Thursday, August 31, 2006


There was a big stink about the opening sketch on the Emmy Awards telecast Sunday night. It started off with host Conan O'Brien flying out to Los Angeles and then the plane crashes.

This happened on the same day a plane crashed in Kentucky, killing all but one on board.

From my limited perspective, the only complaints I saw came from a Kentucky NBC affiliate executive and a few TV columnists whom I suspect just wanted to stir up controversy in order to sell more papers. I don't mean to sound insensitive about the situation, but I would think that most of the people truly affected by the tragedy weren't settled down to watch the Emmys that night; they had far more pressing matters to attend to.

Based on the comments left at the TVSquad forum, I don't think many people made the connection to the tragedy in Kentucky. Instead, they saw the logical reference to how it all began on 'Lost', one of the most talked-about TV series in the last few years. I didn't get to see it until Tuesday morning, and I didn't feel any resonance from the real-life tragedy; I saw it for what it was - a spoof of 'Lost'.

And yet, NBC apologized.

Even so, they reran the entire skit as it was on BRAVO the following night. Luckily for me, as my tape screwed up on Sunday and I missed it.

Okay, so I feel lucky that I got to see it after all in its entirety. So maybe I am an insensitve lump. So sue me.

But even if NBC had edited out the offending 15 seconds or so of the plane crash footage and started with Conan washing up on the beach, it wouldn't have mattered from a Toobworld perspective. It had already been broadcast and so it was already entrenched in the mythos of Toobworld, Skitlandia division.

Orwellian denial doesn't apply in Toobworld.

With this opening film on the Emmy telecast, several other TV series were given counterparts in the dimension based on comedy sketches. Conan O'Brien ended up interacting with several characters from other TV shows:

'The Office'
'24' (with a phone exchange between an O'Brien and an O'Brian!)
'South Park'
even 'Dateline'!

This wasn't the first appearance for 'Lost' in the comedy sketch world. Many of the cast appeared in an opening sketch for 'Monday Night Football', as did several 'Desperate Housewives' in another one and Sydney Bristow of 'Alias' in a third.

When Conan hosted the Emmys back in 2002, he did the same kind of opening on a smaller scale: he was living with 'The Osbournes' and first ended up on the stage of 'The Price Is Right', so those shows are also a part of the comedy sketch dimension.

"Cousin" Conan is a true Skits-oid Man.

For ABC's fiftieth anniversary special, a similar sketch added Peter Falk as 'Columbo' to the cast of 'Alias'. Because the script made references to Michael Eisner and hinted that they were all just TV characters, I can't claim them to be part of the main Toobworld as I once hoped.

One such comedy sketch that combines two different TV shows and which was presented as though it could be the real deal was on 'Saturday Night Live' when Jerry Seinfeld was hosting. In a filmed short, 'Seinfeld' was transferred to the Oswald State Correctional Facility, better known by its nickname of 'Oz'. Actors from the actual series played their characters from the prison drama and the mix of their intensity with Jerry's humor worked.

The only thing that might prevent it from being considered the real deal is the opening narration detailing how NBC wanted to find a way to keep 'Seinfeld' going while at the same time juicing it up.

At any rate, Jerry was sentenced to only a year in prison for his violation of Massachusetts "Good Samaritan" law, so he's been out on the streets since about 2000.

Hopefully, when it rolls around to being NBC's turn again to host the Emmy Awards telecast, Conan O'Brien will once again be chosen to host the show.

At the very least, they should get these same writers to come up with another great filmed opening like this year's.

One can only imagine what the big shows might be four years or so down the road which could be added to the roster of the Sketch World.....


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