Saturday, November 20, 2004


TV Guide's choice pick for daytime programming the week of November 14-20, 2004, was the episode "That's My Boy?" of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show':

"Who could blame Rob for fretting over whether he brought home the right newborn? A bumbling nurse and some minor mix-ups could shake any first-time dad. But if a little anxiety was all that occurred in this episode, it might not have been such a gem....

"Rob takes his fear to hilarious extremes, summoning the parents of the child he thinks was switched with Richie."

The episode is famous now for that first encounter, and it's claimed that it has the longest laugh ever recorded by a studio audience. I won't give away why here, (although you'll figure out why reading this essay). It might not seem likely today, but in its way this episode was somewhat ground-breaking.......

"WHO'S WHO" - Barney Collier, 'Mission : Impossible'
"ALIAS" - Mr. Peters, 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'

Because of their line of work, a secret agent usually leads a very lonely life. No close friends outside of their partners, no family to really speak of, no lasting relationships. How could they have those things? Anybody they became close to would be a target for their enemies.

That's why most spies, like James Bond ('Casino Royale'), can be excused for having an endless string of temporary lovers. [Being the prurient moralist that he is, John Drake ('Danger Man') had to abstain even from those fleeting comforts.]

Eventually, some of them do fall in love and, after their romantic partners are vetted by their higher-ups, they even marry and raise a family. Partners Kelly Robinson and Alexander Scott ('I Spy') obviously needed more than their own companionship; each of them married and had a child who would later follow in their footsteps. ('I Spy Returns')

But even so, the secret agent would still have to take precautions. He'd have to settle his family in far from his haunts as a "spook"; and perhaps even have them all live under an assumed name as though they were in the witness protection program.

So it was for IMF member Barney Collier. ('Mission : Impossible')

We don't know who his wife was, but he must have set up their househould in New Rochelle, New York. There they lived under the surname of "Peters" - a nice, bland name which probably never raised a blip during surveillance sweeps by agents of KAOS ('Get Smart') or THRUSH ('The Man From UNCLE') or some other nefarious organization.

And at some point around 1955, Barney Collier met Rob Petrie, creating a theoretical link between 'Mission: Impossible' and 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'.

By 1988, Barney Collier's son Grant had followed in Dad's footsteps. ('Mission: Impossible 2') As a technical genius, Grant Collier worked with his Dad's old boss Jim Phelps and even was able to rescue Barney from a foreign prison. (This near-tragedy made them both realize how easily it would be to lose the other. Any gulfs in their relationship as father and son were quickly erased.)

At this time, I have no information on whether or not Grant Collier ever used the alias of "Peters" for old times sake........

By the way, many years later, Barney's former IMF partner Cinnamon Carter met a Dr. Mark Sloan in Los Angeles. ('Diagnosis Murder') Had Barney been around to get involved in that case, he might have noticed a striking resemblance between Dr. Sloan and Rob Petrie.

Then again, maybe not. Although a one-time meeting over thirty years before might not have been that memorable, there's also another factor to consider: For some reason, many people in the TV Universe don't seem to notice when they meet more than one person who looks exactly the same. Otherwise, Dr. 'Frasier' Crane might have said something when a piano tuner showed up in 'Cheers' who looked exactly like his father Martin!


"If you want to know who you are, it's important to know who you've been."
- Jadzia Dax, 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine'


The alternate TV dimension of 'The West Wing' is different in more ways than just having a far better Chief Executive. (Excuse me for being partisan and bitter, but I'm proud I help keep New York a blue state. And if you don't like it? You can blue me. Bwahahahaha!)

Elizabeth II may be Queen of England in the other TV Land as well as in versions of our world, but Efraim "Eli" Zahavy is the Prime Minister of Israel, not Ariel Sharon. Earth Prime-Time may have dozens of fictional foreign countries, but they don't have an Equatorial Kuhndu as does the world of 'The West Wing'. And the company Verizon was founded two years earlier than it was in the Real World.

