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Offscreen Superstars: The Best Characters We’ve Never Seen on TV

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Offscreen Superstars: The Best Characters We’ve Never Seen on TV

You know them. Some are seen in silhouette. Some are seen in pieces, like the top of Wilson’s (Earl Hindman) head in Home Improvement or the arm of Seinfeld’s Bubble Boy (Jon Hayman). Some you only hear the voice, and some you never hear or see at all, their appearance dictated by the sometimes-outrageous descriptions given by the characters on screen (seriously, just how ugly and naked is Friends’ Ugly Naked Guy (Jon Haugen)?). They are the iconic characters of TV you’ve never fully seen.

Whether they’re a running joke throughout a series’ run or a truly memorable one-off character, these offscreen superstars leave an indelible mark on TV – nay, pop – culture.

RELATED: Kramer’s 13 Most Iconic Inventions and Moneymaking Schemes on ‘Seinfeld,’ Ranked

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Maris Crane (Frasier, 1993 – 2004)

Maris Crane is Niles Crane’s (David Hyde Pierce) first wife, an unseen character referenced comically throughout the series. Maris is described as thin, frail, pale (with little to no pigmentation), and short. According to Niles, Maris has slight webbing on her fingers and looks like Niles’ whippet, Lady, while Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) describes her as being, “Like the sun, except without the warmth.” Her interests include surgery, fencing, and long periods of time in a personal sensory deprivation chamber.

Cousin Jeffrey (Seinfeld, 1989 – 1998)

Jeffrey is the unseen, beloved son of Uncle Leo (Len Lesser). His work for the Parks Department is a great source of pride for Leo. And it should be: the man has received a citation from the Parks commissioner himself, for his “Edible Foliage Tour” guide work in Central Park. While there’s no definitive guidance on what Jeffrey looks like, a horse apparently looks similar.

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Donald, the Bubble Boy (Seinfeld, “The Bubble Boy”, Season 4, Episode 7)

The gang go to meet Donald, a youth who is quarantined in a ‘bubble’ due to immune deficiencies, at the request of his father (Brian Doyle-Murray). Donald is, apparently, a big fan of Jerry’s. We only ever see his arm, but it’s very evident that he’s bossy and angry. Especially when moors is misspelled as moops on the Trivial Pursuit card.

Mrs. (Debbie) Wolowitz (The Big Bang Theory, 2007 – 2019)

She’s loud. She’s obnoxious. Her voice has a New Jersey accent. She’s cartoonishly overweight and sports a mustache. And she was hilarious. Carol Ann Susi voiced Mrs. Wolowitz, an overprotective Jewish mother, and what she was able to do with the unseen character is amazing, often quipping the funniest lines in an episode. The character passed away with the untimely death of Susi in 2014.

Charlie Townsend (Charlie’s Angels, 1976 – 1981)

Charlie (John Forsythe) is a retired detective and founder of the Townsend Agency. He directs the operation of the private detective firm via speakerphone, sending his ‘Angels’ – Jill (Farrah Fawcett), Sabrina (Kate Jackson), and Kelly (Jaclyn Smith) – out on cases weekly. His voice is all we know of him, but he is an integral character throughout the series and its various other reboots.

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Ugly Naked Guy (Friends, 1994 – 2004)

A running gag throughout the show, Ugly Naked Guy is an ugly, obese nudist who can be seen in his apartment from Monica’s (Courtney Cox). Never seen except once from behind, the friends often take note of what’s happening with UNG, from using a new ThighMaster, a visit with Ugly Naked Girl, to possibly being dead (giant poking device confirmed he wasn’t). In a flashback episode, he was first known as ‘Cute Naked Guy’.

Dr. Claw (Inspector Gadget, 1983 – 1986)

The criminal mastermind behind M.A.D. with a mechanical claw for a hand, the only piece of him we ever see. Dr. Claw’s (Frank Welker) evil plans are constantly thwarted by Inspector Gadget’s (Don Adams) fortuitous ineptitude (and a little… err, a lot of help from his niece and her dog). But he’ll get Gadget next time. NEXT TIME!! (Fun fact: At no point in time has Claw ever gotten Gadget)

Stanley Walker (Will & Grace, 1998 – 2006)

Stanley is the oft-mentioned, but never seen, multi-billionaire husband of socialite Karen (Megan Mullally). Another cartoonishly obese character (his cremation upon passing took four days, his ashes held in two 5-gallon tins), with little legs, psoriasis, a ratty toupee, and a high-pitched voice. Despite the frequent digs Karen would dole out regularly, she did truly love Stan. Until he cheated on her, then not so much.

