Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I hate comedy relief sidekicks!

I got a call to see J'onn Sinew Nu in his office. Sinew Nu is one of the muckety mucks up in the marketing department. A VP or something. Normally, I don't get too riled up about the marketing folks because they are all making special titles for themselves like "Sr. Manager of Page 12" or "VP of That One Thing That I Take Care Of," but it seemed important so I went to his office to check out what the deal was.

"Jon," he says. "We like you a lot here in the Intergalactic Gladiator Entertainment. The fans are really behind you, you know how to work the crowd, and you have this great no-nonsense approach when it comes to your opponents.

"Go on." I'm wondering where this guy is going.

"We've been doing a lot of research here in the office, and we think that you are missing just one element. You need just one thing to put you over the edge."

"What is this one thing?" I have to ask. I wonder how much I am going to regret this.

"You need a sidekick!"

"A what?"

"You know, a companion on your long journey. A buddy. Comedy relief!" His eyes light up at the prospect, but my mind started to wander. I start thinking about the sidekicks that heroes have had all these years. Tonto, Sancho Panza, Dr. Watson, Kato, Jimmy Olsen, Ed McMahon...

Robin -- Not the first sidekick ever (I couldn't even think of who that could be), but the one that many people think of when they think sidekick. Robin came around to lighten up the Batman series and add a bit of youthful energy. It got to the point where just about every superhero had some kind of a snot nose running around with him. Green Arrow had Speedy, Aquaman had Aqualad, and until getting himself strapped to a V2 rocket, Bucky was Captain America's sidekick.

At some point all the sidekicks got their own title. The Teen Titans burst onto the scene and saved the town of Happy Harbor from some nogoodnick. The Titans have been around in some form ever since. Dig it.

Wendy, Marvin and Wonderdog -- Ugh. What can I say about these guys besides "Ugh?" They were on the Superfriends, but not when the Superfriends did cool stuff like kicking the Legion Of Doom's collective butts or beating down some Space Pirates. The Superfriends just visited haunted houses and helped out lost aliens who were looting the oceans for fuel or something.

The trio was quickly replaced with The Wonder Twins, Zan, Jayna and Space Monkey Gleek. The twins were decent, they had their powers and helped out the Superfriends. They even got to go out on their own and respond to calls on the Teen Trouble Alert. Gleek, on the other hand, was a pointless, annoying monkey with a stretchy tail and a penchant for obnoxious hijinkery.

Interestingly enough, Scooby Doo was the one sidekick who had the show named after him. Scooby spent every single freaking episode getting lost with Shaggy, getting scared with Shaggy, and eating.

Blue Falcon's comedy relief came in the form of Dynomutt. Blue Falcon was kind of a Batman analog, he had a blue costume, some gadgets and he fought crime from a flying car. Because this was a Hanna Barbara cartoon in the 80's, he got a robot dog with a goofy voice that screwed everything up.

G-Force has an unusual entry in the genre of sidekickery. When this cartoon came to the US from Japan, it was too violent and adult for the kiddie crowd, the edits and tailoring of the show created huge gaps in the story that were filled with this familiar looking plot filler, 7-Zark-7.

I would be remiss if I didn't include Norman Fell on this list. Yes, Three's Company's own Mr. Roeper hung with the Rat Pack in their heyday, mine sweeping Dean-o's unfinished drinks and trying to score on Frank's castoffs.

Orko -- He-Man's comedy relief magician who was neither funny nor good with his magic. Oh look, he screwed up a spell again, wah wah.

The GoBots had Scooter, who was the only GoBot who couldn't fire lasers from his fists. But, check it out, he can make holograms. Wow.

Launchpad -- Darkwing Duck's companion. I'm not sure what his deal was, he was popular enough to be in two cartoons at once, though, as he crossed over onto the Duck Tails show.

The Human Ton's Sidekick Handy was a nice changeup from the normal marble-mouthed calamity causers. He even championed reading books, which is especially admirable coming from an evil puppet.

The Thundercat's sidekick came in the form of Snarf. He wasn't too bad, I guess. He was just kind of there and he caused the last laugh at the end of the show a lot, I think. He was joined by a more energetic nephew at some point, but that wasn't enough apparently, because the Thundercats also encountered

The Robo Berbils. Oh oh, they caught Lion-O! What scene from what movie could this thing possibly be paralleling?

Oh yeah, they're like Ewoks, but robots! Probably the worst thing about the concept of the Ewoks is that it shows how Lucas sold out to cute. The battle could have been with Wookies, but teddy bears with spears would make nice toys, made for TV movies, and cartoons.

Oh, but Lucas wasn't out of bad ideas yet. In order to show the wonders of digital effects and a name inspired by (reportedly) his kid's babbling, he brought us Jar Jar Binks. A creature so obnoxious, so scene-chewingly vile, that in response to fan backlash, Lucas reduced the cartoonish (in both behavior and appearance) oaf to mere cameos in episodes 2 and 3. Don't tell me you love Jar Jar, I refuse to believe it.

The movie Mallrats featured Brodie as Quint's sidekick -- hey how come Brodie's the sidekick?

"Jon? Jon? Are you with me?"

I snap out of it and mumble "Yeah, sure. Sidekick." If I could bleed unenthusiasm from my pores, this place would be flooded.

"So let me introduce to you, your new sidekick. Come on in here!"

I look at the door and this thing crashes through, stumbles across the room, slams into Sinew Nu's desk and pushes a gleeful arm out to shake my hand. "Howya doin' boss?" he asks, pumping my hand. From his mouth, "boss" sounds kind of like "bwauwth."

What the heck is this thing anyway?


j00|{z said...

It's the return of the evil... thing! I still say it looks like a caterillar.

I love Jar Jar...

flu said...

Dude, you left out my favorite superduo - ElectraWoman and Dynagirl! Yowza! *nudge-nudge, wink-wink*

uh, but about your assigned sidekick...his first job should be to take dictation for your pointed resignation letter.

Aayla Secura said...

What a nice-looking fellow. You should take him on a crime fighting brigade.

Van said...

What a great history of sidekicks. I didn't even know who half of them are, of course, the 12 years I spent in a cave could have something to do with it.

Go IGG! Save the world!

The great thing about a side kick is that when the budget gets tight, they are the first ones to find themselves tied to the traintracks in the season finale.

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