Saturday, May 21, 2005


The Gallifreyan Time Lord known as "The Doctor" is a thief.

I could have said that he was a criminal. After all, his radical views and philosophies run antithetical to the established principles of Gallifreyan society. And he was even brought back to face the trial of a Time Lord on several occasions.

But I wanted to be more specific. He's a thief. A crook. A right sticky-fingers.

The current incarnation of the Doctor proved this in the recent episode "The Long Game". By using his cosmic spanner, the Doctor was able to access the 200,000 AD equivalent to an ATM and give Adam a real joystick - a pencil-length electronic box full of unlimited credit.

And this aspect of his personality is not due to the most recent regeneration (his ninth). All of his personae have had to resort to thievery while they've been on the run through Time. How else to keep himself and his companions fed? Or to support his addiction to jelly babies? And then there's the clothing expenses.

The wardrobe bill for his companions had to be considerable. The Doctor might have been able to traverse Time and Space without regard to wearing anything but the clothes chosen by each version of himself. But especially when it came to his companions travelling in Earth's past history, it was always best to have the appropriate apparel on hand.

Most recently, the Ninth Doctor had his companion Rose Tyler find a dress befitting Naples circa Christmas Eve, 1860. It turned out they were in Cardiff, 1869, but the dress she chose was still appropriate.

Even if it was for Cardiff.......

There are a lot of time periods, a lot of locations. There would be no problem in storing all of those clothes - because of the spatial anomalies of the TARDIS, the Doctor's wardrobe area was immense. (In that recent episode 'The Unquiet Dead', we learned that you reach the wardrobe from the main control room by taking the first left, second right, third on the left. Then go straight ahead and under the stairs, past the bins and it would be found beyond the fifth door on the left.)

The problem would be in supplying all of the necessary clothing to cover any era. And that would take some money.

Unless of course, you were willing to steal what you needed.

Considering the shabbiness of many of his own sartorial selections, it's possible he just sidled the TARDIS up to a donation bin and helped himself with a little dumpster diving for duds. But he may have also availed himself of any apparel no longer of any use to its previous owners.

For instance, it's my contention that at some point in the late 1960s or even into the 1970s, the Doctor found himself in Gotham City. Learning that a criminal known as "The Riddler" was presently incarcerated in Gotham City Penitentiary, the Doctor might have decided to relieve him of some of the custom-made costumes the Riddler wore during his nefarious exploits.

Who knows when such a thing might come in handy?

As it turned out, that would have been approximately 1984, present-day Earth time.

While on the planet Androzani, the fifth incarnation of the Doctor was forced to undergo yet another regeneration. And with this transformation, the Sixth Doctor exhibited personality traits that made his previous style and taste in clothing to be no longer of any interest to him. And so he rummaged about through his many bins of clothing in that expansive wardrobe and found perhaps the all-time most appalling amalgamation of apparel ever sported by a Time Lord.

If Elton John and Robin Williams had a love child, this would be the outfit he'd be dressed in.

And it was with this ensemble of clothing that the Sixth Doctor found a use for the type of dress shirts he had purloined from that puzzler known as the Riddler.

Want to see proof? Click on this link:


"I wonder why everyone dressed old-fashioned in those days.
They don't do it now."
Kathy Anderson
'Father Knows Best'


"Words Say Nothing" (I love that screen name!) made some excellent comments and I wanted to make sure they got the widest possible exposure. That's why I'm responding with a sequel rather than a follow-up buried in the comments section.....

I do have to wonder about the wisdom of describing the premise for a new show as "[already existing TV show] to the Stars". I think I just desire the future of Star Trek to not be so simplistic. Then again, the morons working as network execs probably won't sign off on a show that can't be summed up in one sentence or phrase, so perhaps my standards are too high here.

Which is exactly why I did it; it's probably the same reason Roddenberry used the 'Wagon Train' analogy. You only get so much time for the pitch when dealing with the suits, so you have to make the high concept work in as encapsulated a form as possible.

My idea for the duo is for a human male and a full Betazoid female.

I... LOVE it! An Orion, with that emerald epidermal layer, would stand out too much for espionage work. A Betazoid could work under any number of aliases without raising suspicions or notice of any kind due to her physical appearance. And her psionic abilities would gain her the same access as that of the Orion's pheromones - and with less lingering notice.....

I still like the idea of expanding the role and information of the Orion women in this series, as the original series did for Vulcans, 'The Next Generation' did for Klingons, 'Enterprise' with Andorians, and 'Deep Space Nine' for Bajorans, Ferengis, the Founders, Cardassians etc.

Okay.... and 'Voyager' for the Talaxians. ::sigh::

So, in order to give an occasional spotlight to the Orion women, I'd suggest a recurring character. Someone who is a bit of a rogue, in keeping with their piratical culture, but who's not altogether a bad guy. She'd be someone who has a past history, perhaps a romantic one, with the male half of the team, but who's not above betraying him to get what she wants. (And he's not hesitant about handing her over to the authorities whenever it's called for.)

Two characters in Toobworld who could serve as prototypes: Jade from 'Jonny Quest', and Honey Potts from 'Spy Game'.

I wouldn't want to overdue her exposure; just a handful or less of episodes every season.

I've also given some thought to that human male partner. He should be a master of disguise, but the laying on of the old latex is a bit of old hat. Too much of Artemus Gordon or Rollin Hand. There ought to be a more S-F twist behind his disguises.

And this being a Toobworld blog dedicated to the interconnections of all things TV, I have an idea.

He should be descended from Eddie Van Blundht of "Small Potatoes", an episode of 'The X-Files'. (And boy howdy! We know he did have descendants!) Through the manipulation of his musculature, Van Blundht (The "H" was silent!) was able to change his appearance to resemble anybody else - even Luke Skywalker! - in a pathetic attempt to have sex with women.

