Who are TV's biggest baddies?
This is a sentence I never thought I'd write anytime soon:
MTV got me thinking the other day.
The spark was the onetime music channel's list of Greatest Movie Badasses, announced Friday at New York's edition of the legendary Comic Con fan gathering and circulated by press release. MTV consulted producers, actors and fans to cobble together its roster, topped by Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry and featuring Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley, Bruce Willis' John McClain and Mel Gibson's Mad Max.
But I find tough guy heroes mostly predictable and mostly boring So I wondered instead: Who are TV's toughest bad guys?
Here's my list, with explanations attached. Please add your own in the comments section -- if they're good enough, I'll pop them in the St. Petersburg Times on Sunday, in Floridian's print version of The Feed.
Al Swearengen -- Ian McShane's charismatic villain in HBO's Old West drama Deadwood could whack an underling, plan an enemy's death and discourse on his own upbringing in in whorehouse, all while being, um, serviced by one of his employees.
Mr. T -- Way more appealing as an unhinged bad guy in the third Rocky movie -- back before anyone knew whether this mohawked ex-bouncer was for real or not. But since this is a TV list, we gotta credit his A-Team work as seriously B.A.
Sylar -- Supremely powerful and supremely bloodthirsty, Zachary Quinto's Sylar is a compelling villain, though his search for his long-lost dad this season is just another example of how NBC's superhero series seems determined to strand great characters in awful storylines.
Tony Soprano -- Whacking an informant during his daughter's college tour and forcing his pal's business into bankruptcy to pay off his gambling debt was just a warm-up. When he killed a younger cousin who was more like a son, then James Gandolfini's HBO mob boss entered the bad guy pantheon.
Joan Collins -- Assorted b-words on Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy are mere echoes of Collins' Alexis Carrington, the ultimate TV diva. I list the actresses' name here because, like Mr. T, Collins seems mostly to be playing herself.
Khan Noonien Singh -- Sure, Ricardo Montalban's Khan made the second Star Trek movie watchable. But if you watch that character's first appearance, when Montalban played him as a dark-haired, pony-tailed mashup of Genghis Khan and Geronimo in the 1967 Star Trek TV episode "Space Seed," you see the real roots of this compelling bad guy.