New York City, or rather 'The Naked City', has 8 millions stories. Look at how many of them are walking around in the montage for the opening credits of 'The Odd Couple'.
The starship Enterprise had over 400 crew members during its five year mission for the original 'Star Trek'. Uncle Martin O'Hara left behind a whole civilization on Mars - several different intelligent species, in fact! - when he was stranded here on Earth as 'My Favorite Martian'.
Even in the small towns which are the settings for soap operas, like Harmony, Llanview, and Genoa City, characters keep marrying from within the same group of people. And in cases like that of Erica Kane in Pine Valley on 'All My Children', they keep marrying those same people over and over and over again.
Get in the car and do some traveling, people! Those other characters in town have lives as well, you know.
In their review for 'The Poseidon Adventure' (NBC tonight, 11/20, 8 PM EST), the Hollywood Reporter mentions "the thousands of others who are washed into oblivion by torrents of water".
According to the Hallmark Channel website, the ocean liner was carrying 2500 passengers and 1200 crew members. In the interconnected universe of Earth Prime-Time, surely we've seen some of those characters before?
That's why I think 'The Poseidon Adventure' will serve the needs for Toobworld nicely; helping us to bid farewell to many TV characters whom we know will never get the chance to appear on our TV screens ever again. Some of these characters were in TV series that have no hope of ever being revived - and even if they were, the shows would most likely be recast, and thus the series would be thrust into an alternate TV dimension.
Sadly, most of these characters must be considered forever gone because the actors who played them have passed away. This year alone has seen an extraordinary amount of TV legends leave us, both the actors and their fictional alter egos. 2005 still has more than a month to go, and I'm sure we'll be seeing even more actors listed in the obits who have given us so many years of pleasure with the memorable characters they created.
So why not let some of these characters go out in a blaze of glory as passengers on board the SS Poseidon? Even if we never got a chance to see them during the TV movie, it could still be argued that they were on board but at a different part of the ship. After all, you can't squeeze all 2500 "background artistes" (as Andy Millman describes 'Extras') into a scene - unless you were doing some kind of arena stadium overview.
Since Howard Morris passed away earlier this year, if I wanted to say Ernest T. Bass from Mayberry ('The Andy Griffith Show') was on board the Poseidon, who's to say I'm wrong?
Well, I would be the first, because that's just a ridiculous idea. (As the Poseidon sails past the Isle of Mypos one day out of Athens, I can hear the cry now: "Don't be ridikalas!")
There are certain classic TV characters played by actors who died this year who could never be on board ship since they existed (or will exist) in different time periods. Characters like General Burkhaldter, Doc MacPheeters, and Commander Montgomery Scott. A character like Perry White as played by Lane Smith in 'Lois & Clark' would be found in a different TV dimension; the Perry White from 'The Adventures of Superman' is the accepted Toobworld version, and he must have passed away decades ago.
And despite an interest in paying tribute to Thurl Ravenscroft, the idea of Tony the Tiger being on board the Poseidon is right out!
But there are plenty of other TV characters we could include among those 2500 passengers on board the Poseidon, and not all of them have to be connected to actors who passed away this year.
(Speaking of 'All My Children', there was no need to consider Phoebe Wallingford, as played by the late Ruth Warrick, for this list. Her character's passing was honored in a memorial service on the show.)
Here are just a few of the ideas that I had.....
MAXWELL SMART (DON ADAMS) - 'GET SMART'
Since Homeland Security was on board the ship, perhaps CONTROL asked their former Chief, Agent 86, to come out of retirement and work the case as well. Since Agent 99 is now a Congresswoman, she might not have been able to get away from her duties in the House of Representatives to accompany him on this "Voyage of the Darned", and so her life would have been spared.
On the show, Max had plenty of experience disguised as a waiter, so he would have had no problems fitting in (that is, no more than would have been usual for him) and loving it. Once the ship flipped and Max found himself underwater, he may have been electrocuted when his Blackberry shoe (Would you believe an iShoe?) shorted out.
There may have been a chance for him to survive, but he missed it by that much......
