Tag Archives: Four on the Floor

Four on the Floor #19: Sassy, Intelligent Heroines

The Situation: We all have our types, right?  Some guys go for the femme fatale or the Sex and the City-esque fashionista.  Some gals like bad boy bikers or tennis-playing preppies.  Me?  Well, I admit to enjoying the ass-kicking ladies.  But, when it all comes down to it, I’m a sucker for a sassy, intelligent gal.  (I’m actually a bit surprised it’s taken me this long to do this list…)

The Criteria: The ladies on this list may not be physically imposing–no Xenas, Buffys, or Wonder Women here–but they are far from helpless.  Like Robin Hood or Bugs Bunny, these gals use their intelligence and spunk to outwit their foes and save the day (which, of course, does not mean they don’t possess some additional powers or abilities).

1. Katherine “Kitty” Pryde

For me, Kitty is the Alpha and the Omega of sassy, intelligent female characters.  When she phased her way into our hearts, Kitty was the youngest member of the X-Men, but that never stopped her from pulling her weight.  A buddy of mine (who happens to be more of a femme fatale/’50s pin-up kinda guy) said he could never get behind Kitty because he felt she was created to be the kind of girl comic fans would dig–the smart, cute, spunky girl next door.  Um…duh.

2. Hermione Granger

Everyone was all about “The Boy Who Lived”, but poor little Potter wouldn’t have made it to the end of the first book without Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.  Bookish, principled, and focused, Hermione had no problem bending (or, occasionally breaking) the rules to do the right thing.

3. Clarissa “Clary” Fray

Clary is just like every other shy, artistic fifteen year old in New York City.  What Clary doesn’t know is that she’s also a demon-killing Shadowhunter.  But, what she lacks in strength and training, Clary more than makes up for in wit, guile, and spunk.  It doesn’t hurt that she also happens to be a redhead.

4. The Joss Whedon Triumvirate (a.k.a. Willow Rosenberg, Winifred “Fred” Burkle, and Kaylee Frye)

Joss Whedon works in archetypes.  And, since he’s gone on record as being a huge fan of Kitty Pryde (hey, the man has taste), it should come as no surprise that the sassy, intelligent girl next door shows up in one form or another in each of his three series.  Whether it’s computer geek-turned-Wicca Willow Rosenberg, theoretical physicist Fred Burkle, or uber-mechanic Kaylee Frye, Whedon knows sassy and intelligent.

Four on the Floor #18: Wry, Sarcastic Butlers

The Situation: You’re a rich dude.  No, I mean like insanely rich.  So, odds are you’ve probably got at least one pretty big domicile of some kind that needs tending to.  Plus, let’s be honest, most really wealthy people tend to be a bit dim (it might be all of that blue-blooded inbreeding), so you might need someone around who can, say, keep your busy schedules straight or remind you when you’re about to leave the house without pants.

The Criteria: The trope of the servant who is smarter than his master has been around forever.  But, there is smart and there’s smart-ass.  I’m a sucker for that kind of droll, acid-tongued servant who knows that he’s really in charge of the situation.  Also, I know that, while all butlers are servants, not all servants are butlers.  For that reason, I’m sticking solely to ones who buttle–and, apparently, to those who valet, as well (sorry, I was never fully educated in the whole Upstairs/Downstairs hierarchy).  Therefore, that also means that the four names on this list also happen to be men–sassy housekeepers are a completely different list (Alice, Florence: I’m looking at you!).

1. Alfred Pennyworth

Unlike the other names on this list, Alfred does not work for a moron.  Actually, Alfred’s employer is probably one of the smartest men in the world.  But, that doesn’t mean that Bruce Wayne doesn’t need to be put in his place from time to time.  And, Alfred is one of the few people on the planet who can do that and live.  The reason: loyalty.  Whether he’s consoling a newly-orphaned 8 year old or stitching up the Dark Knight, Alfred’s been Wayne’s surrogate father and confidant since Day (or Year) One.

2. Reginald Jeeves

I wonder if P. G. Wodehouse new what he was doing when he created Jeeves?  Now, while technically a valet and not a butler, Jeeves embodies the very qualities that inspired this list.  He is not only the consummate gentleman’s gentleman, but there isn’t a soul on the planet who can get the dim-witted Bertie Wooster out of the ridiculous predicaments he manages to get himself into.

3. Hobson

While I’m no big fan of Arthur, you can’t ignore the brilliance of Sir John Gielgud’s Hobson (also, technically a valet).  Dudley Moore might have been the “star”, but Hobson walked away with the movie (and Gielgud walked away with an Oscar).  It should come as no surprise that Hobson is the perfect “Jeeves”, since the movie was pretty much an updated version of a Jeeves and Wooster plot.

4. Benson DuBois

Soap might be known for tackling subject matter that would have made Archie Bunker run and hide under the bed, but for me, it’s the show that gave me Benson.  In addition to having to deal with the usual assortment of wealthy dimwits, Benson frequently found himself surrounded by every kind of freak, maniac, and whack-job under the sun.  And, how did he deal with it?  He’d roll his eyes, shake his head, and mutter something caustic.