So when Bill Hemmer, co-host of CNN's 'American Morning' (with my cousin-in-law Soledad O'Brien....sure!) was seen on the background TV screens during a night scene in the Chief of Staff's office, I chalked it up to another dimensional aberration. Sure, he's appeared on CNN at other times of the day, but those have been due to extraordinary circumstances, like when he led those "town hall" meetings with undecided Ohio voters after each of the presidential debates this year.

This actually looked like he was settled in at the anchor desk as though it was his routine assignment. And since it was at the time of day when either Lou Dobbs or Anderson Cooper should have been on, we can assume that in dimension of 'The West Wing', Bill Hemmer hold down a PM hour on CNN.


Friday, November 19, 2004


[A Splainin 2 Do Essay]

The FCC has been getting a lot of attention lately, mostly over morality and censorship issues - Howard Stern; the infamous wardrobe malfunction; and now the question over whether the realism regarding the horrors of war in "Saving Private Ryan" was too "indecent" to be broadcast.

And its puritanical tyranny over the broadcast networks apparently isn't enough for M. Powell & Co. Now they may try to get their grubby little digits into the cable business as well.

The standards for the FCC are so vague, and the authority of its leadership so compromised by blatant nepotism that it's a wonder they ever get anything accomplished. And with the televersion of the FCC so focused on the forest of censorship, they completely screw up in taking care of the trees. Little details like allowing only one TV station at a time to own a particular quartet of call letters completely slips their notice.

WWEN-TV is based in New Haven, Ct., and it has an actual, 1300 year old dragon working in disguise as a "puppet" during the 'News At Noon' weather forecast. But its radius of coverage goes far beyond the borders of New Haven; they cover the news in all of Southern New England.

For example, when it looked as though Sami Brady might be executed at the penitentiary in Salem, WWEN-TV sent their reporters Harry Grunwell and Cydney Kelly to cover the story. (Now, there are those who think Salem is situated in "the Heartland". Well, until somebody in authority actually names the state where it's located, I'm content to leave it in Massachusetts. Why can't Massachusetts be considered part of the Heartland. All this blue-state/red-state bleep makes me sick.)

Just recently, WWEN-TV sent a news team to report on the plane crash outside of Boston in which everybody on board had been overcome by fumes and the plane coasted to its doom on autopilot. It was a legitimate call to cover the story because it affected everybody along the Connecticut River, and one of the passengers - the man who precipitated the crash - came from Livingston, Connecticut.

Everything would indicate that this TV station in New Haven had full rights to the call letters of "WWEN". And yet down in Miami there's another TV station with the exact same name; where it's 'Good Morning, Miami' program was in dire need of an overhaul two years ago.

It's surprising that this aberration went unnoticed, as Jake Silver, the hotshot producer of 'Good Morning, Miami', had been brought in from Boston to rescue the show from the ratings dump. Surely, Silver must have noticed that the new station had the same call letters as the New Haven TV station. After all, if WWEN-TV covered stories up in the Beantown area, they must have come to his notice.

But then again, Jake was too mopey in love at the Miami station, mooning over Dylan the make-up girl. Maybe he never noticed. But eventually it would have come to his attention. And so even though we'll never know for sure, we have to go on the assumption that WWEN is no longer being used for Channel 12 in Miami, but instead the call letters belong rightfully in New Haven.

['Crossing Jordan' & 'Good Morning, Miami' & 'Days Of Our Lives' & 'Scorch']




[A Blipverts Report]

Nowadays in the high-tech corporate world of TV Land, being a mutant with extra fingers on each hand is a positive boon. Those extra digits could help a mutant make a name for himself with higher productivity yields in the workplace.

But it wasn't always so in the TV Universe. Mutants had to hide their shame of extra fingers. They tried sanding them off; they tried slamming them off. (And, of course, mitts only hid the problem.)

Along came a pharmaceutical solution to remove the "problem" - Handi-Off. The patient would brush it on the unsightly fingers and in just three days they would fall off, never to grow back. That's because Handi-Off contained the "miracle" ingredient of Leprosin, and its tingle meant it was working.

There was even a product for those mutants who had too many toes - Toe-Riffic.

