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My Favorite TV Characters

  • Apr 14, 2010
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Since I made a list for movie characters I felt compelled to do the same for TV, and here it is. Again IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER!
Lady Emma Peel
Diana Rigg as Lady Emma Peel was THE action heroine of her day as the sexy, smart co-star of "The Avengers" and as far as I'm concerned she was John Steed's only COMPANION.
Josh Randall
"Wanted; Dead or Alive". Steve McQueen as Josh Randall, bounty hunter. Talk about cool
The late lamented Kevin Smith was one hot God of War on "Xena Warrior Princess", and he had a real gift for comedy too. We all miss him terribly.
Executive A.D.A. Ben Stone
The only person to make both my movie and TV list, Michael Moriarty as Ben Stone fought the good fight for years in the courtroom on "Law & Order". When he left he took the photo of Bobby Kennedy that was on the wall of his office with him.
Detective Robert Goren
Vincent D'Onofrio made Robert Goren the quirkiest police detective on the tube. He started out as sort of a Sherlock Holmes with all sorts of arcane knowledge and evolved into something quite different.
Arthur Dietrich
Steve Landesberg couldn't have been better cast as Arthur Dietrich, the resident intellectual on BARNEY MILLER, another one of the terrific ensemble shows of the 80s. One favorite episode involved a time traveler who became awestruck upon hearing Dietrich's name--"You're THAT Arthur Dietrich?!" Confirming all of his fans suspicions that he was really something special.
Allison Hannigan was the perfect nerd as Willow--always there to hack into a computer when necessary in the early days or cast a spell as she matured. "Buffy" wouldn't have been the same without her. But I don't think EVERY series needs a lesbian.
Brisco County Jr.
Bruce Campbell really learned how to be comfortable standing in front of a camera and just talking rather than screaming in pain as Brisco--it was a wonderful quirky show. sigh. Another one bites the dust.
Judge Harold T. Stone
Harry Anderson brought just the right irreverent flavor to the role of the judge in NIGHT COURT one of the best ensemble shows of the 80s, a decade when ensemble show flourished.
Gomez Addams
John Astin was Gomez Addams on THE ADDAMS FAMILY, the adult version of THE MUNSTERS. Wild eyed and always sporting a frenzied grin, he was the perfect embodiment of Charles Addams' cartoons come to life.
Dr. Gregory House
Hugh Laurie. Do I really need to say anything more?
Carl Kolchak
Darren McGavin roamed the oddest places looking for creatures that went bump in the night--and he always found them too. KOLCHAK; THE NIGHT STALKER served as the inspiration for THE X-FILES and its original monster of the week premise.
Dr. Joel Fleishman
Rob Morrow was the original fish (or Fleish) out of water as a young doctor just starting out in one of the quirkiest towns this side of Twin Peaks, Washington.
Agent Dale Cooper
Which brings us to Kyle MacLachlan as Agent Cooper who kept the straightest of faces no matter what sort of weirdness was going on around him.
Earl J. Hickey
Karma was never more fun than when Jason Lee was in his MY NAME IS EARL mode. Earl J. Hickey gets my award as the most endearing redneck since Jeff Foxworthy.
Soupy Sales
Soupy was always just Soupy, but I couldn't have a list without him.
See the full review, "The Pie Man".
Joxer the Mighty
Ted Raimi made goofy Joxer the most lovable wannabee hero on "Xena Warrior Princess--and he will be forever haunted by Joxer's theme song. Fans will make certain of that!
Xander Harris
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris was the only one of the Scoobies who had to get by without any supernatural powers, but that never stopped him from getting in their when the mystical fur started flying on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".
Sledge Hammer
David Rasche WAS Sledge, a parody of every Dirty Harry type of cop ever to hit the screen--he even slept with his gun on a lace pillow in bed next to him. My favorite episode came at the end of the first season when they thought the show had been cancelled: Sledge accidentally nuked Los Angeles and himself along with it. Trouble was they were given a second season!
Chatsworth Osborne Jr.
Steven Franken was the epitome of a every spoiled little rich kid as Chatsworth on THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLES. He replaced Warren Beatty as Dobie's nemesis but obviously he role wasn't that of the rich handsome jock. He was more of a silly petulant mama's boy, and I just loved the character.
Mr. Pomfritt
William Schallert played the long suffering teacher Mr. Pomfritt on THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLIS, and he endured his students--but just barely. Schallert has always been one of my favorite actors.
Lucy Lawless of course in the title role. My Xena was the one from the first 3 or 4 years--after that the show went off on a tangent and forgot what had made it watchable. It lost it's sense of fun almost completely although 2 of my favorite episodes are from the latter years, namely; "In Sickness and in Hell" in which Joxer saves the day after both Xena and Gaby get so sick and lice infested that the town they are supposed to save almost votes to kill THEM, and 'Old Ares Had a Farm" from the last season, in which a powerless Ares has to be hidden from everyone who wants him dead. To me "Old Ares" is really the finale episode of the show because with it the series went full circle and returned to its roots.

