Monday SmoRgAsbord: Some Legendary ChaRActers We Love

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The majestic warrior prince who guided his people to a new home after a devastating attack; now seeking to reclaim his homeland. We’d follow Thorin Oakenshield anywhere.  And provide him with plenty of TLC.

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Savvy, smart, rescourceful sergeant who kicks arse and takes the time to be tender. We’d want John Porter to come and rescue us if we ended up in a terrible jam.  Or let us give a nice soothing massage . . .  to all those big, buff knotted muscles.

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Sir Guy, the beautiful, complex henchman who smoulders like nobody’s business and puts his own life on the line to protect and save the woman he loves . . . too bad she never appreciated him properly (not even after he returned to Nottingham to fight and die by her side if necessary).  We would have done better!

photomania_18457522ccLucas, cool, enigmatic and sexy spy, haunted by the torture and deprivation of years in Russian prison but still loyal to his country (don’t believe everything certain writers dish out).  We’d love to help him move past the pain.

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Another engimatic character, black leather-clad rebel 6os biker, Geordie Ricky Deeming, who knows how to make our motors race. We’d like to hop on the back of his bike for a spin . . .

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The handsome, hard working Victorian mill owner who seeks to improve himself and discovers a foolish passion for a certain demure young lady. We’d have made up our minds about you much sooner, John Thornton. What a catch!

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John Strandring, shy Yorkshire farmer with a heart of gold, a gentle giant. No wonder we call him Sweetie John. Beautiful inside and out, our John is faithful and steadfast. We long to make him feel loved and appreciated . . .

67 responses »

  1. This is wonderful, Angie–everyone of your descriptions and/or comments suits each character to perfection. Especially loved the ones of Porter and John Standring–would love to give either one of them the TLC they so richly deserve.

  2. Oh, who am I kidding–they’re all beautiful and wonderful and it makes me want to go back and watch every single film again (although I tend to only watch the parts of Sparkhouse that have John in them). The rest, all the way through–I’d take anything that would make me feel better at the moment.

    • Sparkhouse is hard for me to watch all the way through, too. The bleakness of it, the terrible abuse Carol suffers at her father’s hand, killing the dog–not the most cheerful of scenarios. Richard’s performance is heart-breakingly good, of course, and so believable. Hard to imagine this is the same man who gave us GoG and Porter and Thorin . . . hope you feel better soon, hon.

      I just took a stroll through the house–slow and stiff–but made it OK. Back on heating pad now.

      • I was only just thinking (having just read another blog about Sparkhouse) how incredible it is to think that JS, Paul from BTS and ‘Flirty Girty’ Lee Preston were all played by RA in a very short space of time. They are so different – not only in character but physically. I find it quite amazing how different he can look depending on the emotion he is portraying.

        I hope you are feeling better today Angie. I’ve also been on elephant strength antibiotics and consequently off with the fairies so apologies for any strange postings over the last week!

        • I hope you’re well soon, Bollyknickers. Those antibiotics can be lifesavers, but they wreak havoc with body and mind while they’re doing it.

          • Isn’t that the truth about antibiotics. They can play havoc with our systems. With my allergies, they can also be deadly, so I have to only hope I never get anything really serious LOL

        • That’s an excellent point. Talk about diversity of characters–cripplingly shy farmer, predatory probation officer and womanizing lifeguard, all of whom looked, sounded, moved differently. Not just a matter of hairstyle/color and weight, either. John always seemed gigantic to me, taller than the others, and as if he was trying to shrink himself to take up less room. Lee strode around confidently like the cock o’ the walk, the handsome peacock he was.

          Thanks, I hope you are feeling better, too, Bolly. I am definitely moving with more ease and less pain today.

      • Angie, good for you making it through the house and back. Heating pad, muscle relaxers, Dame Thumper on your feet — all good. We make quite a bunch these days, don’t we? Hang in there {{hugs, very gentle ones}} Sending Sr. Track to check on you soon.

