Tuesday, April 4, 2006


It's time to defuse a few Zonk!s that have popped up recently in the TV Universe.

Just to review, a "Zonk!" is a reference within a TV show to another TV show, when those TV shows should be considered part of the same universe. The term comes from a sound effect visual from 'Let's Make A Deal'.

On a recent episode of 'House, we got to see what Dr. Greg House had tucked away on his TiVo. One of the shows was 'Blackadder'. This was an in-joke, as the actor who played House, Hugh Laurie, also appeared in two of the four series for 'Blackadder', as well as guest-starring in a third.

But that in-joke (which TV columnist David Bianculli has dubbed "Extras") doesn't constitute a Zonk!. 'Blackadder' within the TV Universe would be an actual TV series just as it is in the Trueniverse.

However, it's a recreation of the actual events from Toobworld's History, whereas it was just a sitcom here in the Real World. What we saw on our screens became the facts upon which their series was based.

Verily, no Zonk!.....

Several of the Zonk!s came from pop culture references in dialogue. Here are three recent examples

"Well, aren't you a regular Veronica Mars?"
'The O.C.'

Marissa's snotty retort to Summer doesn't have to be seen as a Zonk!. Instead, it just means that she was aware of the high school girl from Neptune, California, who solved the murder of her best friend Lily Kane.

The fact that movie star Aaron Echolls was the murderer guaranteed that the case would be high-profile and be in all the news. And the fact that he was found out by a girl in high school was just the kind of hook to get the story plenty of play in the newspapers as well as on TV news programs.

And Neptune is probably in Orange County as well, so even if it didn't get national coverage, the exploits of 'Veronica Mars' would still be well-known to fellow high schoolers in other areas of 'The O.C.'.


On 'Supernatural', a film fanatic was trying to summon his inner valor by asking,

"What would Buffy do?"

Again, no Zonk! in this. Sam and Dean would definitely have known about Buffy Summers, what with all of their research - as well as that by their Dad - into the paranormal around the country.

But even average people would have known about Buffy from news reports. How could the destruction of the entire town of Sunnydale have possibly escaped notice from the Press? Despite the best attempts by the Watchers' Council, Buffy's actions would have been widely reported.

And so there's no Zonk! between 'Supernatural' and 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'.

But now, here's the rub....

When Fran wanted to know how Riley was doing since she broke up with him on a recent episode of 'Living With Fran', Danny told her:

"Watched a rerun of 'The Nanny' last night
And got all sad because she reminded him of you."

They got me there. I can't thunk up a splainin as to why the life of Fran Fine would have merited its own TV show adaptation in Toobworld. When it comes to shows like 'Gilligan's Island' or 'Murphy Brown', - yeah, I can buy that their "real lives" would be turned into TV shows within the TV Universe.

But someone who was a nanny to a snooty British Broadway producer? Can't see it as being interesting enough.

Maybe as a TV movie on Lifetime or Oxygen or WE, though.

There yuh go!

Nothing in that quote says that 'The Nanny' had to be a long-running sitcom starring Fran Drescher. It could have been a TV movie. And now that I think of it, nothing about it says that it had to be the same subject matter as the version we know here in the Real World.

All we know is that something about watching it reminded Riley of Fran. Nothing about that even suggests really that it starred Fran Drescher. Could have been a fictional actress that just happened to look like Fran Drescher. Or the character might have still been named "Fran", and that's probably all that was needed to trigger Riley's weepy works.

Zonk! averted. Team Toobworld stand down!


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