Saturday, July 16, 2005


Well, we were warned by Mr. Moonves. I just didn't expect this of Mr. Monk.......

Last night's episode of 'Monk' on USA began at Beach's Supermarket.

We saw the manager go through Ambrose Monk's food delivery with him - over the phone, of course, as Ambrose cannot leave his house.

We even got a close-up of the items in the box as the manager called them out - including Neptune candy bars, a couple of bananas, and a box of Glad's Force-Flex trash bags.

Prominently displayed and even mentioned.

After the episode's key mystery had been established, the opening faded into the first commercial break and an announcement as to who was sponsoring the show.

Gee. Guess who?

First commercial out of the gate was the sponsor, Glad's Force-Flex trash bags.

Who'd a thunk it?


The episode's plot centered around the impending visit of the Monk Brothers' father after he abandoned them decades before. I don't know what his first name was, but it might as well have been named Godot....

It's a shame Jeff Corey is no longer with us. He would have made for an excellent Monk patriarch.....

Friday, July 15, 2005


"Charlie And The Chocolate Factory" opens today in theaters.

Roald Dahl used heavy-handed symbolism for presenting the other children as avatars of various bad habits. Mike Teavee is a stand-in for the argument that watching Television leads to violent behavior. That's bogus! Why, I'd beat the shit out of Dahl for that... if he wasn't already dead.


Anyway, there's no real connection to the TV Universe, except that the character of Willy Wonka was the inspiration for at least two characters in prime-time cartoons.

First off, there was the Slurm worm Glurmo (originally named Slurmy Slonka) who led the guided tour of the Slurm factory on 'Futurama'. And then there was Pawtucket Pat who ran the secret brewery near Quahog, Rhode Island.

[As I write this, I think I remember an actual Willy Wonka in Toobworld. Wasn't there a series of animated TV commercials back in the 70s for Wonka candy? I can't find any mention of them via Google. But if so, I guess we would find him in the Tooniverse along with Glurmo the Slurm and Pawtucket Pat.]

Anyhoo, it looks like this new version of the story does promote a theory I've long maintained for Toobworld: squirrels are intelligent.

I don't know what the reason may be for the sentient squirrels working in the Wonka factory in the movie, but we can trace their high IQ in TV Land back to an episode of 'My Favorite Martian'.

Red the Squirrel was accidentally transformed into a human by one of Uncle Martin's contraptions, thanks to Tim O'Hara. All was eventually set right, as you would expect in a 30 minute sitcom, but I believe Red was able to retain his human mind once he reverted back to being a squirrel. Further, I think he even passed his newfound sentience down through his descendants.

And the way that they multiply, you know all of the squirrels in North America (at least!) are now capable of intelligent thought.

This would explain the presence of those smart-ass squirrels in such commercials as:
Post-It Notes

Clusters Cereals
Leaf-Guard system

There's also a blipvert for an underarm deodorant which takes place on a golf course. And the squirrel's actions in that ad make it evident that he understands the importance of good protection for the underarms.

So when it comes to the hierarchy of intelligence in Toobworld, we'd have a list like this:
White Mice

Humans (According to 'The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy', your species come in third)
Horses (At least those from the Isle of the Houyhnhnms as seen in the mini-series 'Gulliver's Travels' and 'Mr. Ed')
Pigs (But perhaps only the lineage descended from Hercules, like Arnold Ziffel of 'Green Acres')

Dogs and cats would have to be considered on an individual basis. For the most part, intelligent dogs are the result of reincarnation, and as for cats? Either they are sorcerers magically transformed as a form of punishment, or they are aliens from outer space and therefore disqualified from consideration in the list of intelligent Earth species.

Any other race of intelligent animals would most likely be found only in the Tooniverse. I would imagine some sort of 'Doctor Who'-like vegetation might be next on the list, but it could be disqualified if it's proven that it wasn't of Earth origin.

I knew I shouldn't have eaten so much candy before writing this!

Maybe I should go lie down.......


