Wednesday, September 22, 2004


Ever since I was running the Tubeworld Dynamic website, it's always been a pleasure to get emails from Hugh, an online pal who's probably just as crazy about the idea of a TV Universe as I am.

So until the time he decides to go into competition with me via his own internet presence, I'll be sharing his views with you.

Enjoy the ride across the Hughniverse!
On your blog, you said, "And for some reason, 'Cosby' seems to have been a victim of sitcom apartheid."

Well, it did have a spinoff with _A Different World_ and have crossovers with it in its first couple of seasons, but the better connection was put forth in the 1990 season, when Cliff met the Muppets. It was actually a sly promotion for the Jim Henson Hour, which was just coming on at the time, and it featured Digit, a now oft-forgotten Muppet but one of the new characters being used on that program. I know, you'll tell me this is just a bad dream Cliff had after eating spicy food. And you're right, most of the show was a dream. However, at the very end of the episode, after he's woken up, Cliff went to the fridge and found Muppet versions of food there to talk to him. This was not a dream, so the Cosby show does join with the Muppets.

An incomplete rundown of Muppet series:Pierre the Rat & Sam and Friends (both from local tv in DC)The Jimmy Dean Show & Our Place (both with Rowlf)Sesame StreetSaturday Night Live (first season)The Muppet ShowFraggle Rock (also an animated show)Muppet Babies (and Lil Monsters, its component in its 2nd season)The Jim Henson Hour (and therefore the Storyteller and Storyteller: Greek Myths, which were part of the anthology)The Ghost of Faffner Hall, Muppets Tonight

Plus, they've made appearances on Larry King Live, The Tonight Show (including Kermit guest-hosting for Johnny), Ed Sullivan, Flip Wilson, etc., and they were featured on variety shows from everyone from the Osmonds and Julie Andrews to Nick & Jessica last year. Tonight, they are to be at the Emmys. The Muppet gang have had their share of specials (such as Sex & Violence and the Valentine Special, up through the Very Merry Muppet Christmas two years ago) as well as crossed over to the Cineverse, as you know.

This list just hints at Henson Productions. There have been other crossovers as well:Luke Skywalker and the Droids on the Muppet Show tie to the Star Wars Universe (the Droids were also on Sesame Street; you mentioned some televerse connections on the blog--don't forget the Clone Wars cartoons on Cartoon network)Hamlet (Mel Gibson) on Sesame Street (he re-creates his movie role), as well as--
Jughead Jones tying to all the Archie series (and arguably Sabrina, although it's more a stretch)
Beetle Bailey and Sargeant Snorkle linking to their strip (and, in the news comics world, it's tied to Hi & Lois) and other King Features Strips
Superman and Batman & Robin (from the Filmation cartoons)

Also, Ed Grimley was on Muppets Tonight!, giving a reinforcement to SNL, and bringing in ties with SCTV and Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley.
I left some things off the Muppet list, like Bear in the Big Blue House, the Animal Show (which, since it was originally part of the "FOX Clubhouse", might be argued to tie in with those other shows), Animal Jams (the evolution of that show), Big Bag, Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss (which opens up several directions too) and CityKids.

One interesting near miss (not really a zonk, as you'll see) was the summer kids' series "Crayola Kids Adventures". Produced a few years ago, it had kids in versions of classics, including Gulliver's Travels and "The Trojan Horse". The show was supposed to feature a pair of muppet character hosts, but they never used the muppets (despite using them in promos), so I guess it's a Might-Have-Been. When I do something for you on Odysseus, I'll bring this show in.

One last bit or two of Muppety goodness:Kermit is in some new commercials (the last I saw was a PSA for eye disease, believe it or not--nothing like having a ping-pong eyed one tell you to see the opthomologist)When I was recounting Muppet links, I forgot one big one--the Fonz and Richie were in a SesSt. segment for brushing your teeth.
That gives a direct link to Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Out of the Blue, Mork and Mindy, and Joanie Loves Chachi, plus the animated HD Gang and L&S and Mork shows. I count Love American Style and its revamp in that cross, so any other shows coming off of it/them are tied in.

I've never asked your take on anthologies actually. I tend to like the idea of an "anthology rule", whereby all shows under an anthology's title are linked. Seldom does an anthology or variety show spinoff a program (Simpsons from Tracey Ullman, Mama's Family from Carol Burnett, Family Dog from Amazing Stories), but it comes in handy when it does occur.

Also, I don't have any notes in front of me, but it seems like 77 Sunset Strip (or another of those similar shows) actually came from an anthology, same as The Rifleman (which in turn spun off Law of the Plainsman). The reason it all just crossed my mind is that CBS in 1987 ran a summer showcase of flopped pilots. They had numbers viewers could call at the end to try and win the show a spot; none made it. Two I can remember were Puppetman, a Henson Production which could fit well with Greg the Bunny and a version of the Saint, which then was turned into a series of tv-movies. I think some were on CBS Late Night.

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