Tag Archives: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame: Julie Benz

30 Nov

(The Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame is where we turn the spotlight on a television actor or actress, and it is named after their patron saint, Zeljko Ivanek)

Not yet 40, Benz has already compiled an impressive career on television.  Her first role was in brief two season show Hi Honey, I’m Home! in 1991, whose first season aired during ABC’s TGIF block, and which had a concept far more interesting than most failed sitcoms.  The sitcom was about a family composed of fifties TV archetypal sitcom characters rescued from cancelled shows, who are now living in the real world.  Benz played popular daughter character Babs Nielsen and was the only actor from the show to experience any significant later success.  Next, Benz guest starred in a Married with Children episode as a girl who strangely wanted to lose her virginity to Bud.  In the mid-90s she participated in a number of television movies, including Hearts Adrift, Crosstown Traffic, Empire, The Barefoot Executive (as “Sexy Woman”), Veronica’s Video, and A Walton Easter.  She appeared in episodes of Hang Time, High Tide, Step by Step, Boy Meets World, Diagnosis Murder, The Single Guy, Sliders, The Big Easy, and Fame L.A.

She had a recurring role in the short-lived Ask Harriet, about a male sports journalist who pretends to be a woman in order to write an advice column (previously mentioned in the Willie Garson column). Around this time, in 1997, she also got one of her biggest roles as Darla, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Vampire Darla was intended to be a single episode character, but her role was expanded greatly.  Darla was one of the primary antagonists of the first season, as the main henchman to The Master, and died in the seventh episode, when it was revealed that she had a long-term relationship as partner in crime and lover as well as maker of Angel.  She rose from the dead in the last episode of the first season of Angel Season 1 as a human as part of evil law firm Wolfram and Hart’s plan to turn Angel evil again.  The plan didn’t work, but they turn Darla back into a vampire, and she and Angel fight before she eventually becomes pregnant with Angel’s baby, and kills herself, leaving the baby alive.  Over the course of her role as Darla, she appeared in TV movies Good Guys/Bad Guys, Satan’s School for Girls (another sign TV movies have the best names), and The Long Shot and in episodes of The King of Queens, Conrad Bloom, Glory Days and She Spies and in TV miniseries Taken.

Benz was a recurring character in the first season of Roswell as FBI agent Kathleen Topolski and she was a main cast member in one season CBS show Payne, starring John Larroquette and based on Fawlty Towers, moved to California.  She continued her TV work in the mid-00s, with TV movies Lackawanna Blues, Locusts: The 8th Plague, Circle of Friends, Held Hostage, and Uncorked.  She was in episodes of NCIS, Oliver Beene, Supernatural, CSI:Miami, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and Law & Order:  In 2006, she got her biggest role to date as Rita Bennett in Dexter.

DEXTER SPOILERS BEGIN

Rita is serial killer killer Dexter Morgan’s boyfriend at the beginning of Dexter.  He feels damaged and thinks she is a good match for his psychological baggage because she suffered serious emotional trauma from sexual and physical abuse from her ex-husband Paul.  Paul returns and attempts to reassert his place in her life but Dexter frames him and has him sent back to prison.  Eventually the relationship between Dexter and Rita becomes more serious as she is able to get over some of her issues, and they get married and have a child, Harrison.  Shockingly, in the fourth season finale, Rita is murdered by the trinity killer.

DEXTER SPOILERS END

In 2010, Benz had a recurring role in five episodes of Desperate Housewives.  She plays Robin Gallagher, a former stripper, who wants to be a teacher.  She initially stays with Susan and Mike but moves in with Dana Delany’s Katherine Mayfair.  Later, it is revealed that she is a lesbian, and she and Mayfair begin an affair, eventually leaving Wisteria Lane together.  In 2010, she starred in ABC’s No Ordinary Family, about a family who gains super powers after being involved in a plane crash.  Benz, married to Michael Chiklis, is the mother of the family and gains the power of super speed.  Though heavily promoted, the series was cancelled after one season.  She was in an episode of Royal Pains in 2011 and can now be seen as a main cast member in CBS’s A Gifted Man, starring Patrick Wilson. Wilson is a talented but selfish surgeon who now interacts with the ghost of his ex-wife.  Benz plays his sister, a single mother who has trouble taking care of her unruly teenage son.  She’ll also be appearing in TNT TV movie Ricochet this fall based on a novel by Sandra Brown.

Power Rankings – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

31 Oct

(Power Rankings sum up:  Each week, we’ll pick a television show and rank the actors/actresses/contestants/correspondents/etc. based on what they’ve done after the series ended (unless we’re ranking a current series, in which case we’ll have to bend the rules).  Preference will be given to more recent work, but if the work was a long time ago, but much more important/relevant, that will be factored in as well)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer power rankings this week.  We’re covering a lot of actors and actresses who have been in the cast over the seven seasons of the show, but we had to draw an episode cut off line somewhere.  Apologies Eliza Dushku and Mark Blucas.  That said, it’s a fairly impressive bunch.

11.  Amber Benson (as Tara Maclay) – She’s mostly been in a series of indie films and single episode appearances of shows such as Cold Case, The Inside, Private Practice, Grey’s Anatomy and Supernatural.  She’s also written a handful of books with Christopher Golden.

