Character Review: Arthur Summerlee

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the television show, The Lost World (which is loosely based the book of the same name). Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the either the book or the television series.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from The Lost World to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In every life and every story, there are two perspectives: youth and old age. In The Lost World, the perspective on old age is represented Arthur Summerlee (Michael Sinelnikoff). Summerlee is not only the ying to Challenger’s yang, but he is also the peacemaker and the unofficial father figure to the younger members of the expedition. It was Summerlee who egged Challenger on during the pilot about his findings and it was Challenger, who in turn challenged (for lack of a better term) Summerlee to join him on the expedition.

Where Challenger is hotheaded, brash and sometimes full of it, Summerlee is calm, cool and collected (at least most of the time).  Summerlee is also the first member of the expedition to see past the hard shell of Marguerite to see a woman who is complicated and has had to make difficult decisions to survive. When he was killed off (or appeared to be killed off), an emotional void was left among the characters that could never truly be filled.

Despite all of that, Summerlee had his faults. He too, was prone to having a big head. His greatest regret was walking away from his wife as she lay dying, without so much as a goodbye.

To sum it up: The perspective that one can see from having lived a great many years is sometimes hard to see, but it is a perspective that deserves to be explored. We live in a culture that celebrates the young and the youthful. But we sometimes forget that those of a certain age deserve our respect and attention, especially in fiction. Summerlee represents both the wisdom and regret that comes with reaching the stage in our lives when we are no longer young. When we as writers speak of creating well-rounded characters, we should be speaking of older characters whose contributions, wisdom and advise should be paid attention to.  We never know when this character will teach both the reader and the writer a thing or two.





The Lost World

There is something about a favorite television show. No matter what is going on in life or how good or bad the day is, your favorite television show just makes it that much better.

The Lost World, airing from 1999 to 2002 was loosely based on the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

In the early part of the 20 century, a group of explorers, led by scientist George Edward Challenger (Peter McCauley) goes on an expedition seeking a lost world that has been isolated from the rest of the world. The rest of the group includes Lord John Roxton (Will Snow) an aristocratic big game hunter with a certain reputation, Marguerite Krux (Rachel Blakely), an heiress with seemingly ulterior motives and an unknown past, Ned Malone (David Orth) a young American reporter looking to  impress a woman back home and Professor Arthur Summerlee (Michael Sinelnikoff), a fellow member of The Zoological Society who initially egged on Professor Challenger when he presented his initial findings to his colleagues.

When they reach The Lost World, they are befriended by Veronica Layton (Jennifer O’Dell), a woman raised in jungle. Her parents discovered The Lost World a generation ago and disappeared when their daughter was still very young. In season 3, Finn, a woman from the future  (Lara Cox) joined the cast.

The Lost World was part of the action/adventure/fantasy trend that appeared in the late 90’s started by Hercules and Xena. I happen to love this show, it’s one of the few shows that I have the complete series on DVD. The special effects, well, Jurassic Park, it is not.  But it is a good show with good story telling and well drawn characters. I just wish that it has lasted more than 3 seasons, but such is life.

I recommend this show.

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