Saturday, May 23, 2009

10 Favorite TV Characters

As before, Siskoid gets the credit for this. I sort of don't want this meme to end, so if he's up for other Favorite Character lists, I sure am too. It sounds like he might be moving on though (Create Your Own Black Ops Team? Do it, Siskoid! Do it!).

I tried making my own rules for this list too, but I kept breaking them. I wanted to include mainly characters whose series have ended so that I can say with certainty that I liked the character from beginning to end. But that would've left out some of my very favorites and I dumped the rule.

I also wanted to choose only characters from shows that I stuck with to the very end. My rationale is that if I loved the character so much, that ought to be enough to keep me interested in the show. But though I have stuck with shows much longer than I should have for love of a single character, there have also been times that the series' overall plot got the better of me and I couldn't take it anymore.

That's enough preamble. I've got more to say about characters and the effect they have on my enjoyment of shows, but I'll save that for below. I will note though that this time I've actually listed these in order of my favorites, from least to most.

10. Jamie Sommers (The Bionic Woman, 1976)

She's bottom of the list because it's been thirty-plus years since I've seen the show and I have no idea if I'd still like her as much. But she makes the list for being the first TV character that I actually cared deeply about. Not just because of a childhood crush - which I did have - but because she was such a tragic character.

If you don't know the original Bionic Woman, she started off as the girlfriend of Steve "the Six Million Dollar Man" Austin, but was injured in an accident that not only necessitated her bionic implants, but also took her memories, including her knowledge of her relationship with Steve. Her memory loss was harder on him than it was on her, but Lyndsay Wagner played Jamie Sommers with such sadness that I always got the sense she knew she was missing something. If only she could remember Steve, she could be happy again. My ten-year-old heart broke for her.

9. Jayne Cobb (Firefly)

You have to love the simplicity of a guy like Jayne who's so damn honest about his motivations. Plus, he named his gun Vera. Plus, there's that song...

8. Jack Bristow (Alias)

Another character with clear motivations. Jack Bristow will do anything to protect his daughter. Anything. It's the same single-minded determination I love about Jack Bauer from 24, only Bristow's daughter is infinitely smarter than Bauer's. His show was a lot better written too.

Anyway, there's just something awesome about a man who will stop at absolutely nothing to achieve his goal when his goal is admirable. And I don't know much that's more admirable than continuing to protect a daughter who more or less hates your guts for it.

7. The Doctor (Doctor Who)

I think I might be cheating a bit by listing all the Doctor's generations in a single entry. After all, I like some of them better than others, and some of them I've never even seen. But I really don't want to have to pick between Four and Ten, nor do I want to eat up two entries listing them separately. Nor do I want to leave out Three, Five, and Nine, whom I also like a lot.

Besides, one of the things I really love about the Doctor is the versatility of the character. It's amazing that so many different actors can interpret the same character so many different ways while still being so convincing that this is in fact the same guy. There's no one else like him in any media.

And I promise I hadn't looked at Siskoid's list before deciding to include all ten (or that specific collage) in mine.

6. Sherry Palmer (24)

Bar none, the greatest villain in the history of television. I spent the first half of 24's first season thinking that I loathed the selfish, manipulative Sherry Palmer until I realized how much I absolutely reveled in hating her. Arvin Sloane from Alias comes a close second in being this despicable, but he has a couple of redeeming qualities that Sherry didn't. I miss you, Sherry!

5. Dr. Charlotte King (Private Practice)

This year's season finale of Private Practice seemed like it was doing it's best to make me stop caring about the show. Addison Montgomery's flirtation with adultery is killing my interest in her. Dell's storyline this season came out of nowhere and is pretty unconvincing. The cliffhanger left one of the other characters not just in mortal danger, but threatened with the most emotionally excruciating death I can imagine. That she's also a character I don't like leaves me feeling conflicted and icky. Do I care that she could die this way? Not really. But boy do I ever feel like I should care, and I sort of hate myself for not.

What does any of this have to do with Charlotte King? She's the reason I'll be back next season.

I do this a lot. Faced with a show that I used to enjoy, but aren't anymore, I'll latch on to one or two characters I love and make them the focus of the series in my head. And I'm a total sucker for unlikable characters who are revealed to have hidden depths of redeeming qualities. Sawyer from Lost, Alex Karev from Grey's Anatomy, maybe House one day if he ever gets his act together. I love shows that are successful in making you hate someone and then even more successful in turning that hate to love.

