I’m one of those people who will watch an entire television series over and over again, from start to finish. I have been known to buy series DVDs when they go on sale (more frequently on Black Friday than any other sale occasion), but with the blessing of Netflix, both its disc and its streaming subscriptions, my life has not been the same.
There have been many influences in my life, both in my writing and in my fandoms, that stem from great television–good storytelling, creative endeavors, and excellent characters (which is why I have gathered you all here today). Here are a few:
From BtVS: Buffy, Giles, and Spike
There will be several Joss Whedon characters on this list, but Buffy is my number one. The show is still a family favorite (and one of the most quoted among us), and I do not regret owning all seven seasons (yes, even season six) on DVD. Buffy was more than a character for me; she (when she was not a megalomaniac slayer) was a role model. Her good qualities exhibited strong female independence with the propensity to, as Spike once said, “kick some demon ass.”
But where would Buffy be without Giles, her archetypal mentor and master cleaner of glasses? Anthony Stewart Head remains one of my all-time favorite character actors, and he was the reason I started watching Merlin (a showthat I have watched, from beginning to end, a total of five times, no kidding). His story line in season two broke my heart, what with Angelus running rampant and getting Giles’s love interest, Jenny Calendar, in his evil soulless grasp. “Band Candy,” the episode where Giles and Joyce Summers get a hold of bewitched fundraiser chocolate, is still one of my all-time favorite BtVS episodes. And then there’s Giles back story as Ripper. I’m still bitter that Ripper was never explored furhter in the show, or even given its own spin-off or mini series or SOMETHING. There was such potential there. GET ON IT, WHEDON.
And then there’s Spike. His introduction into the show was glorious, with his devil-may-care attitude and his kooky lover, Drusilla, doing their utmost to wreak havoc upon Sunnydale, and I especially loved his story arc with the Initiative. Then, his role on Angel during the spin-off’s fifth and final season, was icing on the cake. Concerning the division between Team Angel and Team Spike, I will always and forever be Team Spike. He’s more fun than Captain Forehead. I met James Marsters at a convention in March ’13, and he was unbelievably cool. Don’t be afraid to meet him at a Con. He is gracious and a lot of fun to talk to. (We conversed about Firefly (as I was cosplaying Jayne and donning a homemade cunning hat), Shakespeare, and both being left-handed.)
From Firefly: The Whole Damn Crew
Oh, Jayne Cobb. Why isn’t Mal first? Don’t get me wrong, Malcolm Reynolds will always and forever be my captain, but Jayne was my favorite character from the start. I loved his dialogue, Jaynestown, and that damned hat. I may have been the only girl cosplaying Jayne at the last Con I attended, but I regret absolutely nothing. I was a big damn hero, and I’m sure that Adam Baldwin would agree.
Now comes Mal and Inara. Fans of the show love Captain Tightpants, and no one else could have played him better than Nathan Fillion. I remember first seeing Nathan on BtVS as the creepy Reverend Caleb, and he did an excellent job of freaking me out. Well done, Cap’n. I’ve been a fan of Fillion’s ever since, and I was stoked that Whedon, who frequently uses the same actors in various projects (something I both love and respect about Whedon), cast him as Mal. And Morena Baccarin is one of the most beautiful actresses out there, a great cast as Inara (and terrifying as Anna in V!).
And then we have Kaylee. I remember watching Jewel Staite on Flash Forward ages and ages past, opposite Ben Foster, whom I was stoked to see as Angel in X-Men: The Last Stand. Kaylee is not only adorable and kind, she is also intelligent and quite capable around machinery. That’s one thing I love about Joss Whedon–he knows how to create and cast his female characters. (Where in the Verse would any of them be without either Kaylee or Zoe?!)
Leading to Zoe, her and Wash are beloved and eternally in my heart. If you did not weep bitterly over Wash (“I am a leaf in the wind. Watch how I soar.”), then you are as soulless as Angelus himself. Their dynamic together was brilliant, and it’s also a lot of fun to see the actors pop up in other Whedon projects (Angel and Dollhouse, respectively).
And Shepherd Book is one of the biggest bamfs out there. His best line: “If you take sexual advantage of her, you’re going to burn in a very special level of hell. A level they reserve for child molesters. And people who talk at the theater.”
Lastly, River and Simon. I loved their relationship, the loving brother and extraordinary sister, fighting to stay together and alive. You don’t see very many sibling relationships in television these days, at least none like River and Simon, and it was refreshing to fight for the two of them, hoping for their success, when you’re normally rooting for a romantic pair to win out against all odds. Again, great job, Whedon.
But this isn’t only a “all praise Joss Whedon” post, for next up we have
Warehouse 13: Pete, Myka, Artie, and Claudia
This show was one of the many that I stumbled upon while scrolling through Netflix. It is an absolute GEM. I appreciated, more than anything, the abstention from romanticizing Pete and Myka’s relationship, which is typically a show’s Kiss of Death. And it’s refreshing that their stereotypes are reversed: Pete is the intuitive one and Myka is the logical one. I love them.
And Artie is another great archetypal mentor who is a great father figure to Claudia. Their relationship is full of hilarity and heart warming, so prepare yourself to love them as much as I do. Additionally, Claudia is a ton of fun to watch, reminding me of myself in almost every aspect, and Allison Scagliotti did a brilliant job of bringing her character to life.
Doctor Who: Donna Noble
MY FAVORITE COMPANION. Most Whovians love Rose Tyler or The Ponds, but Donna is my Number One. Catherine Tate is naturally funny and has a great charisma and chemistry with David Tennant, who, you guessed it, is my Doctor. I loved the Donna Saga and adored her relationship with the Doctor. Her run through the series is one I’ve watched more than once because it is such a joy to watch.
Supernatural: Sam, Dean, and Bobby
Their relationship is gold. The Winchesters are beloved by the entire fandom, some favoring one brother over the other (I am totally Team Dean, btw), and everyone who’s anyone loves Bobby Singer.
You can tell by now that I love the mentor archetype as much, if not more, as the hero. Excellent observation. The hero is bupkis without his mentor, and the boys would be nowhere fast without having Bobby on speed dial. (I admittedly loved when Garth attempted to fill the Bobby-shaped hole for Sam and Dean.) I wish that there would have been more back story on Bobby, especially with John. There’s potential there.
Smallville: Jonathan Kent
Another mentor who has my heart. Clark’s adopted father remains my favorite in the Superman realm (and I love Superman himself, too), and I adored his portrayal by John Schneider. (Rant: While I thought Man of Steel was a great Superman movie, leaps and bounds above the abysmal Superman Returns, I will never forgive them for turning Jonathan Kent into a giant tool.) “Reckoning” was one of the best Smallville episodes they ever made; I wept like an infant to Peter Gabriel’s “I Grieve,” which was a masterful music choice. To this day, I get misty-eyed. Both John Schneider and Tom Welling did an amazing job in that episode. (Another Rant: I’m still miffed over Tom Welling not being Kal-El in any of the contemporary Superman films, but let’s be thankful that he wasn’t a part of the Superman Returns catastrophe. He’s a great Clark Kent, that’s all I’m saying, and I would have loved to have seen him as full-fledged Superman.)
These are but a few of my favorite TV characters. Please share yours with me in the comments below!