What did you think of this list?

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July 24, 2010
Great list!! You took me back to the day with some of the characters that I had forgotten. I loved Rigg in the Avengers.
July 28, 2010
It was a fun list to make. Emma Peel was an icon in the 60s!
June 03, 2010
Lucas Buck is one of the greatest creations in any for of entertainment, as is Brisco. The whole list is great but where is Bruce's characters from "Jack of all Trades, and the Hercules & Xena series.
June 04, 2010
I didn't like that show at all and rarely watched it--I did tune in for the catchy theme song though which was hilarious, but then I'd turn it off. (Sorry Bruce.)
June 04, 2010
How can you say that, Bruce hammed it up like no other, it was stupid fun. Oh well I can understand.
June 04, 2010
i guess I was just spoiled by the good shows he did.
April 15, 2010
Bruce Campbell rocks! And since I have Brisco County Jr. on DVD, I get to enjoy that excellent TV show any time I want. :-)
April 16, 2010
Me too. I got it as soon as it came out> Didn't want to be without it for a moment.
April 15, 2010
Yes !! - Emma Peel, Fantastic. I agree with you, the best Avengers are with Diane Rigg. Beauty and Brains in a fantastic package.
April 15, 2010
The perfect woman all in one sexy sophisticated package. And she didn't just sit around waiting for Steed to rescue her all the time either.
April 14, 2010
I always love your lists, Karen! The characters on this list are all so diverse, but they have one thing in common: major quirkiness. Well, maybe with the exception of Xena. Maybe Gabrielle though :P I dig quirky characters because I can be pretty quirky myself. Thanks for sharing!
April 14, 2010
I do like my characters with a fair amount of quirk when ever possible! I have no idea what that says about me. =)
April 14, 2010
Actually, I'd disagree on Xena returning to its roots with "Old Ares Had a Farm" since humor was always an important part of the show, but after season three it was somehow an uneven humor. The cornerstone was definitely the mythology/fantasy/action angle, which kind of got run over somewhere along season five, but they tried to recover with some great writing near that season's finale. I still am pissed that they killed off Joxer, even if they gave him a "hero's send-off" as Raimi put it. It's funny that you go for Gomez and I go for Herman Munster. Somehow, Herman's oaf was more lovably oafish, but over all I totally agree that "The Addams Family" was a more sophisticated and adult show, especially when you look at how childish season two of "The Munsters" was. I'm glad you included the Buffy characters and kudos for setting up one for the oft-forgotten Xander.
April 14, 2010
Starting in season 4 the whole tone of Xena changed drastically as they went off their "subtext" tangent. It was all wailing and suffering after with only an ocaassional comedy thrown in, and most of those weren't any where near as funny as those from the first 3 season with the exception of the two I mentioned. Fans of the subtext were livid with the way the show ended--killing off Xena and having her go Obi-Wan with Gaby, they wanted her there in the flesh. Didn't matter to me because there was the whole reincarnation thing that we knew would be going on. I would have preferred that the series have a happier ending which is why I consider "Old Ares" to be the shows true finale, but I certainly don't need one. It's only TV folks. I think I go for Gomez over Herman because I was simply too old for The Munsters when the show came out whereas I was perfect for the warped humor of The Addams family since I was already familiar with the source material.
April 15, 2010
With Xena, the whole "are they or aren't they" thing did get tiring, but what I mean was that seasons 1-3 had humor but it was laced in with the rest of the show. Seasons 4,5, and 6 the series became much darker with the whole Dahak plot-line taking over, so they ended up trying to balance things out by doing whole comedy episodes, which neither Herc nor Xena would normally have done.
April 15, 2010
The are they or aren't they was scrapped after season 3--and it became pretty obvious. The first 3 seasons had lots of epsiodes that were complete comedies such as For Him the Bells Toll, A Comedy of Eros, Warrior Princess tramp, Here She Comes...Miss Amphipolis, A Day in the Life, and The Quill is Mightier just to name a few off the top of my head. And season 4 of herc was loaded with comic episodes such as Beanstalks and Bad Eggs, Stranger in a Strange World, ...And Fancy Free, Men in Pink, Yes Virginia There is a Hercules, Porkules, My Fair Cupcake, and One Fowl Day--again off the top of my head.
April 15, 2010
Season 4 of Herc only got the comedy treatment because Kevin Sorbo was recovering from a near-fatal aneurysm and couldn't be around for a lot of the shooting, so they brought in Robert Trebor and Bruce Campbell to lighten things up. It was mainly these episodes that lost Hercules most of its viewership.
April 15, 2010
Ikay, granted the show was never quite as light as season 2 and 3 of Xena were, but there were episode in season 3 of Herc like Les Contemptibles and of course For Those of you Just joining Us adn Stranger and Stranger in season 5.