Four on the Floor #17: Not Your Typical Dashing Heroes

The Situation: Say the word hero and certain images immediately pop into your head. The square jaw. The broad shoulders. Deltoids of compassion. Abs of being kind. But hey, let’s be honest, the dashing good looking heroes are pretty much a dime a dozen. Superman, Captain America, James Bond, Luke Skywalker–I’m not casting doubt on whether or not they’re heroic, all I’m saying is that if you line them all up next to each other, they kind of start to blend together. I think that’s why I’ve always been more of a fan of the ugly or freakish hero.

The Criteria: With the exception of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, I think the notion that a monstrous character could be a hero didn’t really take off until the early ’60s when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby cranked out characters like The Hulk and The Thing. Since then, pop culture has welcomed heroes who, on a good day, would make a baby cry just by looking at them. Some are more grotesque than others. I thought about including Hank “Beast” McCoy or Gar “Beast Boy” Logan, but I realized that they’re really just more or less regular dudes who happen to be a bit fuzzy (and blue and green, respectively). The four guys on this list will need more than an EPILADY to make People‘s Sexiest Man Alive issue.

1. Ben Grimm, a.k.a. The Thing

Probably the first of the modern “monster heroes”, The Thing has spawned numerous imitators, impostors, homages, and satires. Sure, he’s a pretty big deal in the Marvel Universe, but he still feels the pangs of not being able to “fit in.” What’s more, he’s the only one on the team who can’t turn his powers off, a fact that Johnny rarely lets him forget.

2. Vlad

The hulking and disfigured Vlad serves as sidekick, bodyguard, and big brother to Slasher-hunter Cassie Hack. Despite his appearance, which he tries to hide behind a gas mask, Vlad has a big heart and an overall childlike and naive demeanor.

3. Kurt Wagner, a.k.a. Nightcrawler

When you’re born looking like a furry blue devil, there’s not much hope in fitting in. But, his childhood in the circus taught Kurt to be himself. He stopped using the hologram inducer that Professor Xavier gave him to “look normal” because he didn’t want to hide who he really is. Whether he’s a happy-go-lucky, sword-wielding swashbuckler or an ordained Roman Catholic priest, Kurt’s the moral and compassionate center of whatever team he’s on.

4. Hellboy

Come on. Look at the cards stacked against poor HB. He’s over six feet tall, weighs several hundred pounds, has bright red skin, cloven feet, horns, and a tail. And, as if all that didn’t make him stand out, do you see that right hand of his?

Four on the Floor #16: Badass Bounty Hunters

The Situation: Let’s face it, some guys are just too tough, crafty, or out-and-out evil for regular law enforcement agencies to take down. That’s why we need bounty hunters. Bounty hunters have been a part of American pop culture since the days of the Old West (if not longer), and they seem quite capable of morphing into pretty much any genre you can think of–westerns, sci-fi, fantasy, mysteries, you name it.

The Criteria: Since bounty hunters are so prevalent in popular culture, there are countless examples that you can choose from. But, since I had to limit myself to four, I decided to pick guys (Domino Harvey came close to making the cut…would that I could pick five) who were obviously doing what they do for a tangible reason–whether it’s money, revenge, freedom, or a combination of one or more–as opposed to characters who claim to be bounty hunters, but end up regulating out of concerns more noble than money or vengeance.

1. Brisco County, Jr.

A Harvard-educated lawyer, Brisco never wanted to follow in his father’s bounty hunting footsteps. That is, until County Sr. is brutally gunned-down by John Bly and his gang. With sidekick Socrates Poole, rival-turned-associate Lord Bowler, and Comet the Wonder Horse, Brisco County, Jr. straps on his dad’s six-shooter and searches the Old West for the men responsible for his father’s death. Oh, there’s a weird golden orb from the future involved, too.

2. Ezekiel Stone

Zeke Stone was a cop. When his wife was raped and the man responsible goes free, Stone murders him in cold blood. Then, wouldn’t ya know, Zeke gets killed and gets sent straight to hell. Fifteen years later, there’s a prison break in the underworld and the Devil makes Stone a deal: return to Earth, track down and return the 113 escaped souls, and earn a second chance at life. Bounty hunting + damned souls = awesome.

3. The Man With No Name

C’mon, it’s Clint. The Man With No Name more or less re-invented the western, as well as cementing the idea of the laconic anti-hero in American culture.

4. Boba Fett

Fett’s like Eastwood’s Man With No Name in a helmet and jet-pack. Forget everything that’s been done to and with this guy since 1983, when he first showed up in Empire Strikes Back, you knew he was a badass. He didn’t speak more than a dozen words in Empire or Return of the Jedi, and he still managed to become one of the most (if not the most) popular characters in the trilogy.

Four on the Floor #15: TV’s Best Theme Songs

The Situation: We’re doing TV theme songs. The catchier, the better. Simple.

