blast through, and yet still engaging.
  • Veronica Mars (Veronica Mars) - I can't believe Whedon picked Logan. The show could live without him, not without Veronica. I mean, c'mon, it's not just because it's named for her.
  • Jeremy (SportsNight) - Smart and principled, his struggles with Natalie make him just right (and wrong) enough to be sympathetic.
  • Bertie Wooster (Jeeves and Wooster) - Whedon picked Hugh Laurie for House, but as much as I like him there, I think comedy is so much harder -- and he aces Wooster.
  • Frank Pembleton (Homicide) - Nobody was better in the box than Frank. TV is littered with cop shows but Pembleton stands out as the detective's detective.
  • Jack McCoy (Law and Order) - An arrogant prick, dallying with ADA's, pig headed and sometimes wrong ... not a likeable person ... but the best character in the L&O franchise. Except for maybe ...
  • Bobby Goren (Law and Order: Criminal Intent) - Sherlock Holmes of the Major Case Squad.
  • Fox Mulder - (The X-Files) - I feel like it's too easy and obvious to take the lead character on some of these shows, but as much as I like Scully, Mulder was the show.
  • Simon Templar (The Saint) - Going way back to my youth here.
  • Jean Luc Picard (Star Trek: TNG) - Best of the captains.
  • Dwight - (The Office [US]) - I know I'm supposed to take Ricky Gervais's character on the original, but Dwight kills me and I've only seen a couple eps of the original series.
  • Bill McNeal - (NewsRadio) - Half-truths and gorilla dust.
  • Joel Fleischman (Northern Exposure) - I see him as Mac from "Local Hero" -- one of my all time favorite movies -- translated to TV. For all the references to inspiration for this show, I'm surprised LH is never mentioned.
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