January 10 – Bad Apple

In the Shadows

A number of TV shows have utilized characters that are never seen by the audience. Some even become integral parts of storylines, despite never being visible. Here are the Top 5 most intriguing characters that are largely left to your own imagination:

#5: Dr. Claw – Inspector Gadget

While having a voice that is instantly recognizable, when it comes to making an appearance, we get to see more of Dr. Claw’s kitty, than we do of the M.A.D. leader, himself. For decades, I’ve pondered what Dr. Claw might have actually looked like. I was remarking to Mrs. Sip the other day about how much I wanted to see Dr. Claw finally win a round with the hapless detective… then, perhaps, we’d finally get the big reveal and find out that Dr. Claw is actually Chief Quimby, who’s sick and tired of being blown up by Inspector Gadget every time he delivers a new self-destruct mission.

Dr. Claw

#4: Robin Masters – Magnum P.I.

How kind is author Robin Masters to let both Thomas Magnum and Jonathan Higgins stay at his sprawling mansion (Robin’s Nest), despite the fact that he never resides there himself?  Due to all the trouble that results from Magnum and Higgins living at the estate. Masters “sort of” appeared in a few episodes as a narrator, voiced by Orson Welles. At one point, it was even speculated upon that Higgins was in fact Masters. However, although Masters confessed as much to Magnum during the series finale, he retracted his statement later.

#3: Maris – Frasier

A fair amount of humour in early seasons of the series was derived from comments about Maris’ appearance and behaviour, always adding to the character’s mystique. Despite all her quirks, she is said to be wealthy and that might be reason enough for Niles to stay with her… at least for a little while. For a character that was never seen, Maris factored into a number of storylines, one including her committing murder in self-defense and having to flee the country to avoid prosecution.

Maris Crane

#2: Mrs. Wolowitz – Big Bang Theory

We may never get to see her, but we certainly hear from her often enough. Mrs. Wolowitz’s shrill voice can often be heard yelling at Howard and treating him like a child. This often causes Howard, frustrated with his treatment, to shout in return, and ultimately end up sounding like a child. Although, for a time, Mrs. Sip and I thought that Bernadette (Howard’s wife, played by actress Melissa Rauch), also voiced Mrs. Wolowitz, the noise was actually supplied by Carol Ann Susi, who sadly passed away in November 2014.

#1: Mrs. Columbo – Columbo

Although mentioned in numerous episodes, often to advance Lt. Columbo’s relationship with the villain, we never get to meet the true Mrs. Columbo. Sure, there was a spinoff TV series titled Mrs. Columbo, but it starred a young actress that was better suited to playing Columbo’s daughter than wife. Some have speculated that in actuality, there is no Mrs. Columbo at all and she is only used by the lieutenant as an investigation technique. That would have made for quite a series twist ending.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Bad Apple

Bad Apple Shot

  • 0.75 oz Whiskey
  • 0.75 oz Sour Apple Mix

Honourable mentions go to Vera (Cheers), The Mother (How I Met Your Mother), Sheridan and Violet (Keeping Up Appearances), Bill (Kill Bill Vol. 1), and Charlie (Charlie’s Angels). Hell, the Sip Advisor could have also made this list. Will all you little sippers ever get to see the man behind the liquor magic? Only time will tell!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
I figured this would be a good shot for the article, as Dr. Claw and even some of the others on this list at, in fact, bad apples. I used my split shot glass and the results looked really neat. The taste was pretty good, with the Sour Apple Mix hitting first, before the stronger Whiskey overtook the whole experience.

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August 16 – Columbo

Private Dicks

I like a good mystery and these gumshoes have offered some of the greatest examples of sleuthing known to the world. They each employ their own tactics, but the end result is always the same: the bad guy is punished for their crime and the good guy feels some sort of redemption. Here are the Top 5 detectives:

#5: Rescue Rangers

Sometimes, some crimes go slipping through the cracks (did anyone out there sing that opening!?)… and that’s when you need the Rescue Rangers: Chip, Dale, Gadget, and Monterey Jack (plus his little buddy Zipper). This classic Disney Afternoon animation block cartoon sees the legendary Chip and Dale and company solve crimes, such as missing pets and all the other stuff the real police don’t feel like investigating. The gang also regularly battle such villains as Fat Cat and Professor Norton Nimnul. Interestingly, Chip and Dale weren’t even originally planned to be part of the show, but were used to add some established Disney characters to the series.

Chip & Dale

#4: Ace Ventura

Of the Pet Detective variety, Ace is an unconventional investigator and devout animal lover. When hired to solve the case of missing Miami Dolphins mascot and real-life dolphin, Snowflake, he becomes embroiled in a complex mystery involving a disgruntled ex-player and Dolphins superstar quarterback Dan Marino. Can he crack the case before the Dolphins’ next big game and bring Snowflake home safely? This role launched the career of Jim Carrey and the surprise hit even produced a sequel, When Nature Calls, which sadly didn’t live up to the first film.

#3: Magnum P.I.