We met another member of his family in "The Four Of Us Are Dying", an episode of 'The Twilight Zone", but he came to a bad end, worse than that of Eddie Van Blundht.

And it wouldn't have to be a skill that was overused. In fact, he might have only limited control over the mutated "talent" after all of the dilution through the many generations since Eddie's time. Obviously he wouldn't be a shape-shifter like Odo or the other Founders. But he could handle the simple facial transfigurations so that he could pass for an inhabitant from another member world in the Federation.

A slight crinkle to the nose to pass for Bajoran; pointed ears, peaked eyebrows, and a green tint to the skin for Vulcan, as well as a bit of supraorbital ridge to suggest Romulan when needed; and maybe even the recessed basin in the forehead to make him appear like a Cardassian spoon-head. Whatever a particular moment in his spy work.

And we wouldn't have to see it; just know that it's there: He should also have inherited the legendary Van Blundht family tail, hidden away under the seat of his pants!

My big problem with your premise is the possible involvement of the Temporal Cold War. (Although the Master as Future Guy is hilarious.) I thought most Trek/Enterprise fans were in agreement that the worst part of the show was the involvement of the TCW story arc.

Well, I'd just like to see the whole thing wrapped up with some finality and get it out of the way. A season-ending episode perhaps and then finish it off for good with the first episode of the following Fall.

And as you can guess, I just can't take my mind off the idea that "Future Guy" was a Gallifreyan Time Lord!

So our duo can't really take their marching orders from DTI.

Again, we agree. I want them to work for Section 31. But occasionally they'd have to work with other departments in the Federation bureaucracy. Once in a while (not often, I agree again) with the DTI (Isn't that a computer training school?) if only to hinder that department's investigation into something they would rather have covered up.

I've been thinking about other recurring characters, people back at their base of operations for Section 31 who could give them tech support or other means of assistance. Not that I'd want to see this show devolve into either just being 'Alias' or 'The X-Files' in outer space, but they should have an alien version of both Marshall and/or the Lone Gunmen.

And this way we could see certain aliens again on a regular basis - a Vulcan, perhaps, for analysis; a Denulobian paper-pusher (an alien Miss Moneypenny?); a Ferengi snitch; and a Bolian for a touch of color (LOL!). Perhaps even that one-shot character from 'Drumhead', a 'TNG' episode - Simon Tarses, whose grandfather was a Romulan.

And I just flashed on this idea for their boss, the intergalactic version of Alexander Waverly - a Medusan! That way, he can never leave his box, let alone the inner sanctum of his office!

But you'd need humans as well, of course, as I think Section 31 was dedicated to Earth first, the Federation second. And there should be some higher-up always on their case much like Eric Pierpoint's character was with Malcolm; or even a real pain in the ass like Luther Sloane, as played by William Sadler in 'DS9'.

There are plenty of stories already established, not just the Temporal Cold War, which they could investigate. Those nasty little worms that get into your skull; tampering with the Guardian at the Gate of Forever; Romulan encroachment into Federation territories (with Denise Crosby returning now and again as Sela).

Anyway...... there's my expansion on the idea.

You must really be getting to love my comments by now...;)

Oh, but I am! If it weren't for you and Hugh, a few of the Iddiots from the Idiot's Delight Digest, and an occasional stray from Lee Goldberg's site, I'd think I was shouting into the wilderness here!

I hope to hear from not only you, but a lot more folks about my television ramblings here.


Friday, May 20, 2005


When Gene Roddenberry first pitched 'Star Trek' back in the 60s, he described it simply as "Wagon Train In Outer Space".

That's the sort of comparison that the franchise has held fast to since then, with the exception of 'Deep Space Nine'. That series broke the mold set by the original 'Star Trek' and as such I think it was the best of all.

Having such a fixed stage on which all of the galaxy had to now come to them, all sorts of stories were able to be told. And as it wasn't exactly a floating embassy under Starfleet control, the writers were able to explore characters who weren't exactly up to the high moral standards to which a Starfleet crew would be expected to adhere.

In the Talk-Back thread at Ain't-It-Cool?-News for 'Enterprise', a correspondent named "I Dunno" put it best regarding 'Deep Space Nine':

by I Dunno 2005-05-14 14:44:21
A Sulu or Riker show would be just the same "starship travels through the galaxy and solves some problem of the week" that we've seen with every other show other than DS9.

DS9 had the only really original concept. First it was a political story, then sort of a melodrama, then an all out war story. Which is why in many ways it was the best series, even if it didn't have the best characters.

If they can re-create that kind of originality then they might have a chance.

Sending a starship off to truly unexplored regions of space isn't going to be enough to inject new life into the franchise and remove the taint of "been there done that". That wasn't enough to help 'Voyager' rise above the average, and it was that type of thinking that nearly killed 'Enterprise' in the third season with that whole Xindi war premise.

It needs a break from the retread of "Wagon Train To The Stars". Such an analogy is really backward thinking nowadays, especially when Westerns no longer rule the airwaves, and most of your younger audience don't even know anything about the TV show 'Wagon Train'.

But how about if we chose a different TV show for an outer space comparison?

While watching the two-part penultimate episode of 'Enterprise', I was pleased to see the return of Eric Pierpoint as Malcolm's old boss in a shadowy Black Ops organization. They didn't beat you over the head with it, but it was obvious from a few clues in the script that he worked for the spy agency that would come to be known as "Section 31" nearly 200 years later on 'Deep Space Nine'.

To find out that Malcolm had once been involved with this organization only came in this final season of 'Enterprise' when it at last, but too late, found its footing and its voice. Had they only introduced this concept from the very beginning, so many opportunities could have been developed in the plotlines.

And during that scene, I thought to myself - "This is the way to go. A whole new direction. The next show should be 'I Spy in Outer Space'."

And I wasn't alone in that way of thinking either. Again, from Mr. I Dunno:

"I vote for a Section (shit, what's the number, 31?) show. Illegal covert black ops. Star Trek meets Alias. It would never be commercially successful but it would kick ass."

