Last week, we unveiled our exclusive power rankings of the series Battlestar Galactica. There is but one other TV program we covered this season that has the scope, the ambition, the sheer majesty of that show and thus deserves its own power rankings. That's right, it's time to revisit Alice.
When we talked about the long-running sitcom early in this latest ninth season, I did roll out a ranking of the Mel's Diner regulars, but this involves everyone on the show. Remember how this works: I look at who would win if they faced each other today at a neutral site in Minot, North Dakota. Here goes:
1) Mel Sharples: The man, the hat, the spatula--Mel is the most interesting character on screen at any given time, and Vic Tayback enlivens even the most mundane material. Mel is the soul of the show.
2) Henry Beesmeyer: If Mel is the soul of Alice, then Henry is...uh, I don't know, the trick left knee? Somehow I mean that as a compliment. Any episode is richer if it has the mild-mannered but wisecracking phone lineman.
3) Alice Hyatt: I mean, it IS her show. For better or worse, that's her belting the theme song.
4) Florence Jean Castleberry: If Mel is the soul of the series and Henry is the wonky left knee, then Flo is the...grits. OK, I've taken this as far as it can go.
5) Vera Gorman: Sure, she is a bit of a dingy broad, but she was part of the diner before Alice arrived at the show's inception and she stayed for the whole run. She provides an essential foil for Mel.
6) Tommy Hyatt: The attempt to give him a guitar and turn him into a teen idol didn't go so well, but for a while he was one of the more tolerable kids on TV, and he stuck it out for all 9 seasons, too.
7) Jolene Hunnicut: Believe it or not, she is in more episodes than any waitress besides Alice and Vera. Jolene may not stand out to most fans of the series, but she was there. She brought stability after the departures of Flo and Belle.
8) Earl Hicks: Dave Madden is so good that you assume this character was in more than a mere several dozen episodes.
9) Belle Dupree: Diane Ladd gave it her all, but for reasons that aren't 100% clear, things didn't work out for her. She had the thankless task of following Flo, though, and Belle didn't bring down the whole operation, so she gets some credit for that.
10) Sam Butler: OK, OK, I admit it! Alice's "connected" alter ego is one of those gimmicks that's so bad it's worse, but I have a strange fascination with it. It took all the restraint I could muster to avoid recommending we spotlight a Sam episode on the podcast.
In all seriousness, Alice playing a gangster in drag might have been amusing once, but bringing that back killed the precious credibility the series had built up.