Friday, December 31, 2010

My Favorite TV Characters of 2010, Part 5

5. Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), Fringe - FOX

Olivia used to be the sane one, the square charged with looking after the psychotic Walter Bishop and his globe-trotting criminalistic gad of a son, Peter Bishop. Until this year, when it became clear that Walter's experiments on her when she was a child changed her fundamentally, giving her the ability to travel safely between realities. Then, after she rescued Peter, Walternate switched Olivias, sending theirs to our world, and keeping ours. Following a little psychological adjustment, our Olivia was convinced she belonged on the other side, and their Olivia was sent to spy on this world. Suddenly, we had two Olivias, both hiding their true selves under fear of death, each one exploring the duality of their own existence and comparing themselves against what might have been. And in the end, the reason for Olivia's travel to the other side, her burgeoning love for Peter, is betrayed when he falls in love with the other Olivia.

4. Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox), Lost - ABC

Jack was Lost. From the moment his eyeball first appeared on-screen in 2004, we were following his arc - on the island, before and after, through time and beyond. The final part of his arc, from his acceptance that he couldn't control everything to the acceptance of his destined role to the ultimate acceptance of the inevitable, Jack's journey was the most sublime. Although we might never find ourselves running from the law (Kate and Sawyer) or walking again for the first time (Locke) or pregnant with ideas of giving up the child (Claire), Jack was lost in the most universal way, within himself.

3. Gemma Teller Morrow (Katey Sagal), Sons of Anarchy - FX

Although Jax is the main character of the show, and Clay is the presumable villain of the piece, Gemma's Lady MacBeth is the character that keeps it all together, in all ways good and bad. The sins of her past, which may come back to affect everyone's future, were motivated by the same thing that motivates her today: her own rationalized version of family. Yet when her real family (read: Dad, played by Hal Holbrook)intrudes on her life, she softens and shows sides of vulnerability she'd never be allowed to show with the MC. She is the person everyone comes to for advice at the same time as being a main reason everyone is in trouble. She'll use her own rape to bring family together if she has to, but she'll wait for her own time to do it.

2. Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), Justified - FX

I can't help but be a Walt Goggins fan since his role as "Downtown" Brown in MAJOR LEAUGE - BACK TO THE MINORS. Oh, and there was that whole "The Shield" thing. But the role of Boyd seemed to be tailor-made to fit him. He uses the same smooth, calculated drawl whether he's shooting one of his aryan brothers, blowing up a church with an RPG, forgiving the man who shot and almost killed him, converting hill-dwelling criminals to God, or renouncing his own father. Goggins plays everything straight, letting on nothing, and leaving us to take everything at face value when all the other characters in the show and all our instincts tell us differently. He is charming enough to bring us into his confidence, but also capable of the kind of violence that scares us, and this is what makes him fascinating.

1. Hank Dolworth (Donal Logue), Terriers - FX

The real crime of 2010 television is that we'll never get to spend another hour with Hank. He was one of the most fully-realized realistic portrayals of male angst in recent memory. What was revealed throughout the course of the series and in flashback was that Hank was a cop with a drinking problem. If that was all there was, it wouldn't be much. But what we saw of Hank in the series was that he also had a defensive streak, especially when it came to his wife, that, combined with the drinking, caused him to make bad decisions. He was also sick of seeing rich people buy their way out of trouble. All of this combined to make him lose his job and ultimately his wife, driving him into AA. But at the start of the series, in recovery, he's still fighting for the little guy as an unlicensed PI, with an ex-con under his wing as a partner, trying to get his life back. When his wife tells him she's re-marrying and selling the house, his impulsive nostalgic side buys the house on the last big job he did for a crook. For all this good that he's trying to do, taking on the big guys brings trouble, and Hank gets stuck in a place where it's him or them. The scene in episode 12 where he hugs his sobbing wife and says, simply, "I'm sorry" holds so many layers of subtlety that the emotion comes in waves off of the screen. My favorite show of 2010? Possibly. My favorite character? Definitely.

- - - - -

So, for a little post-game wrap-up, I've got some stats for you. I cheated with three ties, meaning there were 28 characters on my top 25 list. 8 came from FX, 10 from NBC, 3 from ABC, 3 from FOX, 3 from SciFi and 1 from the CW. None from CBS, although Barney Stinson was short-listed. 9 of the 28 were women, which impressed myself. And the list is tilted toward drama, as that is my main interest. My friends make me laugh, I don't need TV for that. And obviously, I don't have a chance to watch some of the best shows on TV. I'd love to be watching Treme, Boardwalk Empire, Dexter, Breaking Bad and Mad Men, just to name a few. But either way, I don't think I'd be welcome at the People's Choice Awards.

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