Thursday, July 14, 2005


Just because I'm dedicating the Crossovers of the Week to 'Doctor Who' over the summer, that doesn't mean I've turned a blind eye to any new ones that come along.

And even though the summer doldrums means reruns (for the most part), we do have a major crossover that just recently exploded onto the small screen which brings back two former legends of Toobworld.

I'm talking about Lee Iacocca of DaimlerChrysler, and George Costanza of 'Seinfeld'!

Apparently George is now working as Lee's aide de camp. I don't know if he's been with DaimlerChrysler since he got out of that Massachusetts prison over five years ago.

I wouldn't be surprised if Costanza called upon his former boss George Steinbrenner to put in a good word for him with Iacocca. When you see the former Chrysler boss in the ad, a sense of "deja view" pervades his style in dealing with Costanza. Like Yogi would say about his former boss, "It's deja vu all over again."

Iaccoca even resuscitates a classic 'Seinfeld' term during the ad: "Yada Yada". Meanwhile, Costanza reminds us of Iacocca's catch-phrase "If you can find a better car, buy it."

Because George came strolling into an episode of 'Seinfeld' once carrying a bag of Rold Gold pretzels, I have no problem believing it was George we were seeing in the commercial for Rold Gold as well.

Add that to this blipvert and that would mean George Costanza of 'Seinfeld' is now eligible for the Crossover Hall of Fame!

So now we've seen 'Seinfeld' linked to the following:
'Mad About You'
Rold Gold (with George Costanza)
Honda (with Jackie Chiles)
Chrysler-Daimler (with George Costanza)
and just about anything with Jerry as himself.

There are also a few commercials starring Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and Michael Richards which may or may not be the stars appearing as their characters of Elaine Benes and Cosmo Kramer, respectively. (Clairol's Nice n Easy for Julia, Pepsi for Richards)


Wednesday, July 13, 2005


The following are my thoughts about some of the aspects found in the episode "The Aliens Of London". As always, I may be revealing aspects of 'Doctor Who' which will be considered spoilers by most of my readers from America.

So continue with caution.

"When trouble arises and things look bad,
There is always one individual
Who perceives a solution and is willing to take command.
Very often, that individual is crazy."
Mark Twain

First off, I just want to do a shout-out to the Powers That Be at the BBC and to their American counterparts:

With these aliens who bedevil the Doctor, Russell T. Davies shows once again that he has a vivid imagination for creating new species from outer space. There's no slapping on a phony forehead involved here, like you would find on the many 'Star Trek' series.

(Doesn't anybody else find it strange that 'Voyager' and 'Enterprise' would travel to areas of space that were supposedly inaccessible to those of human stock, and yet still find variations on a gene theme everywhere they went?)

The bodies of the Slitheen - for the time being only believable thanks to CGI, but reminiscent of the height of Ray Harryhausen's creations - are bizarre enough.

But it's their faces - masks out of some Kubrick nightmare, but without the benefit of Nicole Kidman's presence. They have creepy baby-doll features with large black pools for eyes whose nictating lids click like camera shutters; and full, pouty lips pursed perfectly for one universally enjoyed past-time... just so long as you didn't need to have the return of your member guaranteed.

"The Slitheen" is the family name for these aliens, not the name of their species. They are from the planet Raxacoricofallapatorius, which would make them Raxacoricofallapatorians. No Trills or Narn or even the Gelth need apply here.

If you're the actor who has to say the name of these creatures, one can only wish their race was known as the Slitheen!

It won't be the last time RTD goes syllable crazy when it comes to the aliens. With "The Long Game", you'll find yourself feeling sorry for what Simon Pegg's poor tongue has to go through. (That didn't come off sounding right......)
This episode takes place in March, 2006. So, as far as BBC reporter Andrew Marr and 'Blue Peter' presenter Matt Baker are concerned, from RTD's script to God's eyes.

