We had grown weary of Smallville, stopped laughing at That ‘70s Show, and couldn’t stomach even the thought of a third go-‘round for The Simple Life. By the autumn of 2004, we had no place to turn but to the mysterious island series that ABC ads had been pimping like crazy. Following our national love of sci-fi, of Survivor, of that bespectacled fella who made Felicity (ah, times were different then), we flocked to Lost, ill-prepared for the slew of questions, deficit of answers, and legion of unforgettable characters we'd meet over the course of the next six seasons. In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the dawn of America's last true pop culture addiction, we've decided to rank those characters — to celebrate the Oceanic Six, bemoan the Flight 815 tail section, and kind of sigh in bored confusion over the folks at the Dharma Initiative.
A quick qualifier: we aren't, and couldn't with any qualitative legitimacy, ranking all of the characters on Lost. We're ignoring the nearly anonymous Others, the one-line flashback extras, and that guy who was sucked into the jet propeller in the first episode. Remember him? I think his name was Gary. He's not on the list.
76. MILES STRAUMEThe most convoluted and out-of-place construct that Lost ever managed, which is saying something. Why can he speak to the dead? Who cares if he’s Dr. Chang’s son? Why did anyone think this character was a good idea?
75. SHANNONLess of a problem with the mythology than simply an annoying, corrosive onscreen presence.
74. KEAMY, FROM THE BOATUgh, this guy. This guy and his crew cut.
73. JACK’S NONEXISTENT SONDavid Shephard’s one saving grace is that he doesn’t actually exist. Three cheers for flash-sideways nullification!
72. LENNONIs… is his name actually Lennon? Or do they just call him that because he looks exactly like Lennon? And why, pray tell, does he look exactly like Lennon?
71. RICHARDThe irritation of the wholly useless Richard is maximized by the knowledge that he’ll be around forever.
70. ANNA LUCIAAnna Lucia acts as the epitome of everything that was wrong with the tail section chapter in maintaining the concrete belief that she is in any way a viable substitute for the main cast’s screen time.
69. GOODWINUgh, this guy. This guy and his wisps.
68. NIKKI AND PAOLONo explanation necessary for why Nikki and Paolo falls towards the bad end of the list, but a few extra points for the sadistic treat that was their final bow.
67. THE MOTHER“Hey guys, tonight’s episode of Lost has Allison Janney! From The West Wing! I love her! I bet they give her something cool and funny and totally pertinent to the contemporary storyline to do!”
66. ELOISE HAWKINGOne Farraday was more than enough, guys.
65. ILANAI have to be honest, I barely remember who this is.
64. DOGENDogen’s scenes were just one of many late series constructs that made us sigh wistfully and recount on the good old days when this show was about people trapped on an island.
63. MINKOWSKILadies and gentlemen, Fisher Stevens.
62. EMMA AND ZACKYou can really lump all the unaccounted for Lost children in one cloying bullet point: these two, the Kwon baby, Desmond and Penny’s kid, the deity twins, Aaron. They all just caused a whole mess of trouble, didn’t they?
61. LIBBY “What if — get this — what if we gave her a romance with a fan-favorite, and then closed an episode with a shocking stinger that revealed she used to be in a mental institution?“Sounds great! Then what?”“No, that’s about it.”
NEXT: 60 - 41
60. CHARLIE’S BROTHER“You all, everybody!” Ha. Remember that?
59. ABADDONEh, it’s Lance Reddick doing Lance Reddick, just without any of the interesting we were used to seeing.
58. JACK’S EX-WIFEHas anyone made a mash-up interweaving Julie Bowen’s Lost scenes with clips from Modern Family? I can’t imagine that anyone would have felt impelled to do so. And I certainly don’t feel impelled to check.
57. HORACE GOODSPEEDGoodspeed might have scored higher were not for his portrayer’s particularly creepy real life romantic exploits. Ech.
56. ALEX, ROUSSEAU’S DAUGHTERAw, she was okay.
55. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALTPuberty ruins everything. Self-esteem, probing storylines…
54. RYAN PRICE AND HIS TEN BEST MENI’d like to see a separate series about these guys. Or at least a few minutes of the pilot of one.
