Welcome to day 2 of Giddy Up America’s Greatest HBO Character Ever tournament. You can find the results from day one and the first round of the Tony Soprano bracket here. Not many surprises yesterday, except for 7 seed Kenny Powers upsetting Al Swearengen of Deadwood, a number 2 seed. Overcoming addictions was the difference maker in the match-up between Bubbles of The Wire and the fine New Zealand gentlemen of Flight of the Conchords, while both Tony Soprano and Nucky Thompson moved on relatively easily.
Today we have round 1 of the Jimmy McNulty bracket.
1. Jimmy McNulty (The Wire) vs. 8. Murray Hewitt (Flight of the Conchords)
Here’s what Murray has going in his favor:
– every scene he was in on Flight of the Conchords was hilarious
– you can make the argument that his presence on the show is what made Flight of the Conchords a better show than Tenacious D
– his nickname, Ginger Balls, inspired a drink I took to when I was living in Philly- Red Bull & Gin, which I called Ginger Balls.
– it literally never got old how he started his band meetings
– he appreciates the rock ‘n roll lifestyle
But unfortunately Murray is going up against McNulty and while I’m not going to sit here and list the numerous reasons why McNulty is great (there will be time for that later) I’ll just point out the following: McNulty once crashed his car while driving drunk and then proceeded to reenact the crash several times as he investigated why it happened.
Case closed. Thanks for playing Murray.
4. Eric Northman (True Blood) vs. 5. Vern Schillinger (Oz)
In his book, The Revolution Was Televised, TV critic Alan Sepinwall argues that it was Oz, and not The Sopranos, that started this new golden age of television we are currently living in. Oz essentially paved the way for The Sopranos to exist. Vern Schillinger was one of the main characters on the show- a rape-happy neo-Nazi played excellently by JK Simmons.
But in the last season of Oz, Schillinger was stabbed by another inmate. This wouldn’t be a bad thing except for the fact that in this tournament he’s going against Northman, a vampire who pretty much can’t be killed.
But let’s not sell Northman short. Is there any doubt he’s the most fascinating, interesting and entertaining character on True Blood? In the show’s fourth season he was basically given amnesia by the local witch, resulting in a totally different Eric than we had previously grown accustomed too. The fact that it was simultaneously enjoyable and frustrating to watch a new Eric is a testament to the strength of the character and the job Alexander Skarsgard does playing him. A different side of the character was muy enjoyable, but you missed the old Eric.
3. Hannah Horvath (Girls) vs. 6. Ali G (Da Ali G Show)
This is a tough match-up for Lena Dunham’s Hannah as she’s really not just up against Ali G. She’s essentially up against Ali G, Borat and Bruno. No wait, that doesn’t seem fair. Those three were separate characters on the show. Okay, wait.
I need to think about this.
Here, watch another Murray scene while I think some more.
Okay, I’ve thought about this. Borat and Bruno don’t count. It’s not fair. They in turn get lumped in with people like Michael Lee, Marlo and Roman Grant- people who just missed the cut.
So if it’s just Hannah for Ali G, let’s see how it shakes down.
Oh wait, it’s also important to separate Hannah from Lena. Doing that diminishes Hannah’s cultural significance quite a bit. As a character, she’s funny, interesting and usually pretty entertaining. But let’s not fall prey to what’s hot today, which if that were the case- Hannah would be the easy winner. Ali G was on back in 2003-2006. That was a while ago. The Phillies weren’t even good yet, Barack Obama was just a charismatic senator from Illinois and a tablet was something you took when you had a headache. I think it’s important to remember just how effin’ funny Ali G was.
But you know, even keeping clips like that in mind, I don’t think it pushes Ali G over the top.
This is a tough one.
So I asked Elyse, who despite only seeing a few episodes of The Ali G Show, made a pretty solid case for Hannah- a case based largely on the quirks and quotability of Hannah, where the character is headed based on this season so far and her fearlessness, as demonstrated in the episode of Girls this season where Hannah spent all night doing coke and running around New York- all while wearing a fishnet, yellow tank top.
Fearlessness is a tricky thing. I think when it comes down to it, what Hannah is doing and what she stands for is both important and entertaining. Ali G was entertaining as hell. But important? Not so much.
2. Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) vs. 7. Paulie Walnuts (The Sopranos)
It’s the battle of cantankerous or ornery old white dudes!
But unfortunately for Paulie, it ain’t much of a battle. Larry David is a juggernaut. He stars on Broadway shows, instigates a Seinfeld reunion to win back his ex-wife and picks fights with people like Michael J. Fox.
You can’t compete with that.
Winner: Larry David
Next Up? Round 1 of the Tyrion Lannister bracket.