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Five Terrifying Monsters From My Childhood by Jamie

Childhood is generally a magical time filled with wonder and amazement but it is also a horrific nightmare filled with monsters. Many of these evil creatures come from watching film and they leave a lasting impression that lingers with us for the rest of our lives, lurking at all times in the back of our mind. This then is a list of some of those things which still haunt my brain to this very day. Warning: Here Be Spoilers

5. Greys (Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, The X-Files, countless other things)

Whether you believe that they actually exist or not, and personally I don’t, there is something undeniably creepy about the alien species generally referred to as the Greys. There’s something about their huge black eyes and largely feature-less face that causes some kind of primal fear. I think it’s something to do with the fact that they seem completely emotionless and you can’t tell what they are thinking. There’s also the way that they are often depicted as moving in films.

Take the way that the ‘leader’ from Close Encounters moves. It‘s got a disturbing weirdness to it‘s movement, probably something to do with the limitations of the special effects but still. In other media they aren’t portrayed as anything less than terrifying, generally performing some kind of medical procedure, never saying a word just carrying out their tasks in an almost deliberate, robotic fashion.

Then there’s a film called Alien Abduction: The McPherson Tape. It’s a hand-held, Blair Witch style film that tells the tale of a family practically held hostage within their own home by some Greys that they‘ve managed to piss off. It’s cheesy as fuck but when I was younger it used to terrify me, particularly the last scene which was just creepy as fuck. Oh, and there’s also an interview with a British musician who is an alleged abductee (Actually just an actor portraying the role to try and keep up the premise that the video is real found footage) who uses the phrase ‘Big Headed Wankers’ which used to amuse me and my brothers to no end. It’s actually on YouTube, part one can be found here.

4. The Wheelers (Return To Oz)

The Wheelers are like a monstrous amalgamation of people, bicycles and hyenas. They hunt their prey on the wheels that they have in place of hands and feet, laughing like maniacs as they do so. Of course the question which is immediately raised in your mind is ‘But Jamie, if they don’t have hands, how can they possibly catch that which they are chasing?’ And whilst it’s not actually raised in the film, I have my theory.

Surely, since their hands are fucking wheels, they only have one possible method for catching their quarry and that must be their mouths. Yes, I put it to you that the Wheeler’s capture and then eat their prey. That is fucking horrible. And guess what else they do. They wear helmets which, when their head is turned down towards the ground, has a second, creepier face on it!

I will say this though, they be some stylin’ motherfuckers. They got these long sleeved, clown-esque jackets which they often accessorise with multi-coloured pipes. Above that they wear those things which I can’t remember the name of. Not sure If I ever knew the name of them actually. They often appear in cartoons involving conductors or opera singers and a character will generally grab it and roll it up like a window blind. You know the thing I’m talking about. They also wear colourful bowties. Nice.

3. The Skeksis (The Dark Crystal)

Who doesn’t love The Dark Crystal? It’s a classic in the puppet/fantasy genre and it features the innocent Gelflings, the wise urRu and the… Holy Fucking Shit! What is that hideous vulture dinosaur thing?!?! Oh dear God, keep it away! Keep it away!

Yes, the Skeksis, the evil side of the once benevolent UrSkeks race which, as we all know, was splintered into two separate races, along with the urRu, when the Dark Crystal was fractured. The Skeksis have ruled their world for over a thousand years going so far as to commit genocide against the Gelfling due to a prophecy that a Gelfling would bring an end to their rule. Not only are they evil monsters but they are evil monsters who take superstition and myth seriously. Sure the prophecy turned out to be true but it was probably quite self-fulfilling.

So terrified was I by the Skeksis when I was younger that even to this day, whenever The Dark Crystal is brought up in conversation my mother helpfully informs everyone of just how much they used to frighten me. Seriously though who could blame me? I mean just look at them, they are the very embodiment of a child’s third worst nightmare. Thankyou Jim Henson for improving my life by inventing The Muppets, Sesame Street, The Fraggles and Dinosaurs and for scarring me for life by creating The Dark Crystal and making me want to stab/shit myself in terror whenever I see a vulture. I’ve had some pretty awkward moments being ejected from zoos, I can tell you.

2. The Child Catcher (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang)

The country of Vulgaria seems like quite a nice place to visit despite the awful name it suffers from. With it’s Bavarian architecture and cobbled streets it seems like the kind of place that would make really good chocolate and beer. But after staying there for a while you’d notice a disturbing lack of children and disturbing number of depressed toy-makers played by Benny Hill. You see the problem is that the Baron of Vulgaria is a child-hating, toy-loving lunatic (which I admit makes it sound like he and I would get on quite well) who has hired one of the most terrifying characters ever capture on celluloid to hunt down and capture children.

