In the TV Universe, the "555" telephone prefix has been... well, universal... since at least the early 1970s. (I have in my treasure trove of TV trivia the home phone number of Sally Rogers on 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'; it's a PLaza exchange.)
It wasn't until the mid-70s that I finally realized all the "555" numbers were faked. It was because of a sketch on 'Saturday Night Live', a telethon to raise money to save Great Britain. The phone number was "555-1066".
Okay. I admit it. My friends in the dorm and I were stoned. We decided to call that number and the operator was patient enough to explain what the "555" exchange was mainly used for.
But the "555" exchange has been so widely used that it's become something of a joke. But some TV writers have found their way around it. If a phone number is recited, sometimes it's interrupted by a variety of reasons.
But now 'The Gilmore Girls' has put a new spin on the dial. In the season premiere, Luke's new cell phone number was revealed to be "860-294-1986". The area code is pure Connecticut, and as you can see, there's no "555".
And as the producers knew that I'm not the only one who dials the numbers they hear on TV, "860-294-1986" actually is a working number with a higher purpose in mind.
You get a message from actor Scott Patterson (who plays Luke), seeking donations for the Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore.
But the "555" exchange won't ever die; there's too much of a tradition and still too much of a need for these "555" numbers. Because there are too many nutjo- er, enthusiasts such as myself who blur that line between the real world and Toobworld.
As for the tradition, there's a website that celebrates the "555" exchange. It hasn't been updated for awhile, but there are still hundreds of numbers to sift through and explore.
[Thanks to Entertainment Weekly for pointing out the "Gilmore Girls" info.]