For my World Television Day Blogathon, I was originally going to review one of the books in the Murder, She Wrote series. But with the recent passing of Angela Lansbury, I thought it would be a bit too soon. Therefore, I decided to write about the top ten characters who didn’t reach their full potential instead. What does it mean for a character to reach their “full potential”? In my opinion, it means a character is given the opportunity to reach their goals, make their dreams come true, and allow their stories to be told to a satisfying extent. Unfortunately, some characters are denied these opportunities for various reasons. This list will address the characters I wish had received their full potential. For the sake of this discussion, I will focus on characters who appeared in television shows or made-for-tv movies. While there are some characters I have talked about before, I tried to include those I never talked about on 18 Cinema Lane. There will also be spoilers for the television shows and movies discussed in this list.
1. Matthew Rogers from Little House on the Prairie
Yes, I’m starting this list with a character I’ve written part of an editorial about. However, I feel there’s an argument to be made for Matthew not reaching his full potential. On Little House on the Prairie, he was introduced in the show’s last season. Within that season, Matthew only appeared in a total of three episodes, departing in the series finale. This left him with little to no time to reach his full potential. Meanwhile, characters such as Albert Ingalls, Willie Oleson, and even Nancy Oleson had their potential recognized because they were introduced in earlier seasons. Had Matthew made his debut in, say, season seven, his chances to reach his full potential may have been stronger.
2. Jamey Farrell from 24
24 was released during a very interesting time. It was almost ten years after the premiere of Jurassic Park, a film that showed Dr. Ian Malcolm breaking the mold of a “geek/nerd”. But 24 was also released almost ten years prior to Iron Man, when the idea of the “cool geek/nerd” would be fully embraced by the media. Before Robert Downey Jr. accepted the role of Tony Stark/Iron Man, Karina Arroyave portrayed Jamey on 24. A beautiful, intelligent, and charismatic woman, Jamey had the potential to be the Dr. Ian Malcolm of the show. In fact, I think if the show’s writers had allowed her to reach her full potential, Jamey could have been the reason why the media embraced the “cool geek/nerd” idea a lot sooner than they did. As the events of 24’s first season unfolded, though, Jamey’s sparkling personality became watered down and her unique attire morphed into looking just like every other employee. Becoming a villain and dying after appearing in ten episodes ended all chances of Jamey reaching her full potential.
3. Jiggy Nye from Felicity: An American Girl Adventure
Another character I’ve written an editorial about joins this list. In the 2005 made-for-tv film, Jiggy was presented more as a victim than a villain. This is because he didn’t come across as a big enough threat to the protagonist. It also doesn’t help how Jiggy’s backstory was poorly incorporated into the script. Felicity: An American Girl Adventure is based on a six-book series. Like any adaptation, changes were made between books and film. When it comes to Jiggy’s part of the story, though, it seems like he received the short end of the stick. From a writing perspective, he deserved so much better.
4. Libby from Lost
Out of all the characters from Lost to not receive their full potential, especially those from season two, Libby is the one you can make the strongest argument for. Introduced as one of the “Tailies”, there was so much mystery and intrigue surrounding her and her story. When Libby and Hurley started a romantic relationship, things seemed to be going well with her character development. Sadly, Libby’s story was short-lived, as she died toward the end of the second season. Because of her departure, none of the mysteries surrounding her were ever addressed. Libby never even received any flashbacks.
5. Amédée Chevalier from Hallmark Hall of Fame’s O Pioneers!
I first mentioned Amédée in my review of the 1992 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation. In his limited appearance in the movie, he had so much potential. From his athleticism to his charisma, Amédée could go anywhere and be anyone he wanted. Sadly, his story was cut short due to dying off-screen of appendicitis. From the information I’ve found about Amédée, he only made three appearances in the book. This makes me wonder if his full potential was always meant to be denied?
6. Captain Lynch and Judy from Crusoe
Long before 18 Cinema Lane existed, there was a television adaptation called Crusoe. In the season premiere, Captain Lynch and Judy arrived on Robinson’s island. Similar to Libby from Lost, Judy and Captain Lynch were surrounded in mystery and intrigue. But toward the end of the season premiere, these characters departed from the show. While Captain Lynch died, Judy was taken away by the Royal Naval Police, never to be seen again. It also didn’t help how Crusoe survived for only one season.