This horrible, mincing freak with his top hat and elongated nose has haunted the dreams of many a child. There’s just something so… paedophiley about him. He’d stalk the streaks of Vulgaria with his cage disguised as a free treats cart offering sweets and ice-cream to any child who happened to cross his path making us all afraid to trust those perfectly nice strangers who would offer us sweets in the park. Bastard.

To top it all off he could actually smell children! How the fuck do you escape a villain with that kind of power? You can’t hide from him because his powerful nostrils would flare and he’d soon find you. One offer of a free sweet later and BAM! You’re locked up in some dungeon type place, never to see your parents again. There is one question I do have though: When the children grow up, were they freed from their subterranean prison? I can’t imagine that the population of Vulgaria would grow if they didn’t and I’m sure it would affect morale within the country if you citizens had spent the formative years of their lives locked in a fucking dungeon by their leader.

1. The Father (Mac and Me)

This is it. The big one and I’m sure I’ll be mostly alone on it. Mac and Me was a film which tried to capitalise on the success of E.T. by being released six years later and having a shittier but similar story. I’ve kind of reviewed it before and so I shan’t go into all the plot details again. I’ll just say that there are a few things that this film is famous for a number of things. One is the scene involving the main kid in the wheelchair flying over a cliff which used to played on Conan O’Brien when Paul Rudd would come on to promote a film. The second is that the film was really nothing more than a shameless plug for McDonalds, Skittles and Coca-Cola. There is an impromptu dance number in the middle of a McDonalds, Ronald and everything. It’s pretty fucked up.

Anyway the reason that this film sticks in my mind is because of Mac’s father, an unnamed alien who used to scare the shit out of me as a kid. There was something about his gaunt expressionless face that terrified me. It never changed no matter whether he was lying dying in a cave or whether he was wielding a gun in a supermarket. Yes. That actually happened and I’m sure it did nothing to reassure me that the creature wasn’t the most horrific thing a human had ever thought up.

This was literally the best picture I could find of Mac’s dad. When the internet refuses to have a picture of something, you know it’s horrific.

The way he moved scared me as well. His awkward, drunken gait as he stumbled around, his lanky arms occasionally flailing around to randomly smack at something. Oh god, just the thought of him now terrifies me. Seriously, the image of that bastard has been so seared into my mind as the worst thing imaginable that I literally have trouble seeing that film today. Every time he appears on screen a small shiver of fear judders up my mind and hits something deep and primal within my brain.

Well, that’s that. I’m sure I’ve forgotten more than one thing that also scared me when I was a kid or perhaps I’ve just blocked it from my mind as some kind of safety mechanism to keep myself sane. Until I can regress myself and remember what those things were, we’ll just leave it here. Laterz.



Top Ten TV Characters: Part 2 by Jamie
I’ve tried to avoid spoilers but in some cases it was pretty… well, unavoidable. In particular I’d skip number 3 if you haven’t seen the show. That’s a character that is very hard to describe without giving much away and I tried but I kinda failed. Right, let’s just get on with it, won’t we?

5: Dexter Morgan – Dexter

Dexter is a blood splatter analyst working for the Miami Police. He spends his day studying crime scenes in order to help find murderers. He spends his nights hunting those killers who happen to slip through the clutches of the law. Dexter has a ‘dark passenger’. Dexter is a serial killer.

His ‘dark passenger’ was born as a child when he was locked for hours with the dead body of his mother, the blood literally pooling around him. He was adopted by Harry, the first officer on the scene who soon recognised Dexter’s growing urge to kill. Harry knew that this compulsion would never go away so he decided to train Dexter, to imprint a code upon him. He would allow his adopted son to satiate his ‘dark passenger’ but only with those who truly deserved to die and couldn’t be brought to justice by any other means.

I’ve always been fascinated by serial killers… That came out wrong. Perhaps I should say that I’ve always been fascinated by the psychology of serial killers. Why do they do the terrible things that they do? Is it a case of nature? Are serial killers born? Is there something wrong with their brain from birth? Or are serial killers created? Is it some traumatic event in their childhood, some accident that causes brain damage or just a general shitty childhood in general? Wow, that’s a lot of questions.

What Dexter does well is portray that psychology. Admittedly it just gives one event in his life as the complete answer for his condition which I feel is often not the case in real life but as for the way Dexter describes his thought process, the compulsion to kill, it all seems fairly accurate. Dexter often displays some typical characteristics that are reported as being present in real life serial killers. He can be arrogant, selfish, cocky and often feels as though he has to act out emotion rather than having actual emotion. What keeps Dexter likeable is the code that Harry instilled in him and the fact that he does genuinely care about those that he chooses to get close to in real life. It also makes him somewhat redeemable despite his horrific actions.

