Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Nerd Man: Anthony Stewart Head

Nostalgia made me do it. I admit right here and now that the selection of Anthony Stewart Head as October’s much-delayed Nerd Man of the Month was at least in part* the result of listening to the “Once More With Feeling” soundtrack and remembering just how wonderful Head was as Giles on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” And that voice! No one can deny the magnetic quality of that voice. Le rowr.

A true journeyman actor, Head seems to pop up everywhere and often when you least expect it. After starting off in those God-awful coffee commercials years ago, he ended up on the sci-fi series VR-5. Then later, there was Buffy, which deserves a paragraph of its own. We had the BBC’s “Manchild” series, which I adored. He sang his transvestite heart out in the London revival of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” He popped up in “Sweeney Todd.” He rocked in “Doctor Who.” (And what a loss that he didn’t get the part of the Eighth Doctor. He’d have been perfect.) He looked wonderfully confused and stern in “Little Britain.” He’s going to be in the BBC’s “Merlin” series as King Arthur’s father, and he’s got a very disturbing and gory musical film coming out called “Repo! The Genetic Opera.” The man’s even got his own CD, “Music For Elevators.”

As terrific as Head is in all those parts, it's his role as Giles that truly cements his nerd man status. Sarah Michelle Gellar may have been the star of “Buffy” and James Marsters and David Boreanez its heart throbs, but Head was the anchor. A show about teenagers and the pain of growing up needed a strong parent figure and Head’s Giles was always up to the challenge. He was caring and funny and charmingly self-involved – his mid-life crisis after his “kids” went away to college was particularly great. Most of all, Giles was smart and may well have been the first character in the history of television to make research sexy. The true value of Head became clear after he left the show in season 6 when, in my opinion, “Buffy” lost so much of its heart.

Besides the acting skills and genre credentials, by all accounts Head just seems like a nice guy. And we nerdy chicks dig the nice guys. Plus, aesthetically speaking, just look at that photo. What’s not to love?

So, for being a stellar actor, for filling our genre needs, for having a voice that makes us purr, for making Giles awesome and for being a generally swell fellow, The Park Bench is pleased to name Anthony Stewart Head as its October Nerd Man of the Month.

* Agent57 was also kind enough to suggest Head during my plea for nominees last week. Thanks, Agent57!


Unknown said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE HIM! Great Choice! :)

Florinda said...

We've been revisiting Buffy on DVD while introducing it to my 14-year-old stepdaughter - who LOVES it, she's not stupid - so I have to applaud this month's selection!

Michele said...

It's not too late for ASH to be the Eleventh Doctor...

Also, Giles was always my heartthrob character in "Buffy" - I've never lusted after Spike or Angel even 1/10th as much as I lusted after Giles... Le Rowr indeed!!

agent57 said...

Yay! :D

Giles might be the most awesome character ever. With the usual high school show, the parental figures are so often one-note characters. They either serve as the set up for lessons to be learned by the kids, or as the jerks that the kids can rebel against. He maybe started out as Stuffy Research Guy, but Giles totally evolved into this deep character who developed complex relationships with the other characters, made plenty of his own mistakes to go along with his non-mistakes, and kicked some (read: rather a lot of) ass.

But I've learned that Whedon doesn't make usual shows.

Michele: He was always the one I crushed on the most, too. It took me a long time to admit it, though, being a lame teenager.

Now I have to go watch the clip of him playing Free Bird.


Lisa said...

I saw him tape a radio show for the BBC in London. It's called 'Bleak Expectations' and is a spoof of all those British period dramas and Dickeens etc. He plays a couple characters. I highly recommend it, it's totally hilarious, in a dark comedy kinda way.

Liz said...

Agent57, I agree with you totally about Giles. He was by far my favorite character and he was constantly changing. I always liked the way his melancholy over his duty and responsibility mirrored Buffy's. They truly were a wonderful father/daughter team in that they both had gone through the same things. Brilliant character. Ooh, and thanks for the Freebird link. I was looking for that last night!

And Michele, heck yes, he was always my Buffy heartthrob, too.

