Monday, October 31, 2005


"The answer goes beyond the realm of History,
Into the realm of Legend....."

Professor Samantha Gaines

I thought the Crossover of the Week would have to rely once again on the League of Themselves - and from 'The King of Queens' again at that.

But the gods answered my prayer for something completely different. Literally.

(Not that the crossover I originally had in mind was so bad, even if it was a bit Zonk!ish. But now I can save that for where it truly belongs - as part of tomorrow's tribute to the November inductee into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame!)

On Saturday, Sci-Fi Channel presented a made for TV movie "Cerberus". In the story, a comely young professor of antiquities from the Van Buren Museum of Art needed to save her scalawag of a brother. To do so, Professor Gaines teamed up with a squad of First Gulf War vets in an attempt to regain the Sword of Mars from their former comrade-in-arms, a mercenary named Cutter.

Cutter's theft of the sword from the tomb of Attila the Hun unleashed the wrath of Cerberus, the three-headed dog from Hell, upon the world. (Or at least upon a small village in Romania.)

In Toobworld, mythology is the real deal. It's not just legend; it's not a fractured fairy tale. The gods of Olympus and Asgard have just as much legitimacy in Earth Prime Time as witches married to mortals, Martians stranded in Los Angeles, eloquent equines, and maternal units reborn as automobiles.

Apollo clashed with the Enterprise crew in an episode of 'Star Trek'. Thor battled 'The Incredible Hulk'. And Hermes worked his magic for a New England college's football team. (Within the "reality" of Toobworld, 'Olympus 7-0000' was probably presented as a musical because of the demonic influence of Mr. Sweet from 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'.)

And yes, I know Thor is from the Norse myths of the Elder Eddas, from the land of those crinkly fjords. Be thankful I didn't dredge up Hanuman the Monkey God! At least I can tie Thor into all of this.

Hrmmmm...... Now that I've mentioned a Viking god, I've suddenly got this hankering for Spam......

Anyway, looming large in the pantheon is the demigod who had several of his own TV series to his credit, both in the main Toobworld and in the Tooniverse - Hercules!

"Hercules In The Underworld"
'Hercules: The Legendary Journeys'

It's Kevin Sorbo's portrayal of the Son of Zeus that is the "official" representative of the character for Toobworld. And by "official", I mean "Because I say so." By extension, Ryan Gosling as 'Young Hercules' exists in the same dimension, being just the younger version of Sorbo's character. The Hercules who looks like actor Paul Telfer, as seen in the NBC mini-series 'Hercules', belongs to a different TV dimension. He's probably from Earth Prime Time Delay but not from the evil mirror universe, as Kevin Sorbo assayed that role in a few episodes of his own series.

As for Brian Thompson's portrayal of Hercules in the mini-series 'Jason And The Argonauts', I feel comfortable leaving that in the main Toobworld. That's because he wasn't the true Hercules; rather he was an alien bounty hunter assuming the demigod's identity, thousands of years before he would resurface again in 'The X-Files'.

Before Kevin Sorbo settled into a weekly series as the Son of Zeus, his Hercules was introduced in a series of five tele-flicks. One of these was "Hercules In The Underworld", in which we saw the dramatization of one of the twelve labors of Hercules - the capture of Cerberus, that "three-headed, mean-assed, bad-breathed dog" from Hell (as described in Saturday's TV movie.)

The mythology of Toobworld differs from the mythology of the Real World; as it should, just like all aspects of Life in TV Land. In the established myth, Hercules had to retrieve Cerberus from Hades without benefit of weapons as one of twelve tasks for King Eurystheus of Tiryns. To do so, Hercules put a choke hold on each of the three heads until the devil-dog finally passed out.

But in the TV movie, Hercules was in the Underworld to save a village from the escaping souls near a Hellmouth. And while down there he recaptured Cerberus as a favor for his half-brother Hades. But to do so, he simply restrained the beastie and then talked soothingly to him. (As he reminded the others with him, "sometimes a little kindness does the trick.")

Perhaps we didn't see it because he used sleight of hand, but I'll bet Herc slipped Cerberus an Olympian-sized Doggie Downer while restraining him!

As for the story that became the established legend? That was most likely due to the story told by Hercules' mortal brother Iphicles who would often pass himself off as his own brother in order to cadge drinks in the taverns:

“Hades was worse than your foulest nightmare. It was pitch black -- sweltering hot -- and evil lurking around every corner. So I had to find Cerberus, the three-headed dog? And bring him back to King Eurystheus -- without using any weapons. No! No! No! Really!

So -- using nothing more than my bare hands -- I choked this biting, clawing, fire-breathing beast -- and I dragged him outta Hades!

The thing is -- the king didn't want this monster! I mean, who would? So I had to turn around and take him back!”

Hercules and Cerberus met again a few years later when the demigod once again ventured into his half-brother's underworld realm to rescue Persephone, as ordered by her mother Demeter. But this time, their encounter was a violent clash. (Hercules was probably in no mood to be gentle this time around since he knew his now-deceased wife Deianeira and their children were "guests" of Hades in Hades.)

Thousands of years later, Samantha Gaines and Jake Adams could have used the help of Hercules as they struggled to defeat Cerberus. And had he been in the area of Strajerul, Romania, perhaps Herc might have done so. That's because - as established in 'Hercules: The Legendary Journeys', - Hercules still lives in the mortal world today... known as the actor Kevin Sorbo!

Other links could be made to "Cerberus", if only thematically. Professor Gaines and her quest for magical antiquities like the Breastplate of Attila and the Sword of Mars would make her an excellent candidate to work with "The Librarian", the character Noah Wyle played in a TV movie (for which he's apparently making a sequel).

Actually, we never did find out who Jake and his friends worked for - was it for the American government as "black ops", or for an international organization like 'U.N.C.L.E.'? Or maybe they also worked for "the Library".

Since she mentioned Hitler's obsession with the occult, there's always the possibility that Samantha Gaines knew Professor Henry Jones, Jr., whose presence was established in Toobworld thanks to the 'Young Indiana Jones Chronicles'.

Jake Adams and his buddies Burke and Willis, along with their nemesis Cutter, all served together fifteen years before in the Gulf War. While there in Iraq, they might have met former government scientist Paul Turner who appeared in his own series, 'Strange World'. And they may have actually fought against a member of the Iraqi Republican Guard named Sayid Jarrah, who is now 'Lost' after the crash of Oceanic Flight 815.

And finally, - and this one is really off the wall! - we never learned what Cutter's full name was. We never even learned whether or not "Cutter" was just a nickname; his prowess with the Sword of Mars seemed to indicate that the bloodthirsty mercenary was certainly at ease with a blade.

So what if Cutter was in fact a former trucker by the name of BJ McKay? We haven't seen him in Toobworld since 1981; maybe during that off-screen period he was lured over to the dark side after the death of his simian sidekick known as "The Bear".

I know if any of my chimp buddies got killed off, I'd be pretty bleeped off as well. Unless it's a guy I work with, who is descended from Hanuman the Monkey God. Him, I wouldn't miss.

There you go, making me mention Hanuman. I warned you not to let that happen! Now that I'm thinking about my jerk of a coworker, I feel a Maalox Moment coming on........


"He who lies down with dogs gets up with fleas."
Herman Munster
'The Munsters'

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