When it comes down to it I find Dexter fascinating as a character especially the way he is portrayed by Michael C. Hall. I tried reading the first book that the series is based on but found the writers writing style very unappealing so I decided to just stick to the TV show. I heartily recommend it to everyone… Well, maybe not everyone.

4: Gabriel ‘Sylar’ Gray – Heroes

From the ‘good’ serial killer to very much the opposite. Gabriel Grey was a simple watch makers son who one day discovered he had an incredible gift. He had the ability to figure out complex problems but with it came a hunger. When Gabriel learned that he wasn’t the only one with special abilities, his hunger found its food source. He found that by killing other super powered humans and studying their brains he could gain their ability. With each kill a part of Gabriel died and he took on a new persona, the sociopath known as Sylar.

In the first season of Heroes there was no pretence with Sylar. If you had what he wanted, he knew that you had it then he as going to do everything in his power to take that from you. He’d have to kill you to take it but Sylar didn’t care. In fact, by the time he makes his first on screen appearance in Heroes it’s pretty clear that he has come to relish the act of killing, that he got great pleasure from not only taking a person’s ability but in making the powerful feel powerless. There’s also a dark wit and charm about Sylar’s character which keeps him from being too much of a monster.

Over the course of the show, Sylar’s character has developed in a few different ways. He had a spell of being powerless during the shows lacklustre second season but still maintained his murderous intent. In the third season he tried being good for a while with mixed results but it is when Sylar is at his most villainous that he’s a truly stand out character. When his need to gain more power, to become the most special person in the entire world is what’s driving him it’s what separates him from other on screen villains and makes him on that I’ll always enjoy.

3: Gaius Baltar – Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica is easily my favourite TV show of recent times. I came into it late, which turned out to be a blessing because I had three seasons to watch and finally caught up with everyone else just in time for the final episode. Choosing a favourite character should have been difficult. The show is populated with so many well written and well acted personas but clearly it was blatantly obvious who my favourite was right from the beginning.

Gaius Baltar is a lot like another character who will appear later in the list. He’s incredibly intelligent, charming and has an incredible aptitude for self preservation. He wilfully manipulates the people around him in order to get what he wants which for the most part seems to be security and keeping his part in the near extinction of humanity completely hidden. There are times when it seems as though he has absolutely no remorse for his part in the attack on the colonies, especially early on in the series but as the situation around him escalates it becomes clear that his actions then and since way heavily on his soul, particularly in the fourth season. Sure, he still acts mostly in his own best interest but there are times when he acts apparently selflessly or at least as selflessly as someone like Baltar can act.

It’s in the latter part of the last season that it seems as though Baltar is most earnestly seeking some form of redemption for his past and in the last episode in particular that I think he finally finds it. Ah, the last episode of Battlestar. It had some problems like too heavy a reliance on flashbacks but I really enjoyed it. It truly moved me and I think I can honestly say it’s the only time I’ve ever been choked up at the mention of farming.

2:  Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter – Only Fools and Horses

I’m not sure if Only Fools and Horses has ever been shown much anywhere outside the UK. I’ve certainly never heard it mentioned when people of foreign nations talk about our comedies but here in Britain it’s an institution like the Royal Family… except that everyone likes Only Fools and Horses. A slow starter, the show picked up momentum as it went on until it was probably the most watched sitcom at the time. I could check and see if that’s true but I’ve got a feeling it’s probably true so why bother.

The central lynch pin of this cultural juggernaut is Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter. That’s probably not fair actually. The true lynch pin are the relationships between the characters, in particular Del Boy, brother Rodney and their Granddad/Uncle Albert but I think it’s fair to say that Del Boy is probably the most beloved character from the show.

Derek is a cockney wheeler and dealer. He runs a market stall in Peckham and has no qualms about selling shoddy merchandise or the occasional batch of stock that “fell off the back of a truck”. He always has a plan for getting rich and was oft heard to say ‘This time next year, we’ll be millionaires’ to his long suffering brother. Long suffering because Del’s schemes would often land Rodney in some ridiculous situation which would infuriate or humiliate him to no end.

Del often showed a great deal of vanity, often going out of his way to show off and try to give the impression that he was in a higher position in life than his actual social class. He would dress in suits, bedeck himself in gold and drink extravagant looking cocktails. He also seemed to be under the impression that he could speak French fluently despite believing ‘menage a trois’ is an exclamation of surprise and ‘Pot Pourri’ is the French for I don’t believe it.

Despite all of his flaws, at heart Del Boy is a good man who truly loves and cares for his family, his brother in particular. Del will sometimes implement one of his crazy schemes for the express purpose of helping out Rodney, only to have the whole situation backfire. If someone is taking advantage of Rodney then Del will always try and help out. Most importantly Del is always there for Rodney, even if it may seem to Rodney that Del is only out for himself at first.