Heaven forfend that it should happen, but if some mortal disaster should befall either Marr or Baker, then we have to treat the situation as we would any other character in Toobworld when their portrayer passes away. The actor may be dead, but the character could go on living.

Marr and Baker weren't appearing as their true selves, but as their "tele-versions", fictionalized versions of themselves. So if they should happen to die here in the Real World, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are also dead in Toobworld.
Actually, this episode does not take place in the dimension of Earth Prime-Time; it is an alternate dimension. It has to be, and it will be - once March 2006 rolls around and "The Chimes Of Big Ben" (see what I did there? LOL) still ring out in other TV shows produced in London.

In a way, this future problem for Toobworld consistency is reminiscent of the situation with 'Space: 1999' and any other TV show which showed the Moon in our night skies after the seminal moment in that Gerry Anderson production in which the Moon broke free from orbit.

At least with 'Space: 1999', my splainin was that the series took place in the coma-controlled mind of Commander Koenig after the explosion of the Moon's waste fuel dumps on the Dark Side. (As seen in a 1999 7-Up blipvert starring Orlando Jones.)

As for "Aliens of London", I had to resort to relocating this story - as well as that of the second part "World War Three" and the sequel "Boomtown" - to an alternate dimension.

This is within keeping with the 'Doctor Who' premise and doesn't ruin the storyline concept in the least. After all, the word for the Doctor's mode of transportation, as coined by his grand-daughter Susan, is "TARDIS" - Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. (The phrase is also mentioned in some episodes with "Dimension" in the singular.)
It happens that in this case, the TARDIS has returned from the Past to an Earth of another dimension, one in which Rose had been separated from her mother Jackie and former boyfriend Mickey for about twelve months.

(I will have to watch "Parting Of The Ways" again, but I believe that in the final episode of this season there was no mention of her visit when the Slitheen invaded once she was reunited with Jackie and Mickey. Therefore I have no problem with the idea that Rose was meeting her dimensional counterpart's mother and boyfriend in the other three episodes.)

I'd reveal which dimension I think they landed in, but that would be telling. And it would ruin my surprise choice for next week's Crossover for "World War Three".
Another reason that this has to be an alternate Toobworld - Tony Blair dies. But he's such a recognized figure, even outside the Telly programmes of his own country, that he must be accorded the same consideration as any US president in Toobworld. That is to say, in the main TV Land, Earth Prime Time, the world leaders should be the same as they are in the Real World.

Of course, the way this wigged-out world is going, who knows what may happen by March, 2006? (Just saying, is all.)
In websites like Outpost Gallifrey, I've read such vitriolic opinions hurled towards RTD because of this episode. (Even my patron supplier "Markhael" made his feelings known about it, and he wasn't kind.)

I think it stems mostly from an unfortunate side-effect for the Slitheen once they have assumed their human guises. (Let's just say that the Raxacoricofallapatorians would make excellent spokesmen for Bean-O.)

This problem of the gas exchange was looked upon by many fanboys as being just childish humor. Yeah, okay. So? For all of the sophistication we're going to get in later episodes (Hellooooo, Captain Jack!), 'Doctor Who' is still being presented as a children's show. What's wrong with a little gaseous humor now and again? Didn't do any harm to 'Blazing Saddles'!

Actually I found such "poopy" humor to be on a par with the macabre sense of humor for the Joker - deadly funny. As a fan of episode titles, I just wish this had been dubbed "The Gas Exchange" rather than the bland "Aliens Of London". (It appears episodic titles are not RTD's strong suit.)
Should the Doctor ever have to face the Raxacoricofallapatorians again, it might be cool if he had one of the Gelth as an ally. (They can't ALL be bad guys!) After all, the Gelth survive in a gaseous state and inhabit solid forms that are full of the stuff. Once a Raxacoricofallapatorian is squeezed into a human skin-suit, he can't help but produce the stuff. A Gelth good guy could then phase into the skin-suit and slit the Raxacoricofallapatorian up a treat!
Those human skin-suits.......