7. Barry Klemper from Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Boys Next Door
I always thought there was an argument to be made for Barry Klemper’s full potential in the 1996 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation. A photogenic and articulate man, Barry had a passion for golf, which he kept alive at his job at a driving range. Had he received a more one-on-one, individualized approach to his care, I honestly think Barry could have lived a, somewhat, independent life. But all that momentum Barry had was destroyed when his father showed up and intimidated him. This interaction caused Barry to spend the remainder of the story in a psychiatric hospital. The Boys Next Door is based on a play that I have not read or seen in its entirety, so I’m not sure how respectful the adaptation is to its source material. All I know is Barry Klemper not reaching his full potential is, in my opinion, heart-breaking.
8. Moon from Cedar Cove
The proprietor of Moon’s Café, Moon is one of the most important characters of the 2013 Hallmark Channel show. Along with coffee and baked goods, Moon serves up wisdom to those who will provide a listening ear. I even recall one episode where he claimed he was adopted. This tidbit could have opened the doors to a compelling story for Moon. But during Cedar Cove’s three season run, Moon, more often than not, was overshadowed by the other characters and their stories. Since the show ended in 2015, there have been no announced plans to release a Cedar Cove movie or reunion special. Hallmark’s lack of interest in revisiting their first scripted show leaves Moon with no more chances to reach his full potential.
9. Harris Trinsky from Freaks and Geeks
After watching some episodes of Freaks and Geeks, Harris has become my favorite character from the show. His “wise beyond his years” perspective make him a character the “geeks” can trust and others can respect. Harris also had a lot going for him, from his intelligence to his interest in Dungeons & Dragons. Unfortunately, Freaks and Geeks lasted for only one season. The fact Harris was a recurring character didn’t help his case either, as he appeared in ten of the show’s eighteen episodes.
10. Jesse and Clara from When Calls the Heart
When I was creating this list, I, at first, didn’t think there were any characters from When Calls the Heart who didn’t reach their full potential. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized Jesse and Clara fit my list’s criteria. Clara came to Hope Valley in season two, still healing from a broken heart. Season three saw the arrival of Jesse, seeking a second chance after living a life of crime. When Clara and Jesse became a couple, they had their whole lives and relationship ahead of them. But the longer they stayed on the show, the more overshadowed they became. Jesse and Clara were given few good stories during their time on When Calls the Heart. They were also denied the outdoor wedding of their dreams. Clara and Jesse were written out of the show after season seven.
For years, I’ve had this small, artificial Christmas tree. I tried to make an effort to put it up and decorate it. But, for one reason or another, I never found the time to do this. In order to help me remember, I’ve decided to take on a new on-going project! Every year, I will purchase a Christmas tree decoration that represents something about my blog! This idea came from Rachel from Rachel’s Reviews and Hallmarkies Podcast, where she decorates her Christmas tree with ornaments that reflect her year. For 2020, I’ve purchased a small colonial style hat! Last year, I wrote an editorial about why Jiggy Nye, from Felicity: An American Girl Adventure, is not an effective villain. Because Jiggy is from Williamsburg, Virginia and since I’ve been to Williamsburg, Virginia, this little hat was too perfect to pass up!
Do you like my new project? Which decoration would you suggest for my Christmas tree? Please tell me in the comment section!
When I first heard about The 5th Annual Great Villain Blogathon, I was originally going to write about a movie, that I haven’t seen yet, where the primary focus was on a villainous character. However, after accepting the Sunshine Blogger Award, I decided to talk about Jiggy Nye from the movie, Felicity: An American Girl Adventure. This film is based on the Felicity series from the American Girl Historical Collection. For almost three decades, the character of Felicity has represented the late 1700s, during the time of the Revolutionary War. In 2005, this particular series was adapted into the aforementioned film. As someone who has read some of Felicity’s stories, as well as seen this movie, I used to think that Jiggy Nye was an effective villain. Over time, I realized that he wasn’t as villainous as I remembered. Within this editorial, I will explain why I feel this way by primarily referencing Felicity: An American Girl Adventure. I will also be making a few references to two of the books in the Felicity series; Meet Felicity and Changes For Felicity. After making my points about why Jiggy’s not an effective villain, I will share some examples of villains and antagonists that are more effective than him. Now, let’s shed some light on Jiggy Nye and talk about why his reputation as a villain isn’t as strong as other cinematic villains and antagonists.
