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Archive for the ‘Character Spotlight’ Category

Show/Character: Veronica Mars

Played By: Kristen Bell

Why Are We Talking About Her Today: Because every time I’m on Facebook, I am BOMBARDED with ads and polls and videos for her latest movie When in Rome which, frankly, looks terrible. I, the lover of all romantic comedies, would honestly rather watch that Sarah Marshall classic about the cell phone that kills people (“Why don’t you just take the battery out of the phone?!”) than see yet another movie about a grasping “career woman” trying to get her hooks into a hot photographer who clearly nails everything in sight (but not in CINEMA, clearly) while in my favorite city in the world. And because I know there are hordes of people out there who believe little pixie-nugget Kristen Bell is famous for these slight-to-middling movie roles, which is just APPALLING considering who she got to play on TV.

So Who is Veronica Mars? (Asks my voice-over narrator): In the town of Neptune, CA, Veronica Mars is the local PI’s daughter. At school, she’s at the bottom of the social totem pole, the one-time best friend of the most popular kids in school before scandal and some big-time emotional traumas hit, turning fresh-faced, headband sporting, pep-squad leading Veronica into a cynical, wisecracking, bad-guy thwarting, pint-sized PI with a few major chips on her shoulder. Technically, she’s dad Keith Mars’ “assistant” at his dingy downtown office. Not-so-technically, she’s planting bugs, doing standard surveillance on cheating husbands, drawing out common thieves and crooks and basically making the whole Neptune Sheriff’s Department look like a bunch of Class-A morons.  She has precisely three friends to her name, new kid Wallace, computer nerd Mac and local gang-leader Weevil Navarro, horrible luck with boys, a doting dad, a runaway mom and a pitbull named Backup.

Why We Love: Rob Thomas (no, not THAT Rob Thomas)’s beloved show ran for an all-too-short three seasons on the WB/CW. Part teen drama, part noir, we loved Veronica Mars for its nifty premise (a screwy, insidious mystery unravels over the course of the season), its dynamic setting (the city of Neptune is all but its own character with half of it poor and crime-ridden and the other half filled with the filthy rich. Kind of like what The OC tried to do but a lot more effective. While those OC kids were busy punching poor Ryan Atwood in the face, Neptune’s rich kids were throwing boxing matches among drunk homeless guys) and some very taut, serious conflicts. A lot of the show’s material was pretty heady for your standard primetime show- murder, sexual and physical abuse, drugs. Those big time issues Veronica is dealing with in the show’s first episode include the aftermath of her best friend’s vicious murder, her alcoholic mom leaving town and her rape at a recent party (she was unconscious at the time). It’s all made her more than a little hard-boiled about her sleepy California town. Luckily for us, V is also bitingly funny, sharp and knows some pretty slick tricks of the PI trade, leading her classmates to solicit her help on the sly in her “office”, the school bathroom (aw, just like the Fonz!). She’s got heart, a hot, genuinely bad-boy love interest (remember the whole exploiting homeless guys thing? THAT guy), and she’s tough. Honestly, the only solace that comes with there being absolutely no way we’ll ever see our Veronica again is getting to imagine her all grown up, busting big-time baddies at the FBI and showing up her idiot cohorts.

And getting to watch free episodes of the show online here. For now, that’ll have to do.

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NOTE 1: Hi, I’m back. I know, I’m excited too and wondering how I ever lived without myself.

NOTE 2: Today’s Character Spotlight choice is no accident. I am in an absolute panic that ABC might cancel Better Off Ted. And I’m already heartbroken over what’s currently happening to my precious Conan, it’s been a VERY STRESSFUL WEEK.

NOTE 3: I usually only have one cup of coffee a day, that’s it. Today I’ve had two and I tossed in a packet of sugar-free hot chocolate to make some kind of hybrid-mocha-instant cup of dark goodness. The effects are what you’d imagine. My heart is racing, I feel cold in strange places (like my ears and my right foot) and I just acted out all eleven episodes of “Being Bobby Brown” in my head. I MIGHT be dying. So this should be fun for you.

