I've been half-heartedly planning an epic post for awhile now, but haven't bothered because it can be boiled down to this: OH MY GOD YOU GUYS, I LOVE STERLING KNIGHT. In all caps. Just like that. But now I have an excuse!
When I very grudgingly admitted that I enjoyed Sonny With a Chance, I somehow skipped over mentioning Sterling's character, Chad Dylan Cooper.* If Demi is the weakest link on the show (look, writers, she's just not as funny as you think she is, talking in a silly voice ≠ comedy genius, and she's not even that good at silly voices), then Sterling is by far the strongest one. In an episode I accidentally watched recently (because I do not actually seek out this show, surprisingly) he had a gag in the background and, without delivering a single line of dialogue, was funnier than the entire rest of the cast in the entire rest of the episode. And while his dialogue is generally the best on the show, that isn't saying much (it's akin to being the most talented Jonas brother, for example), and a lot of it is squarely thanks to Sterling.
What Sterling does well is actually, you know… act. Chad Dylan Cooper is an archetype I'm already fond of -- the smug but charming jackass. For all intents and purposes, he's the same character as Hannah Montana's Jake Ryan, who I also enjoy. But unlike Jake (or, if you're being technical, Cody Linley) who only has to pull that off in small doses, Sterling has to do it in almost every episode, consistently keeping Chad on the fine line between obnoxious and appealing, and, let's face it, he's got act for two in any scene where he's playing against Demi. Which is most of his scenes. But he not only pulls it off, he does it well -- and he's ultimately hilarious because he plays the character without a single hint of irony. There's no wink to the fact that Sterling knows how ridiculous his character is; there's no overacting (except, of course, for when Chad-the-character is on the set of Mackenzie Falls, on which he plays the eponymous Mackenzie). He's just straight-up funny. Let's get this kid a real role!
Wait, that would be where 17 Again comes in. Obviously 17 Again was, above all else, a Zac Efron vehicle; it wasn't what I would call a good movie, and there were some moments that were outright infuriating, but it was incredibly entertaining, and Zef managed to carry it along well. (It was interesting to see him in a role where he had to convey thoughts and emotions beyond "confused" and "my girlfriend has awesome boobs," which is about all we saw from Troy in the HSM franchise, but I digress.) Sterling Knight, as Zef's son Alex, was only a supporting role, though an important one, and Sterling was actually quite good in it. He was awkward without going into Television Nerd mode, he was quietly funny, and his subplot with the cheerleader was pretty cute. But what's really notable is that it means Sterling Knight can pull of what relatively few Disney kids** have attempted: he can play at least two distinctly different characters. And play both of them well. Who knows what he could do besides comedy? Period pieces? Space opera?
Dare I suggest... Drama?
And THAT is why I am writing this blog entry. As I said, Sterling plays Chad Dylan Cooper with nary a trace of irony, which is great. And the script gives it to him that way, if only because it's very, very rare that anything written for Disney has the self-awareness needed to be ironic. But someone on the writing staff knows what's going on, knows irony, and perhaps knows that Sterling Knight is the funniest guy they've got on set. And whoever that is, he or she also, clearly, loves me personally. Because Disney has seen fit to give me Mackenzie Falls minisodes, starring, of course, Chad Dylan Cooper, at his Chad Dylan Cooper-iest. All we have is an opening sequence at the moment -- boo! -- but the character profiles alone amuse me greatly. It's Gossip Girl's bitchy rich kids meets Dawson's Creek teen angst, with, for reasons I don't entirely understand, a score ripped off of Harry Potter; I don't think it would work long-form -- few jokes really do, and obviously Mackenzie Falls is an extended gag -- but if they keep the minisodes to a minute or two each, there is some potential for actual good parody here. And you know who would totally be able to pull that off? Hint: he's got the most awesome name of anyone, ever.
You guys, I really, really love Sterling Knight!
* They did a good job with that character name, but frankly, his real name would have worked even better. Oh, Sterling. Your parents were either crazy geniuses or they really, really hated you.
** "Disney kids" meaning "people who play kids on the Disney channel" as Sterling actually 20. Though by that definition, Jason Earles is also a Disney kid. And he's what, 75?