Finally David Jason, the actor who plays Del, gave us one of the finest pieces of physical comedy ever seen in these British Isles. Enjoy.

1: Edmund Blackadder – Blackadder

The Blackadder clan are, generally speaking, a bunch of bastards. Throughout every period of British history there has been an Edmund Blackadder, be they princes, noblemen, butlers or officers during World War 1. Now for the sake of this little write up, I’ll largely be ignoring Prince Edmund from the first series of Blackadder because he’s not really the character that most people would think of when they hear the name. I’ll just say that he was a snivelling coward without much intelligence who’s main importance is beginning the Blackadder dynasty. Also Brian Blessed played his father. Brian Blessed is awesome.

In the second season, the Prince’s bastard descendant was now Lord Blackadder, a favourite around the court of Queen Elizabeth the First. This character would set the standard for the descendants to follow. This Blackadder had a charm, a wit though was still essentially a coward just a far more dashing coward than his ancestor. Sarcasm drips from Edmund’s pores particularly when dealing with his two constant companions, the dim witted Percy (or George) and the disgusting dogsbody Baldrick. In fact it’s normally the people who surround Blackadder that force him into the unlucky situations that he finds himself in. More often than not Blackadder is the most competent person and it is those incompetents who are in higher positions of power that put Edmund in some sort of danger. Not to say that he doesn’t manage to get himself in to danger, normally through his boastful nature. It is then only his quick wit and intelligence coupled with his extreme sense of self-preservation that help him survive.

What Blackadder does best is poke fun at Britain’s history. It puts a kind of modern spin on the ludicrous nature of some of the biggest events in our past. From the superstition of the Dark Ages, the hero worship and falling out of favour of Walter Raleigh, the obsessive nature of Samuel Johnson right up to the madness of trench warfare in World War 1, Blackadder take a sideways, humorous and sometimes poignant look at them all. Speaking of which…