Okay, so he went with the more popular 'Alias', while I - as a classic old fart - went for 'I Spy'. And another show chosen for the comparison could be 'Mission: Impossible'. In Outer Space.

The reason I chose 'I Spy' would be to do something else radically different from all the past series: reduce the cast to less than a handful. And why not even just two main characters? Why does it always have to be a huge roster of bridge crew as found in not only the other 'Trek' series', but also 'Babylon 5', 'Andromeda', 'Farscape', 'Firefly', and all incarnations of 'Battlestar Galactica'?

I think 'The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy' always worked best when you brought it back round to just Arthur Dent and his friend Ford Prefect.

Sure, you could do it with a larger cast and still be successful, a la 'Alias' and 'Mission: Impossible'. But why couldn't it just be a duo working undercover throughout the galaxy to protect the Federation (even if sometimes it puts them at cross-purposes with their employers, Section 31)?

But in each of those cases (and I won't name names), you always had at least one actor who just couldn't carry their weight; someone who might have been only cast to fill a type or occupation and were otherwise just too bland to develop any further. It might not have been the fault of the actors, but rather the writers, but even so, such characters eventually drag down the rest of the ensemble.

So why not just limit the cast to two people and infuse the guest cast with many a fantastic actor? Kelly Robinson and Alexander Scott of 'I Spy' did just fine with their duo in carrying a whole show. So did John Steed and Emma Peel of 'The Avengers'. Mulder and Scully of 'The X-Files'. Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin or April Dancer and Mark Slate of the two 'U.N.C.L.E' programs.

Taking it outside our atmosphere, the Gallifreyan Time Lord known as The Doctor ('Doctor Who'?) never had more than a few companions along for the ride.

And then there's 'Homeboys In Outer Space' - ummm... on second thought.... erase that. Thank you.

I'd put the story back into the show's future, after the end of 'Voyager'. Because one of the biggest drawbacks to 'Enterprise' was that no matter what might have happened to the main characters, overall there was not much chance of any lasting damage to the main thrust of 'Trek' chronology.

Sure, there was the "Temporal Cold War" ("Time War" for short), but ultimately only the Gallifreyans and the Daleks were wiped out because of that. (OF COURSE, they're connected! Who do you think Future Guy was in those early episodes of 'Enterprise'? Why the Master, of course! LOL!)

And speaking of the Time War, the two Section 31 agents might also find themselves working with (and sometimes against) agents from the Federation Department of Temporal Investigations, such as Agents Dulmer and Lucsly, who made an appearance in one of the best 'DS9' episodes, "Trials And Tribble-ations".

Personally, I'd make it a male/female duo so that you could also play off the sexual dynamics of the pairing. And they don't both have to be human (although at least one of them should be to anchor initial audience involvement).
Human/Vulcan - we've been down that star path with Trip and T'Pol, and this would be an automatic strike against the premise with the more rabid members of the fanbase.

Klingons would lack the subtlety needed - unless we called a human/Klingon hybrid like B'elanna Torres back into service. And Andorians would be "out there" both in appearance and temperament. (Unless of course, the female member of the duo was the alien. I always found the Andorian women to be hot!)

And speaking of hot, why not make the female an Orion? We know now that with their command of pheromones, they are the true rulers of Orion society. Such a skill would come in quite handy during interrogations and tight situations where they needed to gain access to forbidden areas.

Yeah, and you can't beat the sexiness of verdant feminine pulchritude... unless it's with icy blue skin color and cute wiggly antennae.........

And by setting it post-'Voyager', you would have access to all of those many characters we've come to know through all of the sequels to the original 'Star Trek'. Perhaps save for 'Enterprise' of course, and the fact that they were set in the distant past should exclude them from every showing up.

It never stopped us from seeing McCoy, Kirk, Spock, Sarek, and Scotty again in connection with the cast of 'The Next Generation'. This is where the Temporal Cold War and that Federation Department of Temporal Investigations can come back into play.

Who knows? It might lead the way in bringing back not only Trip Tucker, but also T'Pol so that they could be together again.

So there you have it - my modest proposal for a future incarnation of the 'Star Trek' vision. And I'm laying it out there on the internet, free for the taking. Because I'm not into the televisiology scene for the credit or the bucks.
Televisiology is my personal mythology and I'm just following my bliss.


"Anyone not in Television to become a millionaire is a simpleton."
Robert Vaughn


The story for the two-hour finale of 'CSI' was conceived by Quentin Tarantino, who also directed.

Sadly, there was a last minute addition to the episode: a dedication at the end of the show to the memory of Frank Gorshin, who died only a few days before the episode aired. Mr. Gorshin appeared in the show as himself, along with Tony Curtis, in a scene with casino magnate Sam Braun.

It's a given in Toobworld that unless otherwise stated, the episode takes place on the day that it's first broadcast. One might think that nothing was shown or mentioned to indicate that the date was anything but May 19th, when Nick Stokes first began his investigation of the entrails crime scene.

If so, that would mean that Frank Gorshin's televersion outlived the Real World entertainer by at least a few days.

But the argument could also be made that the appearance by Mr. Gorshin serves as the time-stamp on the episode; that it must have taken place at least two weeks ago while Mr. Gorshin was still relatively ambulatory.

Mr. Tarantino's films are full of pop culture references, especially to old TV shows. Remember Vince Vega dancing the Batusi in "Pulp Fiction"?

Those aren't considered Zonks, threats to the integrity of Toobworld's reality, because they happen in the movies, a different universe of Man's creative vision. But there was a mighty big Zonk near the beginning of this 'CSI' episode when David Hodges was teaching Greg Sanders how to play the 'Dukes Of Hazzard' board game, complete with mentions of the General Lee, Roscoe, Cooter, and Uncle Jesse.

