Top 25 Characters

Four years ago I came up with a list of my top 25 characters. I couldn’t resist updating the list.

1Gaius Baltar (Battlestar Galactica)
A fascinating character, weaving from hero to villain and back again often within the space of a sentence. The religious stuff was laid on a little heavy towards the end, but the character managed to pull it off.

2President Bartlet (The West Wing)
Martin Sheen was so amazing, and the character so inspiring it’s hard to believe that he never won an Emmy. These days we may have Obama, but for a long time President Bartlet was the best hope we had.

3Sam Beckett (Quantum Leap)
Bumbling through history playing a variety of parts, but always being Sam. The only connection he had to his old life was his weird friend Al, but despite not remembering it, he desperately wanted to go home.

4Chandler Bing (Friends)
The only character in the series that managed to feel like a real person all the time (well, almost all) probably because it’s basically Matthew Perry playing himself.

John Crichton (Farscape)
Hilarious and heart-breaking, just your average astronaut (!) having a weird life.
“I try to save a life a day. Usually it’s my own…”

6The Doctor (David Tennant’s Dr Who)
Tennant’s Doctor was such a wonderful character covering the full spectrum from depression through anger to pure childish joy, that I decided he was eligible all by himself without needing his other versions.

7Michael Garibaldi (Babylon 5)
Garibaldi was always my favourite character on Babylon 5. He was the human element, he fought, he drank, he mocked everyone and the universe seemed to have some kind of grudge against him.

8Jethro Gibbs (NCIS)
I love Mark Harmon and his ex-marine is brilliant. Outwardly gruff and hard, but not so inhuman that he doesn’t show his affection to his team with a kiss on the cheek for Abby or a slap on the head for DiNozzo.

9Harper (Andromeda)
Andromeda had some epic problems with plots and writing, but it had some amazing characters and Harper was my favourite. He’s a scrounger, desperately trying to get through life as unscathed as possible while his friends seem weirdly obsessed with dragging him on suicide missions to save the universe.
Abel: You must be the engineer.
Harper: Why? Because I’m the short guy with the sense of humour, the wry wit? Huh? Because I’m so freakin’ amiable with the careless demeanor? Is that it?
Abel: Well, that – and the tools.

10Gregory House (House M.D.)
Most of the time he’s a complete and utter bastard, and yet he’s also generally right. Every now and then he shows that he might, just about care about his colleagues.

11Susan Ivanova (Babylon 5)
No one from B5 made the first list and now I’ve got two. I had decided on Garibaldi over Ivanova, but then when I started reading through quotes I remembered just how many brilliant lines she had and managed to squeeze her in.
“No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There’s always a boom tomorrow. What? Look, somebody’s got to have some damn perspective around here. Boom, sooner or later. BOOM!”

12Josh Lyman (The West Wing)
He’s a political genius who can’t keep track of time zones or find his luggage without his assistant. Sometimes he’s brilliant, sometimes he’s embarrassingly poor, but he always tries so hard.

13Rodney McKay (Stargate Atlantis)
Another character that says all the things normal people never would (I’m spotting a theme). He’s arrogant, obnoxious and rude… he’s also a geek, a genius and occasionally very sweet.

14George O’Malley (Grey’s Anatomy)
Poor George. He always means so well, and tries so hard and yet his colleagues are always the ones getting the glory. Except, just possibly, the last thing he does on the show, makes him the greatest success of all of them. His absence almost made me stop watching the show and there’s not much higher compliment can be paid a character.

15Veronica Mars (Veronica Mars)
Teenager with attitude. She’s the kid that’s so amazingly cool, the cool kids at school don’t even realise that she’s light years ahead of them. So she tells them. Except that occasionally she also has a bit of a cry, falls in love with the wrong people and needs her dad.

16Peggy Olson (Mad Men)
From a historical point of view her character is fascinating, a woman making the leap from being an object, to being an individual. As a character though she’s so compelling because she’s not making a statement about women at work in the sixties, she’s just doing what she wants to do.

17Hawkeye Pierce (M*A*S*H)
“I will not carry a gun…. I’ll carry your books, I’ll carry a torch, I’ll carry a tune, I’ll carry on, carry over, carry forward, Cary Grant, cash and carry, carry me back to Old Virginia, I’ll even hari-kari if you show me how, but I will not carry a gun!”

18Mal Reynolds (Firefly)
The hero who doesn’t want to be a hero, it never goes smooth for poor Mal. Some people are at their best when they’re having yet another bad day.

19Doug Ross (ER)
There are reasons why George Clooney is a star and they’re all demonstrated in Doug Ross. Mark Greene may have been the soul of ER but Ross brought some character to it. He drank too much, womanised, looked great in a tux, looked great in scrubs, said what he thought and even rescued drowning children!

20Nick Stokes (CSI)
Nick is a straight swap for his boss Gil. This is partly because Gil is gone and got a little irritating towards the end. But Nick deserves this place because he’s the little engine that could, never the smartest or most heroic of theCSIs, he’s just been quietly plugging along with his Texas twang and concerned looks until someone finally realised the department couldn’t run without him.

21Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Almost all the characters in this show are great, and it’s rare for me to chose a hero over a witty sidekick, but I had to go for Buffy over the others. She does occasionally wallow, but then if your teenage years were commandeered by destiny, wouldn’t you whine?

22Malcolm Tucker (The Thick of It)
He’s loud and obnoxious and rude beyond words. But he’s also generally the only one talking sense. Also I will forgive absolutely everything he’s ever done wrong, because while he was having the worst day of his career, he ran to his secretary’s defence because people were badgering her.

