A TV Entry – Ascended Extra

I obviously did not manage to post this weekend. I was unavoidably detained. I failed to settle new lands successfully, I successfully helmed the most near-sighted group of sailors ever, I looted South American temples better than my colleagues, I dabbled in wordplay, and I raced some pigs. I did see both monsters and aliens, which reminded me why I could never, ever cosplay. I might want to, but I’d want it to be awesome, and after seeing a costume that involved a jack-o-lantern head in which the creator had actually strung up pumpkin seeds inside to make the head look as real as possible, I realized my quest for perfection would only end in tears. And possibly me running down the street without pants doing my best impression of Sonny the Cuckoo. Incidentally, an actual question asked by me over the weekend – “Why was Sugar Bear the God of War?”

Anyway, my thoughts for the midweek that are less random than usual.

Very few pieces of media feature only one character. There’s a main character and a supporting cast, or an assemble cast and supporting characters. Normally the main character is supposed to be the most interesting one that the audience is supposed to be the most invested in. But sometimes the main character is just not that interesting, or the hints and allegations provided about the supporting cast indicate maybe the story is focused on the wrong character. When one of these extras moves to main character status, TvTropes calls this “ascended extra.” Sometimes that extra totally deserves to be ascended.

I’m limiting this to animated Western TV shows for now, and may consider cinematic extras who deserved some more screen time a bit later. In no particular order, I present five for your consideration:

1) Shego – I’ve gone over my love for Shego before. Despite being a villain sidekick, she had the best lines and coolest powers. I think the show writers started to realize her potential because some of the later episodes did go into her back story a bit but the transition from hero to villain was never fully explored, and I detested the “happy ending” the writers gave her at the end of the show.

2) CheetaraThundercats was one of those shows that never lived up to its promise. The animation wasn’t actually that bad, but it wasn’t up to the intro either. The main character was Lion-o, and he was the prince of the Thundercats. The twist for him was that he was actually a child when the planet exploded, and through a malfunction in the stasis system, he emerged as an adult although he still had the mind of a child. This was supposed to be interesting. I didn’t agree. Cheetara, as one might deduce from the simple naming convention, was a cheetah-woman and her power was to run super-fast. That isn’t that interesting. But she was also psychic. That is interesting, and it was something that was starting to show up in a bit in later seasons, but I really wanted to see more of her character development than Lion-o (or, deity help us, Snarf).

3) TeelaHe-man was designed to sell toys and tell children a ham-handed moral at the end. Teela was the Captain of the Guard and too often damsel in distress. But it turns out she is the adopted daughter of Man-at-Arms and secretly the daughter of the Sorceress. This implies a lot of interesting story to explore. Does Teela have any magic powers? Will she one day be the new Sorceress? Who is her father? How did the Sorceress come to trust Man-at-Arms? Sorry, Adam, you may have the power, but you’re just not that interesting.

4) Casey Jones – Don’t get me wrong, I loved the the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They were great main characters. But then there was Casey Jones, a hockey-mask wearing, hockey-stick wielding vigilante. Who was he underneath the mask? What motivated him to take up crime-fighting? Did he lose someone close to him (as is so common)? How come he was able to take the existence of four-foot tall talking turtles (and other insanity) in such stride? Was he just insane himself?

5) King BumiAvatar: The Last Airbender was a brilliant animated series, and one of the side characters was King Bumi, a 112 year old earth bender. He was a) insane and b) insanely powerful. He was featured in a couple of episodes, and most notably the one titled “The Old Masters.” While I liked all the characters in that show, I would have liked to see a bit more on the adventures of crazy King Bumi.

And that’s all I’ve got for now. Happy “‘Back to the Future’ Day!”

"The future exists only in imagination; and that is why, no matter how hard you try to imagine it, you will not be able to predict the future with total certainty."



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S. J. Drew is an aspiring writer who finally entered the blogosphere to shamelessly promote that writing (as evidenced by the title of the blog). Whether or not this works remains to be seen, but S. J. hopes you are at least entertained. And if you're actually reading this, that's probably a good sign.

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