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TV's Top Action Heroines: The Results Are In!

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 Post subject: TV's Top Action Heroines: The Results Are In!
PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:55 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:06 am
Posts: 76
Thanks everyone for participating in the poll! I had fun, and now I'll be watching at least one show I've never seen. And now, on with the awards ceremony.

With a single, lowest-place nomination, we have:

• River Song (from Doctor Who)
• Nikita (Maggie Q's version)
• Emma Peel (from The Avengers)

River Song (from Doctor Who)

River Song was a late revision for me, after I realized that my original nominee, Arya Stark, had not done much on the tv show... yet. In a year's time, I might have a different list.

But River Song was extraordinary in her own right. After decades of (mostly female) companions whose role was largely to be in awe of the Doctor and occasionally need to be rescued, the Doctor encountered Professor Song. River might be the only character who has consistently left the Doctor speechless. Supremely self-confident, River strides out armed with a gun and her psychedelic lipstick.

Maggie Q as Nikita (La Femme Nikita)

Jim tells us about Maggie Q's Nikita: "This is the first series which really brought Hong Kong levels of ass-kickery to American network television, mostly thanks to Maggie Q. I have largely been disappointed by the second season, which has got more than a bit whiny, but the original broke new ground in action-heroism."

Emma Peel (The Avengers)

Werner nominated Emma Peel, but she may have gotten more support if the rules had been clearer. With her droll humor, her lean shape, and her Captain Midnight bodysuit, Mrs. Peel inspired a generation.

With slightly more acclaim here, we have:

• Sidney Bristow (from Alias)
• Sabrina (from Charlie's Angels)

Sidney Bristow (from Alias)

Jim celebrates Sidney: "One of these days, I'm going to have to go back and re-watch this series, as I've been doing with Xena. I remember it being essential viewing at the time, but I'm not certain exactly why. Having just watched Korean series Killer K, clearly heavily influenced by it, must have had something!"

Sabrina (from Charlie's Angels)
Werner tells us that Sabrina was "played by Kate Jackson, whom [he] had a colossal crush on."

Moving on to those who garnered four points:

• Caroline Forbes (The Vampire Diaries)
• Honey West (Honey West)

Caroline Forbes (from The Vampire Diaries)

It's difficult to say anything about Caroline, since it involves major spoilers. Let's just say that if you watch the series, she begins as a whiny, insecure teenager, an easy victim for sexual predators; but eventually she comes to kick ass, and kick it hard and memorably.

Honey West (from Honey West)

Jim on Honey West: "The original action heroine, even if Anne Francis really couldn't do anything except front-flip the villains. But it was a truly novel concept, to have a woman take the lead in a series with any kind of fighting; even though she had a partner, there was no doubt who ran the show, figuratively and literally. "

With five points we have:

• Veronica Mars (Veronica Mars)
• Echo (Dollhouse)

Veronica Mars (from Veronica Mars)

I'm sitting here, kind of speechless that Veronica Mars didn't rank higher. In some alternate universe, a universe without Buffy, Veronica Mars is far and away my favorite tv heroine. Not so much a fighter as a detective, Veronica is a teenage outsider on a quest to understand her world -- a world she won't understand until she solves the murder of her best friend, Lilly. Using her intelligence and skills learned from her private investigator father, Veronica solves crimes in a film noir version of high school, in a town where class struggle and racial tension are always simmering. That first season is as close as I have seen to television perfection. Sure, some mysteries-of-the-week are flimsy, but sharp dialogue, interesting characters, a father-daughter relationship for the ages, and the flawlessly unfolding mystery of who killed Lilly Kane make for simply staggering amounts of awesome.

The series declined, season by season. If the latter two seasons had been even close to the quality of the first, VM would likely have eclipsed Buffy for me. And that's saying something.

Echo (from Dollhouse)

Hyomil on Echo: "They really tapped in to something with a character who was a 'blank slate' and had various personalities 'uploaded' into her when needed. Eliza Dushku was more convincing at some than others but often the most compelling parts were Echo's 'blank' state, where there was a guileless, yet still strong, quality about her, in contrast with the sassy or defiant persona she usually tends toward. But the writing was inconsistent, lacked direction, and turned to melodrama and 'surprise twists' toward the end of the second season."

With six points, we have:

• Faith Lehane (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel)

Faith Lehane (from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Angel)

Eliza Dushku's second appearance on the list is the most morally ambiguous character so far. Faith came along and seemed to share Buffy's burden; the two could be slayers together. But Faith lacked a clear ethical center, and often pursued her whims at the expense of what's right. Her need for validation led her first to the corrupt Watcher Gwendolyn Post, and eventually to working for the Mayor. But this is a Whedon fiction, where redemption is always possible, but never easy. The Faith-centric two-part episode from Season 4, "Who Are You," is as fine an essay on compassion and redemption as I've ever seen.