April 15, 2010
It was just weird, because Christian Williams created the series as a social and political satire using mythological archetypes and then basically Raimi stole the show away from him and got most of the credit. If you look at that first season of Herc, you have some really dark and pretty violent episodes for syndicated TV at that time, then skip ahead two seasons and it's just silliness. They tried to recover some in the end of season four and then in season five, but they just didn't have the ratings to support them at that point. With Xena, they actually ended the show with pretty good ratings. Although I agree that season five should have been the last. They had closure at that point, and while season six had some incredible episodes, the series finale was terrible. Xena has a relentless drive in all that she does and she wouldn't just accept being dead like that. Plus, Gabby actually using the chakram, as awesome as that was, felt really contrived at that point.
April 15, 2010
I take it you actually liked all the serious goings on. As for the ending, the whole thing was Old testament Biblical. the wronged party is the one who decides the punioshment and that's why she had to accept it. They got very Biblical on that show.
April 15, 2010
They also mocked Christianity quite a bit in the first three seasons. I love the episode "Altared States" which literally equated religious belief with being drugged. Very edgy!
April 15, 2010
I'm not so sure about the mocking--Tapert is a pretty devout Catholic and it was really his show, Raimi had nothing to do with it other than being the other half of the Ren. Prod. If he'd been involved he might have wound up married to Lucy Lawless instead of Tapert--that would have been a funny couple.
April 15, 2010
I thought that Tapert and Lawless was weird too. Besides, the show had a lot of pretty anarchic themes. Lots of questioning of authority, supporting ethnic minorities, feminism, pacifism, Eastern spirituality, leftist politcal views... these aren't things one generally associates with Catholicism.
April 15, 2010
And Abraham going off to sacrifice his son. Let's not forget it was basically aa heroic fantasy show--they got bored pretty quickly with trying to keep it limited to the Greeks. My favorite version of that was in season 3's episode THE FURIES when Xena was cursed with both madness and persecution. even nutso she was still the smartest one in the room.
April 15, 2010
Plus, the episodes "Fallen Angel", "Motherhood", and "Heart of Darkness" really stuck it to any form of deism. All the fans of the show that I know, at least with Xena more than Herc, are very liberal and in some cases borderline radical.
April 15, 2010
You can say that about almost all of fandom with some degree of certainty.
April 15, 2010
Not Christian fiction, Westerns, or the Twilight books. In fact, I don't think that's necessarily true at all. I know of a lot of conservative space opera fans.
April 15, 2010
Oh you can always find exceptions. But Christian fiction and westerns? I'm talking horror and science fiction fandom here.
April 15, 2010
I would say with those two specific genres that it's about 60-40. There are a lot of Right-wing reactionaries who like that stuff too. A great example would be the slaher films, where some Righties think they are about moral discipline and punishment of excessive hedonism (after all, it's always the druggies and promiscuous teens who get slaughtered in those flicks). And we all know about the Right-wing followers of sci-fi. Just look to the people who claim that "The Matrix" supports Judeo-Christianity and say that "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" was pro-McCarthyism. Two side to every coin, same goes with political reactions to pop culture.
April 15, 2010
What kind of nutcase would say that INVASION was PRO McCarthyism? Can't they follow a simple storyline? I haven't been to a con in awhile, but in my day you were looking more at a 95 to 5 ratio. In fact my daughter once brought up the fact that she found a painting of 2 naked girls who looked to be all 12 years old portrayed in a sexual manner in the art show to be offensive and she nearly got run out of town on a rail. I think there's a lot of chain rattling going on and nothing more with some of these people you're talking about in the horror community--are they REALLY fans. That line you say they're putting forth is one that film critics have postulated for decades.
April 15, 2010
There were quite a few who felt that the invasion of the body snatchers was a parable for the threat of Soviet subversion and the elimination of the individual for the sake of the party, therefore the military response was Pro-McCarthy. I bet you'd be surprised. Look how many conservative celebs are involved in those genres.
April 15, 2010
That's a bunch of revisionist crap.
April 15, 2010
Nah, it was a common belief when the film came out. The same could be said about "The Day the Earth Stood Still" although with less credence. One of my books on film criticism and interpretation has a whole chapter on contrary interpretations of sci-fi films. And here's what I got from Wikipedia, which is pretty sparse, but gives an idea...

