The puppet phenomenon in television may be one of the most delicate pieces of the puzzle when it comes to good or bad programming. The puppet can make or break a network's intricate campaign. Best-case scenario, the performance of a smart puppet can send a lame program into cult status. At worst, a bad puppet can turn a decent show into an industry joke. Here are the best and worst of both lists.
THE GREAT ONES
1. Bert (pictured above with lover, Ernie)
Featured on: Sesame Street
Approximate height: 2 feet, 3 inches
What makes him so cool: He's a gay-positive pioneer. He taught a young American generation to embrace homosexuals.
Catch phrase: "You're driving me bananas!"
His Sidekick: His ne'er-do-well life mate Ernie.
Human equivalent: Nathan Lane
2. Triumph the Comic Insult Dog
Featured on: The Conan O'Brien Show
Approximate height: About 6 inches, but remember, he's only a torso.
What makes him so cool: He's a trash-talking, cigar-chomping canine who doesn't take crap from anyone. He humps anything that isn't nailed - - doggy-style, natch - - and he doesn't think about peeing one people's legs when things don't go his way. He's Poochie incarnate.
Catch phrase: "That's a nice [fill in with the noun of your choice]‚Äîto poop on!"
His Sidekick: The guy who fists him from behind.
Human equivalent: Don Rickles - - no question.
Featured on: The Beany and Cecil Show
Approximate height: An even foot.
What makes him so cool: This strange Loch Ness monster-like creature was kind of like the spoiler of his time. He played everything really stupid, but those in the loop knew that he was just playing dumb to infiltrate the minds of those around him. Kind of like your boss.
Catch phrase: "Hot diggity-Dog." Admittedly gay, but that was racy back in his day.
His Sidekick: Beeny, the fey little imp of a boy‚Äîalways getting trouble, always depending on Cecil to bail his ass out.
Human equivalent: Patrick Ewing (if you go by the nostrils that is)
Featured on: The Davey and Goliath Show
Approximate height: A foot if he stood on his haunches.
What makes him so cool: Goliath, the coolest pooch made of clay, just had a calmness about him that you don't see in puppets anymore. He never really got all that pissed when Davey got trapped in some cave or ditch knowing full well that he was the one who'd have to save his ass. He took everything in stride and never broke character - - the consummate professional.
Catch phrase: "I don't know, Davey, what would [God/your mother/your father/Sally] think?"
His Sidekick: Davey, that pussy of a Latter Day Saint who couldn't fight his way out of a wet paper bag unless Goliath was there to do it for him.
Human equivalent: Nick Cave for all the Biblical references.
Featured on: Nickelodeon's Cousin Skeeter
Approximate height: 3 feet, 6 inches; 3 feet 9 inches with a fully picked afro.
What makes him so cool: This jive-talkin' bundle of felt is the baddest brown mound ever since Gary Coleman dressed up as Mr. T in that very special drug-awareness episode of Different Strokes. His official press sheet sums him up best: "He's a street-smart homeboy who's been there and done that."
Catch phrase: "The name is Skeeter! That's s-k-eeter!"
His Sidekick: Bobby, Skeeter's straight-laced cousin who always freaks out whenever Skeet tries to get his groove on - yep, another pussy sidekick.
Human equivalent: A cross between Roberto Benigni and a non-retarded Richard Pryor.
THE FUCKING DISGRACES TO THE PUPPET INDUSTRY
Featured on: ALF
Approximate height: Close to 3 feet.
What makes him suck so bad: He just isn't funny‚Äînever was, never will be. He had the balls to tried to come off as a political satirist recently and he just bombed. He's like Don Imus in that way: old, fat, unfunny and dry (and not dry in a good way).
Catch phrase: "I kill me!" The catchphrase, unfortunately wasn't literate.
His Sidekick: Max Wright a.k.a. Willie Tanner - the father of the family that he lived with on the show - you know, the balding white fellow who got caught smoking crack and having gay sex with homeless men.
Human equivalent: Your boring, drunk, intelligible uncle.
2. Lamb Chop
Featured on: The Shari Lewis Show, Lamb Chop's Play-Along, and various guest appearances.
Approximate height: Depending on how Lewis' arthritis was acting up on that particular day, 7 to 9 inches.
What makes her suck so bad: She was just too nice - - spreading peace, love and understanding around everywhere. Who needed it? I didn't - not during the peak of the Vietnam war. My father was in the shit picking off Charlie one by one and I was at home getting Lambchop's propaganda shoved down my pink two-year-old throat. None of her preaching was going to prepare anyone for real life. Sure this mutton won Peabodys and Emmys, but she still blew like the wind.
Catch phrase: "I love you, [fill in the blank with whoever happened to be there at the time]."
Her Sidekick: The still-dead Shari Lewis.
Human equivalent: Everyone's disingenuous stepmother.
3. Mr. Floppy
Featured on: The WB's Unhappily Ever After
Approximate height: Nine inches, an even foot with erect ears.
What makes him suck so bad: Now that I think about it, maybe Mr. Floppy should have ranked higher, but he was such a small blip on the radar screen, he doesn't even deserved to be the best at being the shittiest. With that said, he was voiced by the totally unfunny douche bag Bobcat Goldthwait. Secondly, he was nothing but a one-trick pony: He's always trying to lay the Barbie dolls, always telling the dopey father, Jack to leave the wife - for fuck's sake, the entire show was blatent rip-off of Married With Children - - how fucking pathetic is that? Finally, he never moves from that corner of the couch in the basement - they couldn't arm holes in other furniture?
Catch phrase: He's not creative enough to have one.
His Sidekick: You can probably call Jack, the dad on Unhappily his sidekick since he's the only one able to see him, but it's still a stretch. We just want to know why couldn't the writers have figured out how the daughter, Tiffany (played by the requisite piece of ass daughter Nikki Cox), have something to do with the Mr. Floppy dynamic.
Human equivalent: David Faustino
4. Pets.com's Sock Puppet
Featured on: Those irritating Pets.com commercials that used to run during the three-month-long dot.com boom. Now does regional used car dealership ads.
Approximate height: One foot if he's lucky.
What makes him suck so bad: First off, he doesn't even have a real name - - Sock puppet? That's a description, not a name - - it's like calling yourself Homosapien. He's actually a complete rip-off of Triumph the Comic Insult Dog. He also thinks he's cheeky and humorous, but he just comes off like Triumph's piss boy. To top it off, Sock Puppet was once trying to slap a lawsuit on Triumph charging him with defamation and copyright infringement. Whatever - - he's not even a real sock - he's terrycloth.
Catch phrase: He's too lame to have one.
His Sidekick: Again, too lame to have one.
Human equivalent: Byron Allen