The Duke boys should exist in the same universe as the LVPD Forensic team......

Wasn't there some old board game based on a movie which Tarantino could have used instead?


Thursday, May 19, 2005


When I mentioned in yesterday's tribute to Frank Gorshin that John Astin had major cujones for taking a role on 'Batman' which Gorshin had indelibly made his own, that was not meant to be a slight against Astin. He didn't have to worry about making the Riddler his own or in following in Gorshin's footsteps.

That's because he wasn't playing the same man.

They were both the Riddler, but I'm not invoking Everett's "Many Worlds" theory. Both of them existed in the same dimension, on the main Toobworld, Earth Prime Time.

"The Riddler" is just a nom de criminel; it's an alias they both used.

Astin's character usurped the name in February of 1967 while Gorshin's original was in solitary at Gotham City Penitentiary. He probably figured that the identity wasn't doing the original Riddler any good while he was locked up, so he might as well put it to use... especially since he didn't know what his real name was anyway.

Well, I know who he was. Anybody familiar with my fixation about the TV Universe will know who he really was.

Say it with me - GOMEZ ADDAMS!

There was an episode of 'The Addams Family' in which Gomez got a nasty knock on the noggin. Normally in TV tradition, that would just lead to the number one malady of Toobworld - amnesia.

But Gomez Addams was no ordinary man. This was a guy whose business partner was a sentient giraffe!

Gomez gained a whole new personality when he got el kabonged. This new persona found his own family to be abhorrent. And in order to cure him, everybody in the family took turns at clobberin' time without knowing that someone had already beaten them to the punch. Literally.

After all those conks on the cranium, there may have been some brain damage. Or he was later overwhelmed by post-traumatic stress syndrome. And this time, Gomez saw himself as a notorious criminal.

But which one?

Perhaps in some deep inner recess of his suppressed memory, Gomez remembered how much he loved fun and games. (He loved blowing up his toy train set.) And so when he heard about the incarceration of the original Riddler, the blank-minded Gomez probably decided that he should become the next Puzzler of Perfidy.

Stealing the Riddler's clothing was no big deal, apparently. At some point in history, another famous TV character also stole an article of clothing from the Riddler's wardrobe. (I'll have a blog entry later as to... who he is.)

The career Riddler Gomez was short-lived. After his capture by Batman and Robin, - and with the proper medical care, - Gomez Addams was returned to the loving bosom of his family.

There would have been no need to incarcerate him. After all, as with Professor William Omaha McElroy who held the Chair of Egyptology at Yale, his criminal career could be attributed to brain damage.

He may have been ooky, and he may have been kooky, but Gomez Addams was not a crooky.... er, crook.



Here's a guest essay by my cathode comrade, Hugh Davis. It's a great read to see how Gorshin's Riddler ultimately fit so deeply into the TV Universe overall......

I'm sorry to hear of Frank Gorshin's death, and I thank you for the tribute.

I've always liked him. My father (definitely the one who has fed my interest in pop culture) has always said he was the first impressionist to really make himself look like the person he was portraying, such as stretching or contorting his face to become Kirk Douglas.

I will take issue with you mentioning Jim Carrey--Carrey didn't stand a chance against ol' Frank.

In the grand interest of the televerse, however, I wanted to point out Frank Gorshin's Riddler and his connection(s) to the greater network of television shows, one which crosses at least two media forms and includes animated versions of characters. As you'll recall, I normally link programs through common actors in roles.

Frank Gorshin played the Riddler on Batman, which had direct and official crossovers with The Green Horner (both in a two-parter and as part of a "wall-crawling" gag). Also popping out of windows for such gags were Lurch, Col. Klink & Sgt. Schulz, and Jose Jimenez.

*Lurch was from The Addams Family, which ties to a pair of animated versions (the 1970s version had Jackie Coogan recreating Fester; the 1990s version had John Astin recreating Gomez); the earlier animated version crossed with Scooby Doo.

*Klink & Schulz were from Hogan's Heroes, which tied through a gag in a flashback story to Green Acres, which was part of the world of Hooterville with Petticoat Junction. There is a Granny connection to Mr. Ed, which I contend is still a legit link. Also, through the Ad-verse (I think I like that better than Blipverse), Jed Clampett was seen having dinner with the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which tied to Different Strokes and The Jeffersons, two very popular programs in Toobworld.

*Jose Jimenez was Bill Dana's comic creation, one of the times (as with Elvira and Pee Wee Herman) that an actor was completely taken for one character. Besides appearing on such programs as The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (1980s version), Toast of the Town, and the Steve Allen Show, the character was the focal point on the Bill Dana Show and the elevator man on Make Room For Daddy.

Make Room for Daddy/The Danny Thomas Show is one of the key programs for crosses, spinning off Make Room for Granddaddy and The Andy Griffith Show (which itself begat Mayberry, RFD--the rural shows from the old CBS are all linked after all). Among other things, Danny Williams was on the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, an extended version of I Love Lucy, which had the episode "Lucy Meets Superman."

I go through all of this to point out that it is my contention that, as George Reeves is credited as playing Superman in the episode, never as "himself," this is a crossover to The Adventures of Superman tv show. Thus, Adam West's Batman and Reeves' Superman are part of the same tv universe.

As for crossing media boundaries, one need only notice that the later Lois Lane on this show (played by Noel Neill) was also Lois to Kirk Alyn's Superman in the two Columbia serials to realize that connection.

Going back to Batman:Adam West and Burt Ward also voiced the Dynamic Duo on the Filmation animated New Advs. of Batman & Robin in the 1970s, a show which both aired as a single series and with the anthology Batman (later Tarzan...) & the Super 7. This included segments of "Superstretch & Microwoman", "Webwoman," "Manta & Moray," "Galactic Guardians," and "Jason of Star Command."

*Tarzan was also part of an animated hour with Filmation's cartoons of Zorro and the Lone Ranger.