Thankfully, even in this time of sharply divisive prejudices, mutants in the TV Universe can embrace what makest them different. And even if the playing field is levelled at work when all the co-workers get Dell computers, there are always rewarding career options in middle-management massage and shadow puppetry.

('Dell Computers' & 'Saturday Night Live')




The intro for this past week's 'Monday Night Football' featured 'Desperate Housewives' star Nicollette Sheridan seducing Philadelphia Eagles star Terrell Owens in the Philly locker room.

Clad only in a white towel, Sheridan provocatively asks Owens to skip the game with the Dallas Cowboys in order to spend time with her. When he asks her what she has on under her towel, the camera pans to the towel dropping around her feet and then pans back up to a naked Sheridan jumping into Owens' arms.

But we know that Sheridan wasn't playing Edie Britt, her character from 'Desperate Housewives' because - and this is where the crossover comes in, - we see that it's all part of a TV show being watched by actual characters from the show: Susan Mayer and Lynette Scavo.

The salacious nature of the intro, plus its "jungle fever" attitude, generated so many complaints from viewers that ABC apologized the following day.

"We have heard from many of our viewers about [the] opening segment and we agree that the placement was inappropriate," ABC said in a statement. "We apologize."

But the Towel Affair sure seemed to get Owens souped up more than Donovan McNabb's mother could with a bowl of Campbells - the wide receiver scored three touchdowns as the Eagles romped to a 49-21 win over the Cowboys.

So who was Nicolette Sheridan supposed to be? Perhaps she was appearing as herself in the promo; it would be the simplest solution. And I'm not sure if any of her past movie characters would be in a position to come on to Owens in such a manner.

And it would have to be one of her movie characters. Remember, ladies, all of her TV characters exist in the same universe as Susan and Lynette of 'Desperate Housewives'. She wouldn't be seen as Paige Mathison ('Knots Landing') in such a tawdry intro to 'Monday Night Football'!

No, I think we're actually seeing Nicollette Sheridan as a fictionalized version of herself as she once did on 'The Larry Sanders Show'.

('Monday Night Football' & 'Desperate Housewives' & 'The Larry Sanders Show')


Thursday, November 18, 2004


SANTA MONICA, California (AP) -- A fight broke out near the stage at the Vibe awards ceremony as rapper Snoop Dogg and producer Quincy Jones were preparing to honor Dr. Dre. According to authorities and witnesses, one person was stabbed.

Dozens of people sitting near the stage Monday inside a hangar at the Santa Monica Municipal Airport began shoving each other as the show wound down about 7:30 p.m., said a photographer who covered the event for The Associated Press.

News video showed chairs being thrown, punches flying, people chasing one another and some being restrained. It was unclear if the stabbing preceded or followed the fight.

The victim, a 26-year-old man, was taken to a hospital and was listed in stable condition.

Witness Frank Williams told KCAL-TV that Dr. Dre was involved in the brawl."I saw Dr. Dre fighting somebody," Williams said. "I don't know if he was fighting back. But there was a guy taken out basically bloodied."

Andrea Ferguson, employed by a public relations firm that worked with Vibe for the awards ceremony, called the incident a "disruption" but declined to provide details. She added the show was allowed to continue but it was halted for about five minutes.

Dr. Dre, who was scheduled to receive a Vibe Legend Award for his lifetime contributions to hip-hop, had not come on stage yet when the fight erupted. Jones and Snoop Dogg stood on stage without saying anything.

"My understanding is that it was somewhat chaotic in there," police Lt. Frank Fabrega said in a press conference following the fight.

The UPN network aired a taped broadcast of the Vibe Music Awards last night, but the stabbing and wild melee that disrupted the event for three hours ended up on the cutting-room floor.

Monday night's award ceremony deteriorated into bloody mayhem when a man who asked Dr. Dre for an autograph began pummeling the rap mogul. Others came to his defense and Dre's assailant ended up getting stabbed.

Not that you could tell from UPN's broadcast. The sanitized TV broadcast skipped any scene of the melee and moved seemlessly to Dre coming to the podium to get his award. Dre, dead-serious, then looked out at the audience and declared, without mention of the violence, "They can't stop me. I don't care. That's real."