        • Yeah, I was pleased with my sojourn, such as it was. 😉 Put all of us together and we MIGHT have one able-bodied person LOL Send Dr. Track any old time. That handsome face always cheers me up.

    • Stephanie, if you have prescription coverage, have you considered gabapentin (tradename Neurontin)? It’s a precursor to Lyrica, less expensive with fewer side-effects. Originally an anti-seizure medicine, it’s been found to work well on nerve pain, exactly the kind you get with fibromyalgia. Cymbalta (the antidepressant) also works well to take the nasty points off the pain, but it’s quite expensive.

      • I don’t at the moment, Leigh–I’ve had to make do with homeopathic remedies (some of which are quite good) for the most part. I did pretty well for a number of years, but as I got older, it got worse–so I still do the homeopathic stuff and try to have massages and reiki treatments when I can afford them or swap for them. But thanks for the advice, because I’ve been afraid to try some of the ones you mentioned because of the problems with side effects. Hopefully next year, I’ll be able to have it when I’m eligible for Medicare.

        • Yes, I really hope Medicare will help. I tried almost everything including homeopathy, acupuncture, massage, dietary supplements, and a restricted diet. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another. I found that for pain below a 7, I can get decent relief with biofeedback and self-hypnosis. At 7+, I need the pain meds to be able to stand up and cope, to manage without groaning and squeaking, without my lip twitching and my eyes leaking. Curiously, adding cherries to my diet and minimizing corn products has helped, too.

  3. Thank you for including my RP husband John Standring in your roster! I loathed the other characters on Sparkhouse – they are truly some of the most odious ‘people’ I’ve ever met on screen – but John is a noble man, a strong man, a real man, full of love and ethics and morals, not to mention hardworking and forgiving. I just love him. 😉

    Sending continued prayers your way so you may feel much better every day!

    • Of his earlier characters (pre N&S), I think John Standring is my favorite–he’s so far above all the other characters in Sparkhouse, so noble in comparison–I wrote a review of “Sparkhouse” for Amazon and warned prospective viewers that it was very difficult to watch and most of the characters were very unlikeable, with the exception of Richard and one or two others. Truthfully, being a major, diehard animal lover, I almost gave up on it when Carol killed the dog–I’m glad I didn’t, but now when I watch it, I pretty much only watch the parts where Richard appears. His character is amazingly sympathetic compared to the leads–and I’m sure a great deal of that is his heartfelt performance.

      • The dog bit was nearly my undoing too. But i did feel very sorry for Carol – a useless mother, a verbally, sexually and physically abusive father, a pregnancy at 11 (and what getting pregnant by your father does to a girls head, i can’t even imagine) and just about the most wimpy, ineffectual, gutless boyfriend on earth – no wonder she was difficult.

        • Feeling sorry for Carol is one thing, because she did have a hellish experience, but she lied, she stole, she manipulated, and she killed a dog. Is she accountable for her actions, or is she severely mentally ill?

          • And she also massively mistreated and manipulated one of the sweetest, kindest, most caring men on the planet–yes, he was somewhat naive and inexperienced, but that only made it easier for her because she knew how much he cared for her.

            • That’s why I hold “manipulation” as one of Carol’s worst crimes. She had every reason to be kind and good to John. Even if she didn’t love him, she owed him honesty and decent treatment. There was absolutely nothing wrong with John that a little gentle education wouldn’t remedy, yet she treated him very badly.

              • He gave up a great deal for her at considerable risk to his own well being–and she repaid him almost the day after they were married by showing that her heart was still with another man. Even if she didn’t love him, that just wasn’t kosher.

              • Agggrhh *spoilers* ladies!! Not sure I want to watch it now – they kill a dog?!?

