Wednesday, January 02, 2008

On The Eighth Day Of Christmas

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love (Television) gave to me – eight female characters I enjoy.

But first check out Mark Evanier's blog News From Me for the story of how he spent part of New Years Eve. Hopefully his sentiment at the end – "'2008 will be a lot better.' For them, it almost has to be. But I sure hope it is for all of us." – will be true for the people he mentions but also for all of us.

Now down to business. I could have done seven female characters I enjoy, but the truth is that I'm a straight guy and I enjoy women. So sue me. It also means my objectivity may be suspect. I may be evaluating some of these characters on how attractive, physically, they seem to me. I know that comes into play for most of them, but I don't honestly believe it totally overrides my critical eye. So here we go, and as usual it is in no particular order.

  • Detective Dani Reese (Life): You think it's just because when she lets her hair down Sarah Shahi is one of the most beautiful women on TV? Well, yeah, that's part of it but hardly all of it. Reese is a perfect match for her partner at the same time that she's the constantly frustrated perfect opposite of him. In her own way Reese is as broken as Charlie Crews. She's successfully fighting her addiction to drugs, less successfully fighting her addiction to alcohol, and apparently immersing herself in a new addiction to casual sex. It's pretty plain that even before she became a cop her home life was hardly great, with her father ruling her home life to the point where Dani's mother couldn't speak her native Farsi when he was at home. In the end, Reese admits to a breakthrough in her relationship with Crews – she may not understand him or like him, but she does trust him and he has come to trust her. For both of them, that is a huge step.
  • Olive Snook (Pushing Daisies): This one is entirely due to my attraction to the actress. I haven't seen Pushing Daisies, but Olive is played by the fabulous Kristin Chenoweth, who played my favourite character from the John Wells period on The West Wing, Annabeth Schott, so that's good enough for me. Don't like it? Tough.
  • Ellis Samuels (Cane): Okay, I admit it, I have in fact seen the first episode of Rome so that might influence my feelings about Polly Walker, who played Atia of the Julii in that series and who plays Ellis in this. The thing is that Ellis has a complexity to her so that I'm never completely sure where she's coming from. Does she really love Frank? Alex? Both? Neither? Is she a conniving bitch trying to destroy the Duque family, or is she just a pawn in her father, Joe Samuels's, complex game? Or both? Is she her father's accomplice or is she appalled by his actions? At one point he seemed to sell her out to the Federal authorities for a deal in Cuba that Joe had masterminded and she seemed like a genuine victim only to turn out to be a willing partner in a deception that weakened Alex's position with his adoptive father. At the end of the last pre-strike episode the question changed to whether she was an innocent, or Joe's greatest enemy, the one who had him killed at the moment of greatest advantage to her? Perhaps, in some small way, Ellis Samuels is Atia of the Julii for the 21st Century.
  • Miranda Bailey (Grey's Anatomy): I like my fellow Canadian Sandra Oh in her role of Christina Yang, but the fact is that Chandra Wilson's character of Miranda Bailey (the Doctor formerly known as The Nazi, and if you saw the recent two part episode you'll know why I added "formerly") is the heart and soul of the show. She's a kick-ass, take no prisoners woman, with neither time nor patience for BS from above or below. The great heart back of the last pre-strike episode of the show is her marriage is disintegrating because her husband (who has presumably been with her through internship and first and second year residency) suddenly can't accept that she isn't the sort of woman who is content to be a stay at home mom. The man is a jackass.
  • Tami Taylor (Friday Night Lights): Connie Britton may be playing the most credible wife and mother on TV right now. Tami isn't perfect, and her decisions may not always be the best ones (telling Eric to take the Texas Methodist coaching job while she stayed in Dillon and had to cope with her job and her pregnancy and a teenage daughter (and in the season opener her new born second daughter) may have been a high in bad decision making but it's the sort of "Stand By Your Man" thing that a woman like her would do. And yet she's independent and more than willing to tell Eric that he's an idiot when he's being an idiot. As far as her elder daughter goes, she can be tough on Julie and at times just doesn't understand her, but she tries hard and in the end there's a lot of love there. One of the great characters on TV.
  • Katherine Mayfair (Desperate Housewives): When the character of Katherine was introduced to the public in a press release, well before the current season of the show appeared on the air it was stated or implied that character played by Dana Delany would be Bree's sister though neither would be aware of the fact. So far that hasn't been revealed (yet if indeed that's the direction the writers intend to go in) but it doesn't really matter because in virtually every respect Katherine could be Bree's evil (if fraternal) twin. Both are obsessed with being the perfect hostess and of protecting their families. The difference is that Katherine is ruthless. She's like an iceberg – placid, and even beautiful, on the surface but cold, and hard and you definitely don't want to be on a collision course with her. The secret of her first marriage and how it caused Katherine's daughter Dylan to lose her memory is so huge that she seems almost willing to kill – at least by neglect – over it. (It's not clear if Katherine's Aunt Lillian died by some overt action of Katherine's, but it seems clear that Katherine kept her secluded and essentially ignoring her as she moved towards death.
  • Nora Walker (Bothers & Sisters): I haven't seen many episodes of this series but in the episodes I have seen it has been abundantly clear that while it may have been intended as a way to bring Callista Flockhart back to TV the real star of the show is Sally Field in the supposedly supporting role of Nora Walker. Now part of this is the fact that even in those Boneva ads I have always thought that Sally Field is terminally cute and sexy as hell, but the fact is the character of Nora is the heart and soul of the family that is the focus of the show. She has been betrayed by her husband, whose death exposed his double life, and yet she drew on wells of strength that she probably never realized she had not only to persevere but to emerge strong and triumphant.
  • Catherine Willows (CSI): Yes, she is always on my list and as long as Marg Helgenberger and the character are on the series she will always be on this sort of list. Catherine is smart, beautiful, doesn't take crap from anybody, doesn't regret any of the decisions in her life (even the bad ones like her late husband Eddie), and is absolutely comfortable in her sexuality. In all the brouhaha over Grissom being involved with Sara that has extended far beyond revelation of their relationship to viewers of the show, my question has always been why Grissom was so blind as to not hook up with Catherine from day one.

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