Sep 09

19 Buddy Acts Whose Names Were Deemed Interesting Enough To Be The Title Of The Show Despite Not Actually Being Notable At All

Do You See + FT10 comments • 2,953 views

HARDCASTLE AND McCORMICK Remember them? Early eighties Stephen J.Cannell buddy show. The sit being Hardcastle was a retired judge, McCormick his last case, and together they chased down criminals who had slipped through the legal system to catch them in the act. Law & Order second chance division. The show had gimmicks galore, a nice sportscar, and a gruff relationship between the leads .but it got me thinking, what is there about its name that would make you watch it. HARDCASTLE AND McCORMICK!!!! How long were they spitballing that title around to make people watch it? Was there a suggestion in the name that this would be a HARD show, spiky long names in lieu of characterisation.

Instead look at The Scarecrow And Mrs King. That is an intriguing title from the get go. Why would Mrs King (ordinary name) be hanging out with someone/thing called The Scarecrow? And are you willing to give the show ten minutes of your time to find out? Maybe Little And Large, Cannon and Ball or even Smith and Jones were not your cup of tea, but the names describe aspects of their acts. (Smith and Jones really were that dull.)

In the understanding that nothing is done randomly in TV, or indeed any artform, here are another 18 double acts with unremarkable names. And a few theories behind the naming.

DEMPSEY AND MAKEPEACE: Dempsey seems like an American name to me, so it flags up the sit in this case being HE’S AN AMERICAN COP, she is a posh British cop. I am not sure you get the posh British bit from “Makepeace”, unless you are willing to go down the Thackery line, but Dempsey certainly tried to be as American as possible on every occasion.

CAGNEY AND LACEY: They are lady cops. That was enough to be a cop-show sit in the 80’s. But the names can be decoded a bit more. Cagney was the tough one, the ball breaker, the one with a cop dad and Cagney has James Cagney lineage. Lacey, well that is like lace, all frilly and girly. I wouldn’t say Tyne Daly was girly, but she played the wife with kids, the more traditionally female role. Which was a bit ironic because she played the female cop role in the not quite feminist Dirty Harry film The Enforcer.

DALZIEL AND PASCOE: Terminally tedious Northern cop show, with the dull premise of one being a bit posh (he went to UNIVERSITY), and one being – er – Northern. This does seem to be a common theme for British cop shows. Anyone would think we were obsessed by class in the UK.

ROSE AND MALONEY: In some ways a British version of Hardcastle & McCormick, Rose (Sarah Lancashire) and Maloney (Phil Davis) were investigators looking into miscarriages of jutice. In a many other ways, wholly unlike Hardcastle & McCormick, as there was no sports car, and Rose was a woman. Called Rose. So Rose is her first name, but Maloney is his surname. Hooray for little league sexism.

TANGO AND CASH: You may complain about this, but whilst both Tango and Cash are unusual surnames, there certainly isn’t anything more interesting about them being stuck together than considered individually. The sit here being merely that Tango and Cash are two hard bitten cops played by action heroes Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell. There is a slight wrinkle in Stallone being the more accountant of the two, but frankly not enough to make you interested bar the explosions. They hate each other, make up and take on the system. You know the deal.

BRONSKI UND BERNSTEIN: Whilst not speaking German I can tell that neither Bronski or Bernstein are interesting together. They are cops by the way. So Bronski on the Beat would have been better. Its a German cop show, where I believe one of them is impulsive, impetuous and the other, er, isn’t. Like ever buddy cop show ever.

STARSKY AND HUTCH: Like this buddy show. Black hair vs blonde. Cardigan versus shirt. You get the deal with Starsky and Hutch – though note that Hutch is a nickname.

TURNER AND HOOCH: This could be borderline because Hooch is a dog. But would you know that from the name? No, Hooch is not an obvious dogs name, (unless you are thinking of Two Dogs the other alcoholic lemonade). But K9 had taken the fun name for a dog buddy movie and Tom Hanks hadn’t gone all serious yet so, they saddled it with this much duller name.

BELLE AND SEBASTIAN: Comic, cartoon or band – in the end its a boy called Sebastian and a giant dog called Belle. Boy and Giant Dog seems snappier to me.

PLUNKETT AND MCCLAINE: Post trainspotting gung-ho stab at making a highwayman tale sexy. Forget that a sexy name might help, rather than the really rather pedestrain Plunkett, and his mate McClaine. Not to be confused with Blunkett and McClaine, crime ffighting duo of David Blunkett (and his dog) and Shirley “Past Lives” McClaine.

THELMA AND LOUISE: First names make this almost stand out as something odd. But two first female names tell you nothiong about the story or why you should be interested (unlike Rita, Sue and Bob Too – which hints at something much more interesting). I’m not saying call it “Watch two Girls Drive Into The Grand Canyon” but…

BRIAN AND MICHAEL: On the same principle as above really. Clearly musicians names are not a reason to listen to them (even when they have awesome band names). But duets, or pairs, usually just go with the full names. So Elton John and Kiki Dee, or Philip Bailey and Phil Collins. Admittedly neither Brian nor Michael has marquee names, but a band name like this wasn’t going to help. Especially when it was discovered that Brian’s real name was Kevin.