              • Sorry about the spoilers, Bechep. Even if you know the story (think “Wuthering Heights” retold), it’s still worth seeing for Richard’s performance, and the other actors do good jobs as well. Just don’t expect “fluffy bunnies”. The worst stuff is not shown in detailed closeup, but because of the subject matter, I’d rate it NC17.

              • Sorry, Bechep, I still forget we have newbies here who have not experienced the complete oeuvre of Mr. A’s works. Yes, in spite of some very difficult scenes, Sparkhouse is definitely worth watching for one of RA’s most outstanding (IMHO) performances.

              • No its fine! I will still watch it of course for Richard’s part, but it dosent sound like a very happy story. Will need to pick my moment to watch it I think (I do, of course also LOOOOOVE Wuthering Heights)

            • Oh dear – i can see i am on my own here! But in answer to your question – yes, she should be accountable for her actions but there are mitigating circumstances. I do think she had MH issues as a result of the years of abuse and neglect. Although she married John just to save the farm i also think she intended to hold up her end of the bargain – to be as good a wife to him as she could. And her main motivation was to provide Lisa with a better childhood than she had – and considering her lack of role models, i think she was doing a better job than most people would.

              • As they say–the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I’m just not sure about Carol’s–she was desperate to save the farm, I realize that, and probably did want to do her best by Lisa. But she deprived John of his home and whatever money he had, more or less turned back to Andrew the day after she married John–I just have a real problem with how she went about it. She was damaged, that’s a given–but she also did a super job of damaging almost everyone in her path in trying to get what she believed she wanted.

              • I have known people as damaged as Carol who overcame abuse, including incest, neglect, beatings, deprivation, and verbal and psychological attacks to become decent adult human beings with integrity and the ability to care for others. Not everyone succumbs to borderline personality disorder, or to acting as Carol did, because of suffering vicious treatment as a child and young adult. Certainly, some follow the textbook model, but not all, not by any means.

          • Carol was not severely mentally ill. She was a victim of sex and emotional abuse who did not have the luxury of medical plans that would have addressed the post traumatic disorder she was going through, not without having to lose the only family, albeit dysfunctional one at that, that she had. It’s the secondary victimization inflicted by society for survivors of abuse like her that make it difficult for them to heal, because so much is expected of them that they “should” be this or that.
            Yes, she is accountable for her actions, as are everyone else in the story – Andrew for making her jealous because he was jealous of John having a drink with her that night at The Fleece. Killing the dog for her became the one source of power she could exert on something and while I don’t condone it, it’s a symptom of PTSD and one that rears its ugly head when people are made to feel powerless for so long against those that should nurture and protect them, but don’t, I.e. her father, mother, and the Lawton parents.
            She was raped by her father, and at 18, on the eve of what would have been the wedding day, a happy day, she was “raped” again by Dr Lawton through her medical records that he illegally obtained and exposed for his and the mrs. own ends. She could have exposed that professional violation of patient rights and cost him his license, but she did not.
            Many people took away her power, including viewers (and again, this is a mirror of how society treats victims of sex abuse – by further shaming them indirectly for things that happened beyond their control but yet are expected to conform to the happy standards of society), and worse, strip John Standring of his own power to choose to be with Carol.
            John was an adult who knew exactly what he was getting into. His love for Carol probably overrode every common sense cell in his body, but love can do that to anyone. He was very naive, as shown when he gave Carol a necklace belonging to his mother, but contrary to what most viewers would quickly say that she was a manipulative woman, she gave it back to him, suggesting that he give it to her next year if he still felt the same.
            I wish RA fans weren’t too quick to gang up on Carol, regardless of the killing of the dog or the stealing. I’d like to think that people out there who have gone through, and are going through similar abuse that she did, dealing with PTSD, are allowed to have a happy ending of their own instead of being victimized again and again, thus prolonging the shame and delaying the healing.
            One thing that I felt served as Standring’s purpose to be the character that he was is that he would love Carol,and not give up even when she would push him away because she may not feel worthy of anyone’s love. Victims of sex abuse have a difficult time accepting love and it takes a stalwart heart like Standring’s to break through that fear that, yes, carol does deserve to be loved.
            I’ve yet to understand what people mean when they say she mistreated him, that she was dishonest. She was as honest as she could be given the circumstances of Andrew coming back into her life to mess up what she was trying to build with John. I cannot believe that not a single person here has ever loved someone so much at one time and maybe found themselves with someone else that there wasn’t even that little inkling of ‘if only’ and ‘what if?’ that went through their righteous brains? Yet, even with that wishful thought, people grow up and choose the more mature choice. in this case, she chose John, and John, consenting and maybe naive but definitely not helpless and dumb, agreed.
            People manipulated Carol for their own ends, especially Andrew, the one person she hinged her hopes on when she was much younger and was in the midst of abuse by her father. Andrew was her knight in shining armor whom she thought would save her, and when he opted not to, she was left to fend for herself, deal with the emotions alone and just survive day to day.
            I know this is not a popular view to take (Carol’s side) but there’s so much more to this story than just John Standring that a lot of people somehow miss. But it’s difficult to see the nuances when the stigma against victims/survivors, and how they stumble along through life to survive is constantly there to block the full view.

