Season 1 Episode 2

Buddies & Sidekicks

Aired Saturday 10:00 PM Mar 26, 2010 on TVtropolis

Episode Recap

Howard states that today's episode is about buddies and sidekicks that appear in cartoons. Howard says he's played a background character in various cartoons and thinks he'd make a great sidekick. Howard relates that sidekicks are critical to cartoons as they provide support to the main star in ways ranging from making us laugh to counseling the star against going forth on a foolish plan. Howard demands he gets a sidekick of his own and after he is hit on the head with an anvil, a yellow bird appears above his head. William Shatner relates that a perfect sidekick is a literal kick against the person next to the initiator's side and John Ratzenberger states that a perfect sidekick is a supporting character in the background. Robert Smigel states that in a comedy, a sidekick is always whiny and worrying about something the star is about to undertake. Don Hahn says a good term for a sidekick is "long suffering". Fred Willard says a sidekick like Ed Norton in The Honeymooners can have a viewer laugh at his antics even as they think that it could be them standing there. Willie Garson points out that a lot of sidekicks in older cartoons were ethnic and a little stupid but viewers still wanted to be friends with them. Robert Townsend recounts some of these types of dialogue and Howard points out that some sidekicks are there for a person the hero can talk with. Howard goes on to say that sidekick makes a hero more likable and is the voice of reason such as Robin to Batman. Howard says some cartoon characters were inspired by real life people and Ed Norton was the inspiration for Barney Rubble in The Flintstones, which was inspired by the Honeymooners itself. Howard starts to talk about animal sidekicks and mentions he played a cow in a Christmas cartoon. Nancy Cartwright and Tom Kenny mention several animal sidekicks and Howard points out that some animal sidekicks in animation had animal owners. Howard goes on to talk about alien sidekicks and how they allowed writers to make fun of what humans do and the character known as the Great Gazoo in the Flintstones. Joining in the final season of the show, Gazoo, a green alien exiled to Earth, is somewhat controversial as some Flintstones fans see the alien character's introduction as the point where the show started going downhill. Harvey Korman, who voiced the character, relates that he voiced Gazoo as someone who thought himself superior and it was an enormously popular character. Howard states that it was never revealed whether Gazoo returned to his home planet to this day but the character holds a special place in the hearts of many animation fans. Howard talks about catchphrases and how they are often associated with many popular characters. Gilbert Gottfried states that catchphrases are popular with studios as they can use popular ones to sell vast quantities of merchandise with it and the character displayed on the items. Fred Willard and Tom Kenny list several characters that have well known catchphrases and Will Garson says catchphrases help kids identify with the character in question. Howard relates Casey Kasem helped popularize Shaggy's catchphrase "Zoinks!" from the Scooby Doo cartoons and also voiced Robin in the Batman animated series. Howard talks about how some characters can be both friends and enemies or "frenemies" and Tom and Jerry are cited as prime examples as well as Popeye and Bluto. Batman and Robin were the ultimate crime fighting duo until Dick Grayson, who was Robin, decided he had enough of playing second fiddle and quit the role. Dick donned a new suit and assumed a new identity as Nightwing and though he briefly reunited with Batman, the two now fight crime independently. Howard looks at Mutt and Jeff, two of animation's biggest stars during the silent film era. Originally a comic strip first published in 1907 created by Bud Fisher, Mutt was a tall schemer looking to support his gambling habit and Jeff was a diminutive man who had escaped from a local asylum and played the stooge in many The strip was made into animated theatrical works numbering three hundred in quantity that eventually made their way onto television. The two were immensely popular to the point that a pair of World War II spies were nicknamed Mutt and Jeff and to this day, any duo with a similar look can often be nicknamed Mutt and Jeff. Howard announces that animation's most popular sidekick is Barney Rubble with Boo Boo and Rocky the Flying Squirrel. Howard says the sidekick's job is to make the hero more three dimensional and be willing to take a bullet if needed to save the day and with Howard muttering part of a catchphrase made famous by Porky Pig, the episode ends.