But in Toobworld, Reality is unreal.........

As a Caretaker for Toobworld, the situation presents me with a conundrum. The basic rule of thumb for the TV Universe is that if it's broadcast in the Real World, it's part of the TV Universe. Yet UPN chose not to show what transpired during the "riot".

However, CNN and other news outlets did show the footage. Therefore it did happen. So how do we splain away such a contradiction?

There are three men in Toobworld who might understand that sensation of dis-continuity. At least, they would know what it was like, if not actually understand it. But they are no longer in Toobworld, and as far as anybody knows, they never were there in the first place. You could even ask their own parents about them and you'd be greeted with puzzled looks.

For these three men have been erased from all aspects of Toobworld - "a man named Harrington, a man named Forbes, a man named Gart. They used to exist, but don't any longer. Someone - or something - took them somewhere. At least they are no longer a part of the memory of Man....."

Colonel Clegg Forbes, Colonel Edward Harrington, and Major William Gart flew an experimental interceptor dubbed the X-20 nine hundred miles into space. But at some point in their thirty-one hour flight, the ship disappeared from radar screens for twenty-four hours before finally crash-landing in the Mojave desert upon its return.

The newspapers were all over the story, calling the three pilots 'heroes'. But Forbes, Harrington, and Galt soon began to feel that there was something not quite right about their return.

Harrington was the first to be overcome by the sensation. He felt this urge to call home to his parents, but he was informed by his own father that the Harringtons never had a son named Ed.

Suddenly he disappeared, and only Colonel Forbes ever remembered him. The newspapers - the same copies that trumpeted the return of three heroes, now only showed a picture of Forbes and Galt with no mention of Harrington. Even Galt didn't remember his flight partner when he was confronted by Forbes back at the hospital.

Clegg Forbes was soon overcome by the same feeling that he no longer belonged to this world. But unlike the experience with Harrington, it washed over Forbes like the sensation of euphoria. And even though he didn't want it to happen, he transcended as if being bodily taken to a higher plane of existence.

For Galt, having witnessed this, and after hearing about a man named Harrington of whom he had no recollection but was supposed to know, the experience became a terrifying one. And he too soon disappeared with no trace left behind that he even existed. Even the X-20 plane disappeared.

No one can say how it must have felt about it......

"And if any of you have any questions concerning an aircraft and three men who flew her, speak softly of them... and only in the Twilight Zone."

Ultimately, we are the Powers That Be who control what happens in the TV Universe: the writers, producers, directors, actors... and even the audience, who make the ultimate decision as to whether a show lives or dies. (But as we should know, cancellation never means the end in Toobworld. Those characters continue living their lives, but unseen by our eyes.)

Within the Inner Reality of "TV Land", most of the characters don't know about that. Some, like David Addison of 'Moonlighting', have the gift of tele-cognizance. They understand that they are all living inside one big TV show for the perverse pleasures of the audience viewing back in the Real World.

For the others, their fates are splained away as being left up to God, or the Fates, or some other kind of Cosmic Muffin. For those who became one with the TV Universe by having their involvement in the Vibe Award fracas televised on the news, it must be unnerving to have the official remembrance of the events excised of any mention that something bad had gone down. Who could have done such a thing on such a "universal" level?

Those who do get to "remember" (via interviews on TV talk shows for example) will be considered tele-cognizants.

By the way......

Viewership for Tuesday's telecast on UPN of "The Vibe Awards" was up 20% from last year to 5.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

Sure. Everybody was hoping to see a replay of the violence! I'd watch that for a dollar!

('The Vibe Awards' & 'The Twilight Zone')


Tuesday, November 16, 2004


As I reported last week, I attended a taping of 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' (its 499th & 500th episodes). My brother Iddiot-in-arms, Brian-El, showed up there earlier in the day to actually audtion to be a contestant. And he sent along this look at what it was like......