*Jason of Star Command had the spinoff Space Academy.

*Galactic Guardians was a team featuring Super Samurai, Merlin, and Hercules (who had the previous year been part of a show called Young Sentinels, later Space Sentinels) and an animated version of Isis. Filmation made a real point that Isis was their character from the live-action show being animated.

That show had several crossovers with the Shazam! show (Captain Marvel), and Filmation later also made an animated version of Captain Marvel's Marvel Family on The Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam! The rest of the hour was based around a sequence called Hero High, and one episode had Isis, again animated, as a substitute teacher at the school.

In the late 1960s, Filmation had an earlier animated show of Batman & Robin. This was part of a joint hour with a Superman cartoon, which the year before had also paired with Aquaman. Filmation also made short sequences with Hawkman, Green Lantern, Atom, the Flash (brought together in JLA installments), and the Teen Titans.

*Superman was voiced by Bud Collyer, who first provided that voice for the Superman radio show and then for the Max Fleischer animated film shorts. Ergo, by my logic, all these Superman are the same.

*Filmation's one other Superman was brought to (animated) life for an episode of the Brady Kids, which also featured as guest stars Wonder Woman and the Lone Ranger. The show further crossed over with Mission: Magic.

*Brady Kids was the cartoon spinoff of the Brady Bunch, which in live action also produced The Bradys, the Brady Brides, and the Brady Bunch Variety Hour. The Brady Kids also appeared Live at the Hollywood Bowl with HR Pufnstuff of Sid & Marty Krofft's canon.

The original Filmation voices for Batman & Robin were Olan Soule and Casey Kasem, respectively. These two went on to voice the Duo on Scooby Doo (which crosses several places, including Addams Family, as said above) and on the Superfriends, which existed under several variant titles over about 12 years.

*Several of the "added" SuperFriends (completely created by Hanna-Barbera) have appeared on Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.

*In the final season of SuperFriends (the Galactic Super Powers Team), Wonder Woman was voiced by BJ Ward, who also provided the voice in an episode of the 1988 Ruby-Spears Superman cartoon (thus allowing one more Superman series to be included).

*In this same season, Batman was voiced by Adam West, tying up all these Batmen.

Finally--in 1978, there were two live-action comedy specials featuring super heroes. Called "Legends of the Superheroes," the two installments were The Challenge and The Roast, and they were similar to the Legion of Doom season of SuperFriends. The villains were played by a variety of comics, including Jeff Altman, Ruth Buzzi, Howard Morris, and Charlie Callas. The heroes were played by unknown actors, but the characters included the Atom, the Flash, Green Lantern and Captain Marvel (so these animated and live action versions link), and the headliners were West & Ward as Batman and Robin, and the chief villain in the Challenge was The Riddler, as played by Frank Gorshin.

This is my long-way-around version of things to point out that Gorshin is at the center of one of the most intricate and detailed corners of the Televerse.

May he rest in peace and reruns.


Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Frank Gorshin has passed away at the age of 72.

And that's why I just want to take a moment to praise John Astin.

It had to take major cujones to step into a role that had been so identified with another actor. And yet that's what Astin did in February of 1967 when he assayed the role of The Riddler on 'Batman', replacing Frank Gorshin for two episodes ("Batman's Anniversary"/"Riddling Controversy").

I don't think there's any question mark about Gorshin's impact upon this series and on how much he brought to the character to bring it fully to life. When Jack Nicholson appeared as the Joker in the 1989 movie version of 'Batman', he made the character fully his own without ever being overwhelmed by the shadow of Cesar Romero's performance in the series.

But even the manic talents of Jim Carrey in one of the sequels wasn't enough to erase the memories of Frank Gorshin as The Riddler. He was the first and he is the best.

And he literally was the first when it came to the live-action villains of 'Batman' in Toobworld. And I think the argument could be made that it was his performance as "Special Guest Villain" in those first episodes that truly made the show popular, not those two derring-do do-gooders.

There was always something cartoonish about the villains on the show; indeed, about the whole show in general. And as the series raced on, it only became more so as everybody in Hollywood scrambled for a guest shot as a campy villain. But even though The Riddler was no exception to those great leaps over the top, he never lost that underlying sense of menace. You knew this was not a guy to bleep around with.

And that was due to the hard-edged portrayal by Frank Gorshin. This guy was crazy, and you knew he could be deadly! Even in a comedy film like "Sail A Crooked Ship" with fellow TV legends Robert Wagner and Ernie Kovacs, it was Gorshin's George Wilson that gave this filmic fluff its potential for danger.

I think that when people look back on the original 'Star Trek', as far as its ham-handed allegories for the issues of the time, the first episode that comes to mind must be "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield". You know the one - two last survivors from Chiron who hate each other because of their skin color. One is all black on the left side and all white on the right hand side, while the other is just the opposite. Quel horrors!

It seems so dopey today. Just seeing characters made up like that in an episode of 'Futurama' is enough to make me laugh out loud today.

But I remember being so blown away by the idea that I couldn't help but give a complete play-by-play of the whole episode to my long-suffering Dad. (I give him so much credit for accepting my tele-mania, even though he couldn't understand how his oldest and his namesake could be such a nutjob.)

And I think my main reason why I enjoyed that episode so much had to do with Gorshin as Commissioner Bele.

Normally, one would expect to empathize with the underdog in such a conflict, but Gorshin's Bele had such a force of personality and will that I hoped that he would triumph over Lou Antonio's Lokai. (And that's even though Antonio had the better character name as far as this neocognomina maniac is concerned.)

Of his other characters, I know he played a homeless man in one of the soap operas my Mother watches; I'm thinkingi it must be 'The Bold & The Beautiful'. Eventually the character died, but he lived on as a guardian angel for one of the main characters.