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RELATED: ‘Will & Grace:’ 10 Essential & Empowering Episodes

Wilson W. Wilson Jr. (Home Improvement, 1991 – 1999)

Not unseen so much as only partly seen, with only his eyes and up visible over the fence, neighbor Wilson is an integral part of Home Improvement. He would repeatedly offer sage advice to members of the Taylor household (which Tim (Tim Allen) would, as a running gag throughout the series, butcher to the point of nonsense). Wilson’s fictional life journey is astounding, having traveled the globe, learning from every culture, gathering artifacts, and earning a Ph.D. in Forgotten Languages and Cultures. At points in time, he has been a spy, a pilot, a park ranger, and a Celtic Mythology professor.

Envelope Assistant (America’s Funniest Home Videos, 1989 – Present)

The Bob Saget years on AFV, where the late comedian acted as host from 1989 to 1997, were arguably the series’ best. Saget had a great talent for voice-overs on the submitted videos and a quick wit on stage. One recurring gag during his time on the show would come at the end when Bob would get the envelope containing the name of the winner from an unseen envelope assistant. Saget would take the envelope and then talk to poke fun at the assistant. “We really have to double-date over the summer.” “There’s something different about you. Your ear… it’s off. Those art classes really made an impression on you.” “I guess you know your belly button’s showing.” Every week was something different and outlandish, a testament to the skill of Saget.


Thing (The Addams Family, 1964-1966)

Technically, yes – we see Thing (Itself). Silent, helpful, five healthy fingers. You know what we don’t see? The rest of his body. What does that look like? Was Thing born a disembodied hand, or is his origin much darker? Is it an unseen character in the basement of the Addams’ home, maybe a zombie left perpetually pondering the Zen paradox of the sound of one hand clapping?

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

Hitting the three-quarter-century mark usually means a retirement home, a nursing facility, or if you’re lucky to be blessed with relatively good health and savings to match, living in a gated community in Arizona or Florida.

For Sylvester Stallone, however, it means something else entirely: starring in the first superhero-centered film of his decades-long career in the much-delayed Samaritan. Unfortunately for Stallone and the audience on the other side of the screen, the derivative, turgid, forgettable results won’t get mentioned in a career retrospective, let alone among the ever-expanding list of must-see entries in a genre already well past its peak.

For Stallone, however, it’s better late than never when it involves the superhero genre. Maybe in getting a taste of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with his walk-on role in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel several years ago, Stallone thought anything Marvel can do, I can do even better (or just as good in the nebulous definition of the word).

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The property Stallone and his team found for him, Samaritan, a little-known graphic novel released by a small, almost negligible, publisher, certainly takes advantage of Stallone’s brute-force physicality and his often underrated talent for near-monosyllabic brooding (e.g., the Rambo series), but too often gives him to little do or say as the lone super-powered survivor, the so-called “Samaritan” of the title, of a lifelong rivalry with his brother, “Nemesis.” Two brothers entered a fire-ravaged building and while both were presumed dead, one brother did survive (Stallone’s Joe Smith, a garbageman by day, an appliance repairman by night).

In the Granite City of screenwriter Bragi F. Schut (Escape Room, Season of the Witch), the United States, and presumably the rest of the world, teeters on economic and political collapse, with a recession spiraling into a depression, steady gigs difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, and the city’s neighborhoods rocked by crime and violence. No one’s safe, not even 13-year-old Sam (Javon Walker), Joe’s neighbor.

When he’s not dodging bullies connected to a gang, he’s falling under the undue influence of Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk), a low-rent gang leader with an outsized ego and the conviction that he and only he can take on Nemesis’s mantle and along with that mantle, a hammer “forged in hate,” to orchestrate a Bane-like plan to plunge the city into chaos and become a wealthy power-broker in the process.

Schut’s woefully underwritten script takes a clumsy, haphazard approach to world-building, relying on a two-minute animated sequence to open Samaritan while a naive, worshipful Sam narrates Samaritan and Nemesis’s supposedly tragic, Cain and Abel-inspired backstory. Schut and director Julius Avery (Overlord) clumsily attempt to contrast Sam’s childish belief in messiah-like, superheroic saviors stepping in to save humanity from itself and its own worst excesses, but following that path leads to authoritarianism and fascism (ideas better, more thoroughly explored in Watchmen and The Boys).

