Wednesday, November 18, 2009
My Favorite Characters: A Martian Paisan
J. Michael Straczynski's Babylon 5 was a brilliant and beloved piece of television writing, and picking one favorite character took a bit of thought, since I liked just about everyone on that show. Today, I bring you Michael Garibaldi, station security chief. Jerry Doyle seemed like kind of a Bruce Willis type actor, (I also bet he gets sick of hearing that comparison) in that he's the ideal Ordinary Joe caught up in a difficult situation. His Garibaldi was just right. He's from twenty-third century Mars, but in every way that matters he's an Italian guy from the Bronx. I think Garibaldi wanted to be eveybody's friend, and the universe just kept screwing him over to the point where he developed a crust of paranoia and mistrust. Hands down the easiest human character to like on sight, I just responded to his fierce loyalty, snide sense of humor, and especially his hobbies. He once claimed watching a Duck Dodgers cartoon was his second favorite thing in the universe, and whether he meant TV and popcorn, cartoons, Daffy Duck specifically, or parent company Warner Brothers in general, I find myself in total agreement!
Like everyone on Babylon 5, he endured a lot of crap in the turmoil of his life: betrayal, becoming the betrayer, physical anguish, emotional heartache, yadda yadda bing bing blah. But I never felt like it was overwrought or false. The drama was REAL to me then. I could empathize and relate. Garibaldi wasn't perfect, but he was a hard worker doing a dangerous job in space. He knew how to put in his hours every day, find the right lady, and maybe build a motorcycle for a joyride in the hallways.
I admired him as a joker, a buddy cop, a force for good and justice, and a teetotaller. I was miserable with him when he fell off the wagon. And I was as surprised by how his life story turned out as he would have been. Michael Garibaldi: prime example of the triumph of the human spirit now and in the distant futures of the imagination.
Damn, but I want to watch that series again!