Tuesday, March 1, 2005


I'm not the only one out there in cyberspace celebrating TV crossovers. Over the years I've seen at least two other sites and countless articles delving into the concept of a TV Universe in which characters from various TV shows can meet each other.

The best site is Thom Holbrook's Crossovers & Spin-offs. (You'll find the link over on the left.) Long ago, I acknowledged Thom as the greatest when it came to TV crossovers.

But Thom, like others, takes too strict a view as to what is eligible for inclusion in the integrated TV Universe. He won't consider celebrities playing themselves, even though their scripted plots make them just as fictional as the characters with whom they interact.

In the Real World, Sammy Davis, Jr., left his briefcase in a cab driven by Archie Bunker; and he was never magically summoned by a genie in Cocoa Beach, Florida. But it happened in Toobworld, and so as far as I'm concerned, that links 'All In The Family' to 'I Dream Of Jeannie'.

Many of the other sites snub game shows, even when fictional characters appear on them.

Felix and Oscar appeared on 'Password' and 'Let's Make A Deal' in episodes of 'The Odd Couple'.

Sammi Law was on 'The Price Is Right' as soon as he arrived in America on 'Martial Law'.

Mr. and Mrs. Maxwell Sheffield conceived twins backstage at 'Hollywood Squares' on 'The Nanny'.

And there has to be at least a dozen shows and commercials in which Alex Trebek had fictional characters competing for fabulous cash prizes on 'Jeopardy'.

The use of game shows and celebrities as crossover connections is acceptable by Toobworld standards though. If it makes for a sloppy, undisciplined dimension, so be it. There is no perfection in our universe, so why should everything be neat and tidy in the TV Universe?

That's a long way to go to defend my choice for the Crossover of Last Week. It was the double-header on NBC last Monday of 'Fear Factor' and 'Las Vegas'.

This past week's 'Fear Factor' was a special-themed edition set in Sin City, but no characters from the fictional series of 'Las Vegas' appeared on the game show. (And it IS a game show, not a series in that stupid category of so-called "reality television"!)

However, the final scene was set at a real casino's blackjack table where the winning couple tried to beat the house.
When the show ended, the scene continued, flowing through the credits right into the opening of 'Las Vegas'.

We now had a P. O. V. behind the scenes of 'Fear Factor' as host Joe Rogan (still dressed as he was seen in the previous hour) was surrounded by production staff and led away from the set constructed in the real casino.

And what did Rogan want to do next? It was off to the fictional casino of the Montecito! And so the credits ran for 'Las Vegas'.

Now I can understand those objections when the fictional characters are appearing in a fictional version of the game show. (Like when Arnie Becker gave his desire for Vanna White a spin on 'Wheel Of Fortune' in an episode of 'L.A. Law'.) I'd still include those, but I understand why others don't.

But here, here you have an actual episode of a game show feeding into the fictional series. How could you ignore the connection?

There were three subplots for the hour, with Sly Stallone in one of them. (But as he was playing a fictional character and not appearing as himself, there can be no crossover potential with his upcoming "reality" show 'The Contender'.)

As for Joe Rogan, he let the three main women of the Montecito to compete amongst themselves for a chance to appear on 'Fear Factor'. They paraded their "talents and attributes" in front of him.

Best of all was Samantha Jane taking Joe into a very cold meat locker and showing him what she looked like in a T-shirt in such an extreme temperature drop.

"You raise some very interesting points," he said with admiration.

In the end, Joe Rogan finally copped to the truth - he had no say in who got picked to be on 'Fear Factor'; he was just the host.

Had he been his exact lookalike Joe Garelli of WNYX 'NewsRadio', at least one of those women would have then slapped his face. Obviously the scene was crying out for Catherine Duke to take a swing at him.


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