            • I have to agree with your assessment. It took me until the second time I watched it all the way to overcome my feelings of disgust at her actions and treatment of John. I have wondered about Carol and John’s future. Would she be able to get over her grief and feelings of insecurity with John’s and her daughter’s love? Could they make a go of it?

              • The hopeful romantic part of me has always hoped so–that maybe Lisa could see what a good man John was and encourage that relationship along.

            • Despite this thoughtful advocacy for Carol, I still find the character’s actions repulsive and irresponsible. Can I feel compassion for her? Certainly. Can I excuse her behaviour? Not so much.

              I don’t think John was dumb, either, but I think he was naive. Maybe sometimes a person wants something so badly, he’ll agree to anything just for a crumb.

              Both were tragic figures, more so IMO than Andrew or anyone else.

              • Wow, these thread really blew up overnight whilst I was (mostly) sleeping. I had to get warmed up and fortified by a bagel and coffee before I could finish my “eyes” post for today and begin to collect my thoughts properly re the discussion revolving around Sparkhouse.

                I have very mixed feelings about Carol. On one hand, my heart breaks for her. Seeing her drunken, abusive father in action is almost impossible for me to watch. (I would agree this program is definitely not family friendly viewing, it’s very adult and it’s very complex.) On the other hand, I do find some of her own actions reprehensible. Where do we draw the line?

                For anyone unaware, Carol is meant to be an updated version of Heathcliff, Andrew is Cathy, and Richard’s role as John was actually invented for the series.

                Carol had an absolutely wretched upbringing, no doubt. She seemed to have no one in her corner (save John). I think she needed professional help but sadly didn’t get it. To a certain degree, I believe she was, perhaps permanently, an emotionally stunted human. The whole relationship with Andrew was more or less based on a fairy tale invented in her own mind. He was never that knight in shining armor, and never would be. Frankly I despised the little weasel.

                John loved her, warts and all, and I doubt anyone would have loved her more–or indeed, as well– as he did. She is the only one he wanted. Would she finally be able to move past the tragedy of her past and make a satisfying life for herself and her family? Would she be able to learn to love him as the good and beautiful man he truly was and accept and embrace his image of her? Or would she always see herself as damaged goods unworthy of real happiness?

                Honestly, I don’t know. I’d love to pick both Richard’s and Sarah’s brains about this (Sarah Smart, the actress playing Carol) to see what they think the future of their characters would be. But it all leads to some very engaging discussions, that’s for sure! I think we can all agree Standring remains one of RA’s finest performances. It is a tragic tale, indeed.

                On a personal note, my own dad suffered abuse at the hands of his tyrannical father (and by extension his family who treated him as a sort of “black sheep” for no good reason I could discern) and it definitely affected him as an adult. I think he felt a certain unworthiness almost his entire life and had a lot of anger issues.