Charlotte King tries so hard to be a hard-nosed, emotionless robot. It's what she thinks she needs to be to do her job. For all I know, it is what she needs to be to do her job. But the very fact that she's trying so hard at it reveals that she actually cares. I'm loving watching those walls she's built around her come down. As long as that development continues for her on the show, I'll keep watching it regardless of what nonsense everyone else is going through.

4. Patrick Jane (The Mentalist)

I'm not sure I should include a character on this list whose show is only one season long so far, but I can't help it. I thought that this show was going to be a Psych rip-off and it's so not. I love every character on it, but especially the infuriatingly smirky, know-it-all and above-it-all (yet deeply wounded) Patrick Jane. Give this show a few more seasons like the one it just had and he'll be the top entry on this list.

3. Worf (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)

Do you want to know how much I like Worf? I went to a Star Trek convention to meet Michael Dorn, the actor who plays him. That's crazy.

But Worf's story arc on Next Generation and then Deep Space Nine was intensely appealing to me. He's the outsider who manages to fit in without sacrificing who he is to do it. And he kicks booty. And he gets all the best lines ("Captain, I protest! I am not a merry man!"). And he ends up with the hottest women on whatever show he's on. Just saying.

2. Dr. Miranda Bailey (Grey's Anatomy)

Oh, how I love Miranda Bailey. On a show full of drama kings and queens, she manages to stay above it all. Most of the time. Occasionally though, something will get to her and she'll lose it and cry. That's when I always have to grunt and pretend there's something in my eye.

1. Noel Crane (Felicity)

Noel Crane (or "Dreamy Noel" as we call him around Casa del May) was me during college. Oh sure, he's not as good-looking as I am, but I so relate to his luck with dating. It's not that Noel can't get dates, but just that they're rarely with the girl he wants to be on them with.

College was a great time for me and Felicity helped me relive it shortly after I was out, just when I was missing it most. I accessed the show through Noel, so that makes him an important character in my life. I miss that show like crazy.

Not surprisingly, Noel made me a huge Scott Foley fan. I think my wife's a bit jealous of him. "You'll follow that man anywhere," she says, and she's right. I even watched every single episode of AUSA. That's devotion, baby.

Did my heart good to see him on Siskoid's list as Bob from The Unit.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of TV Characters...Funny Blog

Top Five TV Characters I'd Like to Defriend on Facebook
May 20, 2009

Siskoid said...

First off, some great choices (of those I know): Doctor Bailey, Worf, Sherry (they made Kasidy Yates EVIL!), and mmmm Lindsay Wagner.

As for more 10 fave characters, I'm not sure where to take it next! There's enough comics-related content on my site, and video games? It starts and ends with Niko Belic. Other than that, it starts to get microscopic (favorite Futurama incidental characters, etc.).

I might just assemble that Black Ops team though ;)

"TV Characters I'd Like to Defriend on Facebook" HAHAHHAHA Ah man, I'm not on Facebook, but if I were, that's all I'd do.

Michael May said...

Ha! That Facebook characters post is great. I love Sheldon, but yeah his Facebook page would be horrible.

Siskoid, what do you think about one last post of literary (not comics) characters? I might be getting myself in trouble with that one by revealing how poorly read I actually am, but it would be a fun exercise.

Siskoid said...

I'm relatively well read, so it would be difficult... might be interesting though. I'll give it some thought during the day.

Word Verification: lesson

Wings1295 said...

I loved your list, so I did my own:

My Top Ten Favorite TV Characters

Vincetastic said...

Hey Michael, this top ten list is fantastic. I think you have some really solid picks, Worf and Jack Bristo would be my top 2. I would also have to include McGyver too. I enjoyed your commentary, it was very pleasant and entertaining to read, good thing I have seen most of these shows as well and know the characters. You can post this to our site and link back to your site. We are trying to create a directory for top ten lists where people can find your site. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

JT said...

You got my brain cooking, so I hope you don't mind if I list my ten here.

Love the blog by the way, became a follower.

10. George Costanza
9. Barney Fife
8. Sam the Eagle, Muppet
7. Creed from The Office
6. Gregory House
5. Walt from Breaking Bad
4. Coach Taylor, Friday Night Lights
3. Lester Friedman, The Wire
2. Omar Little, The Wire
1. Benjamin Linus, Lost

Video Zeta One said...

I couldn't resist trying this meme out myself over at Retrospace. Here it is. Check it out if you get the chance.


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