Favorite Characters, Good and Bad

The man. The pose. The sunglasses.

Earlier this week, I saw a message on Twitter regarding CSI-Miami’s Horatio Caine. Specifically, she thought he was a horrible character and she hoped the new episode would kill him off. (Highly unlikely, but you can’t hold the girl’s hopes against her.)

I’m of two minds on the subject. One agrees with her completely on all but the death wish part. David Caruso’s portrayal of Horatio Caine is cringe-worthy. For years, that was what I did whenever he came on scene. Cringe. Discomfort became disinterest, became apathy, until I could watch CSI-Miami with barely an eye-roll toward the man with the iconic sunglasses. I began picking out scenes where I actually liked Horatio. They always involve children and women. They bring out a bonus layer of Caruso’s personality and when it’s passed through to Horatio, the character actually separates from the man. Caruso disappears and we have Horatio by himself. I consider that a good thing. Horatio’s is a pretty cool guy, when his alter-ego’s not around.


Wait, you’re thinking. Did you just say the word “iconic” in regard to Horatio’s sunglasses?

Why yes…yes I did. And good or bad, they are. One season they proved it by putting the sunglasses by themselves on promotional posters. They’re as good as a logo.

Horatio and Marisol

Anyhow, I noticed during Season 4 that Caruso’s bad acting had become an integral part of Horatio’s character. This is the point where my opinion of the man evolved from cardboard cut-out to three-dimensional object occupying actual space.  It coincided with the Marisol Delko arc of Season 4. (Let me tell you how incredibly pissed I was when they killed her off. Girl beats cancer, gets married, makes a passable actor out of David Caruso…and then you kill her the episode after their wedding? Really Bruckheimer?! For a flimsy two-episode arc that has Horatio and Eric raising hell in Rio?)

Okay, fine. I admit it. I love Horatio Caine. And its due in no small part to the fact that he’s a horrendously executed character. In our house, we say if you’re going to do something wrong, do it really wrong and say, “I meant to do that.” In the spirit of that, I may have to consider David Caruso a role model.

Kara “Starbuck” Thrace

On the opposite end, we have Kara Thrace. I mean it…thirty-seven years of books, movies, television, and she is my favorite character ever. If you want to know all about her, the picture is linked to the Battlestar Wiki.

I would go so far as to argue that Battlestar Galactica is the best written, best executed, and most relevant television show ever to be completely ignored by the critics. It wrestled with big problems…terrorism, treason, civil liberties, freedom of religion and press, class warfare and xenophobia. It dealt with small problems…marriage, family, infidelity, and addiction. A handful of ships, populated by survivors of a holocaust, and governed by the most outspoken among them, try to maintain a civilized society while being creatures that eat, breathe, excrete, procreate, get sick, die, and those are just the biological imperatives that make their lives collectively difficult. They’re also sentient, which means they’re collectively pissed off. (Frakking brilliant!)

Starbuck, Anders, and Apollo.

But what Battlestar did incredibly well was break every archetype they used. The heroes are flawed and the villains are redeemable. Nothing can be taken for granted about any of the characters based on which side they fall. The series opens with Starbuck slugging a superior officer. She’s an incredibly talented pilot but has a total lack of self-preservation. She’s an alcoholic. She has no problem with infidelity but doesn’t believe in divorce.  She disregards the inconvenient consequences of her actions and becomes indignant when karma catches up. She’s fiercely loyal, and yet she can be cruel to those she loves the most.

And she’s just one of Battlestar’s complicated residents.  Gaius Baltar actually has her beat; a man one can hate to love and love to hate all rolled up in one. I just don’t like watching him as much.

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2 thoughts on “Favorite Characters, Good and Bad

  1. I met Katee Sackhoff at a sci-fi con. Absolutely charming person, so tiny! A lot tinier than I thought (but I am 5'10" so there's that). I visited her celeb-event as well and she was awesome, had a lot to say about girls not looking to Starbuck as a role-model (that parents should be role models instead). As much as she LOVED playing Starbuck, she said that Kara went to dark places she hoped never to see herself! Was very gracious, thankful for her success and humble. I'm dying to see her in something else. SOON.

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