OLIVER & LISA DOUGLAS (EDDIE ALBERT & EVA GABOR) - 'GREEN ACRES'
Having finally retired yet again from the Hooterville farm life, "Oleevar" might have taken his lovely wife Lisa back to Hungary to visit her relatives back home. And as an anniversary present, perhaps he surprised her with this month-long cruise aboard the Poseidon before they headed home to America.
As the ship overturned, it could be that the final thought going through Oliver Wendell Douglas' mind was "Farm living really WAS the place to be!"
ELEANOR SOUTHWORTH EWING (BARBARA BEL GEDDES) - 'DALLAS'
CHARLIE HUME (MASON ADAMS) - 'LOU GRANT'
No, I'm not suggesting that they were traveling together! I listed them together because they could have shared a common reason as to why they were on the Poseidon. They might have both been on the ocean voyage as a way to enjoy their golden years.
Miss Ellie would have been able to get away from the constant petty squabbling among her clan back at the Southfork Ranch; while Charlie and his wife could have been finally taking that dream vacation now that he had retired from as the Managing Editor of the Los Angeles Tribune.
Of course, neither of them would have realized that when it comes to dream vacations, nightmares are dreams as well.....
PETE THORNTON (DANA ELCAR) - 'MACGYVER'
Despite his blindness, Pete Thornton might have still been involved in covert operations for the Phoenix Foundation. And what better cover than a blind man taking a recuperative cruise?
In some way not seen in the TV movie, perhaps Pete would have been working with Mike Rogo of Homeland Security, coordinating information... information... information. Or perhaps he was even with Maxwell Smart (despite the fact that he resembled Smart's former boss at PITS in "The Nude Bomb".)
CATHY SHUMWAY (DEBRALEE SCOTT) - 'MARY HARTMAN, MARY HARTMAN' & 'FOREVER FERNWOOD'
You have to feel sorry for Cathy. Trapped in the small town of Fernwood, Ohio, she was probably still unlucky in love after all these years. Now in her early fifties, Cathy may have decided to go for broke and take this cruise in hopes of finding her true love.
But unlike Marcia Brady on 'The Brady Bunch' (and it's always "Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!"), the only Davy Jones whom Cathy would meet has a locker at the bottom of the ocean.......
THE RIDDLER (FRANK GORSHIN) - 'BATMAN'
When is the SS Poseidon similar to ice cream?
When it's a float! Holy Ruby Yacht of Omar Kayam, Batman!
I haven't yet finished reading my copy of the script for this new version of 'The Poseidon Adventure' (Thanks, Bryce!), so I don't know if there's any valuable gem kept in the purser's safe, as there was in the movie "Titanic". But rather than wait for it to arrive in Gotham City, as he first did for the Moldavian stamp collection, the Riddler might have instead boarded the Poseidon to intercept its journey.
Sailing under the alias of Edward Nigma, the Riddler would have thus avoided being inevitably foiled by the Dynamic Dum-Dums by keeping out of their jurisdiction.... even if Batman and Robin were probably collecting Social Security pension by now in the main TV dimension.
And as the ship sank beneath the waves, perhaps the Riddler felt a cold sensation as if he had somehow gone through all of this before. Because half a century before, a man named Dan Wesker, who looked just like the Riddler, went through the exact same disaster, thanks to a German U-boat. (See the TV movie 'Golaith Awaits' for more details.)
GILLIGAN (BOB DENVER) - 'GILLIGAN'S ISLAND'
Looking through the roster for the crew, there were 1200 jobs on board that could be filled by working class heroes of TV Land.
Maybe Gilligan finally decided after all these decades to finally step out from the shadow of the Skipper (That's a big shadow!) and get back to sailing the ocean blue. Even if Our Little Buddy's skills as a mighty sailing man had miraculously improved with Time, it would still be the worst maritime decision since the Ancient Mariner shot that albatross out of the sky!
I don't want to make this manifesto any longer than it is. But I have plenty of other ideas to share about the other passengers and crew of the Poseidon, including a few folks who probably even got away without anybody being the wiser!
So I'll save those for the next few entries. Hopefully I'll get them finished before the movie begins tonight at 8 pm EST on NBC!
(If I were to drown, would I say "Glub glub glub" or "Plug plug plug"?)