10.  Emma Caulfield (as Anya) – She appeared in a Monk episode and in a couple of Robot Chickens as well as a Private Practice.  She was a recurring character in one-season TeenNick show Gigantic and in 11 episodes of CW two season show Life Unexpected.

9.  Charisma Carpenter (as Cordelia Chase) – She moved over to Angel along with David Boreanaz.  After her role there ended, she appeared in four episodes of Miss Match and episodes of The Division, Charmed, LAX, Big Shots and Back to You.  She was a recurring character as Kendall Casablancas in 11 episodes of Veronica Mars.  She’s also appeared in episodes of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Legend of the Seeker, Burn Notice and Supernatural, and in four episodes of ABC Family’s Greek.  Last year she appeared in feature film The Expendables.

8.  Nicholas Brandon (as Xander Harris) – After Buffy ended, he starred in short-lived Fox series Kitchen Confidential based on Anthony Bourdain’s book of the same name with Bradley Cooper and John Francis Daley.  He voiced Huntsboy #89 (I have no idea what this means) in six episodes of animated program American Dragon: Jake Long.  He plays a recurring character Kevin Lynch on CBS’s Criminal Minds, having appeared in 11 episodes.  He appeared in TV movie Relative Chaos with Buffy co-star Charisma Carpenter and in four episodes of Private Practice last year playing a mentally disturbed man.

7.   James Marsters (as Spike) – He moved over to Angel for a season after Buffy ended.  He appeared in a supporting role in P.S. I Love You.  He was in four episodes of Without A Trace.  He appeared as villain Brainiac in 14 episodes of Smallville and as a recurring character in one season Syfy Battlestar Galactica prequel Caprica.  He also appeared as Piccolo in the live action film adaptation Dragonball: Evolution and in three episodes of Torchwood.  Most recently he appeared in episodes of Hawaii Five-0 and Supernatural.

6. Michelle Trachtenberg (as Dawn Summers) – An actress from an early age, after Buffy, she portrayed pop star Celeste in four episodes of Six Feet Under.  She starred in the kids movie Ice Princess and guest starred in episodes of House M.D. and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.  She appeared in 17 Again and as recurring character Georgina Sparks in 14 episodes of Gossip Girl.  She starred in the one season hospital drama Mercy and was in four episodes of Weeds.

5.  Sarah Michelle Gellar (as Buffy Summers) – Gellar’s career seemed on the rise as Buffy ended, but that momentum largely stalled after the series ended.  She appeared in the second Scooby Doo movie Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed as Daphne (she had appeared in the same role in the first while Buffy was airing) which was a commercial success but a critical bomb.  She also appeared in the first and second Grudge movies and Richard Kelly’s disappointing Donnie Darko follow up Southland Tales.  She also appeared in six episodes of Robot Chicken and The Air That I Breathe.  She’s now starring in the first season of CW series Ringer which got picked up for a full season’s worth of episodes.

4. Anthony Stewart Head (as Rupert Giles)  – the oldest member of the Buffy cast by a good deal (closest is Marsters), Head did little in America but has been quite busy in his native Britain.  He had a small role in Woody Allen’s Scoop and starred in the cult horror rock opera Repo! The Genetic Opera.  He was a regular in British sketch show Little Britain and narrated Doctor Who documentary series Doctor Who Confidential.  He co-starred in BBC series Merlin as Arthur’s father King Uther Pendragon and co-starred as the boss in the successful BBC series Free Agents and the unsuccessful American remake of the same name.

3. Alyson Hannigan (as Willow Rosenberg) – Best known outside of Buffy at the time for her role in the American Pie series of movies, she’ll be reprising her role as Michelle in 2012’s American Reunion.  She appeared in Date Movie, but she’s best known for her ongoing role as one of five main cast members in CBS’s multi-camera sitcom smash How I Met Your Mother, currently in its 7th season.  Hannigan plays Lily Aldrin, kindergarden teacher and wife of Jason Segal’s Marshall Erikssen.

2.  Seth Green (as Oz) – Green left Buffy after the third season.  He’s continued his voice role as Chris Griffin on Family Guy which continues to this day and created and contributed his voice to five seasons of Robot Chicken on Adult Swim, which is still airing.  He guest-starred in in five episodes of That ‘70s Show, two of Will and Grace, and three of Entourage as an exaggerated version of himself.  He starred in one season NBC sitcom Four Kings and appeared in two episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and three of Heroes.  He’s contributed to various voice roles in American Dad!, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, The Cleveland Show, stop-motion Adult Swim series Titan Maximum and the Mass Effect series of video games.  He’s also appeared in feature films The Italian Job, Without a Paddle, Sex Drive and Old Dogs.

1.  David Boreanaz (as Angel) – Boreanz left Buffy after the third season and starred in spin off Angel as the same character in Los Angeles, which lasted five seasons and ended a year after Buffy.  Like Hannigan, Boreanaz has essentially only done one major project since leaving the Buffy-verse, but like Hannigan’s, it’s a seriously big one.   The year after Angel ended, in 2005, he started his ongoing role as FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth, one of the main two characters in Fox’s Bones.  Bones has been extremely successful and its seventh season will premier this week.