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My Favorite TV Sidekicks

April 29, 2013

Square PegsLately I’ve been thinking a lot about the unsung TV sidekicks of my childhood.

Yeah, sidekicks — you know, like the partners in crime, the partners in fighting crime, the “not marquee enough to steal the show” guy, the “not pretty enough to get the guy” girl, the whipping boy, the supporting role, the court jester and the like.  I love sidekicks.

Maybe because they never get the glory.

Maybe because my heart bleeds for underdogs.

Maybe because I’ve always been the sidekick.

It’s true.  And I know that probably comes as a heart-stopping shock to your system.  Like you totally thought I had enough charm going for me that I couldn’t possibly be the impish character providing the sympathetic audience guffaw, didn’t you?

But then you’re probably forgetting that I didn’t look like this:

Punky Brewster

So much as this:

angie_4

Here are a few of my favorite TV sidekicks.

Squiggy (Laverne & Shirley).  Squiggy was like an unneutered Jack Russell dog bathed in pomade.   He made even Lenny look good.  Even Backseat Laverne wouldn’t have him.  Hell, Shirley found even the Big Ragu more appealing.  Yet how could you not feel sorry for this little guy and want to adopt him and take him home from the shelter?  After he’s been dewormed.

Laverne & Shirley: David L. Lander Image Source: Paramount Home Entertainment

Al (Quantum Leap).  In the face of uncertainty that comes with time-travel, Al always made me feel safe, like good things would happen if we only found our way into the future, all the while wearing crap like this:

Al_QuantumLeap

And this:

Al_QuantumLeap2

Oh boy.

Velma (Scooby-Doo).  While Shaggy and Scooby were off getting high and Fred and Daphne were off getting pregnant, you could always count on the smart, loyal, practical Velma to keep her head about her and meddle her way into cracking the case, all the while wearing crap like this:

Velma 2

And this:

Velma 3

Jinkies!

Boner (Growing Pains).  The fact that he was so naive, so nonthreatening, so lame and asexual that he made the network censors completely forget how the word “boner” translated to the show’s teenage fans is nothing short of a Christmas miracle!

Boner

Natalie & Tootie (The Facts of Life).  Was Natalie a sidekick to Tootie or was Tootie a sidekick to Natalie?  And does their dual-sidekick status somehow cancel out that they were sidekicks to everyone else on the show, including Mrs. Garrett?  Could they be some type of super-sidekick duo, thereby making them more powerful than Blair?  I cannot begin to work through that mind-bending conundrum for you today.

Facts of Life

Derek (Silver Spoons).  Derek was the first bad boy I ever loved.  And even though he’s an unconventional choice, I thought I’d throw him on my list as a sort of tribute to my good pal Jason Bateman and the other unappreciated, overlooked sidekicks everywhere.  Who’s the sidekick now, huh, Ricky?

Derek Silver Spoons

Other famous sidekicks who almost made my list:  Kimmy Gibbler, Cousin Oliver, Mr. McFeely, Barney Rubble, George W. Bush and Balki Bartokomous.

*** Who’s your favorite TV sidekick? ***

39 Comments leave one →
  1. April 29, 2013 6:17 am

    OMG you have taken me back!! What was the name of SJP’s friend in Square Pegs??? Its driving me nuts now! What a great stroll down memory lane, some more sidekicks of note include Howie (Colt Seaver of the Fall Guy’s side kick) Six (Blossom’s sidekick) and the little curly headed guy from Charles in Charge!

  2. April 29, 2013 6:34 am

    I am weeping right now. I don’t know where to begin. OK, I do– Jason Bateman. (gasp) My one true love! “Silver spoons together….you and I……we’re gonna find our waaaay…..”

    Also, I wouldn’t take Squiggy, dewormed or not.

    After this gem of a post, I have only one question: can I be your sidekick? Pretty please? People tell me I bear an uncanny resemblance to Gibbler.

    • April 29, 2013 8:49 am

      I LOVE Jason Bateman too, squealll! But nooo, nooo not Kimmy Gibbler, you are nothing like her! She’s evil. Although still easier to take than Michelle.

