At work today I was struck by my not uncommon compulsion to sing, but something was very, very wrong. Not with my song choice - Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. But with my ability to remember the songs. I mean, this is Dr Horrible. A work of Joss Whedon. I can recall all the words to the Buffy musical episode "Once More, With Feeling" (a phrase that, I must say, I don't get to use as often as I would like to!), but somehow, Dr Horrible escaped me.
This, was most definitely, a problem. One which I resolved, somewhat easily, by putting it on as soon as I arrived home from work. And, a tad naturally, it sparked my neuro-synaptic relays. Or, in other words, I started thinking. About villains. About my favourite villains.
Oh yes children! It's time for my top ten run-down of my all time favourite villains! As always, spoilers will be avoided as much as possible, but apologies for any that slip in.
10: Darth Vader (Star Wars)
Ever moaned about your boss breathing down your neck? Feared his or her wrath if you didn't do your job properly? Then spare a thought for the poor men and women of the Galactic Empire. Failed to stop those pesky Rebels from stealing the Death Star plans? Were those really the droids you were looking for? Then watch out, because Darth Vader isn't above using the Force to choke the life out of you. He's also a pretty mean duellist with a lightsaber. Just ask Obi-Wan Kenobi.
9: Julian Sark (Alias)
He's dashingly handsome, dashingly devious and has an uncanny knack for keeping himself alive. Captured numerous times by the CIA over his criminal career and yet this sneaky little bugger always manages to escape. How does he do it? His response to Sydney Bristow and Michael Vaughn should sum it up - "Not a problem. My loyalties are flexible." Enough said really.
8: Dick Jones (RoboCop)
When it comes to money-grabbing, amoral capitalists, none do it better than Dick Jones, Senior Vice President, Omni Consumer Products. The driving force in the ED-209 programme, mastermind behind a criminal underworld, general all-round jackass. His departure from his service to OCP is particularly memorable too. Ronny Cox has played many a villainous jackass in his brilliant career, but his portrayal of Dick Jones makes him the definitive corporate villain.
7: Robert "Sideshow Bob" Terwilliger (The Simpsons)
Voiced wonderfully by Kelsey Grammer, Sideshow Bob is quite possibly one of the most charming villains ever to grace animation. I mean, who else would consent to his arch-nemesis' last request of a performance of the entire score from Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore? That's right. No one but Sideshow Bob. Though it has to be said, he really didn't need to rig his mayoral election. But oh well. Still a wonderful villain.
6: GLaDOS (Portal)
Genetic Lifeform and Disc Operating System. Quite possibly the most deranged and psychotic Artificial Intelligence since the seminal HAL 9000 from 2001. As can plainly be seen, Ellen McLain's completely off-its-axle AI beats out its forerunner to the number six spot. There's nothing more joyous, yet also incredibly creepy, than hearing her synthesised voice taunting you throughout the game. "I think we can put our differences behind us...for Science. You monster."
5: Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
"Home sweet home." Oh yes, Spike. You did very much make Sunnydale your home. Crashing through the town's sign in "School Hard", Spike made one heck of an entrance to the Hellmouth, then went on to make his awesome speech about the Crucifixion, the first of many epic monologues. But none finer than my favourite Spike episode, "Lover's Walk" - "Love isn't brains, children, it's blood! Blood screaming inside you to work its will! I may be love's bitch, but at least I man enough to admit it." And a damn fine man, and villain, you are Spike.
4: Hans Gruber (Die Hard)
"You asked for miracles, Theo, I give you the F.B.I." When villains come as slick and sneering as Alan Rickman, you'll overlook his less-than-German accent. Every word from that man's lips are just so beautifully enunciated that it doesn't matter that he's not an evil dictator of the galaxy, maniacal AI or corporate tool, he's an amazing villain. In his own words - "I am an exceptional thief, Mrs McClane. And since I'm moving up to kidnapping, you should be more polite." Genius. And classically educated too.
3: The Master (Doctor Who)
Although his name would say otherwise, The Master isn't master of this list, but he comes frakking close! Alas, my early Who knowledge is limited mostly to "Genesis of the Daleks" and Jon Pertwee's adventures with the Autons, so it's John Simm's joyously evil performance as the megalomaniac Master that snags the number three spot. As seen with Sideshow Bob, it's not uncommon for villains to attain political office. But only The Master would go Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, gas his entire cabinet at their first meeting, then go on to completely take over the world and successfully capture the Doctor. Now that's villainy.
2: Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (X-Men)
Shown here by the wonderful Michael Fassbender, but also including Sir Ian McKellan's classic performance as the X-Men villain, he is just short of my favourite villain, but by a tiny margin. It was a very close race. For me, Magneto is made exceptionally brilliant by a remark in the third film (many deny it existed, but sorry guys, it did happen and it had some pretty good moments) - "Charles Xavier did more for mutants than you will ever know. My single greatest regret is that he had to die for our dream to live." It his genuine respect for his own nemesis, his old friend, that elevates Erik Lehnsherr above your rank and file villains. And we can only hope that Michael Fassbender will continue to breathe new life into the character as the franchise continues. Also, it gives the ladies a villain to swoon over.
1: Mayor Richard Wilkins III (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
That's right kids, it's a Buffy villain snagging the top spot, but not just any old Buffy villain. The Mayor, polite, dedicated public servant of Sunnydale, very particular about hygiene and very disapproving of swearing, but also not adverse to murder and devouring Sunnydale High students and staff (sorry, Snyder) in order to achieve ascension to pure demon form. There's just something that simultaneously warms and chills the soul about the Mayor. He's an equal opportunities employer - humans, renegade Slayers, vampires. In the Mayor's Sunnydale, everyone gets a fair chance. Well, right up until he becomes a giant snake. But thanks to the Mayor, Sunnydale High, class of 1999, gets one hell of a graduation ceremony. Kudos, Mr Mayor. Kudos.