A self-aggrandising hack with pretensions to greater journalistic stature than the Baltimore Sun, Templeton isn’t the writer he thinks he is - something that’s made plain to him when interviewed for a position at the much-lauded Washington Post. He simply doesn’t have what it takes to hit the big time.
However, not only is Templeton not the talent he bigs himself up to be, but the stories he’s filing are based on sources and interview subjects invented from whole cloth. Sometimes that’s because he wants the glory of the story and manipulates the truth to get it printed… but far more often, it’s just that he can’t be bothered to get out there and find real witnesses or source real quotes.
So he makes them up. Templeton is smarmy, two-faced and shallow. Played with a marvellously sweaty smugness by acclaimed actor, writer, director and comedian Thomas McCarthy, Templeton is so hateable that it almost doesn’t matter what he’s done - he could be the parish priest and you’d probably loathe him anyway.
A case in point is when he’s confronted about his fabricated articles by Jimmy McNulty, the BPD detective who’s invented the serial killer that Templeton’s been writing about.
McNulty’s as much of a liar as Templeton - more so really, given that deceit and untrustworthiness are two of his most consistent characteristics. Yet we don’t hate McNulty like we hate Templeton, and it’s not just his Irish charm.
It’s the difference between knowing that someone needs a slap and knowing that someone needs a punch: and few characters in television history have quite the punchable face that Scott Templeton has.