      • April 29, 2013 12:30 pm

        Just the other day a big light bulb when off over my head and I asked Dargibbler if anyone had ever told her she looked just like the sidekick on Full House and her response was “Oh, no,never….except all my LIFE. DUH!!!”

      • April 29, 2013 2:26 pm

        Alice, I love you. Also: I have an epic post about my endless love for Jason Bateman sitting in my draft folder. Now that I know you love him too, I’ll dust it off and post it soon.

        Peg, is it because I’m just so darned peppy all the time? Is that why?

      • April 29, 2013 5:15 pm

        exactly

  3. April 29, 2013 7:28 am

    I hated cousin Oliver. Probably because he was exactly like all the annoying little cousins that came to stay at our house every summer. He ruined Brady Bunch for me forever. (and apparently for everyone else – I just read on Wikipedia the show was canceled after he showed up.)

    Does Mr. Furley count as a sidekick?

  4. April 29, 2013 8:25 am

    Yay for Natalie and Tootie! Much more interesting than Jo and Blair.

    I’ve forgotten most of these other sidekicks. Except for Squiggy, of course, who was completely repulsive to me. That didn’t stop me from reading his autobiography a few years ago. He’s much more interesting in real life than his character was.

  5. Rosie permalink
    April 29, 2013 8:42 am

    I loved Sooki on Gilmore Girls! And Niles on Frasier. And Lisa on Mad About You. And Laverne on Empty Nest! And Carol on Maude. :)

  6. April 29, 2013 8:45 am

    Screech, from Saved By the Bell. I’m pretty sure that were he a real person, he would have been terribly tormented. But what a heart. That kid had the best spirit. *weep* Those sidekicks. Where are they now?

  7. April 29, 2013 8:50 am

    Yes, George W. is the ultimate wacky sidekick to Dick Cheney. So glad you remembered him! What was that show called again?

  8. April 29, 2013 9:14 am

    Boner! Who could forget Boner! May he RIP. What about Cockroach on The Cosby Show? ;-)

  9. April 29, 2013 9:28 am

    Well, obviously you need to do a part 2 with all of those “honorable mentions” you listed above!! Mr. McFeely & Balki? Come on!!

    Favorite sidekicks . . . hmmm. Well, obviously there was Skippy (actually quite surprised you didn’t list him here!), and Mrs. Garrett when she was on Diff’rent Strokes (before she got her own show, of course!). Let’s see, who else . . . Azreal of the Smurfs, Boo Boo of Yogi Bear fame, Woody on Cheers, and Rose on Golden Girls.

    You realize I could do this all day, right? But I have REAL work to do, so I’ll stop. But seriously, I could go on and on and on and on . . . . Aren’t you glad you asked? ;)

  10. Tony permalink
    April 29, 2013 9:55 am

    It’s important that a sidekick has a cute, one word name often ending in the E sound – Balki, Skippy, Squiggy, Potsie, Corky (Life Goes On), Twiki (little robot from Buck Rogers), Tootie, and Mickey (Kramer’s little buddy.) There has to be a boatload more that I’m forgetting?

  11. April 29, 2013 11:10 am

    You’ve taken me back in time! My 9yr old and I have recently started watching Diff’rent Strokes on Netflix. Now she’s going around the house saying “whatchyou talkin about”

  12. April 29, 2013 11:25 am

    MAJOR points for giving Kimmy and Balki a shout-out at the end! And I was always FASCINATED by the fact that they could get away with the “Boner” nickname – people should STILL be talking about this phenomenon all the time, as far as I’m concerned.

  13. Nick permalink
    April 29, 2013 11:48 am

    Okay, Balki was NOT a sidekick. He was the main attraction. Cousin Larry, if anyone, was the sidekick in that show. As always, great article!

  14. April 29, 2013 11:49 am

    Mel Cooley – The Dick Van Dyke Show.