Show: Better Off Ted

Character: Veronica Palmer

Played By: Portia de Rossi

Keep It Succinct, People: As a big-wig in a massive conglomerate, Veridian Dynamics, which makes everything from weapons of mass destruction to plates that cook your food and then also feed you, Veronica is our narrator Ted’s boss. Don’t let the smiley photo fool you. She’s uber-professional, sleek and ice-cold. Kind of life if you worked for a robotic sports car. She calls her employees “drones”, she doesn’t have time to treat the people around her like, erm, people as much as individual money-making machines. She’s brutally efficient, keen to what makes VD (not an accident, that acronym) profitable and willing to hack you off at the knees if it means that the powers-that-be are kept happy.

The Juicy Tidbits We Know About Veronica: She once slept with Ted, her father is her greatest business rival and she used to feed her sister in her sleep and give her steroids so that Veronica would remain the slim, pretty one. Oh, and in the AMAZING Season 1 ender last year, it was revealed that Veronica’s only means for relaxing is by working as an assistant to a hilariously cheesy magician named Mordor the Unforgivable. A-mazing.

Why We Love Her: Ok, well, clearly all of the things I just listed should provide you with your first clues. But most of the credit goes to Portia de Rossi (a TV All Star with this being her third memorable character on a network show next to Ally McBeal’s Nell and Lindsey on Arrested Development), who portrays Veronica more like a finely-tuned machine than an actual human being. The deadpan delivery, the perfectly-timed, overdramatic reveals and sporadic moments of sensitivity make her incredibly fun to watch as she maneuvers her working relationships, studying her co-workers Ted and Linda as if they’re creatures in a zoo, tormenting lab scientists into proven productivity boosts by mentally torturing them with the sudden, inexplicable arrival of a red lab coat (you have to watch the episode. Brilliant), sleeping with her eyes open, shooting her cheating boyfriend with a harpoon, coaching Linda on how to be successful like her (eviserate someone in your vicinity and then demand a chicken sandwich. Linda flubs and demands a chicken but has so terrified the subordinate that Veronica muses, “I will get a chicken sandwich. You will very likely get a live chicken. Still, good work!”)

Glorious Better Off Ted Moments That Will Inspire You To Watch and Save This Show From Cancelation… Or Something Less Obvious

Veronica trying to be nice to her drones by decorating their workplaces for them. Isn’t that sweet?

The great Jabberwocky presentation. Veronica and Ted don’t have an actual product so they just make the world’s most kick-ass presentation… about NOTHING. (Obviously it works. I mean, check out those slides.)

Veronica has implemented a new automatic lighting system that, um, doesn’t register or turn on when her black employees enter the room.

Warning: N.S.F.W. AT ALL– And I don’t see how this can last on YouTube so watch it while you can…

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Show: The Facts of Life

Character: Blair Warner

Played By: Lisa Whelchel

Oh, Blair: Spoiled rich kid Blair was my FAVORITE Facts of Life character and so, I will not BESMIRCH (best word ever) her divine character. Too much. Because she really was basically a spoiled cow.  Oh, and kind of a huge bitch. I mean, in the first episode she basically calls her housemate Cindy a giant les-bo (which, today, who cares but in ’79-’80, this was kind of a big deal), referring to her as “not normal” which, Blair, you’re 14 and you wear fur coats. Let’s re-think this whole idea about NORMAL, shall we?

As the show progressed and the focus moved to the four girls (Blair, tomboy Jo, precious Tootie, fat Natalie) and their relationship with Mrs. Garrett, Blair softens. Um, a little. She’s in her early 20s by the time the show ends and I think it’s obvious from the multiple “touching” (re: unintentionally hilarious) reunion specials that she’s affectionate for the other girls, despite her delusions of grandeur. I’m sure she thinks they give her street cred or something.

The Blair Love Project? (what has happened to me): I do, I love Blair. I love her. Of all the girls, doesn’t she seem like she’d be the MOST FUN to play? She can be catty, mean, vain and then just vulnerable enough about her parents’ divorce that you can momentarily forget that she does things like acting like a bitch to her cousin with cerebral palsy just because she gets more attention. And her fights with Jo (who reminds me more and more of a young John Travolta. I mean, right? Not attractive) were EPIC. Throw in a few “very special episodes,” and we’ve got ourselves a show. You take the good, you take the bad…

Some Sweet Blair Moments

Apparently the episode where Blair is a blackjack dealer on a cruise ship?