The Incorporation of Jiggy’s Backstory
A cinematic trend that I’ve personally noticed in recent years is a realistic-sounding backstory being given to a respective film’s villain or antagonist. While this story-telling aspect can provide depth to this particular type of character, there are times when this concept can be executed poorly. This is the case for Felicity: An American Girl Adventure. A minute and forty seconds after Jiggy was introduced on screen, Edward Merriman (Felicity’s father) and Grandfather Merriman share Jiggy’s backstory with the entire family. Though this explanation is brief, they reveal that he used to be a respected gentleman who was very knowledgeable when it came to horses. After his wife died, Jiggy made some poor life choices that are possibly the result of his grief. This limited amount of information could have been useful in developing Jiggy’s character and helping the audience understand why he is the way he is. However, Jiggy’s backstory was, ultimately, given a “don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it” moment. It’s not only addressed in casual passing, but it’s barely referenced throughout the film. The timing of this backstory also came way too early. Because it was brought up less than two minutes after the audience was introduced to Jiggy Nye, it didn’t give the audience an opportunity to become familiar with Jiggy as a villain. Had they spent, at least, half of the movie seeing Jiggy being a villain and then learned about his backstory before a climatic/important moment, it would have given the audience a chance to process this information as well as consider everything they thought they knew about this character.
It’s no secret that I talk about Bucky Barnes quite a bit on this blog. But, as an example, his involvement in Captain America: The Winter Soldier makes sense within the context of this editorial. In the aforementioned film, the audience spent about half of the movie watching Bucky as the Winter Soldier. The audience wasn’t aware that Bucky was the Winter Soldier until Steve Rogers/Captain America removed the mask from his face at about the halfway point of the film. A few moments after this reveal, the audience learned the shocking truth of how Bucky came to be involved with Hydra. This incorporation of Bucky’s backstory was better executed than Jiggy’s backstory in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the audience was given enough time to become familiar with the film’s antagonist. This allowed them to form their own opinion of this character. When the truth about the Winter Soldier is revealed, it makes the audience contemplate these pieces of information as well as re-think everything they thought they knew about him. Because Bucky’s backstory was introduced moments before the film’s climax, it made this reveal more emotional and effective.
No Substantial Evidence
In Felicity: An American Girl Adventure, some of the characters make statements about Jiggy Nye. However, the film fails to provide evidence to these characters’ claims. One example is the characters’ statements about how Jiggy treats his horse, known in the movie/book series as Penny. Toward the beginning of the film, a customer shares her displeasure about Jiggy to Mr. Merriman, saying “I do believe he beat his last horse to death”. When Jiggy arrives at the Merriman family home to retrieve Penny (a moment that I will talk about later), Mr. Merriman tells him “The only crime committed here, sir, is your mistreatment of the poor beast”. Also, when Felicity is trying to persuade her parents to let her keep Penny, she tells her father, “Father, he beats her…and he starves her”. Despite all of these aforementioned claims, there isn’t any substantial proof that Jiggy treats his horse poorly. In the movie, Penny appears to be well-cared for. This horse does not appear starved and there are no signs of injuries on her. The only things that Jiggy does that come close to being abusive toward Penny are tying her to a post in his yard and saying hurtful things toward and about her. In a story when there are claims made about a film’s villain, but no evidence/proof is given to support these claims, it doesn’t provide the audience with a reason to take this character seriously as a villain. It also doesn’t give the audience an explanation as to why they should dislike or be terrified of this character. Because the claims against Jiggy are not supported by evidence/proof, the characters who made the claims appear to have lost a certain amount of credibility.
The villain group, Hydra, in Captain America: The First Avenger is one that the audience doesn’t want to mess with. That’s because the creative team behind this movie portrayed Hydra as dangerous, evil, and cruel. Though this group was shown in the movie for a limited amount of time, their presence brought home the exact point that this film’s creative team was trying to make. It wasn’t until Captain America: The Winter Soldier that the creative team gave their audience solid evidence to the claims that were made about Hydra back in the first film. Not only does this story present examples of this group causing chaos and destruction, but their abuse toward Bucky also shows just how cruel they can be. Because the creative team behind Captain America: The Winter Soldier put in the effort to add evidence to the claims made about Hydra, this gave the audience reasons to not like this villainous group as well as take them seriously as villains. It also made the story and the creative team behind it seem very credible. This is very different from Felicity: An American Girl Adventure.
