Friday, December 30, 2005


Now that we've reached the end of the calendar year, but not the end of the TV season, I'd like to salute those shows and characters who made the best contributions to the TV Universe.

They aren't necessarily recognized for expanding the universe through the means of spin-offs and crossovers, but because they enriched - or as they say in 'The Simpsons', embiggened - the possibilities and various aspects of Toobworld.

This year, I wanted to give this li'l tribute a catchy name, like the Oscars, the Grammys, the Emmys, etc.

I considered the Toobies, but I didn't want to get the twoppers in a snit. And the Toobins were pushed aside since I didn't want to give CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin a swelled head. You take one look at that guy and you can see his head is already of an odd shape.

So I settled on Toobits, and here's what I like about it - I'm giving out my two bits. See? I amaze even myself!

As you'll see, there was one show that dominated my interests in 2005....

I've divided this into two parts - one for for the characters, and this one for the shows.......

COMEDY: 'How I Met Your Mother'
DRAMA: 'Bones'
What the two shows have in common are casts that are well-meshed and yet individually are lot of fun to watch. It's their interactions, and not the plots, that keep me focused on each episode.

But it's also their contributions to Toobworld - Barney's catch-phrases on 'HIMYM'; fictional companies and products found in 'Bones'. And then there is the crossover potential. 'HIMYM' is set in NYC, as is CBS' 'The King of Queens' and 'Still Standing'. And 'Bones' could easily do a two-parter with 'House', which follows it on the sked.

Many of my favorite movies have televersions - 'The Wizard Of Oz', 'The Lord Of The Rings', 'Star Wars', even 'Blazing Saddles'. I would have loved an opportunity to spend more time in that small Scottish fishing village of 'Local Hero', but Cicely, Alaska, was a nice substitute for a community of lovable eccentrics.

Now there's a Toobworld version of "The Poseidon Adventure". And best of all, it serves a very important purpose in the TV Universe. As a mass grave underwater, it can be a repository for those TV characters for whom we need a splainin as to why they no longer appear on TV. I had a field day with this concept two months ago; check it out in the archives!

'Doctor Who'
There were only three series this year which had me antsy for a week waiting for the next episode - 'Lost', 'Slings & Arrows', and 'Doctor Who'. After a sixteen year wait, the series returned fully revamped and turbo-fitted for the 21st Century.

Thanks to a brilliant splainin for whatever new actor came along to play the role, the Doctor himself was always ready for the Times - which should be expected from a Time Lord. But the pace of the show, the sophistication and complexity of the stories, and especially the image of the Doctor's Companion all shook off the spectre of moribundity and made the series the freshest, most exciting sci-fi series on the air.

Too bad most of America isn't getting the chance to savor it!

'The West Wing'
With the focus split three-ways (between the campaigns of Democratic nominee Matt Santos, Republican Arnold Vinick, as well as back in the West Wing itself), the thrill of political wonkiness returned in a spectacular run to the end of last season and which didn't miss a beat despite the break for the summer.

Sadly, the real-life death of John Spencer, who played former Chief of Staff and current Dem. Veep candidate Leo McGarry, has added a whole new dimension to the drama. Now we're all waiting to see who will be chosen to replace him.

'Slings & Arrows'
This series came out in Canada in 2003; otherwise, I would have had it eligible for so much more. What a show! What a cast! And a production of 'Hamlet' had me as much on the edge of my seat as did the fate of the raft in the season finale of 'Lost'. Plus, it added a town, a movie, a soulless corporation, and an action star to the Toobworld roster.

It totally served the Toobworld concept in those last ten minutes. As Claire drove away to seek her future in New York City, we were treated to a montage of scenes showing the future final fates for all of the main characters from the show. It was rich in details that revealed themselves on multiple viewings and was scored so beautifully that it might not have even mattered if you knew who these people were or not. It stood alone as a music video tribute to the driving force behind the series.

It's quite a juggling act to not only create these rich tapestries of flashback stories for each of the main characters. But then the producers and writers have to work in the connections to all of the other characters as well. And to add a few more balls into the air, they re-told the entire first 48 days on the island from the point of view of those passengers who had been in the tail section of the plane.

It is inspiration from the gods that keeps them from dropping the whole shebang in a spectacular crash-and-burn.

A close runner-up: Larry David's near-Death flashback as his Life passed before his eyes... all of it showcasing the worst aspects of his nature, and yet he saw nothing to confess at the end.

