Tuesday, July 12, 2005


'Doctor Who' is back on Earth!

Fifteen years after the last regular episode, six years after the one TV movie for the Eighth Doctor, we've had a full series of thirteen episodes featuring Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Incarnation.

The final episode for this year has aired, signaling the end of Eccleston's tenure and marking the debut of David Tennant in the role.

And so to celebrate, most of my essays and all of the Crossovers will be dedicated to the Doctor for the rest of the summer.

Be forewarned: In my essays during this summer salute to 'Doctor Who', there will be spoilers for each of the episodes, especially in regard to summaries.....

First off, here's a recap of the episode:

Location: London, Earth
Date: March 2006
Enemy: Slitheen

The Doctor returns Rose back to Earth, much to the shock of Mickey and Jackie, as Rose has been missing for a year.

A spaceship crash lands in The Thanmes and all is not as it seems with the residents of 10 Downing Street.
[Thanks to TV.com]

The Doctor takes Rose back home to visit her mother, materialising outside her flats twelve hours after she left. Or so he believes. However, while waiting for Rose to return, a flyer on a nearby telephone pole catches his eye -- a missing-persons flyer with Rose’s picture on it.

When Rose enters her flat and casually greets her mother, claiming to have spent the night with a friend, the stunned Jackie sweeps her daughter up in a desperate, unbelieving hug -- and, over her shoulder, Rose sees a table covered with missing-persons flyers and posters, all with her name and picture on them. The Doctor bursts into the flat, takes in the situation, and apologetically tells Rose that she hasn’t been gone for twelve hours, but for twelve months...
[Thanks to the "Doctor Who Reference Guide"]


First off, let me just get the apologies out of the way. The crossovers for this week might seem rather slight, even though at least the case for one of them can be made for it to be a legitimate link, rather than just an hypothetical one.

But fear not! As this episode was the first hour for a two-parter, I'm saving the more outrageous overall crossover for next week. It will be a theory that's more in keeping with my overview of the nature of the TV Universe.....

As for Part One....

All TV shows are supposed to share the same universe, so that Archie Bunker breathes the same NYC air as Cliff Huxtable and Latka Gravas. And there's always the possibility, however slim though it may be, that during one of Lt. Columbo's murder investigations in Los Angeles, he would have to interrogate a talking horse named Ed.

Every so often the concept of Toobworld gets Zonk!ed when a TV show is mentioned as being a TV show, especially like 'Star Trek', 'The Brady Bunch', and 'The Twilight Zone'. Many shows with the zeitgeist of The WB - especially shows connected to Joss Whedon or Kevin Williamson - depend on such pop cultural references as short cuts for descriptions of situations or other characters.

But certain shows can be regarded as TV shows within another program and not cause a Zonk!, because they exist both in the Real World and TV Land: talk shows, news reports, game shows, infomercials, and the current TV trend, "reality" shows.

'Will & Grace' - er, actually Will and Jack, - showed up at the outdoors gathering for the 'Today' show to publicly kiss during Al Roker's combination weather report and cheerleading rally. And Jerry 'Seinfeld' showed up on 'Today' wearing his infamous puffy shirt.

So in a way, both of those shows are now connected by a third program.

[Ever notice that there's never been a really good link between 'Will & Grace' and any other show on the Peacock's schedule? And yet NBC used to make a habit of crossovers among its sitcoms. I'd read something into that, but we're not here for that today!)

Now, 'Doctor Who' had the same situation - or will have, as the episode "Aliens Of London" takes place in March of 2006. After the alien spacecraft crashed through Big Ben, the UFO became teh focus for every TV show... and that includes the long-running children's programme 'Blue Peter'.

While the Doctor was flipping around the dial for more information about the alien crash, a little boy took command of the remote and put on 'Blue Peter' just as presenter Matt Baker showed how to make a UFO cake.

And there was also a connection to the news broadcasts as well with live news feeds seen on the BBC. These breaking news reports were handled for the most part by BBC Politics Editor Andrew Marr.

Having real newsmen cover fictional news is a tradition in Toobworld - Harry Smith on 'Picket Fences', Edwin Newman on 'Wings', and "Reggie" Bosanquet on 'Monty Python's Flying Circus'. Howard K. Smith has secured for himself eventual membership into the Crossover Hall of Fame for covering the news in 'V', 'The Bionic Woman', and 'The Odd Couple'.

Andrew Marr joined their ranks earlier this year when Adam Clay walked into a rural village police station to declare his secession from Britain and that he was setting up his own republic.

Mr. Clay's disillusionment with life in Britain became a cause celebre and Andrew Marr was one of the reporters who descended upon the small village to cover the story.

('The Afternoon Play' - "The Good Citizen")

And that would be the strangest story he would cover - at least for the next year, until the genetically modified pig crashed into Big Ben.

As I said, the connections seem rather slight, but sometimes the hook of a link hangs by the most trivial of aspects. And yet here we had two British Television personalities whose appearances in the episode provide a solid connection.

In the Toobworld view, the League of Themselves is a leading force in TV Crossovers. So I, at least, feel very comfortable with this week's claim.



WordsSayNothing said...

Will & Grace has turned into such a rotting pile of crap over the last few seasons, I hope it never finds another way to solidify a connection to any other show, by anybody's standards for crossovers. Seriously. That show has been totally ruined for me.

With regard to NBC's frequent crossovers among its sitcoms in the 90s, it seems pretty obvious that it was all done as a gimmick to get more viewers. Some shows wouldn't play ball at times, though, like Seinfeld not participating in the blackout crossover. The main reason Will & Grace was 'spared', I believe, is because it came much later, after the appeal of frequent crossovers had worn off.

Toby said...

With both aspects of your comment, I totally agree. With 'Will & Grace', I've never really liked it and can probably count (without resorting to using my toes) the number of episodes I've actually seen.

And there was always some outside reason why I would watch the episode - Gene Wilder as the boss, John Cleese as Karen's lover, the 'Today' show connection, an old friend on an episode (Fred Sanders), the chance to see what Ernie Douglas ('My Three Sons') looks like today.

My main problem with 'Will & Grace' is almost like a rule of thumb - no more than one character should be unlikable. Half this cast was unlikable to me from the start. And then they ALL became unlikable. (One episode I saw, with Stephen Tobolowsky as the guest, proved this to me.)

As for a show's quality before it can be worthy for a crossover - I never would let that stop me. I'd want the universal solidity established for even the bad shows.

I think NBC's penchant for crossovers finally faded away with the departure of Jamie Tarses from her position in the network's heirarchy. Her enthusiasm for the gimmick is why she'll one day be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the "Creators" category.

Thanks for writing, WSN!