November 30, 2004


My friend and former colleague Kevin Thompson has a new blog. One of the posts he has talks about Bravo's list of the 100 Most Underrated TV characters of all time. Kevin and his co-workers came up with their own list, too. Tops was Jan Brady.
While Jan has many admirable underrated qualities, I was forced to come up with my own list:
Danielle Spencer on "What's Happening!!" - played by Dee Thomas
Screw Urkel. To hell with Arnold Jackson from "Diff'rent Strokes." By far, Thomas was the funniest child to ever on television. Dry, sardonic, sarcastic, dark humored. She could steal any scene with just one line.
Warren Cooledge on "The White Shadow" - Byron Stewart
He was Shaq before Shaq was out of diapers. The big man in the middle of a tight group of basketball players at an inner city high school, "Cool'' was the epitome of his name.
Chet Kelly on "Emergency" - played by Tim Donnelly
Kelly was the wise-ass on a cool show. While everyone was jibber-jabbering about Randolph Mantooth and Kevin Tighe, I thought the guy who always had to stay behind with the dog at the station house was cool. Says a lot about me.
Buddy Sorrell on The" Dick Van Dyke Show" - played by Morey Amsterdam
Rob Petrie was funny. Sally was funnier. And you never knew what would fly out of Buddy's mouth in the writing room. I always had the impression that Buddy would have died at the dog track. He seemed like that kind of guy.
Roz Russell on "Night Court" - played by Marsha Warfield
John Laroquette owned this fairly-stupid series until Warfield showed up. She was in the same mold as Danielle on "What's Happening!!" - she could steal a scene with one zinger. I also liked the fact she could have snapped any one of the cast like a twig. I bought the idea of her as a baliff.
Jeff Greene on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" - played by Jeff Garlin
For every Costello, there must be an Abbott. Sometmes Garlin's character plays along, but mostly he's the wall for Larry David's comedic handball. My favorite line came from the episode in which he refuses to pause on the naughty parts while watching "Girls Gone Wild" with Larry, who says he doesn't want to watch while it rewinds. "There's no story! Give what away? There's bosoms! That's it!"
Dwayne F. Schneider on "One Day at a Time" - played by Pat Harrington
Never has so much been done with a tool belt and a pencil-thin moustache. He was so influential, the wife-beater/vest look hung around for at least a decade in Largo, Fla.
Jennifer Marlowe on "WKRP In Cincinnati" - played by Loni Anderson
If you could look past the boobs, the hair and the makeup - and really, what boy going through puberty at the time really could - you'd have seen a character that was as funny as any other on the show. Herb Tarlek would have been only mildly pathetic without Jennifer to put him down.
Mentor on "Shazzam" - played by Les Tremayne
I never understood the man-boy relationship between Mentor and Billy Batson. I wasn't complex enough to question why a geriatric would drive a motorhome around the country wth a teenage boy. Or why Mentor couldn't seem to wear anything other than a safari leisure suit. But hey, it was the '70s. Things were more simple then. And the show was broadcast on Saturday mornings. I had too much Honeycomb in me to make any deep insights into life, much less make the rocket jump across the psycho-sexual Snake River Canyon.
Zan and Jayna, The Wonder Twins on "Superfriends" - played by Liberty Williams and Michael Bell
Zan and Jayna were a pair of aliens from the planet Exxor who were defacto super-heroes-in-training that the Superfriends sort of tolerated. They were the Sheilds and Yarnell of super heroes. Zan, the boy twin, could spontaneously change into any water-based form, while Jayna could become any animal. They'd touch fists to activate their powers. I kept waiting for Zan to yell, "Wonder Twin Powers, Activate! Form of.... an embarassing stain!" Posted by Jeff at November 30, 2004 07:40 AM | TrackBack