When I’m not working or writing, or even sometimes when I’m supposed to be writing, I’m a fan of a good television show. I tend toward light, humorous, happily-every-after type stories, but sometimes I get caught by something completely different, and it’s often a character on a show that catches and keeps my interest. There are a number of shows I’ve watched (and kept watching) because I wanted to know what was happening with a specific character, regardless of what else was going on in the story.
Normally I wouldn’t have given a show featuring a Strategic Response Unit whose members spent every episode dealing with bomb threats, heavily armed bad guys, and general trauma a second look, but I became hooked on the Canadian police drama, Flashpoint because of the character of Ed Lane. The interactions he had with his team members, wife, and family, as well as his efforts to balance everything, kept me watching week after week (even if I had to fast-forward through the violent parts). He made mistakes, faced difficult choices, and kept trying to get things right. I was caught by his vulnerability and the many layers of his character.
Despite his Billy Idol hair and lamentable tendency to drink blood, I found Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer oddly endearing. I’ve never been a fan of vampire stories or an endless parade of evil creatures and supernatural phenomena, but the way Spike’s character changed and grew as the series progressed kept me watching to the very end. He wasn’t all good or all bad. He fought for what he believed in, regardless of the odds, and went to extreme lengths for the one he loved, despite the real possibility of failure. He was complex, vulnerable, and loyal. I was pleased when he reappeared on the show Angel, where his character continued to evolve.
My current character crush is on Rick Castle from Castle. I started watching about a month ago and have worked my way through the first three seasons in short order. Ignoring the inevitable dead bodies and gore (it is a police drama, after all), I find Rick a charming combination of youthful innocence, wit, and intelligence. He’s clever when helping with police cases, insightful when dealing with his teenaged daughter, and generally gives off the aura of someone who would be a great deal of fun to be around. An added appeal is the fact that he is a writer, so there is a lot of talk about “the story” within the story.
So what does all of this have to do with writing? Looking at the various characters who have really caught my attention has helped me understand the attributes I want to imbue my own characters with and how to layer those characteristics effectively. So really, I haven’t been crushing on TV characters, I’ve been studying craft. Honest.
Today’s word count: 506. If only I hadn’t deleted almost as much as I wrote.
So, what characters have caught your attention?