Tuesday, June 8, 2010

#39: Snyder

Principal Snyder is a pretty good example of tenacity: he makes it onto this list, at 39th no less, without ever really being a character of any consequence. There are no 'Snyder episodes', and most of the time he's just a minor annoyance: a mosquito buzzing around the ears of the main characters.

Which is not to demean the character at all: Principal Snyder's strengths lie in his mean-spirited small-mindedness, and Armin Shimerman plays him wonderfully. He's the second Sunnydale High principal we meet, all the way back in season one, in the episode, “The Puppet Show”, scripted by Rob Des Hotel and Dean Batali. Though this début appearance is actually his third-wordiest, it's still 'minor', falling outside of the top five. In a total of eighteen episodes of Buffy, Snyder makes the top five precisely twice: finishing fifth in “School Hard” and finishing fourth in “Band Candy”, where his performance as an excitable geek is one of the episode's several highlights. Even at that, he gets a mere 355 words in, not a huge number. His least significant appearance, word-wise, is also his next-to-last appearance as a living human: “Graduation Day, Part One”, where he gets a mere 37 words of dialogue. The episode immediately following that one, “Graduation Day, Part Two”, is the last episode of season three, and the last episode featuring Buffy and friends as high school students. Fittingly, the destruction of the high school occurs in the same episode as Snyder's own demise, eaten by the Mayor. Yet we do see him once more, in Xander's dream during the finale of season four, “Restless”.

Lastly, let's spare a moment or two for Principal Flutie, whose three appearances keep him well outside of the top fifty. As great a character as Snyder undoubtedly is, his malicious intent would be completely ill-suited to the series début, where Flutie's well-meaning bumbling fits much better. And secondly, Flutie is important as the first recurring character to die. As evidence that Buffy was not like other shows, not afraid to kill off characters in service of the plot, Flutie is the series' Cedric Diggory (making Jenny the series' Sirius Black, I suppose).
  • Overall ranking: #39
  • Ranking on Buffy: #24
  • Total words spoken on Buffy: 2694
    • Season 1: 417
    • Season 2: 1229
    • Season 3: 967
    • Season 4: 81
  • Total speaking appearances on Buffy: 18
    • Ranking #4: 1
    • Ranking #5: 1
    • Minor: 16

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