And here we go with the final three!

Our #3 action heroine of TV...

With twelve points...

Twice as many points as our fourth-place heroine...

Our #3 action heroine is...

Peta Wilson's Nikita

Hyomil explains the allure: "You could tell a lot of thought went into the characters in the first two seasons or so before they too fell into the trap of melodrama, shock tactics, and surprise twists you so often see shows fall back on when they're unsure where else to go with what they’ve created and fear repeating themselves."

I've never seen an episode, but you can bet I'll be checking it out.

In second place...

With thirteen points, just barely ahead of Nikita...

Our #2 action heroine is...

Xena, the Warrior Princess!

Jim sounds off: "The Warrior Princess broke the mould of action heroines, by being the first one who looked like she genuinely could kick your arse. Lasted six seasons and 134 episodes, entirely in syndication, without the backing of a network. Sunk by the 'shippers as I recall, but we'll see how that holds up as I continue re-viewing it), The show also gave us Hudson Leick's Callisto, the finest action villainess of them all, and Zoe Bell. But Lawless was its focus, and rightfully so."

Hyomil adds: "Campy parts of the show aside, Lucy Lawless brought a strong presence to the character when the scripts called for it."

And in the top spot...

first place...

our favorite television action heroine of all...

She-Ra, Princess of Power!

Originally envisioned as a female counterpart to the cartoon "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe," She-Ra eventually surpassed all expectations, and became both role model for a generation and a subversive force against patriarchal society. When She-Ra held aloft her sword and said, "For the honor of Greyskull," a cascade of sparks would fall around her, transforming her into herself. Usurping Wonder Woman's traditional place, and embodying the hope and faith of a generation, She-Ra paved the way for a stronger, more sophisticated breed of womanhood, a womanhood that was cool not cold, warm not hot, and yes I'm kidding.

Because we all know who came in first.

We all voted for her. No other action heroine garnered votes from every single participant.

Buffy. Anne. Summers.

With a whopping NINETEEN points.

Buffy Summers, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Hyomil says, "there was a cool mood at the beginning of the series when Drusilla still loomed as a destabilizing, unpredictable, boundary-less force that countered the artificiality of Buffy and co., Spike was menacing instead of pathetic, Angel was an intense presence instead of a comedian trying not to seem like one, and there was a clever and surprising interplay between a bright high school world and a dark underworld...."

Jim says, "With some of the crispest writing on TV anywhere, this set the bar in terms of characterization and dialogue."

When I'm discussing Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it's hard for me not to stray into grandiose territory. Because there was so much brilliant. The first episode I saw was "Hush," where the creepy Gentlemen steal all the voices in the town, and the characters are forced to express themselves without words, highlighting a lot about communication, with so much humor and asskicking it has to be seen to be believed. Along its seven-year run, it raised the bar for tv musicals, explored death unflinchingly, mocked itself and made us laugh, and broke our hearts alongside the heroine.

What are your thoughts about the poll and its results? What would you do differently? Do you think the weighted results worked out well? What other polls would you like to see?

This has been an unofficial Girls With Guns presentation, announcing the results of the first poll regarding tv's top action heroines. And always remember: only She-Ra can protect you from the EVIL FORCES OF HORDAK!

 Post subject: Re: TV's Top Action Heroines: The Results Are In!
PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 11:28 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2010 8:03 pm
Posts: 502
And a round of applause to your master of ceremonies Yāoguài, for orchestrating such a fine awards ceremony, complete with video tributes. :) Inspired by this, I'll also be joining him in fast-tracking Peta Wilson's Nikita - if any series of 22 episodes can ever be described as "fast tracked"! - for viewing once I polish off the last couple of eps of Xena Series 2, which should be completed in the next couple of days.

 Post subject: Re: TV's Top Action Heroines: The Results Are In!
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:50 am 

Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:51 am
Posts: 40
Yaoquai, thanks for creating this poll, and for the cool "awards" post with all the video clips! (I really got a kick out of the Kate Jackson Sabrina montage, and I'll definitely have to check out the others when I get a chance.) As far as suggestions for other polls, my Action Heroine Fans group on Goodreads has had fun at times with category-based polls; for instance, favorite pistol-packing cowgirl, female spy, tough female detective, etc. (We're more oriented to books than film/TV, but we've done at least one poll for action heroines in those media, too.)

Back in the day, my three daughters (now all grown) used to like to watch the cartoon show featuring He-Man's sister She-Ra, so naturally I watched it with them at times. Granted, she was a kid's cartoon character; but she did present a good example of courage and strength in standing up for others and protecting them. So I'll join you in giving the lady her propers as a pretty good action heroine role model for the younger female set. :-)

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