Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Still in the surge of November Sweeps, we have a tie for the Crossover of the Week! Both shows offered something different from the standard fare of crossovers. However, one explored the future of Television while the other took a retro-look back on its history.

Interestingly, both shows went head to head in the sked, but you could flip from one to the other wihtout missing the key crossover moment. (Just don't let Larry Sanders you were flipping!)

First up......


'Medium' harkened back to the days of 3-D movies, complete with the special glasses. And to introduce this unique presentation, Rod Serling was resurrected from a classic clip from 'The Twilight Zone'. But he was given new dialogue to "recite"... thirty years after his death.

In the Real World, Rod Serling is a titan in the art of Television writing. Yes, 'The Twilight Zone' is legendary, but it's his work with original dramas like "Patterns", "Requiem For A Heavyweight", and "A Storm In Summer" that set him above nearly all others.

But in Toobworld's reality, Rod Serling is something more. He is an other-worldly commentator on the world around him (Earth Prime-Time) who addresses his observations to the audiences watching at home on Earth Prime. (In fact, I've appropriated his name to describe the art of talking to people through the camera lens - "serlinguism".)

We know that he existed as an actual TV character, because Perry Mason claimed that he knew Serling But his televersion may or may not have been created by playwright Gregory West. Whether he was "real" or a figment of the imagination or the manifestation of an under-done potato, Rod Serling proved to be above and beyond the reach of Death's limitations.

So many years after his passing in the Real World, he made another spectral visitation in a1998 episode of 'Early Edition' ("A Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight").

Gary: Chuck, do you remember physics 201, the space-time continuum? Time, it's not a line. It's, uh, time is a--
Chuck: It's a magazine. What are you talking about?
Gary: What I'm talking about is time. Time - -
[Rod Serling materializes in the chair behind them.]
Rod Serling. Men talking about an improbable thing like going back in time.
Chuck: What is he talking about?
Gary: I have no idea.
Rod Serling: A friendly debate revolving around a simple issue. Could a human being change what has happened before?
Chuck: Do you know him?
Gary: Never saw him before in my life.
Rod Serling: Interesting and theoretical, because whoever heard of a man going back in time? Before tonight that is. Because this is.... the Twilight Zone.

[The scene dissolved to a field of stars similar to that seen in 'The Twilight Zone' as the classic theme song kicks in. And then the 'Early Edition' cat meows.]

Rod Serling was inserted into the episode as part of CBS's 50th anniversary week. Other shows that did the same thing that week included 'Murphy Brown' (Edward R. Murrow), 'Chicago Hope' ('Medical Center'), 'The Nanny' ('I Love Lucy'), and 'Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman' ('Gunsmoke'), among others.

His dialogue came from the 49th episode of the show, "Back There".:

"Witness a theoretical argument, Washington D.C., the present. Four intelligent men talking about an improbable thing like going back in time. A friendly debate revolving around a simple issue: could a human being change what has happened before? Interesting and theoretical because who ever heard of a man going back in time, before tonight, that is. Because this is the Twilight Zone."

And now here he was again, exhorting the audience to put on their special glasses to better enjoy the episode of 'Medium' which would be presented in 3-D.

Gregory West kept the manifestations of his imagination on snippets of audio tape which he stored in his safe. Although he "banished" Rod Serling by tossing his tape into the fire, West must have reconsiderd and brought him back to "life" (or is it Memorex?) just as he had done for the new version of his "wife".

More than likely, the playwright is now dead, since the actor who played him, Keenan Wynn, has also passed away. And if that's so, it could be that the spawn of his mind outlives him so long as Mrs. Mary West never destroyed those tapes.

Therefore, despite the fact that Rod Serling is dead in the Real World, he'll always live on in Toobworld, as seen on 'Early Edition' and 'Medium'.

And that's a good thing.

However, there's a caveat. Rod Serling's vocal style and job as the host and creator of 'The Twilight Zone' has made him a popular target for parody in other TV shows and commercials. These imitations have no connection to the real thing, though. But 'Medium' and 'Early Edition' do, even if the dialogue changed slighlty.

And that was the first of the two Crossovers of the Week......


"This is weird! It's like the Twilight Zone.
I kind of half expect Rod Steiger to just walk out here."
Jackie Thomas
'The JackIe Thomas Show'

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