Friday, September 2, 2005


With the September entry into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame, the pattern for the last few years has been to induct a show's creator or a writer who helped to make the TV Universe that much more interesting by coming up with crossovers or new trivia - locations, products, characters - which link shows together.

But this year, during my year-long birthday celebration, when everything I say goes, I'd like to induct a fictional TV corporation as one of those powers that be.

The UBS Network - "UBS! Where we put U before the BS."

UBS headquarters used to be in Alta Coma, California. Back in the mid-70s, UBS president Bill Nickerson hired talk show host Barth Gimble to move his talk show 'Fernwood 2Night' from Ohio so that they could take it national on UBS as the retitled 'America 2Night'. Nickerson gave Gimble thirteen weeks to become a part or to come apart.

Three years later, UBS reporter Jamie Hamilton stumbled upon the story of a ragtag fleet of spaceships arriving in the solar system. These spaceships, led by the 'Battlestar Galactica', had become home for the cousins of Terran humans over decades, as they fled the tyranny of Cylon robots who had destroyed their home star system.
In the TV Universe, I've yet to find another example of the UBS TV network, but the United Broadcasting System is such a perfect name that I'm sure it will eventually crop up again. TV shows are always needing fictional TV networks and channels to be the homes of the fictional TV shows they've created.

For instance, on 'Over There', which will only have an initial run of thirteen episodes, there has already been video clips seen from several cable TV news channels. These include UKN (United Kingdom News), NEN (National Evening News), and USANews.

Other networks seen have been the WOLF network on 'Murphy Brown', ZNN on 'JAG' and 'NCIS', CZN on '7 Days', 'ANT' (America's Network of Television) on 'Millennium', and BadWolf TV on 'Doctor Who'. So I'm not worried that one day UBS will reappear in Toobworld.

In the meantime, I could also hypothesize that certain fictional shows were broadcast on UBS. And especially with those shows whose parent series are no longer on the air, there's no way I could be proven wrong in that assumption.

The best example would be 'The Alan Brady Show' from 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'. One might assume that CBS, which televised the Van Dyke sitcom, might have laid claim to broadcasting Alan Brady's variety program as well. But 'The Alan Brady Show' aired on Sunday nights at 8:30 pm opposite 'Yancy Derringer' which was a Western that was on CBS.

There's no way CBS would allow 'The Alan Brady Show' to be thought of as airing on either ABC or NBC, so it has to have been on a fictional Toobworld network. So why not UBS?

And there's another theory of possibility as to why we haven't seen UBS elsewhere in the TV Universe. Iz pozz'ble, iz pozz'ble, that UBS was sold and then had a name change to reflect its new identity. We've seen this happen in the Real World. Take Spike TV. It used to be The National Network and before that it was known as The Nashville Network.

I have no qualms in inducting UBS into the Crossover Hall of Fame with that all-important third qualification as a theoretical. After all, I did the same thing with Samantha Crawford, Kay Howard, Paladin, Number Six, and Ted Baxter.

But I do have an actual third sighting for UBS. However, it's from the Cineverse - the movie universe. Still, it's from a movie that was about the television industry and therefore I think I'm justified in invoking my right this year to include it.

UBS was the central location for the action in "Network", Paddy Chayevsky's cautionary (nigh-apocalyptic!) tale of the abuses he foresaw in the broadcasting industry.

The most memorable scene from the movie was of anchorman Howard Beale on the set of the UBS evening news. Beale ranted and raved in what was supposed to be his final broadcast of the UBS news. He told his viewers to get up and go to their windows and shout out "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

How can I resist such an inclusion?

So there you go. I've got three definite sightings, albeit one from a movie, and a theoretical link where it appeared without being named. So I feel very comfortable in choosing UBS as the TV industry inductee for this month's entry into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame.

And I feel very comfortable in putting that BS before U.....

Here are the year's inductees so far:

JANUARY - Lt. Columbo
FEBRUARY - Barney Collier aka Mr. Peters
MARCH - John Drake/Number "6"
APRIL - Ted Baxter
MAY - Detective Kay "Katy" Howard
JUNE - Arnold Ziffel
JULY - Hec Ramsey aka Paladin
AUGUST - Samantha Crawford
SEPTEMBER - UBS Television Network

I've been running the TV Crossover Hall of Fame since 1999, and one day I will devote the time necessary to create a permanent home for it on the web.

If you're interested in seeing the full list (There are over 100 members so far!), then drop me a note at:


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