I mean. Come on. This whole episode is fantastic.

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Show: Step by Step

Character: Cody Lambert

Actor: Sasha Mitchell*

Duuu-uuddde: Wow. Could there be a greater stock “mimbo” (Seinfeld anyone?) than Cody Lambert, Frank (Patrick Duffy) Lambert’s misbegotten nephew on the TGIF family classic Step by Step? This guy is ridiculous!! Basically a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle personified, this twenty something, awkward arm moving, weird step taking moron lives IN A VAN in his uncle’s driveway. That’s right. He lives in a van. In his uncle’s driveway. He’s dimwitted at best, but, BUT never hesitates to teach the whole clan (or the guys at the lodge or AMERICA) a heartfelt moral lesson, but never without the overuse of early 90’s catchphrases.

Ch-Yea!: Can you believe this guy was a former Calvin Klein model? Seriously THIS GUY was a Calvin Klein model. I guess he is pretty attractive, but because Dana so steadfastly rejected his advances, I, as a home viewer, was forced to relate to her, and be absolutely disgusted by his being–in reality, I’m an Al, but that would make Cody my cousin, I’ll leave it at that. Now, that said, imagine that you’re the mother of TWO “beautiful” teenaged daughters. (One of which who could not look LESS like the entire rest of your brood). At any rate, you marry a hot contractor, and your families blend. Would you or would you not allow your new husband’s creeper, blockhead nephew to take up residence in his rock & roll van in your driveway? AND make daily passes at your underage daughter? Food for thought.

Seriously, DUUU-UDE: What? So I love me some Cody Lambert. Perhaps it’s because the thought of owning a vehicle I could live in still intrigues me, but also because he totally embodies everything the 1990’s  had to offer, including black jeans and open flannels. “Chhhh-yyyeaaaah” was his response to nearly anything, and do you remember his facial expressions? I wish you could see me looking at my screen right now, because they’re DEAD ON! Look super dumb and confused about the simplest request/comment, quickly change face to utter delight, laugh like a stoner heartily, say something like “totally,” “rad,” “no waayy,” or any combination thereof.

*Ready to have your mind BLOWN? This guy is 42 years old now. FORTY TWO!!!!

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Show: Samantha Who?

Character: Samantha Newly

Played Oh-So-Winningly By: Christina Applegate

In a Nutshell: There are two Samantha Newly’s, actually. The first is who Sam used to be-  the selfish, bitchy, cutthroat 30 year-old vice president of a real estate company who lives to torment the little people who deign to live at her feet. Fortunately, for all of mankind, that Sam suffers a hit-and-run accident and then retrograde amnesia, forcing her to start living with a clean slate. Without all the hang-ups that led her to be the world’s biggest bully, Sam is now as sweet and guileless as can be (though not as “special” as that photo on the left would suggest), with the occasional horrifying flash of her old self. As the (short-lived. I hate you, ABC) series progresses, Sam is faced with more and more memories and constantly struggles with being the kind of good person she wants to be, all while traces of her old selfishness and vanity keep popping up at every turn. Along for the ride are her long-suffering ex-boyfriend/roommate Todd, old friend Dena who is well-meaning but exactly that type of woman you avoid at the dog park, her best friend Andrea (who loved the old, bitchy Sam), and her awesomely hilarious parents Howard and Regina (Jean Smart, who is on the list “Actors Who Should Star in Absolutely Everything”). Oh, and her doorman Frank who absolutely reviles her after years of brutal mistreatment from the old Sam.

Why We’ll Never Forget (Too much?): Oh, SAM. A high-concept like this could’ve been such a disaster but Samantha Who? made it work. A lot of that credit goes to the strong writing and the fantastic supporting characters but don’t underestimate Christina Applegate’s performance. As Sam, she’s an old-fashioned screwball comedy ingenue (I mean, really. Shouldn’t she have been forced to leave Ingenue Town a decade ago? Apparently not), eagerly hopping through the fast-paced episodes and the comical misunderstandings and embarrassing situations that hit her from every direction. In Applegate’s hands, Sam is adorable and funny and nowhere near as cloying as she could be- the flashes of horrible old Sam (with her pin-straight hair and killer short skirts, bad Sam actually looks a lot like you’d imagine Kelly Bundy would turn out if she had money. Maybe she should work for a fashion designer! I hear referee-style school uniforms are hot these days) are definitely a help, especially when they lead to new Sam’s equally horrified reaction to them.