The Slitheen passed themselves off as human by killing humans and sucking out their innards so that they might themselves wear the skins. This reminded me of the bug-eyed monster played by Vincent D'Onofrio in "Men In Black". (Here's a thought - what if Detective Goren is also one of those BEM using that same skin? After all, he does bend funny on 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent'!)

And the way that they "unzip" themselves from their skin-suits has to be the most visually arresting image from the entire season. It reminded me of the aliens in the movie "Cocoon". (So where did Brian Dennehy and his cohorts get their skins, hrmmmmmm? I'm afraid that over in the Cineverse, there's a Brian Dennehy character who's now missing in action.......)

'Doctor Who' is a show of action and can't be bogged down with petty details - like how do they stay fresh in those skins; how do they maintain the skin's integrity? (After all, six months go by once we reach the episode "Boomtown" and the Slitheen female is still using the skin of Margaret Blaine. That's gotta be some kind of skin moisturizer she's using!)

So allow me to posit a theory......

The other two examples I mentioned of a similar situation were from the movies (although 'Men In Black' did have a Tooniversal after-life). However, aliens wearing human disguises can also be found in episodes of 'The Twilight Zone', but more importantly in 'V'.

Like the Slitheen family, it wasn't enough for the lizardly Visitors to look human. They had to withstand the scrutiny of being touched.

Hey, the alien lizard Br'n, who called himself "Brian", had to do more than just "touch" Robin Maxwell! He ended up impregnating her! So there had to be something about their skins that had to be ultra-realistic. And you can't get more realistic than the real thang.

But there must have been some kind of curing process to keep that skin pliable and intact. After all, they had to be able to fit not only giant lizards, but the Raxacoricofallapatorians as well.

Perhaps it was a trade secret shared by both alien races. Perhaps by others as well......

Such a theory might have worked as the Crossover for this episode. Oh well. I stand by the one I posted.
Should they ever get around to making a movie out of the life of Harvey Weinstein, the mammoth mogul behind Miramax, the Suits would be wise to hire David Verrey, who played the new Prime Minister (and disguised Slitheen member) Joseph Green.
According to one online site which notices such details, the Slitheen’s plan to "convert an inhabited planet into radioactive fuel is similar to the intentions to the evil aliens in 'The Dominators'."

I'll have to take their word for it. My Gallifreyan education is ongoing and I have yet to see that story. But I'll have more on their nefarious plan when talking about the second part of this story next week.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005


'Doctor Who' is back on Earth!

Fifteen years after the last regular episode, six years after the one TV movie for the Eighth Doctor, we've had a full series of thirteen episodes featuring Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Incarnation.

The final episode for this year has aired, signaling the end of Eccleston's tenure and marking the debut of David Tennant in the role.

And so to celebrate, most of my essays and all of the Crossovers will be dedicated to the Doctor for the rest of the summer.

Be forewarned: In my essays during this summer salute to 'Doctor Who', there will be spoilers for each of the episodes, especially in regard to summaries.....

First off, here's a recap of the episode:

Location: London, Earth
Date: March 2006
Enemy: Slitheen

The Doctor returns Rose back to Earth, much to the shock of Mickey and Jackie, as Rose has been missing for a year.

A spaceship crash lands in The Thanmes and all is not as it seems with the residents of 10 Downing Street.
[Thanks to]

The Doctor takes Rose back home to visit her mother, materialising outside her flats twelve hours after she left. Or so he believes. However, while waiting for Rose to return, a flyer on a nearby telephone pole catches his eye -- a missing-persons flyer with Rose’s picture on it.

When Rose enters her flat and casually greets her mother, claiming to have spent the night with a friend, the stunned Jackie sweeps her daughter up in a desperate, unbelieving hug -- and, over her shoulder, Rose sees a table covered with missing-persons flyers and posters, all with her name and picture on them. The Doctor bursts into the flat, takes in the situation, and apologetically tells Rose that she hasn’t been gone for twelve hours, but for twelve months...
[Thanks to the "Doctor Who Reference Guide"]


First off, let me just get the apologies out of the way. The crossovers for this week might seem rather slight, even though at least the case for one of them can be made for it to be a legitimate link, rather than just an hypothetical one.

