Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Top 25 (+2) Sitcom Sidekicks

Some shows the main character casts such a large shadow the supporting cast doesn’t stand a chance to make a list like this (All in the Family, The Office, Married with Children, Sanford & Son…) and some shows the writing is so good it really doesn’t matter who is delivering the punch line (M*A*S*H). Here’s my top 25 plus two because, well, top 27 doesn’t sound right.

+2) Burt Campbell – Soap
Played by Richard Mulligan
To be honest I never saw much of Soap. It’s not that I didn’t want to, I just never got around to it. It must have had a time slot that conflicted with my life. So I guess I can’t say for certainty that Burt was the funniest sidekick, but I do remember the show had some very funny moments.
+1) Latka Gravas – Taxi
Played by Andy Kaufmann
A timid foreigner who, like Kaufmann himself, was more of a novelty than anything. By a normal person’s standards the role wasn’t all that confining. By Kaufmann’s standards I’m surprised he lasted more than two weeks.
25) Frank Burns – M*A*S*H
Played by Larry Linville
He was annoying but then, that was his role. He was the punch line before the punch line.
24) David Puddy – Seinfeld
Played by Patrick Warburton
Not a weekly regular so this character pushes the limits of the “sidekick” definition. Puddy brought a shtick- “yeah, that’s right”- that was both funny and unique.
23) Les Nessman – WKRP Cincinnati
The comical weatherman who had imaginery walls around his office and pointed out that turkeys can’t fly.
22) Colonel Henry Blake – M*A*S*H
Played by McLean Stevenson
I’m listing M*A*S*H characters when I said I wouldn’t. Can’t resist mentioning the humor in Blake’s reluctant leadership.
21) Colonel Samuel Flagg – M*A*S*H
Played by Edward Winter
I’m slipping in another character who barely qualifies as a sidekick. Flagg wasn’t a weekly regular but his part was too funny to go unmentioned here. As I said in the intro, the writing in M*A*S*H was so good that all of the characters could be and usually were funny so maybe it’s not fair to list Flagg while excluding some of the others. Couldn’t resist.
20) Reginald  “Red” Forman – That 70s Show
Played by Kurtwood Smith
Ass-kicking no nonsense father who delivered several comical lines.
19) Laura Petrie – The Dick Van Dyke Show
Played by Mary Tyler Moore
Here’s where Mary earned her stripes and gained the status to have her own show.
18) Floyd “The Barber” Lawson – The Andy Griffith Show
Played by Howard McNear
What can I say that could describe this hilarious character? You have to see him. Probably more than once to fully appreciate him.
17) Arthur Deitrich – Barney Miller
Played by Steve Landesberg
I love dry humor. Deitrich was dry as sand. Probably the driest on this list.
16) Dennis Finch – Just Shoot Me
Played by David Spade
A little snotty, a little feminine, a little lecherous. The perfect part for David Spade. I thought he was funny.
15) Jethro Bodine – The Beverly Hillbillies
Played by Max Baer Jr.
Jethro was considered the brains of the family due to his sixth grade education. I remember an episode where he was aiming to fly a space rocket to the moon: “Let’s see… the moon is usually ‘twix that tree and that building…” Hilarious.
14) Lou Grant – The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Played by Ed Asner
Underappreciated show, underappreciated cast.
13) Ernest T. Bass – The Andy Griffith Show
Played by Howard Morris
Ok, so maybe it’s a stretch to call this guy a sidekick ‘cuz he wasn’t a weekly regular. But damn he was funny.
12) Joey Tribbiani – Friends
Played by Matt LeBlanc
You might be able to cry foul on this one ‘cuz it’s really unclear who the lead character was on this show. You might say all six of ‘em got equal billing. But I’ll bet if they were forced to produce a “billing” list LeBlanc wouldn’t be at the top.
11) Cliff Clavin – Cheers
Norm had the great one liners at the beginning of the show but Cliffy gets my comedy vote on this show.
10) Inspector Frank Luger – Barney Miller
Played by James Gregory
What a great character. The inspector made “old school” funny.
9) “Granny” Daisy Moses – The Beverly Hillbillies
Played by Irene Ryan
The fiery kick-ass granny from the hills. A friggin’ riot credited with everything from the “cement pond” to the time she had a hippopautumas marked off in sections (jowls, spar ribs, chops, etc.) assuming it was the biggest hog she’d ever seen.
8) Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli – Happy Days
Played by Henry Winkler
“Ayyyyy”.  Although not as often, The Fonz’s shtick still gets referenced from time to time. Equally as iconic as he is funny.
7) The Reverend Jim Ignatowski – Taxi
Played by Christopher Lloyd
I suspect my affinity towards the sixties stoner character has me ranking the Reverend higher than most others would, but this dude cracked me up.
6) Chandler Bing – Friends
Played by Matthew Perry
Ok, you might be able to cry foul on this one ‘cuz it’s really unclear who the lead character was on this show. You might say all six of ‘em got equal billing. But I’ll bet if they were forced to produce a “billing” list Perry wouldn’t be at the top. But, as comedy goes, he should be as far as I’m concerned.
5) Ed Norton – The Honeymooners
Played by Art Carney
Gleason cast a large shadow, both figuratively and literally, but Norton didn’t take a back seat to Kramden. Figuratively, that is. Literally he probably did when he was on the bus Ralph drove for a living.
4) Cosmo Kramer – Seinfeld
Played by Michael Richards
A second character in the top five from Seinfeld. And why not? One of the best sitcoms ever.
3) Ted Baxter – The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Played by Ted Knight
Did I mention this show is underappreciated? Mary surrounded herself with so much talent she could have not bothered to show up and I don’t think anyone would have missed her. Ted was a riot.
2) George Costanza – Seinfeld
Played by Jason Alexander
Is there a show that gets referred to in the real world more than Seinfeld? The lion’s share gets credited to George.
1) Barney Fife – The Andy Griffith Show
Played by Don Knotts
I love Andy Griffith but this show isn’t half as successful without Barney.

No comments: