Wednesday, August 25, 2004


Back in 1997, I started a little website on AOL for the Tubeworld Dynamic, my vision of Life within the harsh realm of TV's "inner reality". It ran for five years until AOL finally closed the door on my use of AOLPress.

So here I am again, still with my desire to share my "telly visions" with the REAL WORLD. But before I go traipsing off to surf this particular corner of TV Land, allow me to share with you this early essay I wrote on the subject of Toobworld, back when I was first exploring the interface between TV and the PC.

So consider this somewhat of a rerun......
I look at the TV Universe as one big jigsaw puzzle and I'm trying to get all the pieces to fit together. I consider this to be a form of "Tele-Literacy" research - TV critic David Bianculli coined that term for the treatment of Television as a serious subject.

I'm not the 'Creator' of Toobworld, per se: there are thousands of Creators out there who are adding new pieces to the Television Jigsaw Puzzle everyday.

I see myself more as a caretaker and a genealogist; tracking down all the puzzle pieces to keep Toobworld a cohesive whole. I'm certainly not the first to come up with this idea of a unified universe where everything on Television is connected to each other, no matter how different the show's premise. The TV writers themselves engage in this idea. And they have been for at least the last twenty years; ever since the kids who grew up watching TV started making TV shows themselves.

Alan Sepinwall wrote an article about the same thing in the New Jersey paper The Star-Ledger. He even touched on a premise that I hold dear - that 'St. Elsewhere' is the center of the TV Universe; every TV show sooner or later connects to it.

And my favorite TV critic - David Bianculli of The New York Daily News (author of "Tele-Literacy" and "The Dictionary of Tele-Literacy") wrote an article once with Cross-overs he'd like to see. (Here in Toobworld, that's what we call 'Wild Cards'.)
Nick at Nite/TV Land coined the perfect term for my avocation - I am aTelevisiologist Without Portfolio.

"You watch too many detective shows."
Thomas Magnum
'Magnum, P.I.'
What is Toobworld?

Tubeworld is basically Earth. Not our Earth, but an Earth set in an alternate universe where everything that happens on Television actually takes place.

For example, - slam that tube of cookie dough against the edge of the counter.

Lift the cover to the toilet tank.

Nothing happened, right? But on Toobworld, a doughboy would have popped out of the tube. There would have been a little man sailing in the tank.

Toobworld is TV Land, [a phrase long in existence before Nick at Nite co-opted it. Just check out 'The Magnificent Seven' by The Clash! ] It is constantly being re-written, edited, embellished, and colorized.

Every time a new show or mini-series, - or even a new commercial! - debuts on the air, "The Powers That Be" fit it into the Master Sked of Toobworld, complete with a backstory, to tie it into the other TV shows.Some of these connections are obvious, - due to sequels, 'prequels', and to "Very Special" crossover episodes.

For example, 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' has three separate shows branching out from hers - 'Rhoda', 'Phyllis', and 'Lou Grant'. And 'All In The Family' begot sequels such as 'Maude', 'The Jeffersons', 'Gloria', 'Archie Bunker's Place', and '704 Hauser', - but also sequels to its sequels! ['Good Times' from 'Maude', and 'Checking In' from 'The Jeffersons'!]

As for crossover episodes that tie the TV Universe together, a good example would be the crossover between 'Magnum, P.I.' and 'Murder, She Wrote'. Or it could be a "Special Guest Appearance" - like Carl Reiner re-creating the legendary Alan Brady of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' for an episode of 'Mad About You' many years later.

But there are others whose links are disguised as in-jokes. [Patrick Macnee and Peter Lupus as retired agents in the premiere episode of 'Spy Game', let's say. They were not named, but who else could they be but top professionals John Steed of 'The Avengers' and Willy Armitage of 'Mission: Impossible' respectively?]

Some shows are connected by more tenuous links....... For example, 'Dynasty' is connected to 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' and even 'Batman'!!!!

Here's how it works.... Former President and Mrs. Ford showed up on 'Dynasty', and Betty Ford appeared on 'MTM' as well. In the very first episode of 'Batman', the Riddler was plotting to steal a rare collection of Moldavian stamps. Prince Michael of Moldavia was engaged to marry Amanda Carrington of 'Dynasty'.

See how it works? Now, I used to have 'Roseanne' tied into this as well. This past year, her sister Jackie was romanced by another prince of the Moldavian realm. But then it turned out that most of that last season of the series was nothing more than fantasies scripted by Roseanne Conner after the death of her husband Dan. Even her encounter with Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone was made up and that destroyed my chance to bring 'Absolutely Fabulous' into the mix.

(Grrrrrrrr! Thanks a lot, Roseanne!)

And then there are the connections that can only be guessed at. I call these the "Wild Cards".

Here are two examples.......

"The Nardo Factor"

This could tie together 'Taxi', 'The Bob Newhart Show', 'Sonny Spoon', and 'One Life To Live'.

