Tonight, (Wed 2/16 @ 10 pm EST), 'Law & Order' will once again be ripping one off from the headlines with the episode "The Sixth Man". And it's an episode that can be considered one of Toobworld's missing links; those theoretical crossovers with another show that can't exactly be proven.
In the show, a pro basketball player lays down on the scorer's table where he gets hit by a beer tossed by a fan in the stands. The player, Silas Enwood of the Philadelphia Cannons, charges into the stands and fights the riled-up fans. Soon all hell breaks loose and his other team-mates get caught up in the mini-riot.
Sounds just like what happened during the Pistons-Pacers game back in November. Except in that case, the fan didn't sue the player for 20 million bucks, only to end up dead with his neck broken.
And thus we have that 'Law & Order' touch to distinguish it.
I haven't seen the episode in advance, but I can't see how they can pass up this opportunity - a copy of the New York Ledger (THE paper in the 'L&O' corner of the universe) with the blaring headline of "LOOSE CANNON!"
I don't know if the other team gets involved in the fight, but that's where my interest lies: the Philadelphia Cannons are playing the New York Empires.
Already in Toobworld, there has been a team known as the New York Empires. But they're a baseball team, (to be found in the short-lived CBS series of this past year, 'Clubhouse'), not a basketball team.
Still, it's not unheard of for two teams to bear the same name; for example, there are the San Francisco Giants and the New York Giants (who should be required by law to carry the name of the Jersey Giants if they're going to play in the swampland across the River).
The two teams of Giants are owned by different interests, and they don't seem to have any problem with the existence of the other. But as these two Empire teams are in the same town, I would think some kind of trademark infringement problem would have arisen.
Unless, of course, they both had the same owner.
The Empires baseball team was established back in 1904. Had an upstart basketball team come along decades later and tried to use the same brand name, the owner of the baseball team would have raised holy hell to protect his franchise's rights to the name. But if both teams were owned by the same guy, maybe he'd want to extend his empire, so to speak, by making sure both teams bore the same kind of logo, modified just enough to delineate which sport was being represented.
So that's my theory. The New York Empires basketball team ('Law & Order') is owned by the same guy (Tom Bettleheim, as played by Larry King) who owns the New York Empires baseball team ('Clubhouse').
Of course, this all depends on whether or not we meet the owner of the basketball team tonight in the episode. And if we do, I'm already with my alibi for that as well.
They could have both belonged to the same owner years before, but finally the basketball team had to be sold off. And due to poor negotiations, nobody thought to add a clause in which the new owners would have to come up with a new name for the team.
And still I would have the missing link crossover. Ta da!
It wouldn't be the first time 'Law & Order' had such a crossover. Do you remember that episode in which there was a shooting at the piers where a singles cruise was docking? The trail led the detectives to the Sunshine Cab Company, where the Arab driver said that had he wanted to kill Jews in New York, all he had to do was run a red light.
The Sunshine Cab Company was the central location for one of the best ensemble comedies of all time: 'Taxi'.
And then there was an even more trivial missing link crossover when the manager of a comedy club (played by Larry Miller) was suspected of shooting his wife. She ended up in a 'Coma' at Manhattan General Hospital.
Manhattan General is a great standby for a fictional hospital in the TV Universe. It even can serve as a link between the movies and TV since it was used in the movie "The Velvet Touch", which I contend is the precursor to 'Columbo'. (See it!)
But sticking just to TV, Manhattan General was used in 'Naked City' in at least one episode, when Sgt. Frank Arcaro was shot by a crazed Ozark rube in broad daylight.
More importantly, it was the main location for 'Kay O'Brien, Surgeon', a character who was mentioned in an episode of 'St. Elsewhere' as having left St. Eligius to work in NYC. And in one doctor's opinion, she probably wouldn't have lasted thirteen weeks there.
Based on the run for her series, that doc was right!
So with all of those missing links, look what we get: 'Clubhouse' tied to 'Law & Order' (and with all of the shows in its franchise!), and added goodies like 'Kay O'Brien, Surgeon', 'Naked City', and the hub of all crossovers, 'St. Elsewhere'.
And don't forget all the shows that get added to the mix because of the involvement of Detective John Munch on 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit' -
'Homicide: Life On The Street', 'The X-Files', 'The Beat', 'Chicago Hope', 'Homicide: The Movie'......
It's no wonder I feel like shouting out an abandoned catch-phrase for David Letterman: "I'm moist!" This is going to be the capper to the new night of "Must See TV" - 'Lost', 'The West Wing', and 'Law & Order'.
I am one tele-visiologist who'll be happier than Arnold Ziffel in a sty full of bleep!