Hi all,

For those of you who don't know, I was once again selected to audition for "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" (yes, it's still on in syndication--in most markets, during the day).
I won't bore most of you with the details of the whole trip, but here's the audition story:

This year, virtually all Millionaire contestants are being selected from the studio audience. You don't just sign up to audition--you sign up to audition *and* see two shows being taped. So I got to the building early and began conversing with two guys in line with me, both of whom happened to be from my original neck of the woods (central PA). I ended up being seated in the studio next to one of them, and then we all took the test. (The studio, BTW, is like all TV studios: much smaller than it looks on the tube.) Just like last time, it was 30 multiple-choice questions--but these questions seemed harder to me that the ones I'd had two years ago. I knew I got most of them right, but had no idea if I'd passed or not.

After the test, the non-auditioning part of the audience was ushered in (including my pal Toby, a TV nut from NYC whom I just had to invite), and the taping began. I was surprised to see that it didn't really take much more time than the actual show. I'd expected lots of stops and starts--especially when a new contestant came in, or when a phone-a-friend was called--but that didn't happen. The "Ask The Audience" lifeline lasts longer than it does in the final show, but I suspect that's to give the AOL IM audience more time to answer. (In case you don't know, that's one of the show's new gimmicks.) Meredith Viera (the current host, not Regis) had to do one re-read of a question she stumbled over, but that was it for any delays.

These shows (the second of which was Millionaire's 500th syndicated broadcast) are supposed to be aired in March (I forgot to bring the exact dates--I'll send them later).

Editor's note - March 24th & 25th, 2005!

Anyway, they then announced who'd passed the test. Of the 200 people who took the test, 10 passed, and, yes, I was one of them. Just like last time, my photo was taken and I had a brief interview. However, the interview went much, much better than last time and I have a really good feeling about this. I am in the contestant pool--and I'm supposed to hear something within two weeks. And the guy I'd been talking to was also one of the ten! We got kidded about that by the warmup comedian.

But even if I don't get on the show, it was a lot of fun. I'd never seen a national TV show taped before, and it was cool to be part of "Ask The Audience" (although we did screw up the last contestant). And I had a great time in New York.

Some of you will be getting more details. (Is that a promise or a threat?)

I will let you know when I hear something from the show, so stay tuned...

And stay warm,


Monday, November 15, 2004


We are human and given a chance,
We still might create an art form of television.
Gilbert Seldes.

'Crossing Jordan' & 'Las Vegas'
[See separate essay.]

'Law & Order' - Connecticut Governor's wife is murdered in Central Park and evidence of the governor's sexual orientation comes to light.
[See separate essay.]

When Detective Frank Arcaro was shot and wounded by an Arkansas hillbilly named Ansel Boulke, he was treated at Manhattan General Hospital. Twenty years later, this was the same hospital were "Kayo" O'Brien would be working as a surgeon.
('Naked City' & 'Kay O'Brien')

Just before he had his dream zonk involving 'The Munsters', 'Leave It To Beaver', and 'The Jetsons', George Lopez quoted catch-phrases from the following shows:
'Sanford & Son'
'Chico And The Man'
'The Honeymooners'
'Welcome Back, Kotter'
('The George Lopez Show')

Lee Jeans spokesdoll Buddy Lee plays the role of guidance counselor in a new series of branded entertainment films tied to the MTV2 program 'Control Freak'.

The series takes advantage of the show's format -- which lets viewers pick what video comes on next -- by letting viewers decide which career path Lee's young charge should choose. The initial episode aired on Oct. 31. The next two episodes, which will show the student pursuing the career selected for him, will air on Nov. 14 and Nov. 28.

In the first episode, we see Buddy reflect on his own past careers before viewers are asked to decide whether our young student should become a trapeze artist, a soap opera actor or a ventriloquist.
('Lee Jeans' & 'Control Freak')


'The Jetsons' & 'Electrosol'
I've been seeing this commercial for months, but it never clicked that it serves as a link. And that George Jetson deserves a chance at the TV Crossover Hall of Fame now.

I must be getting old........

Snoop Dogg filmed at the Montecito.
('Las Vegas')

This week, BBC-America showed 'The Gold Napoleon', the second episode of 'The Persuaders', which starred Roger Moore and Tony Curtis.

