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October 18 2012

The 10 most defining performances in the history of genre television. Not just one but two of our Whedonverse favourites makes this list by Charlie Jane Anders over at io9, and deservedly so.

Super bonus points for President Roslin. I will watch anything with Mary McDonnell or Nathan Fillion.
I love Willow, but I'm not sure why that role is any more "defining" than others on "Buffy", including Buffy.
I like that they went with Willow rather than the more obvious Buffy. As far as being "defining," I think the article was focusing on characters who not so much defined but expanded the range of what the usual "stock" characters can bring to the party.

And I always love seeing the love for John Noble. The fact that he has never been nominated for an Emmy is only one of many reasons why I think the Emmys are a joke. The way that he has portrayed the two Walters, Dr. Bishop and Secretary Bishop, and how each of them responded to various moral choices over the years is breathtaking. I loved seeing how Secretary Bishop, who was originally presented as the coldblooded and ruthless version of Walter, turned out to be the Walter who sacrificed his own research project and refused to send young Olive back home to be abused and terrorized by her stepfather. And instead it was the cute & bumbling Dr. Bishop who sent little Olive home to a monster, leaving her emotionally scarred for life, much like her fellow research subjects. It's so hard to love Walter, either version of him, and yet so hard not to have your heart break for him and the tragedy that he has created.

I'm going to miss that show so much. *sniff*
Woah.... What about Spike? When I read the title of this article, I instantly thought James Marsters and Nathan Fillion. No offense to Willow, but I'd put Buffy and Spike above her, easily.
I love Willow, but I'm not sure why that role is any more "defining" than others on "Buffy", including Buffy.

Yeah, to me SMG's is the 'defining' performance on BtVS. I think Willow was a terrific role and AH did a good job with it, but, for me (and I fully understand that different people see this very differently), it was Buffy's world; none of the other characters were essential (beloved as so many of them were) to what made the show what it was.
Was expecting Asian Dan.
I agree with the Buffy instead of Willow position. Joss CREATED Buffy to be a genre changing/defining character. That was the entire point of her existence, and therefore the show's (and the other characters, including Willow) as well.
I was hoping Fillion would be on the list; such an amalgam of conflicting morality, iron resolve, yet deep emotions (never worn on his sleeve). For someone's subjective list, I was happy with who was on it, though I think Buffy in many ways is a defining warrior woman performance without being stock, because of her unique journey (and much of the time, not embraced by said teenage/young woman warrior).

Just a side note that because of my love for Patrick Stewart and most things Star Trekkian, I highly recommend the William Shatner documentary Captains (available on instant Watch - Netflix). EDIT (Sorry, after checking, the title is actually The Captains). It is fascinating and gives so many insights to how each actor and actress played a Star Trek captain.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2012-10-18 23:54 ]
Count me in as another person who was a bit surprised to see Willow on the list.

Great list. I always love seeing Lucy Lawless on these lists - I would watch her in anything. There are a few substitutes that I would have personally made to the list.

@Tonya J - I'll be sure to check out Captains, thanks for the tip.
I'd have slotted Buffy in ahead of Willow as well. I'd possibly have put Spike ahead of Willow, too, due the complex and engaging evolution from villain to hero.

I also think that Mulder and Scully could have gotten a mention.

Funny thing, this notion of genre television. In many ways, there's nothing comparable to Chris Barrie's rendering of the appallingly wonderful Arnold Rimmer on Red Dwarf. Never has been, and probably never will be. And without wishing to stack the list with TNG figures, I find it very hard not to think of Brent Spiner's Data as a defining character.
Ummm.... " Willow's legacy is everywhere".... like some others above, not seeing this.
I like the list just fine as is. It makes a good set of convincing arguments, and I find no fault among the ones I know.
I'm completely down with Willow on this list. The list isn't "roles". It's "performances". And Alyson hit it out of the park every frickin beat. She made me feel every second of doubt, every ounce of pain, every hint of wonder that passed through Willow's life. I love Buffy, & I love SMG, but she never brought it, for me, like Alyson did with Willow.
Then in terms of performance, I think Sarah had a much tougher row to hoe. She was the lead, started the role at 19, had to overcome in the role the stereotype of the cute blonde teenager yet at the same time convey inner toughness and emerging maturity as the seasons went on, while being assigned a lot of angsty situations dealing with love, loss and just being young and forced into a destiny she didn't always want; plus, master the snarky, yet often terribly funny repartee that Joss and the other writers came up with. That's a lot to carry as the lead of a show and I guess in those terms, it tops what I perceive Alyson did when it comes to a defining performance in the history of genre television.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2012-10-19 14:09 ]
I'm with Tonya J. Sarah had what may have been the most difficult acting job in history - one of them anyway. And she knocked it out of the park every single moment of every single episode. Joss himself has said that Buffy was designed to be an icon, and Sarah made her that. With Sarah, every moment she was on screen I "saw" Buffy Summers. With all of the other characters there was always some moment, or moments, where I saw an actor playing a part.

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