Anonymous said...

I remember seeing ASH in the Taster's Choice commercials when I was a child. I couldn't understand why all the moms thought the character was such "a fox". After falling in love with BtVS in syndication, I also fell for ASH as Giles. A little Internet research, and I realized he was the coffee guy. AHAH! Now I get what the moms were saying!

Great pick for Nerd Man!!

Michele said...

agent57: Hee! I didn't watch Buffy until just before S7 aired and I was long out of my teens, so Giles definitely appealed: older man, librarian, wears specs - that's my kinda man!

Oh, and now David Tennant's announced he's leaving? Definitely ASH for Eleven!

agent57 said...

I have a particular weakness for tweed.

I would love love love ASH as the Doctor. (I think I heard he auditioned for the part of the Eighth Doctor...) I feel like it probably wouldn't happen, since he's already played a villain on the show. (Two, if you count voice work on a sort of non-episode) But, then, they've been known to recycle actors before.

I would be fine with Eddie Izzard too, I admit.

Michele said...

Yes, both Colin Baker and Lalla Ward played one-story roles and then got cast into major roles so it's entirely possible to do...

It won't happen though. Team Cardiff insist on having someone young who'll be able to do endless running (why they don't just do away with the endless running, I don't know!)

agent57 said...

Psh, running! I thought I had heard something about them not wanting anymore old (or, rather, "old") dudes in the part, and I think it's a terrible idea. Isn't part of the fun of it that you can go from one type of Doctor to a completely different but equally awesome one? A non-runny one, even?

I love Tennant, and will miss him, but that doesn't mean I want another Tennant. (Just like I loved both Rose and Martha, but I was so glad last season to have a companion who didn't have a ladyboner for the Doctor. Um, if you'll excuse the expression.)

(I admit I still haven't watched much of the classic show. I am no good at being a geek.)

Michele said...

Non-runny... Now I'm picturing Ten as an egg and killing myself trying not to roar with laughter (it's still pretty early here in the UK!)

Sorry - I think my brain's frazzled as my LJ Friends List is full of this news about Who.

And yes, I agree, that it's stupid to say "no older actor" just because of the fitness issue. Dammit I want someone that all the silly girlies aren't going to fawn over (I love David Tennant to bits, he's fantastic actor, but I'm sick of all the childishness surrounding him).

I grew up on Who - Four and Sarah Jane were my first Doctor and Companion - but I love almost all of them (I prefer Audio!Six to TV!Six). I've got my faves amongst the companions too (Martha finally supplanted Sarah Jane as my fave companion - but I love lots of them too!)

agent57 said...

A admit, being the fangirl I am, that I shipped Doctor/Rose earlier on, (still do when I rewatch the episodes) but it got weird and forced during the end. Mostly the other fangirls killed it for me, with their venom over the fact that there might be other companions. (Of course there would be, this is a long tradition that was going on before most of you were born.) Then Martha's crush just seemed extremely out of character to me, even given the fact that I didn't really even know the character yet.

To steer this halfway back to on-topic, (not that we're so concerned with topics around here.) I think that ASH was actually what got me into Doctor Who in the first place. I had seen a few partial episodes or bits from the first season, but then during a boring day at my crappy computer lab job, I found the teaser for School Reunion and knew I had to watch it because of Creepy!Head. After that I was intrigued by the fact that this Doctor was a different Doctor but still the same Doctor, and started to watch it in earnest.

And that's my story. I hope you enjoyed it. I'm here every Thursday. (Not true, actually. I have some TV I've got to go watch.)

Michele said...

Martha's crush was understandable in the first episode after he kissed her, she saved his life, he saved hers, but then it was just pasted on and annoying and should have been ditched but RTD had to go paint himself into a corner like an idiot!

Ahem. Sorry, very long, ranting sentence there...

Creey!ASH was very creepy! I love that ep for him and for Sarah Jane ('cos she was my first companion), and for Mickey's belated realisaiton he could drive Sarah Jane's car into the school. (I bet K9 was rolling his eyes there! "We're in a car"!)

Anonymous said...

