January 19, 2011

019: Dastardly evildoers

Villains!  Who doesn't love a really good bad guy?  There are characters we love, and then there are character we love to hate.  Sometimes the bad guys are more interesting and complex than the good guys; sometimes the good guys are so damn annoying that you start cheering for the bad guys (see: Claire Bennet, Heroes).  And occasionally the villain appears to reform, only to turn out even more malevolent than before.  But -- and this is important -- there has to be a reason the antagonist is villainous.  Bad just because is lazy, unless they're socio- and/or psychopathic.  And villains on television are great for the simple reason that they can come back again and again (until they get killed off).  In any case: a handful of my favorite TV baddies are under the cut.  Who would you pick?

 The Cylons | Battlestar Galactica
That's a Cylon centurion up there because pictures of any of the humanoid Cylons besides the Number Six (Tricia Helfer) and Number Eight (Grace Park) models could be considered a spoiler.  I haven't seen classic BSG, so I don't know how menacing the Cylons were back in the day, but the whole "Cylons look like us now" thing is one of the most sinister elements of the reboot.  Before all the models are identified, everyone is suspect; the person you've known for years could be a sleeper agent, just waiting to blow up your refugee spaceship.  The concept alone is supremely creepy.

 Russell Edgington | True Blood
The vampire king of Mississippi was just mildly threatening and kind of funny until visiting vampire sheriff Eric Northman killed his consort.  Then he became MAGNIFICENT.  The man waved around a human spine on live television.  Veteran actor Denis O'Hare clearly had a blast playing this madman, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching his madness.  And now for the weather.  Tiffany?

Gabriel "Sylar" Gray | Heroes
Sylar (Zachary Quinto) is easily the most interesting character on Heroes, and his transformation from mild-mannered, sweater-vested watchmaker to super-powered serial killer is fascinating.  He has a very clear motivation: he covets more power, plain and simple.  He's also one of the most entertaining parts of the show, not only because he's so clearly malevolent, but because he's funny.  And it's nice to have some intentional hilarity on that show.  Also, I actively cheered for him to kill some of the more annoying characters on the show.

Benjamin Linus | Lost
More than the ever-present, occasionally villainous John Locke, I really enjoyed underhanded, backstabbing Ben (Michael Emerson).  When he first showed up, masquerading as dead Minnesotan hot-air-ballooner Henry Gale, he very nearly had me fooled.  One of my favorite things about the show was the writers' utter refusal to let Ben heal completely between savage beatings, which he (usually) thoroughly deserved.  He never completely redeems himself, either, which is one of the best things the show did; he does a lot of atonement toward the end, but never loses that shifty edge that makes him utterly untrustworthy.

The Master | Doctor Who
A lot of the Who baddies are a little silly-looking (see: Daleks, Sontarans) or just misguided (to be set straight by the Doctor by the end of the episode).  The Master (John Simm, in this incarnation), on the other hand, is essentially the Doctor's equal; he's a Time Lord, shares a history with our hero, but he's insane.  Simm's Master is delightfully insane, and he's the perfect foil for David Tennant's Doctor.  If his plans for world domination weren't evil, I might be cheering for him.

Jim Moriarty | Sherlock
We've seen so little of Moriarty (Andrew Scott) on Sherlock that it seems silly to put him on this list, but Sherlock Holmes' nemesis is one of literature's great villains, and Scott was so good in his one big Moriarty scene.  The name popped up prior to the arrival of the man himself, cultivating the aura of mystery and menace that any good villain covets.  He arranged an incredibly complex puzzle for Holmes, more or less for his own amusement.  So: between his conniving, the cliffhanger, and the promise of more to come in the next series, Moriarty earns his spot here.

Al Swearengen | Deadwood
Perhaps more of an antihero than a villain -- but certainly more of a villain than antihero Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant) -- Swearengen rules the Deadwood community with a sharp wit and the very best profanity the nineteenth century had to offer.  Everything that came out of his mouth was delightful in the most vulgar way possible.  Ian McShane gleefully gnawed on the scenery for the entirety of the show's all-too-short run, conspiring to keep the camp under his thumb without nominally being the man in charge.  On a related note, I still look at McShane and think he looks weird without the mustache.

The Weeping Angels | Doctor Who
Statues that move when you're not looking and can basically implant themselves in your brain if you look into their eyes too long.  Does it get creepier than that?

The Borg | Star Trek: The Next Generation
Guy of Gisborne | Robin Hood
The Man in Black | Lost
Wil Wheaton | The Big Bang Theory


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