23Nora Walker (Brothers and Sisters)
The very definition of matriarch. Always ready with several bottles of wine, a shoulder to cry on, a rallying call, or even just a perfectly delivered cake. Nora not only rules her dysfuntional family, but is also trying to work out what a sixty year old woman does when her kids have all left home and her husband dies leaving her alone for the first time ever.

24Dean Winchester (Supernatural)
Amongst Supernatural fans there are Dean-girls and Sam-girls, I’m a (only slightly ashamed) Dean girl. He’s a simple guy wanting to kill monsters, drink, eat pie, sleep around, drive his car and above all keep his family safe. He pretty much never gets what he wants, but always has a witty comeback.

25Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (Buffy and Angel)
In terms of character development you don’t get much more extensive than Wesley, turning from the annoying twit in Buffy to the scary hero in Angel. He does what needs to be done, regardless of the costs.


ER: Season 4

I enjoyed watching this season but it didn’t really stand out in any way. Writing this review a week after finishing it leaves me with some difficulties thinking of things to write. The new characters of Corday and del Amico were interesting and fun in the way they contrasted with Benton and Carter respectively. Other than that everything sort of ticked along, the only stand-out episodes I can remember being the live episode which was an impressive achievement and the one with the ER being evacuated. The two episodes set out of town felt rather odd, not really like ER at all.

DVD Special Features
Hugely disappointing compared with previous sets. The only features were some deleted scenes spread across the dvds which was a sensible way to distribute them (rather than leaving them all until the final disc) but weren’t particularly exciting. There’s apparently an easter egg somewhere, but I couldn’t be bothered to look for it.

ER: Season 3

This season should really have been renamed “Surgical Wards” a good 25% of this season is actually set up in the surgical wards following Carter and Benton and a whole flock of new nurses and doctors. It’s interesting to follow patients’ treatments from ER to surgery to post op, but the show seemed to lose track of the fact it was called ER. I think the show-runners realised this too as they put Carter (who is definitely the heart of the show) back into the ER at the end of the season. The new characters such as Abby Keaton, Maggie Doyle (with a rather Sara
like Jorga Fox) and the rest of the flock manage to be interesting and well formed even given limited time. Meanwhile the effects of increased film commitments mean a noticable decrease in screen-time for several of the actors, they tend only to appear when they’ve got a main story to be told, rather than being supporting as they were in earlier seasons.

Story-wise the show maintains it’s principles of usually having a couple of main storylines and a flurry of more short lived ones. The multi-ep arcs tend to be more character development with everyone getting some nice plots. I think some of the story-lines were over-egged slightly, particularly the “nurses are valuable but under-appreciated” bits and Benton’s continual failings as a human being which really began to drag a lot. The character reversals of Ross and Greene are fun though, as is Carter’s transition from doctor to student. Kerry continues to be fascinating in her outward appearance as a monster to all but those closest to her.

ER: Season 2

I was surprised it started this early, but this does seem to be the first indication of the series heading from outstanding and innovative into the depths of melodramatic soap opera. However while the signs of (imho) the series’ downfall are present, this season still ranks pretty highly. Compared to the first season which was all about people fighting and often succeeding, this one seems about failure and loss. Even battles that are won come at a price and even it’s the personal battles that are given the most screentime.

There are some episodes here that are truly outstanding and I can remember clearly from watching them on tv nearly a decade ago. Hell and High Water makes George Clooney an action hero, while The Healers is 45 minutes of working my way through a box of tissues and marvelling at the power of script where the important things are not said. Running sub-plots include Susan Lewis taking care of her sister’s baby (which I found pretty tedious to be honest), Peter Benton being a smug self-righteous ass, Doug Ross trying to work out what he’s doing with his life and Mark Green getting divorced and grumpy.

The new characters bring some interesting relationships with them, Jeanie becoming a regular and playing off of Benton and the nurses, Kerry Weaver appearing and pissing pretty much everyone off and the introduction of a couple of paramedics who give an interesting dynamic feel to story lines, but rapidly degenerating into psycho-analysing.

DVD Special Features
The packaging of this dvd is the same as the first, very neat and tidy, yet faintly irritating having to peer at labels on double sided dvds. I ended up watching 2 episodes out of order ‘cos I got the dvd upside down. The special features aren’t quite so enthusiastic as the 1st however, I guess there’s less to talk about once you’ve covered the start-up information and are confronted with wondering what you’re going to put on the next 10 box sets. The commentaries are pretty dull and dry “wasn’t this fun” type things with lengthy pauses as the commentators just watch the episode. The documentaries on directing and the making of Hell and High Water are also pretty dull and lacking in comments from most of the cast and big names. There’s a whole heap of extra scenes which are interesting but the out-takes are more limited and less fun than the 1st season’s. A respectable collection of stuff, but not enough to make this an outstanding collection.

Another one of those series where you forget just how good they were at the start. A truly stunning series from the very start of the pilot. Really hits the ground running and just keeps running throughout the whole season. The huge range of story-lines is fascinating, with some running a scene, some an act, episode, right up through to season long character arcs.

Standout episodes include Blizzard (a big disaster, snow, christmas), Into That Good Night (absolute floods of tears over Alan Rosenberg’s performance), Love’s Labour Lost (just plain stunning).

DVD Special Features
A lovely dvd package, with all the season 1 episodes and the feature length pilot. The packaging is nice and compact, although I’m not convinced about the double sided dvds – more efficient, but I keep putting the damn things in upside-down. The small collection of documentaries are very interesting, with most of the principle cast reflecting back on the start of the series. I’ve only listened to one commentary track and have to admit it was deadly dull, so I’m not holding out much hopes for the other two. It’s fascinating to see just what a long shot it was considered at the time, with the networks almost refusing to air it because they thought the audience just wouldn’t get it. Also nice to see said executives admitting how wrong they were.