Which probably wasn't the fate in store for his last star turn as a TV super-villain. Gorshin portrayed Ben Tickerman, a wrongly convicted felon who went mad counting down the seconds until he was released from prison. As the villain Clockwise, it was his intent to exact revenge upon those who put him away by depriving them of the same amount of life with an accelerated aging device.

Luckily, the 'Black Scorpion' was able to defeat him.

Frank Gorshin was also known for his celebrity impressions and just a few years back he did a very successful one-man show on Broadway as George Burns. I always thought it might have been fun if he did a guest turn on 'Joan Of Arcadia' as the weekly incarnation of God, appearing as Burns. Unless it gets written up someday in a 'Joan Of Arcadia' fanfic site, it will always be just a pleasant "what-if?", and even then it wouldn't really have anything to do with Gorshin anymore.

My last, most powerful memory of him is in the movie "12 Monkeys". I've always said that the film is just so grim and unrelenting in its darkness that there are only two images that stand out - the cab ride through Pittsburgh when giraffes run wild on the highway, and Frank Gorshin as a slightly crazed doctor.

Obviously as I grow older, I have to expect that all of the great actors who gave me such a rich gallery of memorable TV characters will eventually pass beyond the screen. Still, it never fails to sadden me when such a passing occurs.
And today is one of those days.

Rest in peace, Frank Gorshin.


PS -
You have a chance to see Frank Gorshin in one of his last performances tomorrow (Thursday 5/19/05) in the two-hour season finale for 'C.S.I.' on CBS. This is the episode that's been highly touted for a story by Quentin Tarantino who is also directing the show.

Gorshin and Tony Curtis both have cameo appearances, probably playing themselves.

I know it'll get high ratings anyway, but I'd like to think Gorshin was a major factor in that as well.

"Adios, Amigos! See you in... Court!"
- The Riddler


I tried to send this in response to an entry at Lee Goldberg's blog, but I kept getting an error, even after four tries and being acknowledged by the site that it remembered me.

So I took it as a sign.... I should be posting this on MY blog!!!!

I liked the finale for "Everybody Loves Raymond". Phil Rosenthal had said all along they weren't going to do anything special - no hour-long episode, no Sweeps stunts, no sense of finality at all.

It turned out to be an affirmation of the show's title and in that they were basically making the point that with this plotline, they pretty much said everything that needed to be said about these people. And we were left with the comfortable notion that their lives would continue even though we wouldn't be able to come along for the journey.

Actually, there was one sign that this was indeed a finale - the vanity card displayed for the production company. Usually it would be some kind of a food dish set down on a placemat. Instead, we were given the check with the message "No Charge, Thank You".

I think based on the events in the episode, maybe they should have shown a bowl of melted ice cream, made all "swirly" with the chocolate syrup. That way, there' no sense of any ending at all, only an Ouroboros loop of episodes in rerun heaven.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Words Say Nothing commented on one of my last posts about 'Enterprise':

"I don't think it was necessary to see Archer's actual speech. Not all of it, anyway. A few snippets might have been okay."

Since writing that essay, I'm thinking along the same lines. Even that we were probably better off not hearing the speech at all, because the only thing worse in Toobworld than reruns might be redundancy.

In a way, the type of speech Archer would have presented to that assembly would have mirrored the speech he gave to the delegates six years earlier (in Real Time, just the hour before) in the episode "Terra Prime".

And that bit o' oratory was hardly a stem-winder. Maybe Jonathan Archer is just a bad public speechifier, because if he couldn't make a speech ghost-written by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens riveting, what could he possibly achieve with one of probably lesser quality written by B&B?

And the more I think along those lines, the more I'm reconciling myself to the idea that the true finale for 'Enterprise' was the two-parter of "Demons" and "Terra Prime".

These would be some of the key arguments:

1] All of the major players in the cast were served well with key scenes to highlight their characters;

2] the well-constructed plot remained focused on the inherent problems faced by an Earth struggling to reach out and shake hands with the galaxy;

3] and the script by the Reeves-Stevenses could take its place as one of the better grace notes for 'Star Trek' series.

(For me, the 'DS9' finale was best, but that's always been my favorite of the series.)

The only tweaking needed would be to juxtaposition the scenes of the conference with that private moment between Trip and T'Pol. As it was presented, that last scene is all the more powerful a closer, but I think its emotion could have infused our reception of Archer's speech and given the meaning to his words more heft.

In fact, I think a bit of a fanfic re-jigger to the finale could make it possible for the general fandom to perceive the "Terra Prime" two-parter as the true finale, and "These Are The Voyages" could be considered a one-off 'TNG' sequel. Perhaps even serving as the lead-off volley for taking 'Star Trek' in a new direction.......

How could it work? As Number Two of the Village would say, that would be telling. I've still got a few blog entries up me sleeve regarding this show for the rest of this week......

Yeah, I admit it. I'm a bit of a Trek-tease.....




I hate these so-called reality shows; they're a viral blight on the TV Landscape.

Oh, I'll admit I watched the first season of 'Survivor' and was really caught up in it. But when I tried to watch the next incarnation, I was overcome with "feh"-nnui.

But who really needs to see that gasbag Trump give the "86" to a bunch of losers willing to subject themselves to his control, and for what? The pathetic chance to be on TV.

And now we're getting parolee Martha Stewart as the distaff version?

Well, she can sit on it! And I got dis staff she can hop on! (Maybe her theme song should be Mojo Nixon's "Stuffin' Martha's Muffin"!)

I think that's what I hate the most - forcing these celebrity-driven vehicles upon us as if we really needed to see a bunch of has-beens shacking up together in a small house; or those video faux-verities about the "real lives" of the stars.

Most of these spotlight whores wouldn't even know Real Life if it bit them on the ass. And even if it did bite them on the ass, we'd be subjected to a 13 week series showing the hidden camera footage on Court TV.

Someday all of this waste of videotape will be dumped into its own cable tier slum. They can call the channel "Jessinick At Nite" after the couple who caused the floodgates to burst open.