But fear not! As this episode was the first hour for a two-parter, I'm saving the more outrageous overall crossover for next week. It will be a theory that's more in keeping with my overview of the nature of the TV Universe.....

As for Part One....

All TV shows are supposed to share the same universe, so that Archie Bunker breathes the same NYC air as Cliff Huxtable and Latka Gravas. And there's always the possibility, however slim though it may be, that during one of Lt. Columbo's murder investigations in Los Angeles, he would have to interrogate a talking horse named Ed.

Every so often the concept of Toobworld gets Zonk!ed when a TV show is mentioned as being a TV show, especially like 'Star Trek', 'The Brady Bunch', and 'The Twilight Zone'. Many shows with the zeitgeist of The WB - especially shows connected to Joss Whedon or Kevin Williamson - depend on such pop cultural references as short cuts for descriptions of situations or other characters.

But certain shows can be regarded as TV shows within another program and not cause a Zonk!, because they exist both in the Real World and TV Land: talk shows, news reports, game shows, infomercials, and the current TV trend, "reality" shows.

'Will & Grace' - er, actually Will and Jack, - showed up at the outdoors gathering for the 'Today' show to publicly kiss during Al Roker's combination weather report and cheerleading rally. And Jerry 'Seinfeld' showed up on 'Today' wearing his infamous puffy shirt.

So in a way, both of those shows are now connected by a third program.

[Ever notice that there's never been a really good link between 'Will & Grace' and any other show on the Peacock's schedule? And yet NBC used to make a habit of crossovers among its sitcoms. I'd read something into that, but we're not here for that today!)

Now, 'Doctor Who' had the same situation - or will have, as the episode "Aliens Of London" takes place in March of 2006. After the alien spacecraft crashed through Big Ben, the UFO became teh focus for every TV show... and that includes the long-running children's programme 'Blue Peter'.

While the Doctor was flipping around the dial for more information about the alien crash, a little boy took command of the remote and put on 'Blue Peter' just as presenter Matt Baker showed how to make a UFO cake.

And there was also a connection to the news broadcasts as well with live news feeds seen on the BBC. These breaking news reports were handled for the most part by BBC Politics Editor Andrew Marr.

Having real newsmen cover fictional news is a tradition in Toobworld - Harry Smith on 'Picket Fences', Edwin Newman on 'Wings', and "Reggie" Bosanquet on 'Monty Python's Flying Circus'. Howard K. Smith has secured for himself eventual membership into the Crossover Hall of Fame for covering the news in 'V', 'The Bionic Woman', and 'The Odd Couple'.

Andrew Marr joined their ranks earlier this year when Adam Clay walked into a rural village police station to declare his secession from Britain and that he was setting up his own republic.

Mr. Clay's disillusionment with life in Britain became a cause celebre and Andrew Marr was one of the reporters who descended upon the small village to cover the story.

('The Afternoon Play' - "The Good Citizen")

And that would be the strangest story he would cover - at least for the next year, until the genetically modified pig crashed into Big Ben.

As I said, the connections seem rather slight, but sometimes the hook of a link hangs by the most trivial of aspects. And yet here we had two British Television personalities whose appearances in the episode provide a solid connection.

In the Toobworld view, the League of Themselves is a leading force in TV Crossovers. So I, at least, feel very comfortable with this week's claim.



Actor and director Kevin Smith (who nearly destroyed his career with "Gigli") will guest-star on the three-part season finale of the N's "Degrassi: The Next Generation."

Smith and his big-screen cohort Jason Mewes ("Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back") will play themselves in episodes airing Aug. 12, 19 and 26 at 8 p.m.

That's a news story geared towards a NYC readership, so the time may vary. Check your local listings.


Monday, July 11, 2005


The main reason I posted that opinion piece on comedy sketches was due to a sketch I stumbled across while randomly surfing the other day.