BLAKE AND MORTIMER: All I really know about Blake and Mortimer is they are two comics characters drawn in a similar way to Tintin, and appear to be all over France and Belgium. It is quite possible, like Thompson and Thompson, that the names Blake and Mortimer seem archtypically British to the Gauls. But neither name nor combination has me any the wiser.

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO: There is enough give in the name of this double act for it to fit almost seemlessly next to the parade of Universal monsters they ended up meeting. Frankenstein being the best by far.

LAUREL AND HARDY: Again, nothing to decode here, however their films rarely had their names in the title so they were not sold as like this. But when I was a kid and The Laurel & Hardy Show was on, whichw as a terrible animated version of the pair, then the names was all that was needed. It put me off Flying Dueces for twenty years.

CHARLIE AND LOLA: Can’t leavethe kids out. More first names, designed one assumes for their ordinariness, so the very dullness of their name makes the point. And the books they were spawned from had much, much better names (such as “I Will Not Ever Never Eat A Tomato”) The TV series is a bit of a swizz on this then.

ARMSTRONG AND MILLER: Not for them the amusing qualifiers that Mitchell and Webb play with, the dull named Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller are happy to just user the standard Armstrong and Miller Show style name. It does tell you who is in it, so in that respect works perfectly. If you know who they are, and that they were even a double act (which they weren’t for a while).

MORCAMBE AND WISE: They didn’t even need the word Show appended.


  1. 1
    lonepilgrim on 26 Sep 2009 #

    There was also:

    Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased),
    Cannon and Ball,
    Little and Large,
    ‘The Ghost and Mrs Muir’

    and..er..Bradford and Bingley

  2. 2
    Martin on 26 Sep 2009 #

    Really brilliant stuff.

    How could you leave out Tenspeed and Brownshoe?

  3. 3
    Bec on 27 Sep 2009 #

    Someone who remembers Scarecrow and Mrs King?! Yay! Unfortunately it was shown on CBS Channel 2, and you had to stand with your hand carefully placed on the foil covering the rabbit ears to get reception, so we never bothered with CBS Channel 2.

  4. 4
    Mark M on 27 Sep 2009 #

    I rather feel that Lootenant Dempsey’s legacy is being upheld by Clint Dempsey, the robustly proletarian American winger/striker who plays for Fulham.

  5. 5
    Bedders on 28 Sep 2009 #

    re: BLAKE AND MORTIMER, I think you’ll find it’s Thomson and Thompson, originally Dupond et Dupont. How bored am I?

  6. 6
    anatol_merklich on 28 Sep 2009 #

    “Brian and Michael” instantly connotes Danish football for me, for somewhat obvious reasons.

  7. 7
    Dan Mazur on 1 Oct 2009 #

    Great topic!!!

    There was definitely a 70s titling trend, started probably by “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Scruffy, asymmetrical pairing, indicated for off-beat westerns and cop films, with nicknames abounding.

    Freebie and the Bean
    McCabe and Mrs. Miller
    Thunderbold and Lightfoot
    The Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday
    Little Fauss and Big Halsey
    Hickey and Boggs (which actually sounds more like a typical, not-too-colorful cop show title)
    Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (no “and!”)

    I guess Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid doesn’t count, because they’re famous names.

    And I don’t know if it counts if one of the “buddies” is a collective:

    WW and the Dixie Dancekings
    Bingo Long and the Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings

    Most of these are pretty good titles, I think — or at least, they worked at the time**, while you accurately identify the lame-ness in most of your examples.

    But the REALLY lame approach to names-in-titles, in my opinion, are bland, ONE-name titles: Dave? Rudy? Molly? Tim???! Evocative and intriguing, don’t you think?

    **by the 80s, resorting to something like Tango & Cash or Turner & Hooch really seemed like a corny cop-out.

  8. 8
    Pete on 1 Oct 2009 #

    I almost did Freebie and the Bean, but that is so intriguing in itself even if they are just nicknames that I would go and watch them.

    I think I may warm up another thread for the Reba’s, Rhoda’s, Roseanne’s of this world, particularly when the name is the name of the comedian.

    Actually there is another list due, where the name of the show is the name of the comedian, but the show is a sitcom, AND the lead character of the sitcom does not have the same name as the lead. As in The Cosby Show.

  9. 9

    Dan it starts with Bonnie and Clyde! Of which BC & the SK is a “remake” (they’re also trufax historical, but barely anyone ever heard of them). ie it starts with names who are already famous-yet-half-forgotten, and plays off that half-memory.

    haha Robin and Marian

  10. 10
    lonepilgrim on 1 Oct 2009 #

    There’s also

    Rosie and Jim
    Eloise and Abelard
    David and Goliath
    Mary, Mungo and Midge
    Adam and Eve

    and those intrepid explorers of a thousand plateaux – Deleuze and Guatarri

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