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TV Gal Gives Glowing Recomendations, 11.25.02 ...


They're simply the best. Better than all the rest.

Sometimes great writing fuses with a brilliant performance to form a perfect television character. The character pops off the screen and commands our attention.

All those on my list are from television shows that have been on for at least a year. This season has offered up some terrific freshman (shout-outs to Jayne on "Firefly," Jack on "Without a Trace" and Ephram on "Everwood"), but great characters evolve over time.

Here are my picks for the 10 Best Characters on Television:

1. Andy Sipowicz on "NYPD Blue": You know how Luke Perry has a permanent place on my men to run away with list? Same rules apply for Andy Sipowicz. Whether he's tentatively pursuing romance with Connie, diligently safe-guarding Theo, beating a confession out of a perp, or simmering with anger, Dennis Franz has created one of television's most memorable characters. It's hard to imagine TV without him.

2. Dr. Cox on "Scrubs": He's the proverbial character with a heart of gold taken to a whole new level. John McGinley effortlessly whips out his rapid-fire dialogue with a sneaky charm and a sly smile (sometimes I'm not even sure if we're in on all of Dr. Cox's jokes). Yet every snarky comment belies a man who cares about his patients and his students. He's smitten with his pregnant ex-wife and we believe him. He's foiling Dr. Kelso's nefarious plans and we believe him. Whatever aspect of his character we see at any given moment is credible and lovable. As I said last Thursday: I heart Dr. Cox.

3. Spike on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer": It's a rare actor that can pull off the heartbreaking quiet moments ("God help me Buffy, it's still all about you" ), the searing agony (Spike smoldering on the cross), the humor, the destruction, and the heroism all in one role. Last season his attempted rape of Buffy could have destroyed his character, but it didn't. That's proof of James Marsters' phenomenal performance.

4. Wesley Wyndam-Pryce on "Angel": Since we've met him, Alexis Denisof's Wesley has gone from hapless Watcher, to rogue demon hunter, to loyal friend, to a dark and twisted place his friends can't even begin to understand. And we've followed him every step of the way.

5. Emily Gilmore on "Gilmore Girls": As the impeccably controlled and society oriented Emily Gilmore, Kelly Bishop is a woman who knows she's made mistakes (and what parent hasn't?) and is still desperately trying to connect with her daughter while not indulging Lorelai's petulant whims ("Don't turn this into yet another crusade against your childhood." ) Of all the relationships on "Gilmore Girls," it's Lorelai and her mother's that I find the most gripping.

6. Carmela Soprano on "The Sopranos": Tough as her manicured nails, but vulnerable to her husband's wandering eye and shaky financial situation, Edie Falco's Carmela is a fascinating contradiction. How much of her husband's life does she know about? How much does she turn a blind eye to? On a show full of fascinating characters, she's the most fascinating of them all.

7. Sydney Bristow on "Alias": I've said it before and I'll say it again, if we didn't believe in Sydney, we wouldn't believe in the show.

8. Sherry Palmer on "24": The best kind of villain is the quiet one. I'm fervently anticipating the return of the First Ex-Lady. That's a testimony to Penny Johnson Jerald's incredible portrayal.

9. Lex Luthor on "Smallville": As the only character on "Smallville" with any depth (he's not all good, he's not all bad), Michael Rosenbaum sinewy villain-in-training is constantly fighting his inner demons. His journey to the dark side is one I want to follow.

10. Ozzy on "The Osbournes": Shuffling, shaken, slurred and completely unaware of how funny he is, Ozzy is television's best reality character.
Credit: Zap2it


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