  15. April 29, 2013 12:07 pm

    beautiful and well done :-) lol–a topic I’ve never even considered but obviously there’s much to mine. I especially loved your Square Pegs photo–have been thinking of that show lately as it so rocked. Though don’t know Quantum Leap so am feeling decidedly uncool 0-:

    Alice on Brady Bunch, everyone on Gilligan’s Island who wasn’t Gilligan (though he was kind of Skipper’s sidekick?) or the Skipper. Sidekicks are definitely where it’s at and how awesome that you’ve chosen to honor them :-)

  16. April 29, 2013 12:34 pm

    The Tootie/Natalie conundrum is truly one of the great debates of these times. I think of them as one character who, but for the wonders of modern medicine, would be joined at the hip.

  17. April 29, 2013 1:12 pm

    Quantum Leap!!! Silver Spoons!!! Two of my favorite shows. I had such a crush on Scott Bakula. Now I have a crush on Jason Bateman.

    Balki was one of my favorites too. Such memories, Angie! You know how to make a girl cry happy tears of nostalgia. Now that I’m thinking of all these shows, I realize I watched WAY too much TV as a kid.

  18. April 29, 2013 3:24 pm

    I’m torn between DJ Jazzy Jeff and Six LeMeure (so much cooler than Blossom).

  19. April 29, 2013 3:35 pm

    I was a fan of the Gibbler.

  20. April 29, 2013 3:37 pm

    How could you forget Tattoo?

  21. April 29, 2013 5:51 pm

    Natalie & Tootie… which one’s which? Hahahahah!!

  22. April 29, 2013 6:00 pm

    Mr. McFeeley! I never really thought of him as a sidekick to Mr. Rogers, but he TOTALLY was. What does that make Chef Brocket?

  23. April 29, 2013 8:16 pm

    I know “Childhood” is an 80’s thing, but this old guy couldn’t read this edition without remembering Rowdy Yates as a sidekick to Gil Favor (Rawhide). Rowdy was played by an obscure young actor named Clint Eastwood. Because this was a western they couldn’t call Rowdy a “sidekick.” He was a “ramrod,” perhaps because the producers knew he’d morph into Dirty Harry someday.
    Only two people remember who played Gil Favor, and I’m not one of ‘em.

  24. April 29, 2013 9:42 pm

    Definitely Barney Fife. One-bullet Barney was the perfect bungling deputy to cool-headed Sheriff Taylor.

    • April 29, 2013 9:43 pm

      I realize the Andy Griffith Show pre-dates the 80s, but I watched it in re-runs after school.

  25. April 30, 2013 3:50 am

    Was Fresh Young Prince the 80`s? Carlton- best side kick of all time. Especially while dancing.

  26. April 30, 2013 9:18 am

    Murray on the Mary Tyler Moore show. Or George W Bush because you’re right. He was Cheney’s faithful sidekick.

  27. flyingplatypi permalink
    April 30, 2013 12:28 pm

    Omg. I was in love with Dean Stockwell from Quantum Leap when I was younger. Like… Legit in love. My mom was worried I would end up dating old men because of it. Ad I’m not alone!

    Hugs!

    Valerie

  28. May 3, 2013 9:04 am

    I will have to think about this one. At the moment, I can’t recall a single show from my childhood.. Give me an hour or so.

  29. May 3, 2013 4:42 pm

    God, I can never forget Velma. She used to be one my favs when I was very young. At that time it was because of her love for books and logic. when I grew older, my mom thought I’d get tired of it. But now it seems as if she’s the person I have become. Probably because I’ve started wearing glasses and staying up late to study. Jinkies!!

  30. May 4, 2013 1:06 pm

    I am so excited that you posted just about all the shows I used to watch. Can’t forget Skippy from Family Ties. Poor, poor Skippy.

  31. May 12, 2013 3:38 pm

    Bonner was the best :( By the way its nice post .you did very well

  32. May 13, 2013 8:19 am

    VELMA! :)

  33. May 17, 2013 4:44 am

    They are hysterical. I knew them all . . . and felt my age!

  34. June 21, 2013 1:15 pm

    So good! I was always a fan of Uncle Jesse (The Dukes of Hazzard one not the full house one, although the full house one did have cool hair)

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