October! Halloween! The Treehouse of Horror!
Usually we mark this month by inducting somebody into the TV Crossover Hall Of Fame who's - Owoooo! - really scary, kids... or at least some kind of monster: Jack the Ripper, Frankenstein's Monster(s), Lee Harvey Oswald....
And usually, as with any other inductee, we still require the minimum of three different occurrences to qualify.
But not this year. In this year of living fiftyishly, I've thrown all of that to the wind and have been inducting those I consider worthy for inclusion but who are shy on the requirements.
It's a case of "What I Say, Goes".
So for October, I've got a candidate who's truly demonic. However, he made only one appearance in Television and yet I can make the claim that his influence can be felt throughout not only Earth Prime Time but in several of the alternate dimensions as well.
And even though the candidate is demonic, he's also sweet.
Sweet with a capital "S", that is. Sweet the Demon who appeared in "Once More With Feeling", the all-singing! all-dancing! episode of 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'.
Using his supernatural powers, Sweet forced people to confront their innermost feelings through song and dance; sometimes pushing them beyond their limits until they burst into spontaneous combustion.
Hippie Coke drinkers might wish they could teach the World to sing, but Sweet made it mandatory.
As I said, when he was summoned to Sunnydale, it was the first and only time we actually saw Sweet. But that wasn't the only TV location at which he worked his black magic. There are other series which show the tell-tale signs that they were under Sweet's demonic influence:
Each of these shows were weekly musical slices of Life, with their song and dance showcases presented as though they were everyday events.
'That's Life' was a year in the life of a young couple as they fell in love, married, and planned for a family.
'Hull High' tracked the trials and tribulations of teachers and students at the title high school.
And most infamous of them all, 'Cop Rock' followed the Men In Blue as they walked the beat with dancing flat feet, all to the music of Randy Newman.
This show had actual crossovers which spread the influence of Sweet. In one of the episodes, McKenzie-Brackman lawyers Victor Sifuentes and Abby Perkins of 'L.A. Law' showed up and Lt. Howard Hunter from 'Hill Street Blues' made an appearance in another.
That trio of shows were full series that were probably under Sweet's sway. There's another one as well, but which is found in the alternate TV dimension of Earth Prime Time Delay. That would be 'The Honeymooners', which featured Sheila MacRae instead of Audrey Meadows as Alice Kramden.
Here's what Musicals 101 (link to the left) has to say about the show:
"As part of his weekly CBS variety series, [Jackie] Gleason produced ten hour-long musicals featuring Ralph Kramden and his beloved 'Honeymooners' cohorts. The Kramdens and Nortons win an all expenses paid vacation (by writing a slogan for Flakey Wakey breakfast cereal), and proceed to sing and dance their way through every major European country -- with an African safari thrown in.
These episodes were tremendous fun, and were so well received that they inspired Gleason to produce 32 more new 'Honeymooners' episodes over the next three years."
Had it not been for Ms. MacRae as the Alice recastaway, I would have had no trouble inflicting this upon 'The Honeymooners' of the main Toobworld, even though we never saw this happen in the original 39 episodes. (By the way, the original series celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this weekend.)
Sometimes only one episode might signal the presence of Sweet's influence, rather than the whole series.
Over in the Tooniverse, it looks like Sweet could have added to the trauma of a hurricane fast approaching Lawndale by making the friends and family of 'Daria' Morgendorffer make all their preparations in time with the music.
On 'Xena: Warrior Princess', Sweet may have been pulling the strings behind the scenes in the dimension of Illusia, a tarot-card dream world. That was where feuding partners Xena and Gabrielle broke into song for their "Bitter Suite" war of words.
If Sweet also worked as a dreamin' demon, then some of his victims may not even have known that they were being assaulted by him. For example, while on a trip through Europe, Lucy Ricardo was devastated when her husband Ricky wouldn't let her take a side-trip to her ancestral origins in the Scottish Highlands.
So instead, "Lucy Goes To Scotland" anyway by dreaming of her ancestry as a MacGillicuddy in Kildoonan. And she even incorporated her friends Fred and Ethel as a two-headed dragon. (Perhaps it was a race memory of Siskbert from the movie "Willow". Okay.... maybe not.)
The fact that a potential victim was incapacitated by illness probably made no difference to Sweet. He would never have hesitated to violate Dr. Aaron Schutt's mind into transforming the key points of his life into song.
Songs in the key of Life, as it were.
But if characters bursting into song was a sign of Sweet's presence in Toobworld, then it's the plethora of musicals in the Golden Age of Television which certainly buttress that argument.
I've gone through the book "Television Specials" by Vincent Terrace and visited the TV Musicals pages of the Musicals 101 site to find a few interesting examples where Sweet might have set the beat:
"Amahl And The Night Visitors"
"Commissioned by NBC, this enchanting opera became one of the landmark events in early television.
A crippled shepherd boy joins the Three Magi and is cured when he gives his only possession (his crutch) to the new born Christ."
Sweet would have attempted to exert his influence over the birth of Christ in eight different TV dimensions, since this opera had eight different productions (with many cast changes) on NBC over the years.
