Tuesday December 4, 2012
By ANN MARIE CHANDY and S.INDRAMALAR
How on Earth did some of the characters on television land their jobs?
Have you ever wondered what possessed Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson, The X-Files) to join the FBI, what drove Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders, How I Met Your Mother) to read the news on TV or what inspired Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo, Grey’s Anatomy) to trade in fancy clothes for hospital scrubs?
There are some TV characters that are completely believable in their roles. Take Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), for example. One would have no problems accepting the fact that she works for New York City as a sex crimes detective on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. She’s tough enough to hack it as a cop yet gentle enough to empathise with her victims, and see to it that justice is done by the end of each episode.
There are also characters like Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), a forensic scientist who specialises in blood spatter patterns on the crime drama Dexter. He’s also a serial killer by night – a bit of a Robin Hood-type of guy because he only kills bad guys and feels that his actions are justified. A few years back, Hall played David Fisher in Alan Ball’s drama Six Feet Under (one of my favourite TV shows). I must say that death does become him in a way. I do sometimes have a problem seeing him in the role of an officer of the law, however. While it is the perfect cover for a serial killer, I find it hard to believe that Dexter would be able to pull it all off. He seems like too much of a good guy to be leading such a double life and relishing it as well.
Then there’s Susan (Teri Hatcher) on Desperate Housewives. Know any children’s book illustrator who looks that hot? Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion) is only a tad more believable in his role on Castle. The poker games at the end of some episodes with other more famous writers do add to his cred.
What about characters whose jobs completely throw you off? For example, how did Joey Tribbianni (Matt LeBlanc on Friends) become an actor and land a role on Days Of Our Lives? Chandler (Mathew Perry) is one whose job is a little hard to figure out. I believe he worked as an IT procurement manager with the specialisation of statistical analysis and data reconfiguration. You’d think he’d be more of a geek then, wouldn’t you? And as for Ross (David Schwimmer) and Monica (Courteney Cox), what are the chances of a paleontologist and a chef being siblings?
There’s also Dr Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) on House MD. While I love his character, I have to question how he ever became a doctor and whether it is realistic for such an obnoxious character to hold such a position of authority or be held in such high esteem.
In How I Met Your Mother, Lily (Alyson Hannigan) is a kindergarten teacher, Ted’s (Josh Radnor) an architect and Marshall’s (Jason Segel) a lawyer. But what exactly is Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris)? At some point, I thought he worked for Goliath National Bank as a project developer. But in the earlier seasons, I think he worked for AltruCell Corporation, a large (and possibly shady) company that produces weapons, cigarettes and the “fuzzy yellow stuff” on tennis balls. It’s hard to believe Barney in any particular profession actually, except maybe lawyer since he’s so good at talking his way through difficult situations. Barney seems more the lawyer type than Marshall. They should have made Marshall a bohemian musician.
And finally, I have a serious problem with Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, respectively), and even their father, on Supernatural. While I am intrigued by what they do (they are hunters, right?), who exactly pays for all their motel stays, petrol for that awesome Mustang that Dean drives, food and other such trivialities? I mean, I do know Sam is half-Demon and all, but surely they’re not conjuring up money in the basement, right? And unlike Earl (Jason Lee in My Name Is Earl), Sam and Dean don’t seem to have karma on their side. – A.M.C.
Unreal all the time
SPEAKING of Dexter, I think the entire Miami Metro Police Department has some serious credibility issues. I mean, really, Dexter Morgan has been at it for seven years – he’s killed many prime suspects in the department’s serial murder cases and still not one person there is on to him? Honestly? I love the show but sometimes, you have to suspend disbelief quite a bit when watching it.
At a glance, the entire workforce in the Parks Department of Pawnee, Indiana (in Parks And Recreation) seem to know nothing about what they’re doing. Or rather, they’d rather not know what they have to do.
Out of all the characters, my favourite “seemingly incompetent” worker has to be April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza), a former intern who is later hired to be the department director Ron Swanson’s (Nick Offerman) assistant. What an assistant she is! She answers all his calls but never puts them through, making up excuses instead so that Ron need not attend to any business. You wonder how she got the job but I don’t: Ron hired her precisely because he knew she’d never do her job! I’d love an assistant like that. Imagine a work day with no phone calls! Hey wait a minute ... I’ve been on hold more than a dozen times whenever I call customer care numbers ... Maybe Parks And Recreations has got its characterisation down pat after all.
Moving on, let’s talk about TV cops. There are a few who stand out: Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg) from Blue Bloods is quite a bad a**, as was Elliot Stabler in Law & Order: SVU (the actor Christopher Meloni left the series after season 13). But Andy McNally (Missy Peregrym) from Rookie Blue is less than believable as a rookie cop who graduated top of her class. All Andy ever wanted was to be a cop because you see, her father was a cop.
But let’s face it, the girl doesn’t seem cut out for the job. She keeps falling for the guys she works with – first a detective and then her partner and then her training officer.
Her romantic dalliances got her suspended once when she almost got her partner killed. She’s been held hostage and is constantly in some sticky situation or other while on duty. I say, take the gun away from her.
And what about those independently wealthy characters – those who have somehow inherited a whole lot of money from somewhere or someone and therefore don’t need a real job to live an awesome and often affluent life?
Characters like Amanda Clarke/Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) on Revenge. I mean, how many millions did she inherit? The show is in its second season now and at least a couple of years have passed since she “got her money” – but her bank account is still replete with funds!
What about Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) of Seinfeld? Ever wonder what his day job was? Is he an inventor (he came up with the idea of a coffee table book about coffee tables and the pizzeria where customers make their own pizza)?
Is he a model (in one episode, a reference was made to him being an underwear model for Calvin Klein)? Or maybe he’s just a full-time gambler (remember the episode where he bets with a wealthy Texan on aircraft arrival times? And the episode where he bet a ton of money on a horse which won him US$18,000?).
For a truly eccentric character, Kramer is pretty savvy when it comes to supporting himself. Guess it pays to be crazy. – S.I.