The way that Jiggy is portrayed in both the Felicity series and Felicity: An American Girl Adventure is in a “villain-turned-hero” way. This specific kind of character development isn’t often seen when it comes to cinematic villains or antagonists. Like with Jiggy’s backstory, however, this part of Jiggy’s story was also poorly executed. Within the first thirty-six minutes of the movie, Jiggy is shown as a villainous character. The next time the audience sees him is twenty-three minutes later, when Jiggy is sleeping on the floor of a jail cell, violently coughing and appearing to be ill. Eight minutes after that, it appears Jiggy has been released from prison, casually walking through the streets of Williamsburg, Virginia and looking like he has recovered from his illness. His final appearance in this movie starts eleven minutes later, when Felicity asks for Jiggy’s help as Penny is about to give birth to a foal. When assessing these gaps in time, it seems like there is an obvious pattern. Jiggy is, essentially, placed in the film for plot convenience. Throughout the movie, the audience, to a certain extent, is given the opportunity to get to know Jiggy as a character. But, when it comes to seeing how Jiggy evolves from villain to hero, the audience never gets to see the personal growth and self-discovery that is usually associated with this kind of character development. If anything, Jiggy’s journey from point A to B feels rushed and sudden, with a limited amount of background provided.
Even though Henry Gowen is from a television show, I believe that his story on When Calls the Heart corelates with the subject of this editorial. For three seasons, Henry Gowen was the resident villain of Hope Valley. It wasn’t until the fourth season when Henry’s villainous ways finally caught up to him. Since When Calls the Heart: The Christmas Wishing Tree, Henry has been making a conscious effort to turn his life around. What works in this character’s favor is that his story is a part of an on-going narrative. Because When Calls the Heart is a continuous television show, not a stand-alone film like Felicity: An American Girl Adventure, the screen-writers have more time to explore Henry’s journey of transforming from villain to hero. What also helps is that Henry is a part of the main cast of characters. This allows him to receive a good amount of screen-time and stay involved within the series. With Jiggy, on the other hand, he isn’t directly related to Felicity’s family or any of her friends/acquaintances. Therefore, he wasn’t given as much screen-time as some of the other characters in the film.
A Hypocritical Protagonist
When an obvious villain/antagonist is placed within a story, there is usually an obvious protagonist to present a balance between right and wrong. Though the protagonist is not meant to be anywhere near perfect, they’re at least meant to make better decisions than the villain/antagonist. While Felicity’s heart was in the right place in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure, some of her choices seem hypocritical. As I mentioned earlier, Felicity and her father made claims about Jiggy mistreating his horse. However, this movie’s titular character is not as innocent as the film wants you to think. In an effort to “save” Penny, Felicity sneaks out of her family’s home in the early morning hours, breaking family rules and disobeying her parents. She also takes Ben’s (her close friend’s) breeches without his permission, trespasses on Jiggy’s property, and steals his horse due to a misunderstanding. On several occasions, some of Felicity’s family and friends try to help her make the right decisions. For example, while spending some time with her grandfather in the garden, he encourages Felicity’s love of horses. At the same time, Grandfather Merriman reminds her that she mustn’t bother Jiggy and his belongings. Despite her family and friends’ efforts, all of their advice goes in one ear and out the other. After Felicity gets reprimanded for stealing Jiggy’s horse, Felicity goes back to trespassing on Jiggy’s property. This time, she sets Penny free into the wild. Because Felicity seems to be making just as many poor choices as Jiggy within the film, it makes these two characters appear more like individuals just trying to get through life than a conflict between villain and protagonist. Even though she uses her grandfather’s advice about choosing kindness over anger later in the film, she doesn’t really set the best of examples, as a protagonist, at an essential time during Jiggy’s story as a villain.