53. THE MAN IN BLACKHe really couldn’t have just talked things out with brother Jay?
52. ALDO, FROM THE TEMPLELadies and gentlemen, Mac.
51. THE PICKETTSNever was a story of more woe than this of… Colleen… and… Danny.
50. RADZINSKYHeh, this guy. This guy and his combover.
49. KATE’S BOYFRIENDWell this one just makes me sad.
48. SUN’S DADDitto. What a jerk.
47. HURLEY’S IMAGINARY FRIENDI never entirely knew what to make of Hurley’s bout of delusional psychosis… but I’m a sucker for that thing where it looks like someone is taking a normal photograph, and then that very photograph amounts as evidence of something spooky going on.
46. CASSIDYHell hath no fury like a stunt cast actress scorn.
45. INMANScratch the Ryan Price and His Ten Best Men pitch. I want to see Inman slowly lose his noodle.
44. DANIEL FARRADAYSomewhere between endearingly nuanced and gratingly overacty, there lies Jeremy Davis’ performance.
43. JULIETFor a late addition central character, Juliet never really achieved genuine interesting-on-her-own-accord status.
42. THE PILOTSure, he died within moments of being introduced, but he single-handedly set the tone and stakes for the entire first season. Way to go, Sean Blumberg.
41. LEONARDFour. Eight. Fifteen. Sixteen. Twenty-three. Forty-two. Repeat.
NEXT: 40 - 21
40. TOM FRIENDLYThe reveal that he was gay helped warm us up to Tom just a bit, but I always wanted to know more about this prominent Other.
39. NAOMII feel as though I remember Naomi being far more interesting than she genuinely was. Could just be the chutzpah.
38. DR. PIERRE CHANGSmart men make bad dads, so says Lost.
37. JACOBFor an omnipotent deity, Jacob’s kind of a dingus.
36. FROGURTOr “Neil.”
35. CHARLES WIDMOREA bit too faceless to be an effective super villain, but could teach a master class in menacing accentry.
34. BRAM, THE OTHERAnd next to Stoker, probably the best Bram in pop culture.
33. PHIL, THE OTHERAw, this guy. This guy and his widow’s peak.
32. KATE’S DADGood dad alert! We’ve got an actual good dad on Lost people!
31. MR. EKOIf only you didn’t hate Hawaii so much, Adewale, maybe your character would have gotten an appropriate send-off.
30. CLAIRESane Claire? Fantastic. Crazy Claire? Abysmal. They average out to pretty good.
29. MIKHAILIs it just me, or are eye-patches unconditionally cool?
28. ROGER WORKMANThe pressures of fatherhood, the anchor of alcoholism, the monumental stresses of the DHARMA Initiative… Roger, we feel you.
27. HELEN, LOCKE’S GIRLFRIENDShe was nice.
26. SAYIDHe wasn't that nice, but he had more on his plate.
25. CHARLOTTEIt was hard to watch the nose bleeds, but we can’t begrudge an archeologist hero, now can we?
24. MICHAELSo many bad decisions, Michael. And so much harrowed shouting.
23. ETHAN ROMNobody does a dead-eyed stare like E-Rom.
22. PENNYOne half of the greatest love story in television history.
21. HURLEYAudience surrogate, comic relief, beacon of pathos, resident geek, everyman, proficient golfer. A winner.
NEXT: 20 - our #1 Lost chracter!
20. SUNSun’s lows are low, but her arc to redemption is a particularly challenging and interesting one.
19. ANTHONY COOPERIn earnest, the best villain Lost ever produced. Next to the piercing human condition, of course.
18. DETECTIVE MARSA hard-boiled lawman who has one job to do, but a heart he’s forced to lug around while doing it.
17. BERNARDAww. (See Rose)
16. JIN’S DADSorry, Kate’s dad. Jin’s dad is the padre supreme.
15. BOONEWhat a nice fella. And an incredible impetus for the “anyone can die” phenomenon that carried through the bulk of the series.
14. CHRISTIAN SHEPHARDWhether or not you like Christian Shephard is entirely dependent on how you feel about the finale. And I love the finale.
13. ROUSSEAUAn extended metaphor for the loss that courses throughout each character’s story, and the crash-and-burn phenomenon that will ensnare them if they do not seek and attack their issues… or maybe just a loony French lady. Either way, we dig it.
12. KATEWay more than just the “runs into the woods and gets in trouble” shtick that people fault her for, Kate is the gumption and emotional core of Lost. And we love her.
