"..., yeah, that's my mind blowing."
What would Alias be without lovable Marshall? Amidst all the danger, underneath all the mystery and drama of Alias is a tiny man, a sensitive man with a caffeine addiction and a photographic memory. Marshall Flinkman has been making us giggle since the pilot with his geeky mannerisms, erratic speech and mind-blowing gadgets. Marshall is Alias' classic character of comic relief, which adds another layer to Alias onion.
Comic relief plays a large part in television drama. Characters like Marshall, with their goofy anecdotes and silly jokes, soften hardcore plotlines to alleviate tension and add variety. Comedic characters are often integrated into the plot in a way that counterpoints and enhances the seriousness of the subject matter. For instance, in season 2, Marshall accompanies Sydney on a mission to London to acquire a copy of Echelon, a system which monitors and records private communications. In Sloane's hands Echelon could strengthen SD-6, and because Marshall has a photographic memory, Vaughn decides it's best to pull Marshall into CIA custody. Marshall, with his lack of field training, mindlessly follows Sydney mumbling in E-wok and nearly passing out from a brush with a tranq dart. This makes for some humorous moments on a mission of very grave proportions.
Weiss, Will and Francie can also be categorized as comic relief characters, making serious characters, like Sydney and Vaughn, laugh and show a sense of humor. This adds a sense of realism and humanity to the show, which can be forgotten in scenes of CIA complexity and international espionage.
Post your favorite comedic moment. What other characters would you consider as comic relief characters? When has Sydney used humor or comedy during serious matters?