The third episode, 'The Unquiet Dead', took a chapter from the life of Charles Dickens - the final year of his life and his unfinished, unsolved mystery of Edwin Drood, and added its own unique twist. The series began as a look at Earth's history, not as the monster of the week show which it eventually became, but this episode combined both aspects perfectly.

Had I been able to invest the time in 'Rome', I might have made a different choice... from what others have told me.


I had to go to the movies to find the best example for this category, and I approached it as someone who had never seen the TV series. I had my opportunities once it went into repeats and syndication, but by then I had heard about the movie. So I wanted to see if it would work for somebody unfamiliar with the show. And it delivered.

(I'm now making up for lost time with the series.)

On the DVD's commentary track, creator Joss Whedon says, "We'll never make 'Firefly' again, because that was a thing that existed and is now gone. And 'Serenity' isn't 'Firefly'." But to my mind that just means it was a concept that was evolving, a living thing not stuck in stasis. That's all part of the Toobworld concept.

I chose this only because it was a case of overkill for the original concept. It's just a shame I can't pick 'Joey' again because I'd really like to do my part in driving a nail into its coffin.

The TV movie "Exiled" was our last encounter with classic 'Law & Order' detective Mike Logan, but nobody can stay away long from the Dick Wolf franchise - even if they are banished to Staten Island. And his appearance in one episode of 'Criminal Intent' last season has brought this popular character back in a major way, as he'll now be shouldering half the 'CI' season to take some of the burden off Detectives Goren and Eames.

This crossover was great only for Nikki Cox's character Mary Connell, as it adds to her credentials for eventual induction into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame. But if this had been set in the Montecito, the creator of 'Las Vegas' would have every right to sue. The set was pure soap opera cheesiness and cheapness, and the storyline that purported to link the two shows together had the vibrancy of molasses, not Sin City.

But like I said, kudos for Nikki Cox. The show's set may have been lacking, but hers never is!

And on that note.......

BCnU Next Year!


Corey Bond said...

What, no love for Battlestar Galactica?

BTW, your 2 Best New Series both star Buffy the Vampire Slayer alumni.

Toby said...

Good question, Corey, and one I can answer without revealing my hidden shame. LOL

BG came out first in 2003, so it wouldn't qualify. This is why you don't see 'Doctor Who' as best new series; it's a revival. And especially why the Doctor himself couldn't be nominated - he's been around since 1964.

I didn't want to be like the Emmy Awards, nominating the same people year in and year out. One shot is all they get. If new characters arrive in a calendar year that makes me go wooo - like captain Jack and Rose, for example, - they'd be eligible.

Next year, when Jack comes back in 'Torchwood', he wouldn't be since he's already a part of Toobworld.

got that?

Anyway, as far as BG goes, I might have considered Commander Cain for the guest role if it weren't for the fact that Jabe contributes far more potential for the reality of Toobworld.

And besides, BG is in an alt. dimension and really doesn't have much effect on the main TV universe.

Hope that splains it....

Corey Bond said...

And besides, BG is in an alt. dimension and really doesn't have much effect on the main TV universe.

Ah, but they're searching for Earth. What if they find Toobworld?

Anonymous said...

I'll be just a little pedantic, cause it's me, and Toby knows I'm that type...the Doctor first appeared in November of 1963, so you short-changed him a bit in your reply.

So the new BSG is in another dimension (because of the original being in Toobworld), which takes with it Firefly, which in turn takes with it Angel and Buffy (through a weird connection from Weyland Utani Corp., which is part of the Aliens Films and Angel). Angel also connects to Yoyodyne Propulsion (of Buckaroo Banzai), and Star Trek does as well. So could it be the Trek shows are part of this alternate dimension, thus pulling it out of the main universe? That would explain all of the Zonks somewhat.

Just stirring the pot,

Corey Bond said...

Thanks for that post, Hugh. As a huge fan of Buckaroo Banzai, the Aliens films, Star Trek, and all of Joss Whedon's shows, I'd caught the Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems connection, but somehow managed to miss the Weyland-Yutani connection. Reminds me of Oceanic Air.

Toby said...

Just to keep Angel and Buffy within my grasping craw ("That's 'Claw'! - sorry, I digress.), I have no trouble with the idea that there could be more than one Yoyodyne in various TV dimensions. Just as there were two versions of UNIT in the story arc of "Inferno" with the Third Doctor.

Wow, guys! Thanks for writing in and creating the dialogue! This has been a great way to spend NYE at work - I appreciate it a lot!