Thomas Magnum is a fine private detective. He’s willing to work on everything from cases involving cheating spouses to more serious stuff like drug rings and assassination plots. The former Vietnam veteran gets a ton of help from his buddies TC, Rick and even Higgins, all while living the good life in Robin Masters’ Hawaiian home. Played by the dreamy Tom Selleck, the iconic role had to be good, as he even gave up playing Indiana Jones thanks to the series’ shooting schedule. There has been talk of a movie or TV series remake, but I just don’t know if it could ever measure up to the original.

Magnum Man

#2: Sherlock Holmes

Along with his companion (and I don’t mean to make it sound like they are lovers… although I’m sure some have explored this premise), Dr. Watson, Sherlock Holmes is certainly London’s finest sleuth and is perhaps the world’s greatest. The creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes has appeared in countless forms of media. Some of my favourites include the recent movies with Robert Downey, Jr., the current BBC TV series starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and the animated Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century. With Holmes, you must always remember that the game is afoot!

#1: Lt. Columbo

I grew up on the disheveled detective and it’s probably because of him that I haven’t become a criminal mastermind… well, that and to be a mastermind, you need to have a fully-functioning brain. Peter Falk is a god damn legend in my books and all Mrs. Sip can do is roll her eyes when I stumble upon a Columbo mini-movie and have a brief celebration. Although she’s often mentioned, we never see Mrs. Columbo throughout the entirety of the series and we also never learn Lt. Columbo’s first name. Many have speculated that it’s Frank, as it appears when his LAPD ID badge is shown close up. Oh, one more thing, Columbo loves chili as much as he loves solving murders!

Super Saturday Shot Day: Columbo

Columbo Shot

  • 0.75 oz Campari
  • 0.25 oz Orange Juice
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Splash of Lemon Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Garnish with a Cigar

The Sip Advisor would make a horrible detective. Sure, I like solitude and spying on folks can be fun, but you can only get so drunk while on a stakeout and I would find the job cramping my current lifestyle. Plus, there’s the whole critical thinking aspect and all you little sippers know that isn’t in my wheelhouse!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
I’m not sure if this shot (or cocktail I’ve shrunken down to shooter form) was actually meant in homage of the greatest detective of all-time, but I’m using it in that way anyway… there is an Italian connection between the character and Campari, so maybe there’s a match there. And how about that garnish!? Columbo was often seen smoking a stogie, so why not include it with the shooter. It all goes down okay and that bitter Campari aftertaste doesn’t kill like it usually does.

August 7 – Undercover Squirrel

Dicks

I often try to match the subject matter of a post to the name of the featured cocktail… but with a drink called the Undercover Squirrel, what is a liquor deviant supposed to do? Therefore, I decided to write about a topic very close to my heart: the greatest detectives. I love me a good mystery and these sleuths are some of the best!

Columbo

I grew up watching Columbo and his inverted mystery adventures where you know who the killer is all along and the fun comes in how the good Lieutenant trips them up with his idiosyncrasies and constant hounding. The disheveled, but always polite homicide detective was known for his catchphrase “Just one more thing,” which usually signaled he had a prime suspect in mind and all he had to do was reel them in.

Columbo murderer

Sherlock Holmes

With Sherlock Holmes, the game is always afoot and the adventures for this crime solver are seemingly endless thanks to all the different incarnations of the character. Currently, there is a movie franchise and two TV series (starring Robert Downey, Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, and Jonny Lee Miller, respectively) focused on Holmes. The legendary detective has provided inspiration to many of the other entries on this list.

Jessica Fletcher

I don’t think anyone has been surrounded by so much death and homicide than the Murder, She Wrote author, Jessie Fletcher. It seems everywhere she goes, from her sleepy hometown of Cabot Cove to travels around the world results in someone losing their life. I think a great finale to the show would have been revealing that Fletcher was in fact a Dexter-esque serial killer or perhaps she was Death itself!

Thomas Magnum

Private investigator Thomas Magnum may be the luckiest man alive. He gets to live in an expansive Hawaiian estate, free of cost; drive hot cars around the island, also free of cost; and meet a bevy of beautiful, tropical women… that might cost a little bit. All he has to do in his spare time is solve the odd theft, kidnapping, or murder and he gets to live in paradise. Plus, he has one of the best theme songs known to man!

Magnum PI Moustache

Inspector Jacques Clouseau

The bumbling imbecile and lead of the Pink Panther movies may have his heart in the right place as he tries valiantly to be a good officer of the law, but his ineptness always shines through. How much of a screw-up is Clouseau? He has even driven his superior into a state of madness, as the former Chief Inspector designed a doomsday device with the core intention to kill Clouseau.

Scooby Doo and the Gang

Travelling the country in the legendary Mystery Machine, Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby are often thrust into a mystery and have to solve it while being chased and spooked by any number of scary monsters, usually in rumoured-to-be-haunted settings. The crew always prevail in the end, unmasking some villainous individual who was looking to capitalize on some local urban legend. It should be noted that Scooby and company narrowly edged out the Rescue Rangers for the animated sleuth team entry.

scooby-doo

Adrian Monk

Adrian Monk is an ex-homicide detective, who was forced to leave the police after the murder of his wife, which triggered an extreme obsessive compulsive disorder and various phobias. He now works closely with the San Francisco Police Department as a consultant and usually outshines his fellow cops by solving every murder that the team is investigating.