The legend of the Arabian Knights was not the tale of a blue genie in a red-hot Disney 'toon, but instead a tuneful tale by Cole Porter who created "Red, Hot, And Blue!". They both shared the basic same characters in Aladdin, the Emperor, and Princess Jasmine, however.
I'm inclined to keep this version of the story in the main Toobworld, especially because of the appearance by George Hall as the Chamberlain. I'd like to make the case that he was the root of the family tree that led to Dr. Henry Jones, Jr. in 'The Indiana Jones Chronicles'.
"The Legend Of Robin Hood"
Here's another character who's only a legend in the Real World, but a living breathing figure of reality in Toobworld. Of course, as with many of these mythic characters, there are many different versions and plenty of dimensions in which to house them.
With music and lyrics by James Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn, and a range of actors including Noel Harrison, Roddy McDowall, Victor Buono, Walter Slezak, and maintaining a family tradition, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Sweet could take great pride in the atmosphere he created in Sherwood Forest.
"Jack And The Beanstalk"
Sweet would have had several opportunities across the dimensional vortex to interfere with the tale of Jack the Giant-Killer. The 1956 version which starred Joel Grey, Cyril Ritchard, and Celeste Holm is situated in the main Toobworld; while the version starring Gene Kelly about a decade later would be found in Earth Prime Time Delay.
"A Christmas Carol" - 1954/"The Stingiest Man In Town" - 1956
Here's another case in which Sweet could have made several attempts to distort the lives of the same characters in several dimensions. Nevertheless, neither of these would be my choice for the official TV version. (I'm still up in the air regarding that.)
Interestingly enough, Jacob Marley in the earlier production was an exact mirror image to the Ebenezer Scrooge of the latter musical version. (Yeah I know.... it's because Basil Rathbone played both roles.)
"Saga Of Sonora"
Sweet might have even worked his magic in the Wild, Wild West with this tale of "sheer lunacy and great mad charm" (as described in the IMDb.com). Don Adams narrated the tale as Vince Edwards was tossed back in time to face off against a villain and his dastardly damsel (as played by Zero Mostel and Jill St. John).
One of the lines - "It was suicide. He backed into my gun six times." - echoed down the ages in an episode of 'Batman' in which Shame showed off his fancy pocket watch which he traded for with a train conductor. When asked what he gave the conductor in return, Shame drawled, "Three bullets in the haid."
"A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court"
There have been lots of tele-versions of this Mark Twain classic, and plenty of TV dimensions in which to send it. My favorite version of the hero was Thomas Mitchell, but the production was a bit shoddy. Still this version - with Eddie Albert as Martin Barrett, - is closely tied to that earlier staging in that Boris Karloff again portrayed Arthur Pendragon. ~~~~~
"Of Thee I Sing"
There's a TV dimension which I've dubbed "Earth Prime Time MOTW" - in which we find all of the American Presidents who served only in TV movies of the week. And this Pulitzer Prize winning 1930s Gershwin hit would be the perfect opportunity for Sweet to assail the Oval Office.
(And what a cast! Carroll O'Connor, Cloris Leachman, Jim Backus, Michelle Lee, Jack Gilford, Jesse White, Paul Hartman, and Ted Knight!)
But Sweet would not have been above fiddling about with the destinies of the POTUS in the main Toobworld, however.....
"The Great Man's Whiskers"
Earlier in the summer, I decided that the late Ford Rainey should be the official face of Abraham Lincoln in the TV Universe with three different portrayals of the 16th President. However, recastaways can be ignored when the change in appearance is due to an alteration in physical appearance. Aging and plastic surgery are the main reasons, but why not the addition of a beard as well?
I'm willing to say that this moment in the life of Honest Abe, in which a young girl writes to President Lincoln suggesting he grow a beard to hide the sadness in his face, should be considered part of Earth Prime Time. From this portrayal by Jason Robards, he would later age into the look of Ford Rainey.
And you can't beat the lyrics of Yip Harburg, in my book!
If Sweet was involved in this tale told on the 'Kraft Music Hall', then the god-hood of Hermes proved to be no match when the wing-footed son of Zeus is summoned to assist a struggling college football coach in New England.
"It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman!"
The Man of Steel is a modern-day myth with many incarnations across the dimensional vortex.
1] 'The Adventures of Superman' can be found in the main Toobworld.
2] 'Lois & Clark' and 'The Adventures of Superboy' share the same alternate universe, Earth Prime Time Delay.
3] Because Clark Kent has yet to go public in his persona of Superman, I feel safe in relegating 'Smallville' to the same world in which 'The West Wing' takes place. (But all bets might be off this season.)
4] 'Superfriends', 'Justice League Unlimited' and all other animated versions exist in the Tooniverse. (But their Superman crossed the vortex to visit with Jerry Seinfeld in the main Toobworld.)
But here's yet another version, and fans of the comic book know that Superman would have no protection against Sweet's magic. But it must have taken something out of the demon because it's a pretty lousy score which was inflicted on Metropolis.
If 'The Twilight Zone' had ever been invaded by Sweet, this might have been the type of story we'd see. Using the music of Stephen Sondheim, it was the story of an underground society living in a department store at night, and it had an unnerving finale that was reminiscent of Rod Serling's bailiwick.
So there you have it - just a few of the many reasons as to why I consider Sweet the Demon worthy of the TV Crossover Hall of Fame.