Could it be that Michelle Nardo in Dr. Hartley's therapy group was related to Elaine Nardo's ex-husband?

And why did Elaine divorce him anyway? Was it possible that he was a gangster? There was a bad guy in 'Sonny Spoon' named Nardo and he was played by Dan Lauria. Lauria also played a thug named Gus on 'One Life To Live'.

So why couldn't his full name be Gus Nardo?Example #2 -

"Life Goes On [And On....]"

On Toobworld, reincarnation is a reality. We all come back in the second life sooner or later - everybody knows that. Dave Crabtree's mother dear came back as a car, as a matter of fact. And the Minbari believe that their souls are reborn in the humans of Earth.

It's my particular whimsy to think that in the Television Universe, the soul of Claudius I, - the stuttering Emperor who was a lone voice of sanity in the insane world of the First Century, - returned to the mortal life of the 20th Century. But Rome was no longer his kind of town, - Chicago was. Now he was a mild-mannered psychologist whose buttoned-down mind kept him afloat in the lunacy of modern society. 'Tis pity the stutter followed him through the centuries...... ['I, Claudius' and 'The Bob Newhart Show']

And with a bit of Minbari mumbo-jumbo, I think we would find out that Lennier, the Minbari diplomat, houses the soul of Will Robinson, a human explorer of an earlier time. ['Babylon 5' and 'Lost In Space']

Commercials can get into the act as well. Back in the fifties, Perry White and Clark Kent were seen enjoying breakfast cereal in one. And check out the "retro-mercials" you'll find on Nick At Nite's TV Land. Josephine the Plumber can be found in the home of a character played by Louise Lasser, Louise Lasser. So why couldn't that be the Hartman kitchen in Fernwood, before they moved to Bratner Avenue? [Comet Cleanser commercials and 'Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman']

The explanation for the different hairstyles for Louise Lasser? Easy. Those strange braids seen in the later series were the first sign of her mental breakdown.......

Hey, if a horse can talk on Toobworld, then anything is possible. Of course, of course.

"I'm showing all the classic symptoms of TV Overload Psychosis.
If I don't do something fast,
My signals may wind up permanently scrambled."
Clarissa Darling
"Clarissa Explains It All"

What Is Toobworld's Background?
Toobworld is the fantasy universe which I'm using as the setting for a book - "Toobworld: The Tale Of A Fateful Trip".
The idea had many inspirations. First there was the Harold Shea pulp fiction by Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague deCamp. Their 'hero' traveled to worlds based on Classic Mythology.
The basic premise of these stories in 'Unknown' magazine was stated by a character named Chalmers -

"The world we live in is composed of impressions received through thesenses. But there is an infinity of possible worlds, and if the senses can be attuned to receive a different series of impressions, we should invariably find ourselves living in a different world." ["The Complete Incompleat Enchanter" by Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague deCamp]
Marvin Kaye also used this motif in "The Magic Umbrella". And although I haven't read his trilogy, Craig Shaw Gardner created a world of B-movies known as the Cineverse.
Another inspiration for the book is "Suspects" by David Thomson, which was a series of biographical sketches of film noir characters whose lives eventually become linked together.
And then there is the work of Joseph Campbell, as he sought the links between the various world mythologies. And that's how I came to view the story cliches in Television - as the conventions of Myth.
[If a pregnant woman gets on the elevator, she will go into labor as soon as it breaks down. All phone numbers after 1970 begin with the prefix '555'. Wherever Jessica Fletcher goes, there's a murder!]
Thus, in my TV Universe, if it was created for television, [but not necessarily broadcast], it would become fabric in the Toobworld quilt. [TV-movies would be included; theatrical releases shown on TV would not - they're from a different universe altogether.]
Here's a few terms I've coined for use in Toobworld -
Earth Prime-Time - Most of the time when I'm reading sci-fi stories and comic books about multiple universes, our Earth is considered "Earth Prime". Parallel Earths would be classified as Earth A, Earth B, Earth 2, Earth 3, etc. Well, Toobworld would be identified as Earth Prime-Time as opposed to Earth Prime.
Serlinguist - a person who is able to address the Real World through thedimensional barriers. I coined the term in honor of one of the greatest in this field - Rod Serling, host and creator of 'The Twilight Zone'. Others with this ability include George Burns, Garry Shandling, the Crypt-Keeper, newscasters, talk show hosts, commercial spokespeople, aerobics instructors and Finger Man.
Tele-version - the Television Universe counterpart to someone from the Real World. Everybody has a tele-version and thanks to 'America's Funniest Home Videos', your tele-version is probably getting hit in the crotch by a rake right now.
Trueniverse - as Blueboy once said on 'Dragnet': "Reality, man! Reality!" This is the world where I (and supposedly you) reside.
Since then, I rewrote that particular essay and now another version still resides on what's left of my old AOL website. If you want to read and compare that one, (PLUS! You can see what I look like!), just visit this link:

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