The summer break is over and we’re all back in school, and looking back at the past few months I realized I did jack all other than play video games and watch TV. Since I figure none of you want to hear about how I pwned that nub in TF2, I’ll take about the latter instead. So here are my favourite characters from the shows I watched this summer and why I love them so.
Dr. Gaius Baltar/No. 6 from Battlestar Galactica (Season 1)
At the start of the season I thought No.6 was a psycho bitch and Baltar an apologetic scumbag, but as the series progressed these two (who I’m putting together because No. 6 can normally only be seen by Baltar and appears to live inside his head. It’s kinda messed up) became increasingly fascinating. No. 6’s religious sensibilities are juxtaposed with Baltar’s scientific mind and together they struggle to understand their place in the universe. It’s never certain if you can trust either of them, or how interested they are in saving the human race, but the interactions of this odd couple are intriguing, and oftentimes somehow hilarious.
Jayne Cobb from Firefly
On a ship full of lovable, roguish misfits, Jayne perhaps best exemplifies all three of those qualities. He’s the closest anyone on the serenity comes to being a hardened criminal and in the end is mostly only looking out for himself, but he’s too stupid to be a serious threat which makes him all the more endearing. At times he does redeem himself and demonstrate some loyalty, but I like him best when he’s just being a dumb asshole. He’s hilarious, he’s none to bright, he tries to do the right thing in his own strange way, and he’s got a big-ass gun called Vera. He’s Jayne Cobb and I love him.
Dr. John Watson from Sherlock
The new BBC modern re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes is quite well done, but when it comes down to choosing a favourite character you really only have two options: Holmes or Watson. Though undoubtedly a fascinating, clever, and entertaining character, I have always found Sherlock to be a bit too much like a robot to form an emotional connection with, so I always lean towards his slower though more relatable companion. Holmes will always be Holmes, but Watson shows more capacity for change as he tries to move on with his life upon returning from the war, and finds some meaning and a purpose through his roommate. I also find that I tend to gravitate towards the voice of reason in any book/movie/TV show, and although Sherlock is supposed to be the smart one, I find that Watson tends to fill that role more often than not whenever Sherlock gets carried away with a case.
Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones
There are many great characters in George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series such as Jon Snow or Arya Stark, and most all of them are well-rounded without falling too deeply into the categories of pure hero or evil villain, but Tyrion is without a doubt the funniest and most ambiguous of them all. Due to his dwarfism and ugliness, very few characters like or trust him and most think him a craven. Ironically he turns out to be one of the most noble and bravest characters on the show who tries to do the right thing even if it might put him in harms way, though will adopt an “ends justify the means policy” if he must and is not above manipulating people to serve his purposes. On top of his cleverness, he also has a very sharp tongue and many of the best lines in the first season can be attributed to him with many more to come in those to follow.
Harold Weir from Freaks and Geeks
This is another tough show to choose a favourite character from since they’re all pretty cool despite being freaks and geeks, but I’m going to have to go with the paternal figure of Harold Weir played by Joe Flaherty. He’s portrayed as your typical television dad, but due to the massive generational gap between him and his children, he comes off more as a buffoon than the wise, all-knowing father figure of Leave it to Beaver. It’s pretty clear that he doesn’t really get his kids and resorts to silly threats and ridiculous stories to keep them in line. That being said, he does his best to keep them happy and cares about his children, but he understands sporting goods better than he understands them. The end result is a funny and endearing character who is simultaneously a parody of and homage to the sitcom father of old.
The Zen Bear from Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law
It never says a word at any point in the series and has no relevance to any of the plots or characters, yet somehow The Zen Bear represents the heart of what makes Harvey Birdman what it is: sheer randomness and absurdity. It pops up at the oddest times, normally in the background, standing upright and always smiling. Nobody questions why there is a bipedal bear running around a major law firm. And why should they? It does no harm. It just exists and is content. Nothing about it makes any sense, but with The Zen Bear, it doesn’t have to.
Annie Edison from Community
There are many reasons why Annie is my favourite character. One reason is that Alison Brie is hot. Another is that she plays Trudy on Mad Men, one my favourite shows ever. But mostly it’s because she’s hot. Also, she’s a decent human being who cares the most about other’s people’s feelings and maintaining friendship. And as those who know me can tell you, friendship is very important to me. It doesn’t hurt that she has a head on her shoulders and I think she knows a lot more about how to bend people to her will than she lets on. She’s learning what it takes to make it in the world, and luckily she wants to use that knowledge to help people.
The Feminist Bookstore Ladies from Portlandia
It can be hard to pick a favourite character from a sketch comedy series since most only appear once or twice, but in Portlandia’s case I had to go with the bizarre duo who run a feminist bookshop (though the mayor of Portland is a close second). Part of the reason why I like them probably has to do with the fact that my older sister is a feminist and I enjoy jokes made at her expense. And in this instance the joke is hilarious. The two ladies are incredibly pretentious, almost as much as they are incapable of being helpful to customers. Whenever somebody walks in, they spend most of the time standing behind the counter being useless while verbally accosting the patron which culminates in the woman played by Fred Armisen in drag making an absurd and disturbing threat. It’s wonderful.
Bonus points to whoever has seen at least one episode from all of these shows.