Ace Ventura

The pet detective, Ace Ventura doesn’t play by the rules… in fact, he probably doesn’t even know what they are. Ventura is more than just a pet detective; he’s a lover of animals and is able to form a special bond with many of the creatures he is trying to rescue. This character launched the career of Jim Carrey and the first movie was a childhood favourite of mine. Never forget, friends: laces out…

Drink #219: Undercover Squirrel

Aug 7

  • Muddle Mint Leaves
  • 1.25 oz Pear Vodka (I used Absolut)
  • 0.5 oz Galliano
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Top with Cranberry Juice
  • Sprinkle of Cinnamon
  • Garnish with Mint Leaf

Damn, there were a lot of private detective type shows in the 80’s. Along with Magnum P.I., which I included above, I was forced to leave out such classics as Jim Rockford, A.J. and Rick Simon, and Remington Steele (with partner Laura Holt). A great movie to look out for if you can find it is Murder by Death, which spoofs many classic detectives including Sam Spade, Nick and Nora Charles, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, and Charlie Chan.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
What a fantastic drink with a number or rarely used ingredients. I have to say that Mint may be my favourite item to use in cocktails, as it always provides a unique and wonderful taste. The Cinnamon worked really well with the Galliano to add a beautiful note of vanilla and spice.

March 11 – Death in the Afternoon

The Green Fairy

Legend has it that Death in the Afternoon was Ernest Hemingway’s preferred absinthe cocktail. So, I decided to give the recipe a try and sure enough, I was transported into a hazy world of absinthe-induced imagery. The infamous Green Fairy was my guide and like Dorothy Gale, I was no longer in Kansas.

It all started with the harsh ringing of an alarm. Was I in danger? My eyes slowly popped open and I realized for the first time that I was in bed… with Adam West (TV’s Batman) standing over me. He explained that the time had come for me to begin my hero life… that dark forces were gathering and that my help would soon be needed to save the world. My first instinct was to go back to bed, but West picked me up by the scruff of my neck (apparently I’m a puppy in this hallucination) and tossed me from the comfort of my blankies.

I could wake up to this, any day!

I could wake up to this, any day!

I followed him into a large boardroom where a buffet breakfast of all my favourites was being served. There was a make-your-own potato chip platter station, prime rib burgers on a nearby barbecue, and a full service bar. I ordered a Death in the Afternoon for some reason… as if I needed delusional Sip Advisor to go into a delirious state, thus enacting some form of inception.

In the boardroom were all my heroes from childhood: Cookie Monster, 1960’s Batman (Adam West had changed during the opening credits – yes, my fantasy had credits, all set to Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’, naturally) and Robin, Vancouver Canucks legend Trevor Linden, Willy Wonka, Optimus Prime, the professor and Mary Ann, all here on Sip Advisor’s Isle.

Morgan Freeman narrated the entire meeting, where it was revealed that all the baddies in fictional history had pooled their resources in a last ditch attempt to take over the world. I was summoned to defend the planet Inebriatopia, as I had the most experience there.

Upon being teleported to the land, I was immediately attacked by Ben Stiller and his Globo-Gym thugs. As they hurled dodge balls at my precious face, I dodged, ducked, dipped, dived and dodged, but the onslaught kept coming. That is, until Dikembe Mutombo came to my rescue, smacking down every ball thrown our way.

Sure, Mutombo should have been ruled out, according to Rule 9(a) of the Dodgeball Handbook, but this was life or death and I was happy to have the giant on my side. When we were ready, Mutombo and I returned fire of all the balls, one by one eliminating Stiller and his goons. As we celebrated, Mutombo was hit in the face by a ball meant for me. He crumpled to the ground and I tearfully said goodbye to my new friend. The question remained: who had thrown the ball.

After an 18-month investigation headed up by Lt. Columbo, Perry Mason, Matlock and myself, we were informed that the good guys had won and our services were no longer needed. Before snapping out of my delirious state, Mutombo’s assassin was revealed to me by an informant. I bet you’re wondering who it was. Well, I’ll never tell. Or you could scroll down after today’s drink and find the answer…

Drink #70: Death in the Afternoon

Death in the Afternoon

  • 1 oz Absinthe
  • Top with Champagne
  • Garnish with a lemon wedge

The man who balled (sounds kind of dirty) my good friend Dikembe Mutombo was none other than (spoiler alert)… New World Order Hulk Hogan, complete with air guitar, leather weightlifting belt, and black spray paint. Damn you Hogan, damn you!

Hollywood Hogan

 

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
Ernest Hemingway’s favourite drink was a decent treat. It’s a pretty simple recipe and my favourite element of it was probably the Lemon Juice, as it added a sweetness to the bitter Absinthe and Champagne.