Welcome to our (first) contribution to The TV Sidekick Blogathon hosted by the Classic Film & TV Cafe! You can check out all the other terrific posts on a collection of wonderful TV blogs in this fun event by clicking here. Naturally we gravitated to our favorite TV series ever for our inspiration.
Honestly maybe Dr. McCoy isn't exactly a sidekick in the traditional sense at all, though in the world of series TV it's surprising how many sidekicks to the main star ended up very much standing right alongside him or her in fan devotion and importance. We'd certainly put Dr. McCoy, played so memorably by the late DeForest Kelley, into this category. He may have served under Capt. James T. Kirk ( the charismatic William Shatner) but soon it was obvious that both Dr. McCoy and the pointed-eared Vulcan Mr. Spock -- a portrayal that catapulted Leonard Nimoy into history -- had become Kirk's friends, confidants and part of an equal trio that has kept Star Trek alive as it approaches its 50th anniversary later this year.
Most appealingly, McCoy personified the humanity of the Starship Enterprise. With Kirk as its energy and Spock as its intellect, the ship needed McCoy to bring the heart into the equation. Naturally as the ship's doctor he had a professional role and healing presence but McCoy's personality as concocted by the writers and as performed by Kelley captured a special blend of competence and compassion.
McCoy became Kirk's confidante, his sounding board when command decisions required more than Mr. Spock's logic or Kirk's own impulses to action. Whether on the bridge or over a sip of Saurian brandy, Kirk allowed McCoy to question him in a way that Spock wouldn't and no one else would presume to. Kirk had the good fortune to have a Medical Officer as McCoy, a man as wise as he was proficient.
In fact sometimes super-proficient, such as the time McCoy repaired the silicon creature the Horta using improvised cement instead of sutures. McCoy was adaptable.
He also became Spock's if not confidante then at least a reminder of his human half which the Vulcan tried to disavow. McCoy sensed a vulnerability in Spock that usually manifested in testy banter or humorous bickering but sometimes also in sage observations that, deny it though Spock may have tried, hit the mark. Their scenes together are often the highlights of any episode and prove that sometimes sidekicks band together to create greatness uniquely their own.
McCoy was also courageous -- such as when he tests the Miri cure on himself -- innovative (as exampled above) and otherwise invaluable to the Enterprise crew and particularly Kirk and Spock. He also was frequently put in peril -- contracting the Miri virus in the first place, getting an overdose of cordrazine, and being tortured by the Vians, among other indignities -- and we felt even worse about it because it was McCoy.
Not that he didn't also get to exercise some of that McCoy charisma on the ladies. We got to meet one of his old flames Nancy Crater (though that didn't work out too well), we saw McCoy flirting with Yeoman Barrows et all on Shore Leave and we also saw McCoy through his doomed romance with High Priestess Natira on that hollow world.
It was impossible not to be drawn to Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy. Whether serious or silly or sage or sarcastic, McCoy was irresistible because he was all of us. He was a down-to-Earth man who found himself in outer space. The Universe couldn't have known how lucky it was, but Star Trek fans certainly did.
As we mentioned before, be sure to visit all the other blogs sharing their thoughts of TV sidekicks in this blogathon hosted by the Classic Film & TV Cafe; click here for links to everything!
We'll be here Tuesday with our second Sidekick entry, this time someone completely different but similarly lovable -- Ralph Malph from Happy Days! Join us back here for that!