11. ARZTWhat a delightful jackass.
10. JOHN LOCKEThe beauty of Locke is how much you just want to punch him right in the nose… until you realize that he’s not presenting adversity, but challenging solutions.
9. ROSEEven aww-er.
8. SAWYERThe wincing pain of aloneness and self-loathing, evident in everything that the gallant Josh Holloway does with his consistently engaging (the LeFleur era a slight hiccup) character.
7. FRANK LAPIDUSFrank Lapidus monument currently in construction in the South Bronx.
6. DESMONDThe other half of the greatest love story ever committed to television… and, no offense to Penny, the half with the superior ‘do.
5. JACKOur hero, flawed though he may be, was the perfect man to guide us through this story about the fragmented tenets of the human experience. Desperate, lonely, contentious, prickly, and a bit of a tool at times, Jack is and remains the essence of what man is.
4. CHARLIE…But Charlie, in complement to Jack, is the essence of what man wants to be. Given the finest send-off on the series, Charlie becomes the hero that he always wished he could be, embracing his passion for music and his love for Claire to save his friends and surrogate family.
3. VINCENTLess a symbol than a silent character in his own right, Vincent represents that one glimmer of hope to which even the most cynical of us hang tight: the hope that we aren’t, and don’t have to be, alone. With Vincent around, nobody does.
2. BEN LINUSIf Jack is Charlie’s complement then Ben Linus is his stark contrast: the badness that enwraps each of us, causing us to so selfish, maniacal, underhanded things… but all to the same end: not being alone. Not the more admirable guy, but one of most complicated and interesting characters.
1. JINThe very best character arc on Lost comes attached to Jin, who began as an alienating question mark and wound up a fan favorite, an in-universe hero. Jin’s slow climb to island glory, paralleling his flashback descent down the gruesome drain of desperation, makes for Lost’s strongest, most entertaining, and perhaps most emotionally engrossing individual story. And man that ending!
Grace Brothers Dept. Store and fans of British comedy the world over have suffered a loss today.
Frank Thornton, one of the last surviving stars of the long-running BBC sitcom Are You Being Served? (a perpetual PBS favorite), died in his sleep Saturday morning in his London home. He was 92.
Fans on both of sides of the pond will forever know Thornton as Are You Being Served?'s Capt. Peacock, an imperious Grace Brothers floorwalker: a middle manager who greets customers, answers their questions, and directs them to the right department. Mustachioed, smartly dressed, and comically stiff as only a Brit born before World War II could be, Peacock was a standout on a show of standouts. Are You Being Served? was kind of like a blue-collar predecessor to The Office — it ran for 69 episodes from 1972-85 and spawned the short-lived sequel series Grace & Favour in 1993 —a comedy of workplace manners with a sprawling ensemble that was an early example of "awkward humor." Peacock was the straight man with a rod up his arse, the foil for more overtly comical actors Mollie Sugden, who played Ladies' Wear supervisor Mrs. Slocombe, and John Inman's flamboyant Men's Department assistant, Mr. Humphries.
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Thornton's Peacock was the ultimate British poseur, someone who claimed to fight in the North African campaign of World War II but really was in the Service Corp and never saw combat. Impossibly stuffy and starch-shirted, Capt. Peacock adopted airs above his station, and his storylines usually revolved around his feeble attempts to climb the Grace Brothers corporate ladder, even if it meant his dogged pursuit of something as minor as a key to the executive washroom.
Are You Being Served? looks ancient by today's standards: three-camera, filmed before an audience (or accompanied by an aggressive laugh-track), and relying largely on puns, not-so-subtle sexual innuendo, and a heavy dose of slapstick. Whole episodes are structured like a vaudeville joke, with a lengthy set-up to a huge punchline at the end of each installment, often involving the Grace Brothers staff dressed in odd costume. You haven't lived until you've seen Frank Thornton in lederhosen.
But ancient though it may be, Are You Being Served? is still great. A whole new generation — nay, a whole new country — was introduced to its pleasures via PBS, which has been airing reruns of the show for literally decades as part of its weekend British comedy block.
With Thornton's death, the only surviving member of the original cast is Nicholas Smith, who played cauliflower-eared executive, Mr. Rumbold.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: BBC]
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The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.