And tonight, the latest round of these excremental exposes premieres: 'Chaotic' debuts on UPN. It's the new series that takes you inside the lives of Britney Spears and her TPT hubby Kevin Federline. I've endured the promo once too often and keep coming back to only two O'Bservations about the program.

One - Their use of the night vision camera which gives that greenish glow to their skin isn't fooling anybody. They want to make people - and by "people", I mean pimply teenage boys just discovering their exploding hormones - to tune in with the hopes that they might catch some "One Night In Paris" styled action on the tube.

Not likely, Poindexter. The only thing that night vision footage does is highlight their inner selves as they mug into the camera - exposing their true souls for all of their ugliness.

Two - When Britney gets all in yo' TV screen and says "Can you handle my truth?", I just want to see a Louisville Slugger come out of the right-hand side of the screen and crumple her temple like the fender on my boss's Mazda.

Not that I know anything about that.....

Gee.... do you think we'll get to see those exciting scenes where Kevin writes out the child support checks to his ex-girlfriend, whom he dumped while she was pregnant with his second child so that he could run off with Britney? Or did that end up on the cutting room floor?

As Darrin Stephens' Mom might say, I'm getting a sick headache just thinking about this show. I pray the Knight in Shining Armor from 'Monty Python's Flying Circus' walks into a scene and slugs her with a rubber chicken at least!

And yet....

I hope 'Chaotic' is a big success. I want lots of people to watch it. I want them to TAPE it! And I want them to keep those tapes forever in their collections.

Because in about ten years (and I'm being generous with that estimate), long after they've broken up and they're both subjects of separate "Where Are They Now" trivia questions, I want people to pull out the old tapes of 'Chaotic' and edit them again to make fun of these two future has-beens.

God, I hope he breaks up with her, just so I can see the headline "STAR SHUCKER".



It didn't end very well, did it?
(shaking his head)
It ended

- from "Citizen Kane"

Normally, I don't get into the behind-the-scenes stuff for TV shows, just their inner realities. (And how many times have I invoked that disclaimer in the last few weeks? I might as well stop kidding myself!) Actually, I get a secret thrill when the Powers That Be screw with plot contradictions and other continuity errors. That way I can rise to the challenge here in Inner Toob and show off my self-serving splainin skills.

Gads, I love alliteration!

At any rate, I feel a need to comment on the 'Enterprise' finale because as enjoyable as most of it was, there were so many things about it that could have been done better.

As noted in the previous essay, the finale was chosen as the Crossover of the Week because of its connection to the characters and the plot of an episode of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'. But that was also the biggest flaw - it became an episode of 'TNG' itself, and the main cast for 'Enterprise', who struggled against a lack of creative direction for seasons two and three, were reduced to a roster of supporting roles.

They became the Not Ready For The Prime Directive Players.

And to make it worse, they were presented as just the holographic recreations of the original "historical" figures. Whether we're watching westerns or WWII dramas, we get caught up in their moments, suspending for the moment that these characters are already dead; buried in our past. The same held true for the cast of 'Enterprise'; for even though they were 150 years into our future, they were 200 years gone in the past of the Trek timeline.

So because we were left watching holographic reenactments, we ended up removed from any emotional involvement - especially with the decisive Big Moment for a key crew member. Aside from groaning over the final moments of this character's ham-handed over-acting, I was left strangely unmoved by the events.

(I'm going to have serious back trouble in the morning from all this bending over backwards to remain spoiler-free! And I don't even know why I bother - the new TV Guide was in my mailbox today and it had an interview with the actor in question about this "Big Moment".)

To be fair, go back one episode to 'Terra Prime' for its final scene which involves the same character. His speech was highly emotional, very involving, and well played. I'd rank it right up there with the death and eulogy for Spock in "The Wrath Of Khan".

So in my mind, it wasn't the actor's fault; it was the script and perhaps the direction as well. And it wasn't the only example of wrong-headed thinking when talking about a script that's supposed to be one last grand showcase for these characters.

Let me give two other examples where Rick Berman and Brannon Braga fumbled with the finale.

After spending four years developing the relationship between the human Trip and the Vulcan T'Pol, Berman and Braga completely blew off the chance to showcase one final scene for them together, one that should have been required as dictated in Drama 101.

Maybe the way it did play out was seen by "B&B" to be more realistic; not always do we get a chance to say goodbye. But even I, the TV Universe nutjob, even I accept that this is hardly Reality. And the fan base should have been given the chance to see Trip and T'Pol together one last time.

And then there was the running subplot about Captain Archer's upcoming speech to the first conference for the new Alliance of Planets: what he should say; what he shouldn't say; whether or not he should take any of the credit for this alliance.

And just as we were about to see him give the speech, to hear a stirring summation of what this first tour of duty meant in the grand scheme of things for a ship named Enterprise (and for the series by the same name as well), Riker ends the holodeck program because he got what he needed.

And to hell with what the audience, those who stuck it out for all four seasons (And I must admit I was not among that company.), wanted/needed as payoff for their devotion.

Ah, well. As Mr. Bernstein said, it ended. And dat's de name of dat tune.

Hopefully the franchise will be allowed to lie fallow for a few yarrens and one day come back reinvigorated with a new creative vision.

And I have just the idea for that......!


Monday, May 16, 2005


'Star Trek: The Next Generation' & 'Enterprise'

After dismissing the 'Law & Order' crossover between 'Special Victims Unit' and 'Trial By Jury' as "Been there, done that"istic, it might seem odd that I picked the finale of 'Enterprise' as the Crossover of the Week. Even though the 'Star Trek' franchise was fully integrated so that there really was nothing out of the ordinary when elements or characters from other 'Trek' shows appeared on 'Enterprise', this particular episode did manage to give it a twist that made it special.