Near the beginning of the episode, Bret Lord Sinclair conned a helicopter pilot out of his chopper and took it up himself in order to track down a scuba-diving assassin.

The helicopter pilot was barely seen, but according to the episode guide at TV Tome, he was played by a young Jan-Michael Vincent. The backs up this claim.

The credits only list him as "Helicopter Pilot". So what's to stop us from claming that he was Stringfellow Hawke, pilot extraordinaire and a bit of a rebel when it comes to protecting his chopper, Airwolf.

He must have learned that lesson well back in Nice Cote d'Azur!
('The Persuaders' & 'Airwolf')

The porn movie "Bootie And The Beast" was among the selections which Maya's son charged to their cable bill. If Fox Mulder owned a copy of this "classic", it would have been filed in his collection just before "Buffay The Vampire Layer".
('Girlfriends' & 'The X-Files' & 'Friends')

A giant tsunami struck Miami in November of 2004.
('CSI: Miami')

The Empires baseball team was founded in 1904.

'American Goddess' is a reality show using plastic surgery, similar to 'Extreme Makeover' & 'The Swan'.
('Without A Trace')

The Huns are a professional football league, but its home city is unknown.
('Capital One Prime Lock')

Adrenalitis is a condition in which the patient suffers from a severe lack of adrenalin. So far, one cure seems to be owning and driving a Tacoma.
('Toyota Tacoma')

Charlie Metcalf was an alcoholic ex-con with nothing more to show for his life than a battered old suitcase containing an address book, a painting of a house, and a few tattered photos.

His cirrhosis was so advanced, that by the time he was admitted to the Cook County General ER in Chicago, he only had 44 minutes to live. But during that short time, Charlie was able to prove the maxim of Judge Henry Bone ('Picket Fences'): "People can come into your life for a moment and last a lifetime."

Phillip Spaulding was found shot to death in Springfield. As is the case with so many murders in soap operas, there is a plethora of suspects. [See the following entry.]
('Guiding Light')

In a big dramatic addition to the year's best crossover, Paul Cramer was murdered in Llanview. His death will reverberate for months not only in that Pennsylvania town, but also in the town of Corinth.
('One Life To Live' & 'All My Children')

In Remembrance: Alcibiades Munoz was an international financier living splendidly on an island in the Aegean. He died of a massive coronary aboard his yacht in the Hudson River boatyards of New York City.
('Naked City')

Henry the VIII
[See separate essays.]

I've been watching classic episodes of 'Naked City' on DVD and got a nice history lesson in ancient art.....

Pre-465 BC - The Minerva of Cycledes was stolen by Xerxes.
1887 AD - Lord Casseltine bought the Minerva for three pounds and a case of Scotch whiskey.
July 10th - October 31st, 1940 AD - The Minerva lost her hand during the Battle of Britain.
1950s - Miss Arlington tracks down the Minerva of Cycledes and arranges for her museum in New York City to display it.
November 29th, 1961 - The Minerva is stolen by self-proclaimed pirates, but recovered by detectives from the 65th Precinct.
('Naked City')

CBS news has fired the producer who cut into "CSI: NY" to report the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
[See separate blog entry.]

Those who qualified this week for entry:
Snoop Dogg

In case anyone was interested in who the other 'Trek' inductees have been up to this point, here's the rundown of the year so far:

January - Captain James T. Kirk
February - Lt. Uhura
March - Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy
April - Commander Montgomery Scott
May - Yeoman Janice Rand
June - Zephraim Cochrane
Birthday Honors - The Cast Of The Original 'Star Trek':
William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichole, Walter Koenig, Majel Barrett, Grace Lee Whitney
July - Ensign Pavel Chekov
August - Helmsman Hikaru Sulu
September - Gene Roddenberry
October - The Tribbles
November - Ambassador Sarek

Well, that's it for another week. Please stay tuned!


Sunday, November 14, 2004



I wrote all of those blog entries about alternate dimensions in the TV Universe in order to finally come around to discussing the latest episode of 'Law & Order', "Gov Love".