I landed on Comedy Central and they were showing 'Mad TV'. (Maybe it's me, or just the time of day, but I seem to ALWAYS land on 'Mad TV' when I visit Comedy Central!)

In the sketch, a black & white family from a 1950s sitcom were sitting around the dinner table, extolling the virtues of that night's meal. And everything they said was a double entendre, involving swallowing hot dogs, eating Mom's pie, and shaving the... cat.

Those who know me well would call it a "go there" moment.

Finally the family got sick of making everything a double entendre and tried to find subjects in which nothing had a dirty meaning. They finally gave up and tucked into Mom's pie.

Even though they were characters living within a sitcom premise of the 1950s, they were tele-cognizant; that is, they were aware they were in a TV show. And they were up-to-date with the current lingo and what passed for suggestive to the TV audience.

Therefore, I had to figure that, like the Nielsens of 'Hi Honey, I'm Home', this family was also living outside of their own TV world in a sitcom relocation program.

'Hi Honey, I'm Home' has always been a show I'd rather avoid altogether because of the headaches it causes for Toobworld. It was about a sitcom family no longer being watched on a regular basis and so the government somehow moved them out of the TV world and into the "real" world until such time - if any! - when they could go back and be viewed by the masses again.

But if what we see on the TV is considered Toobworld, then their "real world" is actually Toobworld. Therefore, that world's TV world is a further dilution of the many-worlds theory.

It gets worse, trust me. Each episode of 'Hi Honey, I'm Home' also had appearances by actual TV characters from other, "real" TV shows: Alice and Trixie from 'The Honeymooners', 'Gomer Pyle', Mr. Mooney of 'The Lucy Show', and Grampa from 'The Munsters'.

Sure, it was great to see them reprise their roles, but those characters are supposed to be living in Toobworld along with the Duff Family (who were the Nielsens' next door neighbors). They're not supposed to know they are TV characters, and the Duffs should not be thinking of themselves as being "real" in comparison to them.

It's too late for this splainin to keep me sane, but maybe it might help anybody else who finds themselves easily obsessed by the trivial.......

The "real world" of 'Hi Honey, I'm Home' is in fact not Toobworld at all. It is another alternate dimension controlled by tele-cognizant deities who abduct characters from Toobworld to bring them through the vortex for their own unknowable purposes.

The TV dimension from which the Nielsens and that 'Mad TV' sketch family came from is the actual Toobworld. And once relocated to that alternate dimension, they are aware that they came from a world based on TV shows.

They may not be 'The 4400', but not everybody who mysteriously disappears from our TV screens is automatically abducted by the people from the future. Or by aliens.

I may be wrong about this, but I think of all the celebrity character cameos on 'Hi Honey I'm Home', the only one to be ever seen again on Earth Prime Time was Alice Nelson of 'The Brady Bunch'. (She appeared last year in a commercial celebrating the liberation from drudgery of the household help on our TV shows, thanks to the Swiffer Duster.)

But that doesn't mean the others didn't slide back from that alt. world. Although many of them have passed away since the show was on we might still see Gomer Pyle and Eddie Haskell one day in some program or blipvert. (We still have Trixie Norton and June Cleaver with us, but I'd rather preserve my memories.)

However, Grampa might want to show up again, somewhere, somehow. Even at his advanced age and with the amputation of his leg, Al Lewis has always been irrepressible. And his ordeal in that other dimension could be used to splain away his missing leg......



Building on that idea about comedy sketches being linked to other TV shows, I'd like to see Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders appear on Ricky Gervais' new show 'Extras'.

But not as themselves! Rather I'd like to see them appear as those "atmosphere people" extras they played in a 'French & Saunders' sketch about working on the TV show 'Doctor Who'.

(Their characters were acting as a couple of lizardly vegetation creatures who were guards in a Gallifreyan courtroom. And they were screwing up the scene right and left and in all relative dimensions.)