The film has been read as both an allegory for the loss of personal autonomy in the Soviet Union, as an allegory of Cold War paranoia, and as an indictment of the damage to the human personality caused by reductionist modern ideologies of Right and Left. It has also been read, however, as a metaphor of alienation in modern mass civilization, or a covert indictment of McCarthyism.

Despite the general agreement among film critics regarding these political connotations of the film, lead actor Kevin McCarthy said in an interview included on the 1998 DVD release that he felt no political allegory was intended. The interviewer stated that he had spoken with the author of the original novel, Jack Finney, who also professed to have intended no specific political allegory in the work.[19]

In his autobiography, I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History, Walter Mirisch writes: "People began to read meanings into pictures that were never intended. The Invasion of the Body Snatchers is an example of that. I remember reading a magazine article arguing that the picture was intended as an allegory about the communist infiltration of America. From personal knowledge, neither Walter Wanger nor Don Siegel, who directed it, nor Dan Mainwaring, who wrote the script nor the original author Jack Finney, nor myself saw it as anything other than a thriller, pure and simple."

April 15, 2010
As someone who was there at the time, all I can say is that it was pretty much read as an indictment against McCarthyism and that anything else is revisionist crap that has been added over the years.
April 15, 2010
I don't think so Queenie. I've read at least half a dozen vintage reviews of it from 1957 that show people who felt that it was anti-communist. Less than a year after it came out can't be called revisionist. Plus, look at Don Siegel's career. He also directed "Dirty Harry" which had a similar effect. Some people felt that it was pro-fascism and pro capital punishment, while others saw it as a satire of authoritarianism.
April 15, 2010
Admit I'm right and just get it over with.
April 15, 2010
But we're not in disagreement here, so we're both right. I agree that it's anti-McCarthyism. I'm just saying that's not the only legitimate interpretation of the film, which it isn't.
April 15, 2010
I'm sure that somewhere someone has written a treatsie on how it's about the Progressives' plot to destroy the Constitution and pervert the American Way of Life.
April 16, 2010
I haven't read that take on it yet.
April 16, 2010
I'll email you a copy. I got it off Glenn Beck's website. =)
April 17, 2010
Beck wrote it?
April 17, 2010
April 20, 2010
No, really who wrote it? Beck's head is too far up his own ass to pull of writing blindly...
April 20, 2010
I did. I made the whole thing up. Can't you tell when I joking?
April 14, 2010
Fun list, Karen! Thanks for sharing! :)
April 14, 2010
I tried to span the decades and not make them ALL old timers so that people would recognize at least a couple of them! =)
April 14, 2010
Yeah, I noticed that! I recognized a couple, heard of a couple, and then some were completely new. It made the list more interesting to be arranged like that.
April 14, 2010
Yeah. If I stayed in the 60s I'd be the only one who knew what the hell I was talking about!
April 14, 2010
where Buffy at? ;-) 7 and 24 are ones I am unfamiliar with.
April 14, 2010
Buffy wasn't my favorite character on the show. I liked the supposting cast much better. If you didn't recognize 24 you shouldn't have recognized 23 either.
April 15, 2010
He was a TV staple. He was on just about everything--which was great for us fans. he even had his own series for awhile. He played patty Duke's father on her show back when.
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karen ()
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I am the poster child for inertia. Where ever I am is where I plan to stay FOREVER.   So much so in fact that it took me decades to understand the punchline about why   the chicken … more
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