Friday, June 25, 2010

#26: Oz

Excluding Illyria, Oz is the lowest-ranking member of the main cast on this list, and the reasons should be obvious. Described as 'taciturn', 'monosyllabic', 'laconic', 'non-verbal' and, sarcastically, 'such a chatterbox'. Speaking only in the shortest of phrases, Oz averages only 140 words per episode among the 40 episodes he appears in. I define 'minor role' as not being one of the characters whose word-count is among the top five on any given episode – not the most realistic definition of 'minor', I concede. Yet it must mean something that, of 40 appearances, fully 36 are minor. In fact, in exactly half (twenty) of those appearances, he says less than 100 words each. At least Seth Green never needed to worry too much about taxing his memory banks.

Of the four times Oz shows up in the top five, only his #4-ranking “Fear, Itself” does not really qualify as an 'Oz episode'. Apart from that, we get “Phases”, where Oz's discovery that he's a werewolf and the solidification of his relationship with Willow still barely get him on the top five at all, with 392 words and a #5 finish. Then, we have to go all the way to his final episode as a cast member, “Wild at Heart”, where 632 words still only give him a #3 finish. Like several other characters with sudden departures, Oz makes one return to tie up loose ends, and “New Moon Rising” gives him 471 words and a #3 finish.

Just to clarify: Oz appeared in 40 episodes, mostly as a cast member, across three seasons, was the main subject of three episodes... and never ranked #1 or #2 in a single episode. Quite impressive, really, if you think about it. Certainly Seth Green expressed his reservations at the time about the limited way he was being used on the show, precipitating his rather abrupt departure in the middle of season four. Although quite well-rounded as a character (hipster, musician, werewolf, slacker genius), Oz existed on the show mainly in relation to Willow. Oz got an intriguing 'gradual' introduction on the show, where for several episodes he seemed to unwittingly cross paths with Willow but without a proper introduction. The first of these was in “Inca Mummy Girl”, written by Matt Kiene and Joe Reinkemeyer. This relatively inconsequential 'Xander episode' is also the screen début of Jonathan. Though, as mentioned above, “New Moon Rising” is Oz's last appearance in the flesh in Sunnydale, he does show up in Season 4 finale “Restless”, saying 23 words in Willow's dream. Oz survives and, if you're into the comics, moves to Tibet and gets married there.

Oddly, the only time Oz appears in the top ten characters per season is in Season 4, where his eight appearances rank him number eight. Appearing in 21 of 22 episodes in Season 3 still wasn't enough to get in the top ten.

Lastly, we need to mention Angel. Among Oz's other dubious honours is what must inarguably be the least memorable Buffy-Angel crossover for a main cast member (Willow has several less significant appearances, but one very significant appearance, so I exclude her; outside of the main cast, certainly the Watchers' Council 'Wet Works' trio beat Oz for lack of memorability): the third episode of the fledgling series, “In the Dark”, where Oz's 184 words put him outside of the top five and amount to less than one-fifth of the other crossover character in that episode, Spike. Note that 184 words is less than a good many entirely insignificant one-episode bit parts, so calculating Oz's ranking on Angel would be all but impossible.
  • Overall ranking: #26
  • Ranking on Buffy: #15
  • Ranking on Angel: n/a
  • Total words spoken on Buffy: 5413
    • Season 2: 1114
    • Season 3: 2356
    • Season 4: 1943 (#8)
  • Total words spoken on Angel: 184
    • Season 1: 184
  • Total words spoken in the Buffyverse: 5597
  • Total speaking appearances on Buffy: 39
    • Ranking #3: 2
    • Ranking #4: 1
    • Ranking #5: 1
    • Minor: 35
  • Total speaking appearances on Angel: 1
    • Minor: 1
  • Total speaking appearances in the Buffyverse: 40
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