A Guide to the Baron's Favorite Fictional Characters (SPOILERS)

(Hamlet of Earth-1948)

Real name: Hamlet, son of Hamlet

Aliases/Other Names: None,.

First Appearance: The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Occupations: Prince of Denmark, student, avenger

Bases of Operations: Elsinore Castle, the University of Wittenberg

Place of Birth: Elsinore Castle, Denmark

Group Affiliation: Royal House of Denmark

Friends/Allies: Horatio, Marcellus, Barnardo

Enemies: Claudius, Polonius, Laertes

Height: Varies*

Weight: Varies*

Eye Color: Varies*

Hair Color: Varies*

Strength: Above average human

Speed: Above average human

Intelligence: Genius level human

Energy-Manipulation Ability: None

Magic-Manipulation Ability: None

Special Abilities: Excellent swordsman, skilled forger, gifted actor

Special Weapons/Equipment: None.


History: Hearing of his father's death, Prince Hamlet of Denmark returns home from Wittenberg, only to find that his uncle Claudius has assumed the throne and married Hamlet's mother, Gertrude. Already suspicious, Hamlet is visited by a spirit purporting to be that of his father, which asserts that the elder Hamlet was murdered by Claudius. Feigning madness, Prince Hamlet, with his friend Horatio's help, schemes to trap Claudius into a public admission of guilt, which would allow Hamlet to avenge his father and assume the throne of Denmark. Claudius, aware of the threat that Hamlet poses to him, plots to find a way to eliminate Hamlet. Thus begins a game of trap and counter-trap, resulting in the deaths of almost everyone involved, leaving only Horatio behind to watch as young Fortinbras, Prince of Norway, assumes the throne of Denmark.

Why He's a Favorite: Hamlet is the protagonist of my favorite Shakespeare play. I own eight different versions of the play of on DVD, and I enjoy watching them all.  there's just something that I find enthralling about the play, and it's always interesting to see how various actors interpret the part, and how different directors choose to film the story. I enjoy the cat and mouse between Hamlet and Claudius, and Hamlet's interaction with the not-as-clever-as-he-thinks-he-is Polonius. I find it interesting that the only character who seems to be able to match Hamlet's at wordplay is the First Gravedigger. Anyway, you can find way more of what I think about Hamlet here.



*Depending upon who's playing him

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Randy Jackson said:

Couldn't we fill you with helium instead?

The Baron said:


I am filled with shame.

Is there that much helium?

The Baron said:

As for Jethro - well, even when I was a kid and of much less discriminating tastes than I am now, I found his character to be badly-written. I can enjoy a well-written "comedy moron" - Homer Simpson springs to mind as an example - but I always found Jethro simply annoying. Nothing against Max Baer Jr., there really wasn't much that he could have done with the character the way it was written.

Looking at IMDB, Baer (whose dad was the famous boxer) did a number of smaller TV roles before and after The Beverly Hillbillies. Hopefully his role of Jethro made him money as it certainly typecast him.

I wasn't entirely sure how to classify Mister Drysdale. It's been a while since I've seen the show, so maybe someone who has can correct me. My impression, however, is that he was more interested in their money than in them, as such. From their side, my recollection is that Jed was well-disposed towards him without having any illusions about him, and Granny actively distrusted him.

I think the way Drysdale was written he WAS more interested in their money than in them. As often happens with nasty TV characters I think he was softened a little later on. Jane Hathaway, his secretary, thought they were fine people and was always on their side.

Would you (a) float like a butterfly or (b) sting like a bee?

The Baron said:

Randy Jackson said:

Couldn't we fill you with helium instead?

The Baron said:


I am filled with shame.

Is there that much helium?



Doctor Hmmm? said:

Would you (a) float like a butterfly or (b) sting like a bee?

The Baron said:

Randy Jackson said:

Couldn't we fill you with helium instead?

The Baron said:


I am filled with shame.

Is there that much helium?

To paraphrase a former Doctor Who script editor:  I float in much the way that bricks do not.

Drysdale was always about the money. I do think they softened him a bit as the series went on, but his first thoughts were usually "how can they make the bank more money today?"

Do we know why Jed was the uncle of Jethro and Ellie, or what happened to their parents?

Ellie was his daughter, but they never explained what happened to her mother. I don't think they ever said what happened to Jethro's dad either, and his mom left the show and turned into somebody else on Petticoat Junction.

It was pretty obvious they were doing Li'l Abner, with the names changed so they wouldn't have to pay to use them. Buddy Ebsen was much too tall for Pappy Yokum, but then Wolverine's player is a foot taller than he's supposed to be and nobody seems to mind.

Randy Jackson said:

Drysdale was always about the money. I do think they softened him a bit as the series went on, but his first thoughts were usually "how can they make the bank more money today?"

Oh, ye of short memories . . . .

Actually, the character of Milburn Drysdale started out as a decent and honest character.  He was the sympathetic bridge between the rustic Clampetts and the folks of Beverly Hills who were confounded by the hillbillies.  It was Drysdale whom usually cleared up the misconceptions.

That was the incarnation of Drysdale that I always preferred.  Then, somewhere toward the end of the show's third season (1964-5), his character was changed into the greedy, selfish sterotype of a banker. In fact, at the TV.Com site's entry on The Beverly Hillbillies, the user editor has pinpointed the precise episode in which Drysdale's character changed---"The Clampetts Versus Automation", originally airing on 12 May 1965.  The user editor writes:

With this episode, Milburn Drysdale's character changes from the more honorable character he started out as into the more dishonorable and disreputable caricature he would become for the rest of the series.