                Nevertheless, he was a faithful husband and a dad who worked hard to provide his three daughters with not just necessities for the extras–books, music, art–that enhance our lives so much and took such pride in our accomplishments. He loved to laugh–I think that helped him through some of the more difficult passages of life–and much of my sense of humor is reflected in that. He could have taken a very different route in life, but he didn’t. I will always be grateful for that.

              • As someone who grew up in family with quite a number of damaged people, maybe that makes me have less sympathy for Carol than I might have had otherwise. I nurtured my own sister and brother through a number of their growing up years because of parental shortcomings–fortunately, I myself was mainly raised by an older aunt and uncle without children of their own since there was really nowhere else for me to go. I’ve known victims of abuse who have gone both ways–but the majority have struggled to become good, caring people who did their best for people they loved. I do have some sympathy for Carol–but her disregard for John’s feelings, whether she loved him or not, is tough to watch. If she was looking for a knight in shining armor, she definitely backed the wrong horse–even after Andrew had already let her down so many times.

              • Andrew was most definitely NOT cut out to be Prince Charming (that would be John–he lacked the spit and polish but he was certainly the noble spirit coming to her rescue). When he was ready to toss aside his wife, who seemed a very decent sort of girl, and baby, out of this impetuous desire to reunite with Carol–bah! No woman should want someone like that or plan a future with them. He was as inconstant as John was constant. But I do think she had this whole self-deluded fantasy scenario written in her head about how they would have this fairy tale sort of existence together. I admit I did not feel any sadness when Andrew disappeared permanently.

                My guess is far too many of us have experienced dysfunction and damage within our families and friends. Ultimately, I think it comes down to the choices we make once we come of age as to what paths we will pursue. All of us are a mix of good and bad, light and dark (as Richard points out so brilliantly in his acting). Which qualities dominate in our daily lives has a lot to do with our conscious choices.

            • Thanks for the well-thought-out input, Velvet. This is definitely a story that provokes plenty of food for thought about the characters, their motivations and their futures.

      • I always have wondered if Richard tapped into his younger self, the one who felt like an outsider looking in, who was taller than everyone else, to play JS and capture some of that crippling shyness.

  4. What a lovely group of pictures *sigh* You continue to outdo yourself, Angie, and you give us medicine for the soul.

    Like you and others, I find Sparkhouse so wretched and sad, I really can only watch the parts with Richard. He gives an amazing performance, so sympathetic and real that one’s disbelief is completely suspended for a time. I am so glad fanfic authors have given John Standring a better deal than he got in Sparkhouse.

      • On Dreamer Fiction, try “In Bleak Midwinter” by Khandy (also available in a modified form on Amazon, under Kate Forrester), “Love or Marriage”, and a lovely one by AmandaJane, of which I can’t recall the title at the moment. Check the Fiction-by-character lists for more.

    • Glad you enjoyed the pics. 😀 Good therapy for me and it seems to help others. Richard really does have an amazing capacity to make me believe the characters aren’t just something on a page, but real flesh and blood people.

  5. Very nice pictures Angie! And what becomes a legend most? Well there is the hair and pelt of course – but oh there is also the beard, the eyes, the sword, the proud, haughty attitude, the belt buckle (I really love a large belt buckle 😉 ), the boots, the majesty, the sheild, the braids with the little silver thingys, the smile, the barritone…I could, of course to on, and I realsie you only had a small space to write something. Forgive a smitten dreamy dwarf admirer for getting slightly carried away.

    • Actually, there was a campaign by Blackgama, a furrier, back in the day featuring B&W images of well-known celebs in their minks and the tagline was “What becomes a legend most?” So I riffed on that for this photo. 😉 And yes, I only had a small space and was trying to keep things fairly equal-don’t want to hurt any ChaRActers’ feelings, right? 😉

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