Super choice for Nerd Man! The very first Buffy episode I ever watched was season two's "Halloween," and ASH was definitely the #1 reason I continued tuning in to the show after that. Wonderful character, wonderful actor.

Ironically, the first thought that crossed my mind way back when I was first absorbing the character of Giles was "This guy would've made an amazing Doctor." (I wish I'd written that down and date-stamped it, LOL!). Very funny to find out later he had in fact auditioned for Eight (though Fate probably spared him on that one; AIUI, the TV movie was horrible).

I would not mind seeing ASH as Eleven, but IMO it would be a pretty conventional and predictable choice: middle-aged white guy who already has strong ties to the show. If the new producers want to go back to an older Doctor, I'd actually rather see Bill Nighy in the role.

As for Buffy hearthrobs, as much as I loved Giles, I must say the guy I fell for like a ton of bricks was Oz. Cute, smart, laconic, played guitar, werewolf, and fell in love with Willow when she was swaddled from head to foot in an Eskimo costume and he could only see her face. If it's not too cheeky of me, could I nominate him for future Nerd Man honors? He's known to be a huge Star Wars geek, and he makes a very fast cameo in a Weird Al video, so I would argue that his nerd cred is well established. : D

Oh, and "ladyboner?" Never heard that one before, but I love it, and congrats to Agent57 for making me fall off my chair laughing.

agent57 said...

Seth Green would be a good future Nerd Man, actually... He's got that whole animation geek thing going which gets him extra points in my book. Stop motion, even!

Alas, I can't take credit for "ladyboner". My sister either invented it or found it somewhere. I'm just happy to spread it about the unsuspecting internet. Glad it got a laugh.

Camera Obscura said...

I find it amusing that the new UK show Demons (aka The Last Van Helsing for those of you that aren't keeping up with the class) has given the vampire-slaying teenager's mentor the first name of Rupert, even though he's supposed to be an American. Being roughly the same age as that character (or at least being 8.5 months older than the actor playing the role) I'd have to state that I don't know any American males that age named Rupert. But as a friend suggested, maybe it's just a tribute to ASH's role in BtVS.

P.S. UK Life on Mars / Ashes to Ashes fans, the actor to whom I refer is Phil Glenister.

P.P.S. Did you see the cover / article in the latest Radio Times? You'll recognize the pose...

agent57 said...

Mr. Carter... er, Gene... er, I mean Phil... is in a show about killing vampires? Why didn't I hear about this before, and where do I sign up?

I still haven't seen season 2 of LoM, or any of Ashes to Ashes. I've got to get on that. (I'm interested in hearing about how terrible the US remake is, but I refuse to actually watch it. Is it really really terrible? Is anyone paying attention?)

Camera Obscura said...

The Carlisle Cooperative (yes, they're major Blackpool fans) have done a drunken review of LoM-US episode 1 in a desperate attempt to avoid the election night telly. It is perhaps the best review I've seen of the show. Yes, it is really terrible. The only parts tolerable are where they don't copy the original. And they're emphasizing a Ray - Sam connection, because O'Mara and Keitel have totally no chemistry. *shudders*

Demons: the scoop at Phil's site, the info from the London Expo at the LJ comm.

agent57 said...

Yes, drunken desperate reviews! Shall have to read.

Really, just judging from the bad taste the teasers gave me, my biggest beef was that they were trying to do a blow-by-blow re-enactment of the original. They used the same costumes*, shots, and dialogue... only with US refs in place of the British ones, and a surprising lack of the wit/chemistry that was there before. I really don't see the point in doing such a close remake of a perfectly fine show that came out (about) three years before and actually has aired over here. Bring something original to the mix!

*Seeing "Sam Tyler" in the Sam Tyler get-up, only it wasn't actually Sam Tyler? So weird. SO WRONG.

agent57 said...

Okay, I only got halfway through that review before it (and not even watching the actual episode) got too depressing, and I had to go watch the first episode of the UK series. Which just reminds me just how great the original series is, and that I think everyone should watch it.

"Mn. I need a drink."
"That's the first sensible thing you've said since you got here."