Ah, interesting stuff.  Well, I did say I haven't seen the show since I was a kid. :)

The character on Petticoat Junction was identified as a relative of the Clampetts', and Granny even turned up at the Junction at least once.

They were influenced no doubt by the popularity of the Yokums, but the Yokums weren't the only hillbillies in pop culture. Ma and Pa Kettle had a successful series of movies. I'm certain they owe a debt to William Inge's Bus Stop. Quoting from my review:

From Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author to the Beverly Hillbillies

I don't know if anyone else has made this connection before but, having seen it, I cannot unsee it. The Beverley Hillbillies may owe their existence to Bus Stop.

Certainly, I am not the first reviewer, watching the film so many years later, to draw a connection between Murray's broad performance as Bo and Max Baer Jr.'s farcical turn as Jethro Bodine. The influence, however, may be much greater. Cherie, a genuine hillbilly with blonde hair and a curvaceous figure, clearly set the physical type for Ellie May. The patriarch of the Clampett Clan, a man named Jed, dresses in a more worn-out version of the outfit sported by O'Connell as the film's Virgil and by Buddy Ebsen as the TV show's incarnation. Ebsen, of course, would play Jed in The Beverley Hillbillies, one year later and for nine seasons. In terms of tone and genre the two offerings may be miles apart, but pop culture has always cannibalized itself in bizarre ways. Mary Shelley's literary creature becomes the head of a monster family via Boris Karloff, and Inge's realist study of human beings has its most superficial elements served up in the defining 1960s idiotcom.



Ron M. said:

Ellie was his daughter, but they never explained what happened to her mother. I don't think they ever said what happened to Jethro's dad either, and his mom left the show and turned into somebody else on Petticoat Junction.

It was pretty obvious they were doing Li'l Abner, with the names changed so they wouldn't have to pay to use them. Buddy Ebsen was much too tall for Pappy Yokum, but then Wolverine's player is a foot taller than he's supposed to be and nobody seems to mind.

Yeah, I wouldn't say they were doing a direct lift from L'il Abner, although they were certainly drawing from the same cultural influences.

Real Name: Ryuk

Aliases/Other Names: None

First Appearance:  Desu Nōto, by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata

Occupation: Shinigami ("Death God")

Base of Operations: The Shinigami Realm

Place of Birth: Unknown

Group Affiliation: None

Friends/Allies: None

Enemies: None

Height: 6'6" (est.)

Weight: Unknown

Eye Color: Black

Hair Color:  Black

Strength:  Unknown, presumably super-human

Speed: Unknown, presumably super-human

Intelligence:  Above average human

Energy-Manipulation Ability: (See "Special Abilities")

Magic-Manipulation Ability: (See "Special Abilities")

Special Abilities: Ryuk is a shinigami, a super-natural being of unknown origin. His powers include:

  • Invisibility 
  • Flight
  • Invulnerability to all human weapons
  • The ability to see any human's real name and allotted lifespan 
  • The ability to live indefinitely by taking any human's remaining lifespan using his Death Note (Shinigami can eat mundane food for pleasure, although they derive no nourishment form it. Ryuk, for example, enjoys eating apples.)
  • The ability to give any human the "shinigami eyes" (that is, the ability to see anyone's real name and allotted lifespan) in return for half of their remaining lifespan)

Note: The shinigami do not have a quota of lives that they must take, they need only take as many lives as they need to survive.  Conversely, humans will die at their allotted times, even if no shinigami takes their life. In other words, they aren't like the Grim Reaper.

Special Equipment/Weapons: Each shinigami possesses a Death Note, a supernatural notebook. When they write the name of almost any human into their notebook, that human will die.  There are a number of rules regarding the use of a Death Note. However, the most important is that the user must know the real name and real face of the intended victim. For example, writing "Batman" into the Note wouldn't work, nor would writing "Bruce Wayne", unless you had an image in your mind of Wayne's real face.  This is so that you wouldn't kill every one on  Earth with the same name.  If a Death Note falls into human hands, the human possessor can use it, but they will not gain their victim's remaining lifespan. the notebook itself is not indestructible - pages could be torn out of it, and it could theoretically be destroyed by any means that could destroy a mundane notebook. The human who possesses the Deaht Note can see and interact with the shinigami.

History:  Ryuk was bored with life in the Shinigami Realm. when he found a Death Note that one of his colleagues had lost, he dropped it down into the human realm, just to see what would happen.  It was found by Light Yagami, a Tokyo high schooler.  Light began using the Note to kill criminals. Ryuk introduced himself to Light, and observed as Light began a campaign to re-shape society as he saw fit. Eventually, the authorities realized that the sudden mass death of criminals was not a natural event, and called in the detective known only as "L".  Light had an extended conflict with L, and with L's successors, Mello and Near.  When Near finally cornered Light, Ryuk wrote Light's name in his own Note, just as he had promised when they first met.

Why He's a Favorite: Death Note is an interesting manga, if a bit long and somewhat convoluted.  In addition to being an interesting thriller, as we wait to find out who will win, and how, there's also some interesting ruminations no how having the power of life and death can affect a person.  Ryuk himself is an amusing character, desperate for something to ally the tedium of eternity, more interested in playing a round of Mario Golf or in where his next apple is coming from. Death as a lazy, easily distracted, overgrown goofball is an idea I hadn't come across before. Of course, just as he almost starts to seem weirdly lovable, he'll do or say something that will remind you that humans - even Light, the closest thing he has to a friend - are nothing more to him than a momentary distraction.

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