Here are my 10 favorite characters of the moment on shows that recently concluded their season, are ongoing or will soon return for the summer season:
10. Peter (Jeremy Sisto), “The Returned” – The heart of this uneven show is this man who is trying to do good deeds to make up for a bungled robbery in his younger years that left a kid dead. The wrinkle is that he might be one of “the returned” himself.
9. Tandy (Will Forte), “The Last Man on Earth” – Originally named Phil Miller until another Phil Miller joined the small group of virus survivors, Tandy is the driving force of a show so awkward that David Brent would cringe. Every other actor merely has to react to Forte’s endless well of foolishness and misfortune.
8. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), “Hannibal” – While I don’t like that she shacked up with Hannibal last season, I still hold out hope for Alana and Will. Things didn’t look good for her after being shot in last season’s finale, but if she doesn’t return for Season 3 on June 4, “Hannibal” will immediately be a weaker show.
7. Winston (Lamorne Morris), “New Girl” – While everyone else exhausted their shtick, Winston stayed in the background until recently emerging as the unconfident cat-loving rookie cop who manages to get into even weirder scrapes than those of his friends – including dating a police-violence protestor who doesn’t know he’s a cop.
6. Danny (Chris Messina), “The Mindy Project” – Because “Mindy Project” makes fun of all its characters constantly and in equal measure, it has snuck in lots of jabs against the devout Catholicism of Danny amid poking fun at his love of Ken Burns documentaries and fitness. That makes “Mindy” one of the only shows on network TV to not only make fun of religion, but also to get away with it without major backlash.
5. Glenn (Steven Yeun), “The Walking Dead” – I wanted Glenn to go ahead and kill the slimeball Nicholas, who had attempted to murder him, in this past season’s finale. When Glenn didn’t, I initially felt he was weak. But his inherent goodness really stood out by episode’s end, after Rick offed another Alexandria nuisance. Perhaps the group’s moral conscience should also be its leader.
4. Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein), “Star Wars Rebels” – Ahsoka was on my list for “The Clone Wars” a couple years ago, but now that she’s 15 years older, I’m going to allow myself to list her again for “Rebels.” While I don’t dislike the main cast, no one has jumped out as my favorite character, so seeing Ahsoka in the season finale was delicious. And her inevitable upcoming clash with Anakin/Darth Vader now gives “Rebels” serious emotional stakes.
3. Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie), “Gotham” – McKenzie initially played Gordon like this was any ol’ cop show, but at about midseason he figured out the precise level of stylized overacting needed for the “Batman” vibe. He’s been the centerpiece and moral conscience of a show filled with tasty performances ever since.
2. Liv (Rose McIver), “iZombie” – McIver had worked steadily in supporting roles in recent years, but this Rob Thomas-produced series marks her breakout role, much like Kristen Bell broke through on Thomas’ “Veronica Mars.” Because eating brains allows Liv to take on the personality of the person, McIver can showcase new acting skills every week; I just hope she eats the brains of a New Zealander in an upcoming episode so she can use her cute natural accent.
1. Caleb (Kenny Johnson), “Bates Motel” – A respected character actor for several years, Johnson is gaining more admirers as the brother and former rapist of Norma Bates and father of Dylan. Looking slightly mentally off with a drool, yet demonstrating genuine love for Dylan and remorse for the rape, Caleb stands out on a series jam-packed with messed-up people.