Tuesday, August 2, 2005


I'm still pondering the television career of the late character actor Ford Rainey.

Here's an interesting conundrum.....

"Lost in Space" playing "The President" in episode: "The Reluctant Stowaway" (episode # 1.1) 15 September 1965
"Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" playing "President" in episode: "Doomsday" (episode # 1.19) 18 January 1965
"Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" playing "President McNeil" in episode: "Hail to the Chief" (episode # 1.16) 28 December 1964
"Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" playing "U.S. President" in episode: "Hot Line" (episode # 1.9) 9 November 1964

Both series were productions by Irwin Allen, but there shouldn't be an implied connection between both shows. The Seaview sailed the seven seas in the "future" of the early '70s, while the Jupiter II blasted off in the "future" of 1997.

There's no way Ford Rainey's presidents could be the same man; not when term limits as delineated in the Real World hold for Toobworld as well.

And yet...... It's just possible - so far as Toobworld logic can twist it round, - that they were indeed the same man.

But first, the real problem is the fact that in his second appearance as the President in 'Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea', Ford Rainey was addressed as "President Henry Talbot McNeil".

Long-time Inner Tooblings know that it's my contention that the President of the United States in Earth Prime-Time must be the same man who holds the position on Earth Prime. In the early 70s then, the President during the voyages of the Seaview should be Nixon.

But I've also put forward the argument that an entire series doesn't have to be relegated to alternate dimensions to clear up "un-splainable" discrepancies. Individual episodes can be tossed over the side.

An example from the last season: "In A Mirror, Darkly" from 'Enterprise' which totally took place in the evil mirror universe of 'Star Trek'.

That was the official one. I also theorized that "Gov Luv", an episode of 'Law & Order' which put the whack into local Toobworld politics with a fictional Connecticut governor, had to be sent elsewhere. And not just because the fictional governor was a combination of Jim McGreevey of New Jersey and John Rowland of Connecticut - but also because I felt the Jack McCoy of this episode was not the man of Earth Prime Time.

And more recently, there were the episodes of the new 'Doctor Who' which dealt with the Slitheen Family of Raxicallicorafallapatorius* - "Aliens Of London", "World War Three", and "Boom Town". It's my belief that the TARDIS utilized its ability to travel to relative dimensions in space and it was an alternate Earth that was nearly destroyed by these baby doll-faced aliens.

So it just might be possible that "Hail To The Chief" could be the one episode of 'Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea' which is not part of the established canon for the series set in the main Toobworld. The Seaview sails the ocean blue in many TV dimensions, and so we might have been watching one of those versions of the submarine instead.

And it might have been a dimension where Nixon was not the President, but a man named McNeil.

We know Kennedy was the POTUS during the early sixties in Jed Bartlet's TV dimension of 'The West Wing'. It could then be assumed that Johnson succeeded him. But I've yet to see any evidence outside a clip of Nixon during the pseudo-documentary in the episode "Access". That doesn't necessarily mean it was of him as President.

But just to be on the safe side, I'm putting Henry Talbot McNeil into any other alternate dimension, but one with plenty of sci-fi gadgetry available. You know, the usual stockpile: Quantum Leap technology, a Stargate arch or two, maybe a doorway into another dimension via a Slider remote.

So here's my wild idea - after recovering from the brain surgery on board the Seaview to repair his subdural hemotoma, President McNeil served out his term in office and then retired to pursue his private interests.

During his time of recovery, and having been appraised of the top-secret technology available to the government while he was POTUS, McNeil may have become curious as to what legacy he left behind in other dimensions as well.

So by calling in a few favors in order to use a combination of a Slider remote and Quantum Leaping, Henry Talbot McNeil must have slid/leapt across the dimensions from his own version of Toobworld to Earth Prime-Time.

In his dimension, both of those technologies had been refined. There were no accidental slides, no random leaps by chance. McNeil hit his designated target - he slid over to the main Toobworld and leapt into the body of the President.

Only he wasn't in the body of a President McNeil. He was in the body of President Nixon. And even after trying again at a different point in time, he found himself still as Nixon. And both those times, in the episodes "Doomsday" and "Hot Line", we in the audience saw him as McNeil, played by Ford Rainey, not as Nixon. It was the same situation as if it had been a Leap by Dr. Sam Beckett.

As for his leap into the body of President Bill Clinton during the 1997 launch of the Jupiter II, former President McNeil's curiousity got the better of him. He probably leapt forward in Time in a bid to see if somewhere down the line (within a reasonable period of time) he finally did become President of Toobworld.

However, having discovered there never was a President McNeil on Earth Prime-Time, he couldn't resist staying around long enough to officiate at the launch of the Jupiter II spaceship.

So there's my splainin as to how Ford Rainey could be three different Presidents in the same TV Universe.

And now, after all that convoluted reasoning, I think I'm limber enough to play a few rounds of Twister!


*I typed out that name by memory. If I got it wrong, I'll find out as soon as I get online......


Okay. So I was wrong...... As Blon Slitheen would say, "Sue me."

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