While Sam continues to think otherwise, Stallone’s superhero, 25 years past his last, fatal encounter with his presumably deceased brother, obviously believes superheroes are the problem and not the solution (a somewhat reasonable position), but as Samaritan tracks Joe and Sam’s friendship, Sam giving Joe the son he never had, Joe giving Sam the father he lost to street violence well before the film’s opening scene, it gets closer and closer to embracing, if not outright endorsing Sam’s power fantasies, right through a literally and figuratively explosive ending. Might, as always, wins regardless of how righteous or justified the underlying action.

It’s what superhero audiences want, apparently, and what Samaritan uncritically delivers via a woefully under-rendered finale involving not just unconvincing CGI fire effects, but a videogame cut-scene quality Stallone in a late-film flashback sequence that’s meant to be subversively revelatory, but will instead lead to unintentional laughter for anyone who’s managed to sit the entirety of Samaritan’s one-hour and 40-minute running time.

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Samaritan is now streaming worldwide on Prime Video.

Samaritan

Cast
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton
  • Pilou Asbæk

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Matt Shakman Is In Talks To Direct ‘Fantastic Four’

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According to a new report, Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct the upcoming MCU project, Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios has been very hush-hush regarding Fantastic Four to the point where no official announcements have been made other than the film’s release date. No casting news or literally anything other than rumors has been released regarding the project. We know that Fantastic Four is slated for release on November 8th, 2024, and will be a part of Marvel’s Phase 6. There are also rumors that the cast of the new Fantastic Four will be announced at the D23 Expo on September 9th.

Fantastic Four is still over two years from release, and we assume we will hear more news about the project in the coming months. However, the idea of the Fantastic Four has already been introduced into the MCU. John Krasinski played Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The cameo was a huge deal for fans who have been waiting a long time for the Fantastic Four to enter the MCU. When Disney acquired Twenty Century Fox in 2019 we assumed that the Fox Marvel characters would eventually make their way into the MCU. It’s been 3 years and we already have had an X-Men and Fantastic Four cameo – even if they were from another universe.

Deadline is reporting that Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct Fantastic Four. Shakman served as the director for Wandavision and has had an extensive career. He directed two episodes of Game of Thrones and an episode of The Boys, and he had a long stint on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There is nothing official yet, but Deadline’s sources say that Shakman is currently in talks for the job and things are headed in the right direction.

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To be honest, I was a bit more excited when Jon Watts was set to direct. I’m sure Shakman is a good director, but Watts proved he could handle a tentpole superhero film with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Wandavision was good, but Watts’ style would have been perfect for Fantastic Four. The film is probably one of the most anticipated films in Marvel’s upcoming slate films and they need to find the best person they can to direct. Is that Matt Shakman? It could be, but whoever takes the job must realize that Marvel has a lot riding on this movie. The other Fantastic Four films were awful and fans deserve better. Hopefully, Marvel knocks it out of the park as they usually do. You can see for yourself when Fantastic Four hits theaters on November 8th, 2024.

Film Synopsis: One of Marvel’s most iconic families makes it to the big screen: the Fantastic Four.

Source: Deadline

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Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase Star in ‘Zombie Town’ Mystery Teen Romancer (Exclusive)

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Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase have entered Zombie Town, a mystery teen romancer based on author R.L. Stine’s book of the same name.

The indie, now shooting in Ontario, also stars Henry Czerny and co-teen leads Marlon Kazadi and Madi Monroe. The ensemble cast includes Scott Thompson and Bruce McCulloch of the Canadian comedy show Kids in the Hall.

Canadian animator Peter Lepeniotis will direct Zombie Town. Stine’s kid’s book sees a quiet town upended when 12-year-old Mike and his friend, Karen, see a horror movie called Zombie Town and unexpectedly see the title characters leap off the screen and chase them through the theater.

Zombie Town will premiere in U.S. theaters before streaming on Hulu and then ABC Australia in 2023.

“We are delighted to bring the pages of R.L. Stine’s Zombie Town to the screen and equally thrilled to be working with such an exceptional cast and crew on this production. A three-time Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award winner with book sales of over $500 million, R.L. Stine has a phenomenal track record of crafting stories that engage and entertain audiences,” John Gillespie, Trimuse Entertainment founder and executive producer, said in a statement.

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Executive producers are Trimuse Entertainment, Toonz Media Group, Lookout Entertainment, Viva Pictures and Sons of Anarchy actor Kim Coates.  

Paco Alvarez and Mark Holdom of Trimuse negotiated the deal to acquire the rights to Stine’s Zombie Town book.

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