Monday, December 27, 2010

My Favorite TV Characters of 2010, Part 1

My posts on my favorite TV of the decade last year proved popular, so I wanted to do something again this year. But I don't watch as many shows as some. And I don't have access to all the stations, and I can't bring myself to watch everything, especially as I have other interests. So instead of breaking it down by show, I thought it might be fun to break it down by character, the people that keep me coming back to the shows I do watch, over and over. Before we get started, let me say that I realize there are several things that go into creating a character, and I think my choices reflect all of them, whether it be the writing, the theme and direction of the show, or the performance of the actor. Or, in the best cases, all three.

Warning: Spoilers will be included.

25. Vince Howard/Luke Cafferty (Michael B. Jordan/Matt Lauria), Friday Night Lights - NBC
In Dillon, Texas, football is everything - a way of life, how you are judged, and the key to moving on. And in Friday Night Lights, it seems everything is geared toward the weekly game. So when the town is divided between two high schools, the affluent Dillon and the low-rent East Dillon, the players not only have to deal with their own team and its issues, but they have to contend with competition in their own town. And on this show, it's never that simple, as everyone brings their own baggage as well. Vince lives in "the projects" of Dillon and his mom is hooked on drugs. There is temptation personified in the form of his friends who have chosen crime, but Vince finds hope in football, and in Coach Taylor. Luke is a farm kid, practically stolen from Dillon, who knows what he wants, which is out. He's willing to give up just about anything to get it, including his own health. Add in an unwanted pregnancy, and you have two fine additions to an already excellent cast.

24. Joseph Adama (Esai Morales), Caprica - SciFi

I refuse to spell it the other way. In this show that was nothing like its predecessor, and likely never given a chance because of that fact, Morales shone as the father who lost a daughter, and the man caught between two worlds, the "dirt-eating" organized crime of Tauron, and the clean, straight future of Caprica. His grief transformed his life, leading him away from his son (who would eventually command Galactica) and into worlds both familiar (that of his brother's criminal ties) and unfamiliar (turning himself into a digital avatar to pursue his daughter's fate. I'll grant you that there may be some Godfather/ Blood In, Blood Out fondness for the character, but it was stilled executed well.

23. Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary), Rescue Me - FX

This show, one of my favorites, has seen better days. But Tommy is still one of the most watchable characters on TV. His path to redemption (or not?) is still fascinating, if a bit repetitive, and also echoes some of the classic noir characters of the post-war period in the way that they reacted to the aftermath. 9/11 was Tommy's World War 2, and he's still trying to come to terms with it. The final season next year is leading up to the 10th anniversary of that fateful event, and I will be on the edge of my seat, waiting to see how Tommy makes out.

22. Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder), The Vampire Diaries - CW

Caught between competing schoolgirl fantasies (that of the brooding, cold, emotionless vampires that the right woman can imbue with passion and that of the hot-blooded, impulsive werewolves that the right woman can tame and civilize), Damon is the vampire caught in the middle, a good fit for no woman, the outsider, the exception that, of course, not only proves the rule, but creates his own troubled persona that needs fixing by the right woman. But at least he's fun.

21. Dan Stark (Bradley Whitford), The Good Guys - FOX

His mustache might be a throwback to the 80s, but his attitude is all awesome. Dan Stark exemplifies the go-get-'em cops gumption of Hunter or Baretta, but pairs it with a self-reflexive nod to the absurd. Add to that a legion of hilarious quotes ("Partner blood. It's thicker than brother blood. It's like a meat sauce."; "That guy's not a metal worker. He's a ninja."; "Wait a minute. You mean I don't get to touch a woman? And I get some typing in? Two of my least favorite things."; "They say if you love something, you should set it free. Then hunt it down."), and you've got an extremely watchable character.

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