In the episode, a politically connected businessman was charged with murdering the wife of the Connecticut governor in order to keep her from disclosing that the governor is gay and has been having an affair with another man. The best evidence against the guy was his own confession to his lover, but he tried getting the confession excluded from evidence on the basis that they were actually married in a New Paltz ceremony back in March of 2004.

Typical of the show's frequent boasts that it's "ripped from the headlines", "Gov Love" combined the recent problems faced by two real-life governors with the debate over whether same-sex marriages should get the same constitutional guarantees as a traditional form of marriage, between a man and a woman.

As for the governor who was the victim's husband, Governor Reardon was a combination of former Connecticut Governor John D. Rowland and New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, who was to step down on November 15. On July 1, Rowland resigned amidst possible impeachment and indictment on corruption charges. On August 12, McGreevey announced that he would resign due to his having a homosexual affair and his desire to avoid having that affect his ability to govern; reports indicate that McGreevey had an affair with a man who had been hired in the state government and who had threatened to sue McGreevey for sexual harassment.

Having a character based on the combination of the two wouldn't have been a problem, if only the Powers That Be had left the governor's home state nebulous; if we had never learned its name. But they stated outright that it was Connecticut; that the governor's vacation home (a target of investigation because it was built for free in exchange for political favors) was located in Litchfield. And several scenes were identified as taking place in Hartford, Stamford and in Bridgeport.

Yeah, McGreevey's personal peccadilloes (adultery, homosexuality, and cronyism) were blended into the character, but it was Rowland's state that was used; thus tying it closer to Rowland himself. And the fact that the governor's name was Reardon certainly didn't help.

(Rowland/Reardon, Reardon/Rowland... let's call the whole thing off!)

Personally I don't care if Rowland does end up feeling like he was unfairly portrayed in the episode (although they did take allegations about his marriages past and present to the ultimate limit). My problem lies in the fact that the 'Law & Order' creative team felt it necessary to proclaim the state as being Connecticut. (And not just because it's my home state and near and dear to my heart.)

My objections are based on the assertion that in the main TV Universe, Connecticut already has a governor, Jody Rell, and that the governor before her was John Rowland.

The basic maxim is that whatever is broadcast on TV becomes part and parcel of the TV Universe. And that includes the news. For the past few years, Governor Rowland dominated the airwaves in the Constitution State, leading up to the day that he finally resigned from office in disgrace.

As for Jody Rell, she had her own public affairs program on Connecticut TV all the time while she was the Lt. Governor under Rowland. That should solidify her presence in the TV Universe as a member of the League of Themselves.

I've admitted in the past that I can't possibly keep up with every little detail from all of the TV shows out there, so how am I to know whether or not Governor Rowland (and/or his political difficulties) was ever mentioned on TV shows that were set in Connecticut, like the current 'My Wife And Kids', 'The Gilmore Girls' or 'Judging Amy'?

In the past, 'Law & Order' has solidified its link with the real version of New York City by having Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg appearing on the show as themselves. Aside from the conventional wisdom that you don't bleep where you eat so don't piss off your hosts, why should the Big Apple get such consideration but not the political leaders of its neighbors? The audiences viewing in those states deserve just as much adherence to the reality to which they can relate as do the audiences in New York.

Every so often on other shows, there have been characters who were congressional representatives that no more existed in the real world than Spongebob Squarepants. Or Dennis Rodman. But usually the states they represent are never mentioned. (An example that comes to mind is Senator Matheson, Mulder's congressional ally on 'The X-Files'.)

And if they are linked to a particular state, like Congressman 'Charlie Lawrence' of New Mexico, well, at least the number of congressmen is so varied from state to state that it can remain fluid.... There's always room for one more.

If only they just identified the victim as the wife of Governor Reardon and never got around to mentioning where they were from. If only all the towns they visited had either fictional names or generic names that could have been found in any state, like Portland, Middletown, or the ever-popular Springfield.

No, they had to irrevocably tie it into a Connecticut that cannot exist in the TV Universe because of preexisting conditions.