Favorite Moments: Do yourself a favor and just watch. everything.

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Show: Full House (1987-1995)

Character: Stephanie Tanner

Actor: Jodie Sweetin

How Rude!: What an unfortunate turn of events for Ms. Stephanie Tanner. She was without a doubt the most ADORABLE child actor on television in the late 1980’s, and she had the dimples, the blonde ringlets and the sassy one liners to prove it! She was the undisputed “cute factor” in the family-est sitcom that ever existed. That is, until the Olsen twins acquired verbal skills and she was reduced to the awkward, unnoticed middle child with a knack for doing the right thing!

Some Love: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. NO OTHER television character elicits the cringe factor quite like Stephanie Tanner. Perhaps it’s because as a child I readily identified with Stephanie because we were the same age, middle daughters, spunky and had several of the EXACT SAME Spumoni outfits (it also didn’t hurt that my sister sort of resembles Candace Cameron) and so every time she did something super lame (which was a dozen times per half hour) I was forced to dry heave and hate myself for the remainder of the program. THAT SAID, I still LOVE Stephanie Tanner [for her dance moves alone]. Seriously, before she straightened her hair, and lost her lisp, she was the greatest thing on television.

Favorites/Things I Can’t Watch Without Dying Inside: OOF! With a capital OOF! Like I said, this bitch could make a corpse cringe. Still, how could you not LOVE the episode when Stephanie goes to junior high and whilst in the bathroom gets “peer pressured” into smoking? How much cooler would she have been if she would’ve just taken a puff or two? It’s cool though, because a few months later Gia befriended her anyway, and they started a SUPER RAD Ace of Base cover band that blew their set at the Smash Club, because they were too caught up in the image to worry about “the music.” Cripes! Some actual favorite moments though, are no doubt from the early years. Particularly when Stephanie had the chicken pocks and tried to sneak out of the house or when she had that dream about everyone loving Michelle and D.J. more than her and she got to fly around the living room in that pink space suit. Oh, and also when she is a guest on Joey’s Mr. Egghead show, and she gets punched in the face.

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barney_8091by Judi

Show: How I Met Your Mother

Character: Barney Stinson

Played By the Legendary: Neil Patrick Harris

In a Catchphrase: Barney Stinson likes women. He likes women, cigars, making up rules about life, catchphrases, sleeping with women, hitting on women, having and being a wingman, working at Goliath National Bank, being awesome, and suits, which he wears all the time, even to bed (his silk suit-jamas, which is one of my favorite made-up-words of all time).

Barney comes from good stock. Well, his mom was basically a giant slutsky and that, combined with a bully in seventh grade who once claimed to have slept with 100 girls, leads us to the Barney we know today.

Why We (Wait-for-It) LOVE Barney: Oh, Barney. Sweet, lovable, masochistic Barney. He will do ANYTHING to successfully pick up a woman at MacLaren’s, even dressing up like an old man and pretending like he’s come from the future to tell a pretty girl to sleep with his younger self, and then running away, changing into his “younger” self and hitting on her. How can you not love that?

Our sitcom-friendly maniacal genius loves playing pranks on his friends, digging up humiliating secrets about them and, basically, telling them that, whatever they’re doing, they’re doing it wrong. He’s shameless and he’s got to have at least five STDs by now (having slept with over 200 women) but it’s CBS so I’m guessing the closest they’ll come is saying, “Barney’s come down with a case of the crab cakes.”

How much do we love Barney? Ordinarily, sitcoms cherish the old “these two friends finally get together/Ross & Rachel” storyline and for a while, we all dealt with the ramifications of Barney falling for Robin and then her falling for him right back. The relationship ended on last night’s episode, culminating in Barney stepping back into the bar (after playing out the majority of the episode in a fat suit, his relationship pudge) as a suited-up single man, ready to get back to work. And? It was awesome. To quote Bridget Jones, we love him just as he is.

Barney Catchphrases:

“Suit up.”

“Legen-wait for it-dary”

“Awesome”

“High-five!” (This list makes him sound like Long Duk Dong)

“True Story”

Favorite Moments:

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