Sure, it's a Zonk! that plays hob with the position of 'Doctor Who' in the TV Universe. But I was already screwed over by the original version of 'Queer As Folk' when it comes to the Time Lord.

But in a nice way.

As for other TV shows that grew out of comedy sketches, Hugh Davis has alerted me to the sitcom 'Hee Haw Honeys'. This was a spin-off from the long-running cornpone variety show 'Hee Haw'.

So I did some research in my various TV encyclopediae and online, and I came to only one conclusion.

I'm never going to forgive Hugh for this........ Bwahahahaha!



Looks to be the day for some Quick Hits as I clean out a lot of little items I've been stumbling across lately.

But first, here's an email from my Uncle Aksel, regarding that Sundance Channel documentary, "Hamburger America". As I mentioned about two weeks ago, my hometown of Meriden, Connecticut, was going to be featured - thanks to the steamed cheeseburgers at Ted's Lunch.

Uncle Axe came out from under his hurricane shelter long enough to write about it.....

As we do not get the channel to see this show . . . look to see if they give any credit to the fact that these hamburgers were originally sold at the old Meriden Diner in uptown Meriden.

When the diner was closed Ted, who worked at the Meriden Diner opened up Ted's on No. Broad St. Another cook from the diner worked for him (Whitey}.

Also Tryon's Lunch Box on E. Main St. sold them; the owner had also worked at the Meriden Diner.

Well, I taped the show, but have yet to actually sit through it. Hey, I'm too busy writing about Televisoin to actually WATCH it!

Besides... it would probably make me hungry. I'm easily swayed.



'The Scorned' is a supernatural horror flick whose cast is made up of former members of various "reality" TV shows.

And as they film the movie, other camera crews are following each of them around so that a "reality" TV show can be culled from the footage.

'Kill Reality' will be shown on E! starting at the end of July.

Among the cast are Jenna Lewis ('Survivor: Borneo') and Stephen Hill ('The Real World: Las Vegas') as the leads; with Johnny Fairplay of 'Survivor: Pearl Islands' and Ethan Zorn, who won on 'Survivor: Africa'.

Zorn is playing a crazy, homeless psychic whose name is Jon Murray... the same name as the creator of 'The Real World'. The movie will be filled with hundreds of similar in-jokes in connection to the various "reality" shows that have aired over the past six years or so.

Trying to catch all of them should prove a headache for TV critic David Bianculli, who revels in catching such in-jokes, which he calls "Extras".



After striking out once before in trying to bring minor league baseball to Toobworld (with 'Bay City Blues'), Steven Bochco is trying once again with an un-named comedy pilot for FOX. He's working with comedy writers Nat Bernstein and Mitchel Katlin to develop the project.

I can only hope that the Bay City Blues team gets at least mentioned in passing, perhaps as an in-joke reference on the scoreboard or something. And the same holds true for the Pioneers, who had a bad-tempered mascot named 'Hardball'.......



Speaking of 'Extras'......

Madonna will be adding to her League of Themselves credits by appearing in the second series of 'Extras', Ricky Gervais' new sitcom about life behind the camera for those "Atmosphere People" on movie locations.

Among those who will be seen on the first series when it premieres on the BBC July 21st are Ben Stiller, Kate Winslet, Samuel L. Jackson, and Patrick Stewart.

Madonna has been quoted that the highlight of her day at the Live 8 concert in London on July 2nd was that she got to meet her "favorite, favorite, favorite comedian in the whole world, Ricky Gervais."

She told him that she would sweep his floor for him if he would "employ me in such a fashion".

So that's what they call it now over there. Ah, those plucky Brit euphemisms!

Gervais should have held out until she offered to get down on her knees... and mopped the floor as well.



CTV ran a story in Canada a few weeks back, stating that Kevin Smith was lined up to direct a feature film based on the series of shows based on DeGrassi High School.

