Saturday, April 16, 2005


Of all the fictional universes created from the artistic fires of Man's imagination, (the Literary Universe, the Musical Universe, the universe based on greeting cards, etc.), the TV Universe is probably most closely related to the movie universe (dubbed by Craig Shaw Gardner as the "Cineverse" in his trilogy of books known as the Cineverse Cycle.)

Of course there are those movies that are actually extensions of a particular TV franchise, most notably the series of 'Star Trek' films.

There are movies which were adapted for Television to be TV series, like 'Stargate SG-1', 'Uncle Buck', and 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding'.

(And there are those like 'M*A*S*H', 'Peyton Place', and 'The Dead Zone' which actually started out as novels. 'The Odd Couple' and 'Barefoot In The Park' had their genesis in the Theatrical Universe.)

Many movies were virtually recreated as one-shot TV adaptations, with only their shortened lengths as the major difference, for '20th Century Fox Hour'. Movie classics like 'Laura', 'The Ox-Bow Incident' and 'Miracle On 34th Street' could lay claim as existing in Toobworld as well.

('Miracle On 34th Street' was remade yet again in the 1970s, and that version with Sebastian Cabot has been delivered to the land of TV remakes, Earth Prime Time-Delay.)

I'm bringing all of this up because this weekend there's a new addition to the list. Showtime is presenting 'Reefer Madness', a musical based on the cult "classic" film of the 1930s. It's actually arriving via the universe of musical comedy, as this TV special is based on an Off-Broadway production from a few years back.

So there's a twist - it's not only a TV adaptation of a movie, but it now contains song and dance as well. And as you probably expected, we've got a Toobworld splainin to go along with it.

Here's our missing link: Back in the 1930s, when this sorry tale of debauchery takes place, the wretched rabble ruined by reefer (heh heh heh) in the TV universe must have been visited by the demon known as Sweet. Sweet's talent lay in causing people to express their innermost fears, desires, and thoughts in song and dance. And he would drive them onward with this compulsion until they literally danced themselves into self-combustion.

('Buffy The Vampire Slayer' - episode 6.7, "Once More With Feeling")

We've seen Sweet's handiwork in other shows as well - 'Hull High', 'Cop Rock', 'That's Life'... even the Great American Soup commercial starring the late great Ann Miller.

And this is just more proof that he's been around for a long time. We know he was in the ghost town of Sonora back in the days of the Old West ('Saga of Sonora', NBC1973). And going even farther back, Sweet must have been in the region of Bethlehem when Christ was born, which would explain why the three wise men broke into song as they followed the Star of David ('Amahl And The Night Visitors', NBC 1951 [first staging]).

We'll be more thoroughly exploring the legacy of Sweet the Demon in October. That's when he will be the special inductee into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame for all of the toe-tappin' work he did behind the scenes in Toobworld.

'Reefer Madness' premieres tonight (Saturday, April 16th) at 8 pm EDT on Showtime.


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