Throughout his trilogy, Steve Rogers/Captain America has always been known for making good decisions, no matter how difficult they seem. One perfect example of this is in Captain America: Civil War. In this film, one of the over-arcing narratives was about the Sokovia Accords. With this document, the use of a superhero’s powers and abilities would be controlled by the government. Not only did Steve take the time to read the Accords, but he decided not to sign it for personal reasons. He knew that his decision would have consequences, but he still stuck by his beliefs. Steve made the choices he did because he felt it benefitted the people around him as well as himself. Unlike Felicity, Steve thought about his actions and choices before he carried them out. He also used a balance of emotion and logic in order to make these decisions. This is also very different from the aforementioned film’s villain, Helmut Zemo. Because he’s upset about losing his family in the tragic events from the previous film, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Zemo’s feelings and emotions fuel his criminal actions. Since Zemo blames the Avengers for the death of his family, he tries to do whatever he can to drive a wedge between the Avengers, from causing massive amounts of destruction to framing Bucky for a crime he didn’t commit. Unlike Steve, Zemo’s decisions seem very self-centered, his only focus being how he’s going to get revenge for his family.
Not a Big Enough Threat
Usually, in tv shows and movies, the villain/antagonist has a consistent presence in the story. This is a way of showing that this character poses as a big enough threat to the protagonist. As I mentioned in argument number three, “No Transition”, Jiggy wasn’t given much screen-time compared to the other characters in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure. I also mentioned that it feels like Jiggy is placed in certain moments of the film for the sake of plot convenience. Because of these observations, Jiggy doesn’t seem like he poses as big of a threat to Felicity. During his “villain stage”, Jiggy and Felicity only interacted with each other on three separate occasions. Not only did they barely speak to one another, but no major conflicts were resolved. Another reason why Jiggy doesn’t really pose as big of a threat in this film is because he doesn’t necessarily do anything that’s villainous. Sure, he said some nasty things (including a threat to kill Penny if Felicity showed up on his property again) and tied his horse to a pole in his yard. But he never commits any serious or unspeakable crimes throughout the film. In argument number three, I said that Jiggy was seen in a jail cell. While his reason for being in prison is never mentioned in the movie, it is said in Changes For Felicity that Jiggy went to “debtors’ jail”. If this is the reason why Jiggy is in jail in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure, it seems like he was unable to pay for anything because of a result of his grief, not because he was trying to take advantage of the system in a criminal way.
For this argument, I’m going to be talking about two examples. The first is the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. A major reason why this character is an effective villain is because she had a more consistent presence in her movie than Jiggy did in his. Even though she doesn’t appear in every scene, the Wicked Witch of the West shows up in enough of them to give the audience the feeling that she is always lurking around the corner. What also helps her case is the music that plays and the special effects that appear whenever she shows up. My other example is Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. While Scrooge is the antagonist at the beginning of the story, the audience never sees or reads about him ever doing anything villainous. Even though being selfish and greedy are not desirable qualities, his choices are not criminal. In fact, Scrooge’s story has similarities to Jiggy’s story, especially since they both transform from villain/antagonist to hero/protagonist. However, Scrooge’s journey is explored more in A Christmas Carol than Jiggy’s is in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure.
My Final Assessment of Jiggy Nye
In the introduction of this editorial, I said that I would describe why I didn’t believe Jiggy Nye was an effective villain in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure. After explaining my reasons why, I feel that Jiggy is presented more as a victim of his personal situation. As I mentioned in my first argument called “The Incorporation of Jiggy’s Backstory”, Jiggy’s wife passed away and his world was greatly affected by it. However, this important detail was barely referenced in the movie, pretty much getting glossed over. It didn’t seem like most of the characters were willing to connect Jiggy’s choices and behaviors to his grief. Because of this, Jiggy became a scapegoat for the sake of needing a villain/antagonist. While he does get a moment to redeem himself and become a hero, this transition wasn’t shown or explored. I understand that this movie was Felicity’s story (especially since her name is in the title) and that this movie is based on a series of books. But I just feel that this aspect of the narrative could have been better executed. If anything, Jiggy was a more effective villain in the first book, Meet Felicity, than in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure. Valerie Tripp, the author of this book, had an entire story to flesh out the character of Jiggy Nye and provide enough evidence to show that he was not a nice person. Because the movie adapted six books into one cinematic narrative, Jiggy’s part of the story was sacrificed and overshadowed.