Here's more on the story:



Fred Dalton Thompson was a US Senator before joining the cast of 'Law & Order' to become Manhattan D.A. Arthur Branch. He also portrayed himself in a movie with Sissy Spacek. [I'm too logey in this weather to look it up.]

He provided his own most famous tele-version as counsel for the Republican minority on the Senate's Watergate committee back in the early 1970s.

And now he'll be shepherding President Bush's eventual nominee to the Supreme Court through the gauntlet of the inevitable media scrutiny.

Boris Kachka did a little digging to find out what Thompson's doppelganger in Toobworld thought of Sandra Day O'Connor, the Justice whose retirement triggered his new gig.....


Sunday, July 10, 2005


I don't think I'll ever make up my mind (what's left of it!) as to whether or not individual sketches on comedy/variety shows should be included in the TV Universe as part of the Toobworld "reality".

I can't very well just dismiss them out of hand. If I did that, I'd have to toss out 'Mama's Family' as well, which grew out of a series of sketches on 'The Carol Burnett Show'. 'The Simpsons' can be considered one of the hubs of the Tooniverse, but they began as blackout sketch cartoons on 'The Tracey Ullman Show'. And we would lose the Conehead Family from 'Saturday Night Live' who went on to establish their presence in the Tooniverse as well as in the Cineverse.

So here's how my "rules" stack up... for now:

1] Impersonations of celebrities and TV/movie characters automatically disqualify the sketch from being considered as "real". As funny as those "Celebrity Jeopardy" sketches were, it wasn't Alex Trebek and Sean Connery but 'SNL' players Will Ferrell and Darryl Hammond. And the fact that the real Alex Trebek showed up in the last sketch to pay tribute to the departing Ferrell seals the sketches as just that - comedy bits and not Toobworld's "inner reality".

2] Even if an actor recreates one of his roles (TV or movie) in a sketch, it could count, so long as no other characters from the same production are recreated by the comedy show's performers.

I'm reminded of a sketch on 'Saturday Night Live' that spoofed "Reservoir Dogs" with John Travolta playing his Vinnie Barbarino from 'Welcome Back Kotter'. The sketch also had surprise appearances by 'SNL' regular Michael McKean and by David Landers as their characters Lenny and Squiggy from 'Laverne & Shirley'.

Had it just been the three of them in the sketch, I'd be fighting for the right to include that sketch as the link between both of their shows, in much the same way I consider the 'SNL' sketch of Jerry 'Seinfeld' interacting with the 'Oz' inmates to be a legit link. And I'd counter any opposition to linking 'Welcome Back Kotter' and 'Laverne & Shirley' with a well-reasoned argument in keeping with the situation: "Up your nose with a rubber hose!"

But since Mr. "Kottair" and his other sweat-hogs were played by members of the comedy troupe, the sketch has to be left behind within 'Saturday Night Live' as just a sketch and not a viable component of the TV Universe.

Aside from the usual suspects like the Kramdens, the Coneheads, and Mama's family, there are other "skitsos" whom I want to see as naturalized citizens of Toobworld. Among these would be Miss Swan and Stewart of 'Mad TV'; Debbie Miller, Chico Escuela, and Fred Garvin (male prostitute) of classic 'SNL'; and Mary Catherine Gallagher and the singing group Gemini's Twin from the more recent years of the series.

Geraldine Jones ('Flip!'), Fred Scuttle ('The Benny Hill Show'), Crazy Guggenheim ('The Jackie Gleason Show'), and Mr, Pither, the Minister of Silly Walks, and Teddy Salad (the spy disguised as a dog) from 'Monty Python's Flying Circus'.

They should all be included as well.

After all, if we turned them away, we'd have to turn away 'The Honeymooners' as well. They began life on 'Cavalcade of Stars' and went on to their own series whose episodes are known as "the classic 39". And where would the TV Universe be without Ralph and Norton and Alice and Trixie?

If they hadn't become so integral to the make-up of Toobworld, then we might never have seen a movie about them starring Cedric the Entertainer.

Hmmmmmmmm. On second thought..........