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Joss Whedon

The top five Joss Whedon characters

Sunday 11 October 2009, by Webmaster

Top Five Joss Whedon Characters

If you hadn’t noticed we’re kicking into Joss Whedon overdrive on SCI FI (have you taken the Joss Whedon quiz yet?) So what better time for our man Leigh (the man with the best avatar in the business) to deliver his verdict on the top Whedon characters spanning Buffy, Angel and Firefly.

5. Lorne - as played by Andy Hallett in Angel

The Host with the most, green Lorne was the ultimate lounge lizard - literally! Okay, so he wasn’t literally a lizard, but he did look a bit like one, so cut me some slack, huh, buddy? Initially a guest star before gaining regular status in Season Four, the late, lamented Andy Hallett’s empathic demon club owner was always a highlight of the episodes he appeared in, his saucy quips and outrageous dress sense adding some sorely needed razzle-dazzle to a show sometimes conspicuous in its dourness. Plus, he could have his head cut off and not die. Which is pretty cool, when you think about it.

4. Jayne Cobb - as played by Adam Baldwin in Firefly

One of Joss Whedon’s talents is taking a hoary old archetype (bitchy cheerleader, stuffy librarian, etc) and, with the aid of his always impeccably chosen cast, fleshing them out into a fully realised character. So, with the character of Jayne Cobb - portrayed by Adam Baldwin (no relation) in his oats ’n’ spaceships, Sci-Fi/Western hybrid Firefly - he takes on the lunk-headed, good ole boy and makes it his own. A strange hybrid of B.A. Baracus and Homer Simpson, Jayne’s weasleish treachery is never dialled down (he betrays his compadres for money more than once) but care is taken to add textures to his persona and he remains strangely loveable, as demonstrated by his enthusiastic adoption of a ridiculous orange hat knitted for him by his mother, and the fact that, yes of course, he gives his favourite gun a nick-name (Vera, since you asked).

3. Winifred "Fred" Burkle - as played by Amy Acker in Angel

Characters of endearing naivety and sweetness are specialties of Whedon, who is able to use his often spiky dialogue to ensure such characteristics never descend into cutesy mawkishness. Notable examples of the Whedon ingenue are Buffy’s Willow Rosenberg and Firefly’s Kaylee Frye, but if you’re going for maximum heartstring-tuggedness, Angel’s Fred Burkle is your girl. From her first appearance as a slave human on the demon world Pylea, the show uses Acker’s huge doe eyes and waifish frame to their full advantage, positioning her as the ultimate damsel in distress in her early years on the show, before evolving the character from wall-defacing basket-case to the team’s resident science genius.

2. Buffy Summers - as played by Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

It asks a lot of a central character to carry a series for seven long seasons and it is to the credit of Whedon and co that they never stopped trying to push the titular character of BtVS into new and interesting areas, sometimes at the cost of Buffy’s innate likeability. For as well as the trials and tribulations of fighting demons and vampires on a daily basis (as well as trying to live a semi-normal life as a hormonal teenager), Buffy also had to face up to the fact that she was both more capable and powerful than all around her, and so far removed from them as to almost have more in common with the ghouls and undead creatures she finds herself up against. The challenge of portraying this was one that Whedon’s team never shied away from, with extended storylines following her relationships with vampires Angel and Spike, and the splintering of her "Scooby Gang" of friends and allies, showing that it wasn’t all stakes and giggles for the "Barbie with a Kung Fu grip" that Whedon describes. The performance of Sarah Michelle Gellar should also never be underestimated, her flawless comic timing and dramatic (as well as Kung Fu) chops making sure that we always stay on her side.

1. Spike - as played by James Marsters in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel

Style by Billy Idol, spirit by Sid Vicious. Spike (or William the Bloody as he is also known) was originally intended as a short-lived antagonist to the eponymous vampire slayer, but the character was such a favourite of both the fans and writers of the show, that by the series’ finale he had not only assumed the role of self-sacrificing "Champion" but he also became the only character to then cross over into sister show Angel. Smart (not to mention bloody) mouthed and itching for a fight, his antagonistic exterior hid a sensitive (lack of) soul, as evidenced by his relationship with fellow vamp Drusilla and flashbacks to his human life as a lovelorn poet. A gift to an ensemble cast, Marsters could play the Odd Couple with anyone, from on-off vamp gf Harmony (to whom Spike reluctantly plays "Blondie Bear") to evil genius turned irritating Scooby sidekick Andrew Wells. While Angel could do brooding to the nth degree, you’d just have to say that Spike made the coolest vampire since Christopher Lee, and you can’t get higher compliment than that.