Sidekicks never seem to get their due. Whether they be supporting musicians (like the famous sidemen of the great jazz legends of yore) or straight men in comedic duos or even the assistants to great scientists and artists, the men and women who “help” are often left standing in the shadows.
Same goes for kids show characters. For every hilarious lead character, for every powerful superhero, there is a smarter, funnier and, yes, stronger, sidekick that usually does most of the work and gets no credit.
So we have come up with a list of five characters who deserve their own spin-offs (in no particular order).
1. Gonzo (“The Muppet Show”)
Poor Gonzo. A freak of nature, some sort of mutant-bird thingy, Gonzo is a kind-hearted comedic foil to Kermit the Frog. Most of the time, he is relegated to injurious or embarrassing activities or singing an ear-crushing ballad. And he’s in love with a chicken. But given the chance, and his own sit-com, Gonzo could turn his bumbling nature into a series to rival “Seinfeld.” Imagine the scenarios that could evolve from such raw material. He’s convinced he’s brilliant, referring to himself as Gonzo the Great. And he never dies, regardless of how tragic the circumstances.
2. Mr. Moose (“Captain Kangaroo”)
Mr. Moose was a bit of a smart ass, but we didn’t really know it back then. If your kid hasn’t seen Captain Kangaroo, you need to hip that child quick. The Capt. never got wise to the ping pong ball drop, the perfect premise for a Mr. Moose-led talk show. Vapid celebrities come on and talk about themselves while Mr. Moose asks them a bunch of leading questions, stroking their idiot egos. Then … PING PONG BALLS!! Mr. Moose doubles over with laughter, and Paul Shaffer cues the band.
3. Donkey (“Shrek”)
I’m thinking ‘70s variety-style show here. The wise-cracking ass from “Shrek” has a ton of wasted talent. Dude can deliver a punchline, he can sing and dance …. sort of. I mean, he’s Eddie Murphy. A half-hour mile-a-minute comedy-and-music show of Eddie Murphy being, well, a jackass. Kids love this character, and in the “Shrek” films, he sets up all the best lines for Mike Myers. On his variety show, Donkey would get the best lines, with Shrek guesting in “Shrek” parody sketches. Comedy gold!
4. Spot (“Honk Kong Phooey”)
Spot never says a word, but saves Hong Kong Phooey’s butt every episode. He should have his own “CSI” series. Using only his furry paws and his advanced intellect, Spot would go from crime scene to crime scene, sussing out clues and romancing the ladies. Mind you, he’d never say a word. Just wink, nod, gesticulate and strut off camera once he’s solved the mystery. And the success of Spot’s show would give David Caruso something else to whine about.
5. Patrick (“Spongebob Squarepants”)
Patrick is as dumb as a brainless starfish, and that’s why he’s so funny. In real life, of course, he’s witty, charming and socially active. So give that guy his own reality show. Follow him with a camera as he volunteers at the homeless shelter, gets all his celebrity friends together for a massive fundraising campaign and eventually runs for office. In Texas.