The Anti-Poochies: 5 Sitcoms That Got Better By Adding New Characters
Poochie was The Simpsons’ way of saying late-addition comedy characters suck. Poochie was to The Itchy & Scratchy Show what Scrappy Doo was to Scooby Doo — a lame attempt to reinvigorate a dying series by injecting a “cool” character into the mix.
Most of the time, the Poochie Ploy doesn’t work — see Cousin Oliver, Chachi or Robert California for proof. Occasionally, however, sitcoms get lucky with an Anti-Poochie — a new character who actually makes comedies better. Here are some of our favorite examples of the Anti-Poochies who somehow made funny shows funnier…
‘Cheers’: Woody, Frasier and Rebecca
Cheers has to hold the record for adding new characters who equaled or surpassed the already successful parts they replaced. As Sam’s love interest starting in Season Six, Rebecca was less insufferable than Diane and the reversed power dynamic set off combustible romantic sparks. In Season Four, the beloved Coach was replaced with Woody, whose sweet dimwittedness made him one of the show’s most lovable characters. Frasier Crane didn’t replace anyone, showing up to romance Diane in Season Three before becoming a Cheers regular in Season Five and fronting his own long-running (and rebooted) sitcom.
‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’: Frank
Thought Danny DeVito’s Frank was always hanging around? Think again — Frank wasn’t introduced as Dee and Dennis’ father until Season Two (after FX threatened to kill the show unless it added a little star power). He’s been disgusting ever since.
‘Parks and Recreation’: Ben and Chris
Apologies to Mark Brandanawicz, the bland city planner who failed to win Leslie Knope’s heart, but Parks and Rec really started cooking with the addition of Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger at the end of Season Two. Failed mayor Ben proved to be Leslie’s true love. Rob Lowe’s Traeger was originally slated for a series of guest appearances, but the character proved so popular that Lowe was literally inked to a multi-season contract.
‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’: Leon Black
Another guy originally slated for guest appearances only was Leon Black. But J.B. Smoove’s eccentric performance in Season Six proved a perfect counter to David’s neurotic Larry, necessitating the promotion to series regular and roommate. There’s no better guy to give Larry the fighting advice he needs.
Jerry had friends like George, Kramer and George from the get-go, but it took until Season Three for the titular comic to find the arch-nemesis every hero needs.
Like Lex Luthor to Seinfeld’s Superman, Newman seemed to exist primarily to foil the series star. Described by Jerry as “pure evil,” Newman appeared in more than 40 episodes despite never officially becoming a series regular. That didn’t stop TV.com from naming Newman its all-time “most annoying TV neighbor.”