Goodbyeee….
Top Ten TV Characters: Part 2
I’ve tried to avoid spoilers but in some cases it was pretty… well, unavoidable. In particular I’d skip number 3 if you haven’t seen the show. That’s a character that is very hard to describe without given much away and I tried but I kinda failed. Right, let’s just get on with it, won’t we?
5: Dexter Morgan – Dexter
Dexter is a blood splatter analyst working for the Miami Police. He spends his day studying crime scenes in order to help find murderers. He spends his nights hunting those killers who happen to slip through the clutches of the law. Dexter has a ‘dark passenger’. Dexter is a serial killer.
His ‘dark passenger’ was born as a child when he was locked for hours with the dead body of his mother, the blood literally pooling around him. He was adopted by Harry, the first officer on the scene who soon recognised Dexter’s growing urge to kill. Harry knew that this compulsion would never go away so he decided to train Dexter, to imprint a code upon him. He would allow his adopted son to satiate his ‘dark passenger’ but only with those who truly deserved to die and couldn’t be brought to justice by any other means.
I’ve always been fascinated by serial killers… That came out wrong. Perhaps I should say that I’ve always been fascinated by the psychology of serial killers. Why do they do the terrible things that they do? Is it a case of nature? Are serial killers born? Is there something wrong with their brain from birth? Or are serial killers created? Is it some traumatic event in their childhood, some accident that causes brain damage or just a general shitty childhood in general? Wow, that’s a lot of questions.
What Dexter does well is portray that psychology. Admittedly it just gives one event in his life as the complete answer for his condition which I feel is often not the case in real life but as for the way Dexter describes his thought process, the compulsion to kill, it all seems fairly accurate. Dexter often displays some typical characteristics that are reported as being present in real life serial killers. He can be arrogant, selfish, cocky and often feels as though he has to act out emotion rather than having actual emotion. What keeps Dexter likeable is the code that Harry instilled in him and the fact that he does genuinely care about those that he chooses to get close to in real life. It also makes him somewhat redeemable despite his horrific actions.
When it comes down to it I find Dexter fascinating as a character especially the way he is portrayed by Michael C. Hall. I tried reading the first book that the series is based on but found the writers writing style very unappealing so I decided to just stick to the TV show. I heartily recommend it to everyone.
4: Gabriel ‘Sylar’ Gray – Heroes
From the ‘good’ serial killer to very much the opposite. Gabriel Grey was a simple watch makers son who one day discovered he had an incredible gift. He had the ability to figure out complex problems but with it came a hunger. When Gabriel learned that he wasn’t the only one with special abilities, his hunger found its food source. He found that by killing other super powered humans and studying their brains he could gain their ability. With each kill a part of Gabriel died and he took on a new persona, the sociopath known as Sylar.
In the first season of Heroes there was no pretence with Sylar. If you had what he wanted, he knew that you had it then he as going to do everything in his power to take that from you. He’d have to kill you to take it but Sylar didn’t care. In fact, by the time he makes his first on screen appearance in Heroes it’s pretty clear that he has come to relish the act of killing, that he got great pleasure from not only taking a person’s ability but in making the powerful feel powerless. There’s also a dark wit and charm about Sylar’s character which keeps him from being too much of a monster.
Over the course of the show, Sylar’s character has developed in a few different ways. He had a spell of being powerless during the shows lacklustre second season but still maintained his murderous intent. In the third season he tried being good for a while with mixed results but it is when Sylar is at his most villainous that he’s a truly stand out character. When his need to gain more power, to become the most special person in the entire world is what’s driving him it’s what separates him from other on screen villains and makes him on that I’ll always enjoy.
4: Gaius Baltar – Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar Galactica is easily my favourite TV show of recent times. I came into it late, which turned out to be a blessing because I had three seasons to watch and finally caught up with everyone else just in time for the final episode. Choosing a favourite character should have been difficult. The show is populated with so many well written and well acted personas but clearly it was blatantly obvious who my favourite was right from the beginning.
Gaius Baltar is a lot like another character who will appear later in the list. He’s incredibly intelligent, charming and has an incredible aptitude for self preservation. He wilfully manipulates the people around him in order to get what he wants which for the most part seems to be security and keeping his part in the near extinction of humanity completely hidden. There are times when it seems as though he has absolutely no remorse for his part in the attack on the colonies, especially early on in the series but as the situation around him escalates it becomes clear that his actions then and since way heavily on his soul, particularly in the fourth season. Sure, he still acts mostly in his own best interest but there are times when he acts apparently selflessly or at least as selflessly as someone like Baltar can act.
It’s in the latter part of the last season that it seems as though Baltar is most earnestly seeking some form of redemption for his past and in the last episode in particular that I think he finally finds it. Ah, the last episode of Battlestar. It had some problems like too heavy a reliance on flashbacks but I really enjoyed it. It truly moved me and I think I can honestly say it’s the only time I’ve ever been choked up at the mention of farming.
2:  Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter – Only Fools and Horses
I’m not sure if Only Fools and Horses has ever been shown much anywhere outside the UK. I’ve certainly never heard it mentioned when people of foreign nations talk about our comedies but here in Britain it’s an institution like the Royal Family… except that everyone likes Only Fools and Horses. A slow starter, the show picked up momentum as it went on until it was probably the most watched sitcom at the time. I could check and see if that’s true but I’ve got a feeling it’s probably true so why bother.
The central lynch pin of this cultural juggernaut is Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter. That’s probably not fair actually. The true lynch pin are the relationships between the characters, in particular Del Boy, brother Rodney and their Granddad/Uncle Albert but I think it’s fair to say that Del Boy is probably the most beloved character from the show.
Derek is a cockney wheeler and dealer. He runs a market stall in Peckham and has no qualms about selling shoddy merchandise or the occasional batch of stock that “fell off the back of a truck”. He always has a plan for getting rich and was oft heard to say ‘This time next year, we’ll be millionaires’ to his long suffering brother. Long suffering because Del’s schemes would often land Rodney in some ridiculous situation which would infuriate or humiliate him to no end.
Del often showed a great deal of vanity, often going out of his way to show off and try to give the impression that he was in a higher position in life than his actual social class. He would dress in suits, bedeck himself in gold and drink extravagant looking cocktails. He also seemed to be under the impression that he could speak French fluently despite believing ‘menage a trois’ is an exclamation of surprise and ‘Pot Pourri’ is the French for I don’t believe it.
Despite all of his flaws, at heart Del Boy is a good man who truly loves and cares for his family, his brother in particular. Del will sometimes implement one of his crazy schemes for the express purpose of helping out Rodney, only to have the whole situation backfire. If someone is taking advantage of Rodney then Del will always try and help out. Most importantly Del is always there for Rodney, even if it may seem to Rodney that Del is only out for himself at first.
Finally David Jason, the actor who plays Del, gave us one of the finest pieces of physical comedy ever seen in these British Isles. Enjoy.
1: Edmund Blackadder – Blackadder
The Blackadder clan are, generally speaking, a bunch of bastards. Throughout every period of British history there has been an Edmund Blackadder, be they princes, noblemen, butlers or officers during World War 1. Now for the sake of this little write up, I’ll largely be ignoring Prince Edmund from the first series of Blackadder because he’s not really the character that most people would think of when they hear the name. I’ll just say that he was a snivelling coward without much intelligence who’s main importance is beginning the Blackadder dynasty. Also Brian Blessed played his father. Brian Blessed is awesome.
In the second season, the Prince’s bastard descendant was now Lord Blackadder, a favourite around the court of Queen Elizabeth the First. This character would set the standard for the descendants to follow. This Blackadder had a charm, a wit though was still essentially a coward just a far more dashing coward than his ancestor. Sarcasm drips from Edmund’s pores particularly when dealing with his two constant companions, the dim witted Percy (or George) and the disgusting dogsbody Baldrick. In fact it’s normally the people who surround Blackadder that force him into the unlucky situations that he finds himself in. More often than not Blackadder is the most competent person and it is those incompetents who are in higher positions of power that put Edmund in some sort of danger. Not to say that he doesn’t manage to get himself in to danger, normally through his boastful nature. It is then only his quick wit and intelligence coupled with his extreme sense of self-preservation that help him survive.
What Blackadder does best is poke fun at Britain’s history. It puts a kind of modern spin on the ludicrous nature of some of the biggest events in our past. From the superstition of the Dark Ages, the hero worship and falling out of favour of Walter Raleigh, the obsessive nature of Samuel Pepys right up to the madness of trench warfare in World War 1, Blackadder take a sideways, humorous and sometimes poignant look at them all. Speaking of which…
Goodbyeee