Therefore, as a Caretaker for the Television Universe, I feel there is no other option but to banish this one episode to an alternate universe.

We know Kirk and Bones and Scotty and Uhura had mirror images in an alternate universe. We know Hercules, Ares, Quinn Mallory, and Frasier Crane all had dimensional doppelgangers as well.

So why can't Jack McCoy and Detectives Fontana and Green have counterparts in another realm as well?

I don't think we have to worry very much about the characters from Earth Prime Time, the main TV Universe, ever mentioning this case again. In the fifteen plus years that this show has been on the air, each episode pretty much stands on its own. Rarely do cases come back to flavor a current case (not that it doesn't happen).

And they proved it with this episode. When ADA Serena Southerlyn brought up the issue of an underling feeling sexually harassed by a more powerful superior on the job, there wasn't even the legendary raised eyebrow from ADA Jack McCoy. Considering that he has a few skeletons in his own closet concerning this issue, I would have thought it might have brought out some kind of reaction from him.

In the end, I think it would be better for all concerned if the audience viewing at home came to regard this singular episode as having taken place in the evil mirror universe. The way that McCoy was hell-bent on making sure gays were relegated to second-class status by having those paltry few New Paltz marriages declared null and void just so he could get a murderer convicted brought new shadings to a tarnished hero. But it won't rank up there as his finest hour.

So that's why I laid the groundwork for this argument with all of those other essays about alternate TV dimensions. All of that sliding in and out (literally and figuratively, heh-heh, heh-heh!) helps us to put this particular episode in its proper place in the firmament.




The alternate universes I've postulated for Amos Burke, Joey Barnes, and the Lone Ranger are just theories of mine. There are shows which actually deal with alternate dimensions as their central theme - 'Sliders', 'Otherworld', 'Land Of The Giants'..... 'The Twilight Zone' had quite a few episodes touching on other dimensions; one of them no more than a cornfield.....

You know, this is like 'The Twilight Zone';
Where the guy wakes up and he's the same,
But everyone else is different.
Which one?
They were all like that.

But some of the best inter-dimensional episodes were usually stand-alones, and they didn't always come from genre shows. 'Star Trek' did "Mirror, Mirror" with evil counterparts to their regular characters, and it was a theme that 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' returned to for five of their own episodes:
1) "Crossover"
2) "Through The Looking Glass"
3) "Shattered Mirror"
4) "Resurrection"
5) "The Emperor's New Clothes"

Hercules, on his legendary journeys, also visited this same mirror universe back in the Age of Legend. In that otherworld where the basic nature of the regular characters was turned on its head, Hercules was a ruthless tyrant known as the Sovereign. And Ares was no longer the god of War, but the Elvis-like (Elvissian?) God of Love! (Episodes "Stranger In A Strange Land" & "Stranger And Stranger")

Like I said, it wasn't only the genre shows that explored the concept. In the episode "Sliding Frasiers" (a reference to the Gwyneth Paltrow movie "Sliding Doors"), 'Frasier' explored two different versions of the psychiatrist's Valentine's Day. In one, he met a beautiful artist; but in the other, Frasier stayed home lone.

The alternate dimension viewpoint also focused on Niles and Daphne: they either fly to Hawaii or stay home because of Niles' allergies.

And just a few weeks ago, the 'Law & Order' corner of the TV Universe dabbled in the dimensional differences when 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent' showed two versions of an episode featuring arch-nemesis Nicole Wallace. In one, she lived. In the other; she died.

Viewers then voted as to which ending would be officially part of the main TV Universe. And they overwhelmingly voted that Nicole should live. So it's off to the mirror-universe for the version in which she did.

By opening the door to the concept of an alternate universe for the police procedurals, 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent' makes it easier to accept that the same situation could befall its sister shows, the original 'Law & Order' and 'Law & Order: SVU'

Which makes it easier to claim that a recent episode of the 'L&O' mothership actually was taking place in an alternate dimension; perhaps even the "evil mirror" world. Because sure as bleep it couldn't have been what's happenin' now in the "real" TV Universe!

But more on that in the next installment......