The Criteria: These might be the most arbitrary criteria I’ve ever cooked up for a Four on the Floor list. I’m looking at “theme songs” , that means music and lyrics. Sure, that means that I’ll have to ignore instrumental gems like MacGuyver, Magnum PI, and Simon and Simon; I’ll also be ignoring themes that only include narration–sorry Babylon 5, A-Team, Twilight Zone, and Star Trek (well, Enterprise had a theme song…but, really?). I’m also going to stick with non-animated shows. I could probably pick about ten really kick-ass cartoon theme songs ( “Ten on the Table” anyone?). Finally, I’m disqualifying certain “classic” theme songs, like Gilligan’s Island and The Addams Family. Saying you like the theme to Gilligan’s Island is like saying you like Bugs Bunny…duh!

1. The Greatest American Hero

A theme song so hip, so edgy that Jerry Seinfeld–the Nineties poster child for hip and edgy–stole it.

2. Jack of All Trades

If you don’t love the theme song to this show starring Bruce Campbell as a Jeffersonian secret agent, then you hate Jeffersonian America…and the French win.

3. Firefly

Hey look! A Joss Whedon show. I wonder whose blog this is….

4. Psych

What? Don’t you judge me! This song is as catchy, up-beat and harmlessly infectious as the show it introduces. You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?

Four on the Floor #14: Rogues, Scoundrels & Scalawags

The Situation: I may, on occasion, be a bit ethically ambiguous.  But, for the most part, I have a pretty strong moral compass and do have certain lines I won’t cross.  That’s why you need to have the names of a few rogues and scoundrels in your address book.  You just never know when a fast-talking, sniveling, conniving, back-stabbing son of a bitch may come in handy.  Granted, you never know when they might turn around and stab you in the back…but that’s half of the fun, isn’t it?

The Criteria: There’s a little bit of give in the definition of the word scoundrel.  For me, the four guys on this list (for the most part) are in it only for themselves.  Certain folks who could be on this list–Han Solo, Malcolm Reynolds, Robin Hood, Bugs Bunny–may be roguish, but all of their duplicity and fisticuffs come from a need to do the “right thing.”

1. Edmund Blackadder

From the British Middle Ages through the First World War, no family has been more craven and power-hungry than the Blackadder line.  Patricide, regicide, treason, sedition, insubordination–no act is too low for Blackadder, if it means improving his station or saving his neck.

2. Harry Flashman

The man who started life as the bully in Tom Brown’s Schooldays grew into the embodiment of roguish scalawagery.  Ol’ Flashman is a self-described cad.  A coward of the highest order who somehow manages to find himself lying, bullying, cowering, cheating and fornicating his way through some of the most important moments of the nineteenth century.

3. Jayne Cobb

He may be known as “The Hero of Canton”, but Jayne is far from heroic.  Sure, he’s got your back in a fight, but only if he knows he’ll be getting paid at the end of it.  He has been known to do “the right thing” from time to time, but it’s usually just a means to save his neck (or protect his good name, for whatever that’s worth).

4. Groucho Marx

It’s easy to forget that Groucho was such a scoundrel since he’s become a cultural icon, not to mention the spiritual father of Bugs Bunny.  But, remember this: most of Groucho’s actions in the Marx Brothers movies were fueled by lust, greed, or wounded pride…and what could be more roguish than that?

Four on the Floor #13: Fake Archaeologists I Dig

The Situation: You lucky duck!  You’ve learned of some long forgotten and buried treasure–maybe it was a story handed down through your family; or maybe you found an old map in a book you bought at a used book shop in Europe; or it could just be that you think there’s some truth in a crazy old myth or folktale.  Whatever the reason, you really shouldn’t go out looking for this thing on your own.  You will need an expert.  A professional.  Someone who’s been trained at excavating and retrieving artifacts.  Dammit, you need an archaeologist.

The Criteria: Personally, I’d go for a university-trained archaeologist, as opposed to a money-hungry treasure hunter.  You really can’t trust treasure hunters.  It would probably be a good idea to find someone who can handle themselves in foreign countries–whether it’s speaking the local dialect or being able to take on a bar full of drunk locals.

1. Indiana Jones

Yeah, let’s be honest, he’s the guy.  You need a detective, you go to Sherlock Holmes.  You need an archaeologist, you better find Dr. Henry Jones, Jr.  He’s smart, tough, and a snappy dresser.  It also doesn’t hurt that he speaks every language known to man and shows up ready to go with a pistol and a whip.

2. Dr. Daniel Jackson

Okay, I know what you’re saying: “He’s just an egyptologist.”  True, in the original Stargate film, it was established that Dr. Jackson is an egyptologist, but in the subsequent TV series, Daniel displayed enough knowledge about ancient civilizations to qualify in my book.

3. Flynn Carsen

Carsen has 22 academic degrees, which earned him the prestigious job as Librarian–the guardian of treasures as diverse as Excalibur, the Spear of Destiny, and the Holy Grail.  His role also requires him to go out into the world and recover numerous important relics.  Carsen might not be as rugged as Indy, but he’s just as smart and driven.

4. Annja Creed

Who says the boys get to have all of the fun?  A trained archaeologist, Annja uses her role as co-host of Chasing History’s Monsters to finance her travels as she works on her own research.  Although she’s an admitted skeptic, Annja frequently finds herself coming face-to-face with mystical artifacts across the globe.  She’s also the heir of Joan of Arc’s magical broadsword…which, y’know, can come in handy.