Friday, October 9, 2009

Fave TV Characters (Fantasy)

Always a good standby in the blogging game...a list of favorites (or not). In this case, here are five favorite characters from fantasy television series. For my purposes (and frankly, for most other peoples') fantasy shall be defined as having to do with the props and tropes of magic. This is opposed to the same for science, even if said science is total garbage (yes, I'm talking about you Lost in Space and Space:1999).

Tara McClay from Buffy the Vampire Slayer may be my single favorite witch character ever. Not least because she was so totally herself rather than any stereotype. I did not in fact see her first appearance (in the brilliant "Hush") when it first aired, so my initial exposure to her was this pretty, shy girl telling Willow that she was "yours." My thought at the time--Does Willow realize this girl is totally in love with her? So began what I still think of as one of the best love stories on television. It ended tragically, for which many fans never forgave Joss Whedon. Some of them in a message board I then frequented declared me persona non grata because I viewed the killing of a fictional character as rather less of a crime than the Bush Administration's policies regarding AIDS. Yet I continue to hold Tara in my heart--a lonely, bright, passionate girl who found love and friends and strength. Having once bet Amber Benson, who played her, I can tell you the actress is no less a lovely person.

Of all the many vampires that have been on t.v. shows, in the end my favorite remains Urs from Forever Knight. She only appeared in the third (and sadly, last) season of that program, seen maybe three times in total. But what a fascinating person! At first she seemed like nothing but a waif/go-go dancer who happened to be a vampire. Interesting enough right there, but then we learned her past. Upon a river boat in the XIXth century, she was a professional gambler's 'girl' until she met Javier. They were drawn together, and she recognized him as one of the undead. She asked him to "do it" and he brought her across (as the lingo of that show went). But what she'd been asking for was to die, not to live forever. In her eyes one could see a startling amount of wisdom, an understanding of pain and desperation far more than even the two or three lifetimes she had already walked. She didn't still long for death, and in the end forgave Javier. She even liked him. But frankly, I was longing for more and more stories about her when the series ended.

Willie Loomis from Dark Shadows was clearly based (at least in terms of the Barnabas Collins storyline) on Dracula's Renfied. But he was much more over the course of the series, not only in terms of the original show but its 1991 incarnation. Loomis in both cases is a Grade F Loser, someone clever but crude and not a little bit dishonest. Enslaved by a vampire, he became the epitome of irony as that abject status made him a better person. He became a loyal friend, one with more than a bit of wisdom to impart as time went on. Eventually, it became clear that he and Barnabas even became friends of a kind. At any rate, I cannot think of another character like him on another t.v. show--this wretched low-life with just a hint of something more, becoming that more and far better than he had been through his servitude to a blood-drinking monster. In a way, he is rather what Hakken is trying to be in Let The Right One In.

Ezekiel Stone on Brimstone was a detective. He murdered the man who raped his wife, then a few months later died. Naturally, he went to Hell. But years later, there's a jailbreak from the Inferno. Satan has little or no power on Earth so he sends Ezekiel back to retrieve his lost ones. In return, he'll get a "second chance at life on earth" whatever that means. A great premise, but totally dependent upon the central character--in this case a man with no inclination to self-contemplation forced by circumstances to doing precisely that. Much of the show consisted of Ezekiel and the Devil sparring over the former's soul, about the question of whether he is truly evil. At the same time, really disturbing questions kept popping up. For example, one of the souls to be returned was a Dutch collaborator during WWII. He sent dozens of children to concentration camps, not out of malice but cowardice. Now, immortal, he uses his abilities to help others. In fact, he's something of a superhero. Yet Ezekiel has to send him back--a conflict brought fantastically to life by Peter Horton.

Jessica is my favorite character on the cable series True Blood. In case you've just returned from Anarctica, that is the hugely popular show set in a world where vampires have "come out of the closet" and people are trying to adjust to that fact. Jessica is a rebellious teen raised in a super-strict Louisiana household, changed into a vampire against her will as an act of penance when the lead (Bill) killed a vampire to save his human lover (Sookie). At first she just seemed like the most hilariously obnoxious brat, but then as I got to know her she grew on me. A rebel with barely a clue, she was actually a virgin when turned and all-too-obviously still barely aware of her own identity. On top of that, she fell in love with a nice young man who loved her smile and didn't care that she was technically dead. The road of their romance is not without bumbs, curves and if I'm reading events right more than one toll bridge. But I'm rooting for them, and for her. She's trying. Half the time, she's funny. The other half the time, she's heart-breaking. And in both instances she can be frightening.

Five seems enough for now.

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