Four entries in and already feeling the urge to iterate that we really do know what we’re doing, we’ve already decided who’s going to be number one, and we really can’t be sure if any of us will be alive by the time we get to that point. Also, a nagging sensation that we should have made this a Top 500, just to make life really difficult for ourselves. Because we really like doing that. We’re actually typing this on an aged Eriksson flip-phone running WAP internet whilst trapped in a well, for example.
197 Fa'ad Shaoulin (Running Wilde)
The first US entry on the list, and it’s from a show that found itself panned more frequently than the gasman from that episode of Bottom. But, hey. Diamonds in the rough. The sitcom in question was Mitchell Hurwitz’s Running Wilde, which could almost be taken as a pseudo-spinoff for Hurwitz’s much-loved Arrested Development. The action centred on the titular Steven Wilde, an egotistical tycoon who tries to offset his depression by winning the heart of childhood sweetheart turned eco-activist Emmy. The lead role was played (and indeed, developed for) standout Arrestee Will Arnett, moving from the self-centred if emotionally fragile moneyed douchebag Gob Bluth, to self-centred if emotionally fragile douchebag in search of betterment Steve Wilde.
Despite a premise on nodding terms with the critical smash, it seemed an uphill struggle for Wilde – while Arrested Development built an audience on the back of Selfish Rich Assholes Running Out Of Money, the sit behind Wildes’ com was Selfish Rich Asshole Doesn’t Run Out Of Money But Feels A Bit Bad About It wasn’t as alluring a prospect. And when you consider Arrested Development hardly set Neilsen boxes ablaze in the first place, it was always going to be a non-starter. So hey, at least the nine or so episodes it’ll get air before cancellation might be good, yeah?
Well, they were okay. Ish. But the main draw was that of Steven’s eccentric neighbour and best pal – a similarly listless oil magnate from foreign lands, Fa’ad Shaoulin. What was so special about him? It certainly helps that the role provided a breakthrough role in US TV for a certain Peter Serafinowicz. Whether it’s plodding around on the back of a prohibitively expensive micro-pony, getting locked in a vodka freezer, or pretending to be Alan Alda, Serafinowicz lifts the mood whenever he appears on screen. Whether that’s down to Fa’ad seldom having to bother with having any of that ‘plot’ and ‘consistent character’ nonsense, or just that we enjoy seeing really good BBC2 sketch comedians cropping up on US network TV – a bit like seeing someone else wearing a T-shirt of an obscure indie band you like whilst at Asda – we can’t quite be sure, but Fa’ad was the only character that kept us coming back to Running Wilde throughout it’s initial nine-episode run.