Wednesday, November 10, 2004



Noted sci-fi author Lin Carter coined the phrase "Para-Terra" to describe an alternate dimension that correlates to, but is not the same as, the one in which the original Earth is located. And that's what we have thanks to TV shows like 'Sliders' and 'Star Trek' and several episodes of 'The Twilight Zone'. The nice thing about all those countless parallel dimensions to the main TV Universe is that there's always a place to tuck away a TV show which has been remade.

And it's usually on the Toobworld known as Earth Prime-Time Delayed where a later version of an original TV show gets relocated. Past examples include 'The New Addams Family', 'Dark Shadows', and 'Sea Hunt'. On the other hand, the 'Burke's Law' [of the 1990s], and 'Bret Maverick' are continuations of their originals and so would remain in the original TV Universe.

It's a ploy that can work for a specific character as well; one who has been recast several times over. This usually happens only to historical figures like Abraham Lincoln or Adolph Hitler, whose lives keep getting the TV movie or mini-series treatment.

Take President John F. Kennedy, for example. It seems like a year (or TV season) doesn't go by without at least one version of the New Camelot being produced.

We could always say that each and everyone of those versions of JFK belong in the main Toobworld, and that any differences in physical appearance due to casting can be shrugged off as variations due to historical perspective. Those are all big words and they sound deep, so people should buy that argument. But what the bleep, there are all those parallel dimensions that need their own Kennedy mythos, so why not spread around the wealth? (Just don't ask me to choose among them for the one to elevate into the main TV Universe and leave the others not ready for Earth Prime-Time. I can't be that discerning.)

If it's a situation where that historical character is dramatized to interact with fictional characters within a TV show, like when "Bill & Hillary Clinton" met Fran Fine ('The Nanny'), then it should be relegated to the main TV Universe of Earth Prime Time, and the historical perspective argument should be invoked.

A current case in point is the life of King Henry VIII. Earth Prime-Time already has the remarkable Keith Michell, who won an Emmy for his portrayal of the much-married monarch in 'The Six Wives Of Henry The VIII'. And as the Caretaker of Toobworld, I see no reason to depose him.

But now 'Masterpiece Theater' comes along with a new look at Henry's need for a good marriage counsellor several decades later. I see no reason why His Majesty, as portrayed by Ray Winstone, couldn't be the master of his domain over in the world of Earth Prime-Time Delayed.

That perpetually late dimension shouldn't feel as if it's second-rate or that it's getting hand-me-downs, however. After all, they get an Anne Boleyn who looks like Helena Bonham Carter....

And that ain't too shabby, Your Highness!

Tele-Toby The First

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