Top Ten TV Characters: Part 1 by Jamie
Top 10 Television Characters
Yes it’s time once again to delve into the world of cinema’s little brother, the greatest tool of communication know to mankind, until their youngest brother the internet was born, television. TV, as the kids call it, has been there for our species for some time now. It’s helped us to view man walking on the moon, the fall of the Berlin wall and an endless stream of outrageous acts carried out by morons on thousands upon thousands of reality TV shows.
TV has also delivered some of the greatest characters from fiction in modern times. The very nature of television means that we can become incredibly attached to those heroes and villains that inhabit  the flickering box, more so than movie characters simply because we spend so much time and, in some cases, so much of our lives with them.
Now for a rule that I decided to impose on myself. I’ve decided that I’m only allowed to choose one character from each series. If I didn’t then this list would probably be made up by far few shows than I should and that would be stupid. Also no animated characters. They’ll get their own list. So with that out of the way, let’s get onto the list.
10: Mike Nelson – Mystery Science Theater 3000
Mystery Science Theater 3000 is still a very little know show in the UK which I think is a damn shame. Too often in this country we accuse the Americans of having no sense of wit, that their comedies are often boorish and low brow, though the tide has definitely been changing. Still this could all have been avoided if we’d only had MST3K since it’s beginning. The story is a classic one: A working class guy gets blasted into space on the Satellite of Love as part of an experiment by an evil genius to force him to watch bad movies. He builds a few robot companions in order to stave off space insanity and help him endure the cinematic shit fest that he is forced to watch.
The role of the human aboard the Satellite of Love was originally played by Joel Hodgson who managed to escape about halfway through the shows run. His place was taken by Mike Nelson, a hapless temp who the evil Dr. Forrester and his assistant TV’s Frank decide to send to the satellite as a replacement.
Now, my choice of Mike as my favourite character may be controversial among some long time MST3K fans but there seems to be a general consensus that your favourite host is generally the first one that you see and we in the UK only got the shows after Joel’s departure. Now I’ve seen many Joel episodes since thanks to the DVDs but Mike was my first host and will always be my favourite.
There’s something undeniably likeable about Mike. He’s a likeable, if sometimes dim-witted and naive fellow, without the technical expertise of Joel. There’s no doubt that he certainly wouldn’t have been able to build the ‘bots had he been the first one sent up. He’s just more of a regular Joe who suddenly finds himself in this ridiculous situation and he just tries to go along with it. And that’s great.
9: Dave Lister – Red Dwarf
From one working class schmuck stuck in space to another. Curry and lager loving Liverpudlian Dave Lister finds himself as the universes sole surviving human being after a radiation leak on the mining ship Red Dwarf causes him to be kept in stasis for 3 million years. His companions are a hologram of his former bunkmate, the insufferable Arnold Judas Rimmer, an evolved cat known simply as The Cat, a mildly senile super computer named Holly and, eventually, a neurotic service droid by the name of Kryten. (And eventually Kristine Kochanski as well but for the purpose of this piece I’m gonna kinda overlook those episodes.)
Lister is interesting as a character mainly because he’s lazy, slobby and a bit of a dick but in general eminently likeable. You can’t help but feel sorry for him because he finds himself in a universe where all of his best friends are dead, the love of his life is dead and the only company he has are a cast of misfits who all have as deeply flawed personalities as himself. Despite this Lister tries to make the best of a bad situation, possibly the worst situation one can find themselves in, and he seems to remain cheerful and optimistic even when things look there worse. And I can’t finish this section without mentioning that Lister was part of one of the funniest conversations ever committed to film:
8: Victor Meldrew – One Foot In The Grave
Victor Meldrew was the voice of anyone who ever got annoyed at anything. The grumpiest man in Britain, Victor’s annoyance at the smallest of inconveniences only seemed to worsen the situation to such a degree that it would often spiral off into the superbly surreal which would, of course, merely make Victor angrier and angrier much to the chagrin of his long suffering wife Margaret.
Victor’s lot in life wasn’t helped by the people who surrounded him such as Margaret’s friend, the mildly insane Jean Warboys and the insufferably cheerful neighbour Nick Swainey. And so it was that Victor Meldrew could have been just another nasty, old bitter git.
But he wasn’t. What made Victor a truly great character was that people could emphasise with him. He generally tried to do the right thing only to have the situation rapidly decline on him. He genuinely cared for his wife Margaret and would seem quite upset whenever she lost her temper with him. In fact I think it says something about the two characters that Victor would always become frustrated with the situation but rarely his wife whereas Margaret would often become frustrated with her husband when she couldn’t take anymore of his complaining. And I think people did feel sorry for Victor whenever Margaret got pissed off with him. After all, it wasn’t his fault that he was that way, it just seemed as though the world transpired against him. Besides it’s not many TV characters that had flowers left for them at the location of the scene where they were killed. That certainly says something about the impact Victor had on the British public.
7:

Yes it’s time once again to delve into the world of cinema’s little brother, the greatest tool of communication known to mankind, until their youngest brother the internet was born, television. TV, as the kids call it, has been there for our species for some time now. It’s helped us to view man walking on the moon, the fall of the Berlin wall and an endless stream of outrageous acts carried out by morons on thousands upon thousands of reality TV shows.

TV has also delivered some of the greatest characters from fiction in modern times. The very nature of television means that we can become incredibly attached to those heroes and villains that inhabit  the flickering box, more so than movie characters simply because we spend so much time and, in some cases, so much of our lives with them.

Now for a rule that I decided to impose on myself. I’ve decided that I’m only allowed to choose one character from each series. If I didn’t then this list would probably be made up by far few shows than I should and that would be stupid. Also no animated characters. They’ll get their own list. So with that out of the way, let’s get onto the list.

10: Mike Nelson – Mystery Science Theater 3000

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is still a very little know show in the UK which I think is a damn shame. Too often in this country we accuse the Americans of having no sense of wit, that their comedies are often boorish and low brow, though the tide has definitely been changing. Still this could all have been avoided if we’d only had MST3K since it’s beginning. The story is a classic one: A working class guy gets blasted into space on the Satellite of Love as part of an experiment by an evil genius to force him to watch bad movies. He builds a few robot companions in order to stave off space insanity and help him endure the cinematic shit fest that he is forced to watch.

The role of the human aboard the Satellite of Love was originally played by Joel Hodgson who managed to escape about halfway through the shows run. His place was taken by Mike Nelson, a hapless temp who the evil Dr. Forrester and his assistant TV’s Frank decide to send to the satellite as a replacement.

Now, my choice of Mike as my favourite character may be controversial among some long time MST3K fans but there seems to be a general consensus that your favourite host is generally the first one that you see and we in the UK only got the shows after Joel’s departure. Now I’ve seen many Joel episodes since thanks to the DVDs but Mike was my first host and will always be my favourite.

There’s something undeniably likeable about Mike. He’s a likeable, if sometimes dim-witted and naive fellow, without the technical expertise of Joel. There’s no doubt that he certainly wouldn’t have been able to build the ‘bots had he been the first one sent up. He’s just more of a regular Joe who suddenly finds himself in this ridiculous situation and he just tries to go along with it. And that’s great.

9: Dave Lister – Red Dwarf

From one working class schmuck stuck in space to another. Curry and lager loving Liverpudlian Dave Lister finds himself as the universes sole surviving human being after a radiation leak on the mining ship Red Dwarf causes him to be kept in stasis for 3 million years. His companions are a hologram of his former bunkmate, the insufferable Arnold Judas Rimmer, an evolved cat known simply as The Cat, a mildly senile super computer named Holly and, eventually, a neurotic service droid by the name of Kryten. (And eventually Kristine Kochanski as well but for the purpose of this piece I’m gonna kinda overlook those episodes.)