There was more than just the "appearance" by four characters from 'The Next Generation' at play in this episode. (That's right - four characters. You may have heard only about Commander Riker and Counsellor Troi, but the android Data was heard on the intercom, and Captain Picard was fleetingly seen in the Ten-Forward Lounge... although he was probably portrayed by a body double for Patrick Stewart.)

Actually, this was an episode of 'The Next Generation' masquerading as 'Enterprise' since Riker and Troi were the focal characters; the regulars of 'Enterprise' only appeared as holograms in a historical recreation of their final mission.

And this wasn't the Riker and Troi as they would have looked at their current ages in the 'Trek' timeline. (Mr. Frakes and Ms. Sirtis have not been able to hold back Time - who do you think they are? Dick Clark and Cher?)

In fact, their appearance was situated in the middle of an already existing episode of 'TNG' from 1994, "The Pegasus". Their scenes in 'Enterprise' must have been happening during the commercial breaks.

The finale had its flaws, but that was to be expected considering that Rick Berman and Brannon Braga were in charge of the script. (They may claim that it's the franchise that is suffering from fatigue, but most die-hard fans will tell you that "B&B" lost the fire in their bellies yet refused to relinquish the reins.

(As the week continues, I'll have more O'Bservations about the end of 'Trek'.)

Still and all, the crossover between 'Enterprise' and 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' must be considered the Crossover of the Week for one particular reason.

There just wasn't any competition.

And that's a case of setting faint praise on "stun".


Sunday, May 15, 2005



This weekend, 'Enterprise' ended its run after four years on the air. (Within the reality of the TV Universe, the spaceship had been going boldly on its continuing mission for ten years.

'Kevin Hill' was a drama starring Taye Diggs, about a litigating ladies' man who met his match in Sarah, his cousin's daughter whom he was raising. 'Kevin Hill' will be having its season finale this coming Tuesday. There has been no word yet as to its future, whether it will be renewed or cancelled.

Both shows were part of the UPN schedule. And that's about all they had in common. Different production companies, different genres. Within their own bubbles of reality, 'Kevin Hill' was part courtroom drama, part warm and fuzzy domestic situations, while 'Enterprise' was the fifth series in the venerable sci-fi franchise first begun by Gene Roddenberry back in the 1960s.

And it's my contention that had they done a crossover two-parter between the series, both shows would have had an invigorating jump-start to a guaranteed pick-up for one more season.

They had the usual obstacles to crossing over with each other that have been faced by other shows in the past, like 'Law & Order' and 'Homicide: Life On The Street', 'The Practice' and 'Gideon's Crossing', and 'Magnum P.I.' and 'Murder, She Wrote'; namely, that the two shows were of different productions companies and both were set in different locations. But at least they shared the same network which was more than the crossovers between 'Ally MacBeal' and 'The Practice' and 'The X-Files' and 'Homicide: Life On The Street' had going for them.

The fact that their genres were so different shouldn't have been a stumbling block either. After all, 'The Associates was a sitcom on ABC, while 'The Paper Chase' was an hour-long drama on CBS and Showtime; and yet Professor Kingsfield crossed over to the comedy back in the late 1970s. 'Lou Grant' was spun off from the 'Mary Tyler Moore Show' and was seen as one of the best dramatic series from that same time period.

Perhaps it was because the genres for both shows were so radically different, as well as the fact that they were set in nearly 150 years apart, that proved to be too daunting an obstacle for the Powers That Be to even entertain the possibility of a crossover. But had they opened their minds to such an idea, I know their scriptwriters would have found a way to make their crossover a reality of television magic.

And that "magic" lay in the grasp of 'Enterprise'. Long before the premise was just shunted aside and later ignored, their overall storyline dealt with a temporal cold war which threatened all of the possible timelines - not only those yet to come, but those that had already played out. The shadowy nemesis behind their forced involvement was known in fan-base bulletin boards as "Future Guy".

'Star Trek' series have visited the late 20th-early 21st Century time period before. And having someone involved with the machinations of time travel would have smoothed the need for too much exposition. 'Enterprise' had even gone back to an alternate version of events in the 1940s at the beginning of this past season, so it wasn't outside the realm of possibility.

But what possible need would the crew of the 'Enterprise' have had for going back in time to 2004-2005 Philadelphia and meddle in the life of lawyer Kevin Hill and his ward Sarah? "Future Guy" could have sent them hurtling back through the space-time continuum (or as Stony Stephenson knew it in 'Between Time And Timbuktu', the chrono-synclastic infundibulum) in order to insure that the Suliban (as the most logical alien race to be involved) did not cause the baby's death.

Why would they have wanted to do that? After all, Sarah was just a baby. Ah! But she would have grown up to become a woman, one who might one day have children.

And one of those children could have been the ancestor for Ensign Travis Mayweather, pilot on board the 'Enterprise'.

A two-part crossover with a storyline like that might have been able to shake off the arthritic posturings of 'Enterprise' and injected a jolt into the public's awareness that 'Kevin Hill' even existed on the network. (Of course, it might have helped if the show had a better time slot. It was continuously massacred by such competition as 'The West Wing', 'Alias', and 'American Idol'.)

But it didn't happen, and now it's too late... at least in the official vision for both shows. However, this is Toobworld, where both shows do indeed occupy the same fantasy universe, albeit at different points in Time.

And there are legions of fanfic writers out there in cyberspace who could perhaps do justice to the idea, much to the delight of Diane Werts and to the consternation of Lee Goldberg. (Sorry, Lee! LOL!)

Would such a Sweeps stunt have been able to save both shows? Who knows? Maybe "Future Guy" did/does, but we won't be hearing from him ever again - not unless some future incarnation of the 'Trek' franchise brings him out of temporal mothballs.

(Of course, when I asked "Who knows?", perhaps I was referring to a certain Doctor, a time traveller from Gallifrey who might have had some insight from the vantage of his TARDIS police box.......)

Hrmmmm..... and that gives me an idea for yet another "Missing Links" essay!