Lister is interesting as a character mainly because he’s lazy, slobby and a bit of a dick but in general eminently likeable. You can’t help but feel sorry for him because he finds himself in a universe where all of his best friends are dead, the love of his life is dead and the only company he has are a cast of misfits who all have as deeply flawed personalities as himself. Despite this Lister tries to make the best of a bad situation, possibly the worst situation one can find themselves in, and he seems to remain cheerful and optimistic even when things look there worse. And I can’t finish this section without mentioning that Lister was part of one of the funniest conversations ever committed to film:

8: Victor Meldrew – One Foot In The Grave

Victor Meldrew was the voice of anyone who ever got annoyed at anything. The grumpiest man in Britain, Victor’s annoyance at the smallest of inconveniences only seemed to worsen the situation to such a degree that it would often spiral off into the superbly surreal which would, of course, merely make Victor angrier and angrier much to the chagrin of his long suffering wife Margaret.

Victor’s lot in life wasn’t helped by the people who surrounded him such as Margaret’s friend, the mildly insane Jean Warboys and the insufferably cheerful neighbour Nick Swainey. And so it was that Victor Meldrew could have been just another nasty, old bitter git.

But he wasn’t. What made Victor a truly great character was that people could emphasise with him. He generally tried to do the right thing only to have the situation rapidly decline on him. He genuinely cared for his wife Margaret and would seem quite upset whenever she lost her temper with him. In fact I think it says something about the two characters that Victor would always become frustrated with the situation but rarely his wife whereas Margaret would often become frustrated with her husband when she couldn’t take anymore of his complaining. And I think people did feel sorry for Victor whenever Margaret got pissed off with him. After all, it wasn’t his fault that he was that way, it just seemed as though the world transpired against him. Besides it’s not many TV characters that had flowers left for them at the location of the scene where they were killed. That certainly says something about the impact Victor had on the British public.

7: Father Ted Crilly – Father Ted

On the remote wasteland known as Craggy Island there live three Catholic priests and a tea obsessed housemaid. The oldest priest is Father Jack Hackett, a foul mouthed, violent alcoholic who rarely leaves his fetid chair. The youngest priest is Father Dougal McGuire, a man-child who professes to having no belief in the afterlife and claims to believe in Darth Vader more than he does in God. The third is Father Ted Crilly. Ted is a man who’s plans for fame and fortune are ruined by those around him and ultimately by himself.

Ted came to live on Craggy Island as punishment for some event in the past, something about some charity money that was ‘just resting in his account.’ Ted’s ultimate goal is to leave Craggy Island the troglodytes who inhabit far behind him and set up a parish somewhere like Las Vegas or Los Angeles. This never comes to pass, however, in part due to the immense disdain his immediate superior, Bishop Brennan has for him. Also, much like Victor Meldrew, Ted’s problems often start as something small and mundane but as the episode progresses these things tend to spin out of control until it all comes to an crescendo, generally leaving Ted worse of than he was when the episode started.

Like many on this list, Ted is likeable despite having a seriously flawed personality. He’s greedy, cynical, pessimistic and sometimes takes just a little too much delight in getting back at others, particularly when he wins a Golden Cleric resulting in a speech which last for hours and is full of distain for all those who have ‘fecked him over’ in the past. Ted’s likeability is probably increased by the fact that in the strange and surreal world of Craggy Island, he’s probably the most normal person there is, making him something of a reality anchor for the viewers.

6: Bernard Black – Black Books

Bernard Black is the epitome of characters who we like despite massive personal failings. He’s an alcoholic, pessimistic, argumentative misanthrope who isn’t happy unless he’s drinking wine or insulting someone. For some reason he owns a book shop despite his apparent loathing of everything to do with owning a shop. The only thing Bernard really likes about his shop is his books and the fact that, as his own boss, he can drink whenever he wants.

He’s abusive towards his assistant Manny Bianco, who’s biggest crime seems to be having  a cheery outlook on life, something Bernard apparently abhors. There’s also the fact that Manny tries to help Bernard around the shop, once selling every book which infuriated Bernard as it meant he had to deal with the distributor and order more books. Despite this it is shown that on the occasions Manny left Bernard to his own devices, either by quitting or running away, Bernard was reduced to even more of a mess than normal, barely able to function on a human level. The only other person in Bernard’s life is his best (and possibly only) friend, Fran Katzenjammer. The two share a number of similar characteristics which aids them in getting along, namely smoking and drinking.

Like all of the great arsehole characters in television, Bernard has a softer side which occasionally shines through. He has shown that he shy and awkward around women, he develops a certain jealousy and possessiveness whenever Manny finds other friends to hang out with, he’s certainly intelligent, though he generally seems to do nothing with his intelligence, and obviously loves reading and he genuinely seems to be scared or confused by the outside world, choosing instead to hide from it in a drunken haze inside his shop. It is also revealed that his general outlook on life may have been caused by an incident involving an old fiancée.

Well that’s it for now. Come back for more tomorrow. Laterz.




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