Saturday, February 11, 2006


The latest issue of "Entertainment Weekly" reports on 'Magnum, P.I.' being optioned for a theatrical movie release. They also made suggestions for the casting, among which they offered:

Matthew McConnaughey as Thomas Magnum
Chi McBride as TC
Ricky Gervais as Higgins

I'd buy that for a dollar!

But on the whole, I hate remakes of TV shows as films. The only reason I tolerate them - because they give me an escape should some TV show mention the original TV show, when both shows should exist in the same universe. (Unfortunately, this doesn't help when it comes to movies that also exist in the TV Universe, like the 1966 "Batman", the "Star Trek" franchise, and "The X-Files: Fight The Future".)

For instance, should a TV show make reference to the characters of the 1960s cornpone comedy 'The Beverly Hillbillies', I could then make the claim that it's a reference to the 1993 movie which was based on their "lives". (The movie featured a cameo by private eye Barnaby Jones appearing as himself.)

But that's only good for TV shows which were broadcast since the movie's release. If the reference is from before the premiere, I'm Zonk!ed.

There's one TV series that made a 'Beverly Hillbillies' reference just this past week, and the movie excuse can't work.

'That 70s Show'.

After hearing Randy's ideas for a romantic Valentine's Day, which included tickets to a monster truck rally, Donna said it was what any girl might desire... if that girl was Granny from 'The Beverly Hillbillies'.

Since the show takes place sometime during the 1970s, two decades before the movie version of "The Beverly Hillbillies".....



"Any schedule without Buddy Ebsen sucks eggs."
George Utley


There are so many historical personages who have televersions in Toobworld that are seen so often - JFK and Jackie O, Abe Lincoln, Jesus, Hitler, Marilyn Monroe.... They appear so often, you'd think every other TV movie was about them!

But there are plenty of people in History who deserve their moment on the stage of the "Glass Furnace". And every so often I'll give one of them their moment in the spotlight.

And to kick it off, King Gustaf VI of Sweden.

In one of the earliest episodes of 'Green Acres', the mother of Oliver Douglas was bemoaning her son's hair-brained idea to move to Hooterville to become a farmer. She especially felt bad for her daughter-in-law, Lisa - the Hungarian ex-patriate was reduced to making her bed from outside the window, and yet there once was a time when she had been presented to the King of Sweden.

I see no reason why the Toobworld Timeline should not jibe with the Real World when it comes to the Swedish monarchy, so it had to be Gustaf VI Adolf who met Lisa Douglas.

Gustaf VI Adolf (Oskar Fredrik Wilhelm Olaf Gustaf Adolf) (November 11, 1882 – September 15, 1973) was King of Sweden from 1950 until his death. He was the eldest son of King Gustaf V and his wife Victoria of Baden.

At birth he was created Duke of Skåne. On October 29, 1950, he succeeded his father on the throne. In 1950, Prince Gustaf Adolf became king at age 67 upon the death of his father, King Gustaf V.

During Gustaf's reign, work was underway on a new constitution — eventually taking effect in 1975 after Gustaf's death — to replace the 1809 constitution and produce reforms consistent with the times. Among the reforms sought by some Swedes was the replacement of the monarchy or at least some moderation of the old constitution's provision that "The King alone shall govern the realm."

Gustaf Adolf's personal qualities made him popular among the Swedish people. In turn, this popularity led to strong public opinion in favor of the retention of the monarchy.

Gustaf Adolf's expertise and interest in a wide range of fields (architecture and botany being but two) made him respected, as did his informal and modest nature and his purposeful avoidance of pomp.

The affection and respect for which the Swedish people felt for Gustaf VI Adolf led to the retention of the monarchy as a symbol of continuity. But the monarchy was made subordinate to a democratic state: many of the powers of the Swedish monarchy died with King Gustaf Adolf in 1973. Additional powers of the monarch were removed when Sweden's constitutional reform became complete in 1975.

Gustaf VI Adolf was a devoted archaeologist, and was admitted to the British Academy for his work in botany in 1958. Gustaf participated in archaeological expeditions in China, Greece, and China, and founded the Swedish Institute in Rome.

Gustaf died in 1973 at age 90 after a deterioration in his health that culminated in inflammation of the lungs. He was succeeded on the throne by his 27-year-old grandson Carl XVI Gustaf, son of the late Prince Gustaf Adolf. In a break with tradition, Gustaf VI was not buried in Riddarholmskyrkan in Stockholm, but in the royal burial grounds in Haga.
[edited from the Wikipedia entry]

I'm thinking that Lisa Douglas was presented to the King of Sweden around 1960. By then, her husband Oliver must have been a respected partner in his law firm who had many dealings with influential clients on the international scene. I could see "Oleevarrh" moving among the powerful elite in social events, and since I think he would have been a liberal democrat, I'm guessing he might have been invited to the Kennedy White House at some point for a state dinner.

It might have been at that state dinner where Lisa Douglas was presented to King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden.

And even though he was the monarch of the realm, I have no doubt that Gustaf VI was thoroughly enchanted by her many charms.

(Okay, who snickered "Both of them"?)

This has been a good example of David Bianculli's theory of tele-literacy: TV can be a teaching tool if you don't just let it wash over you.



My first awareness of Franklin Cover in Toobworld was from "Between Time And Timbuktu", an adaptation of several short stories and vignettes from the novels of Kurt Vonnegut.

(Somebody at TV Land or the Sci-Fi Channel really should consider resurrecting that to be seen by a new generation!)

Cover's portrayal of Tom Willis on 'The Jeffersons' might seem tame in today's view, but I think his big, friendly face helped to ease America into the idea of a racially mixed marriage on TV. And if I'm not mistaken, it happened at a time when I think there were still some states with anti-miscegenation laws in their books.

So, in that regard, he could be considered a pioneer just for playing a supporting role on a sitcom.

I'll have more on the character of Tom Willis soon......

"The Jeffersons" .... Tom Willis

Columbo: A Trace of Murder (1997) (TV) .... Harry Jenkins
A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Lethal Lifestyle (1994) (TV)

"All in the Family"
- The Jeffersons Move on Up (1975) TV Episode .... Tom Willis

Change at 125th Street (1974) (TV) (as Frank Cover)
Short Walk to Daylight (1972) (TV) .... Conductor
Between Time and Timbuktu (1972) (TV) .... Col. Donald 'Tex' Pirandello

A Woman Called Golda (1982) (TV) .... Hubert Humphrey
The Day the Bubble Burst (1982) (TV) .... Herbert Hoover

"Will & Grace"
- Object of My Rejection (1999) TV Episode .... Justice of the Peace
"Mad About You"
- The 2nd Mrs. Buchman (1998) TV Episode .... Yankee Infielder
"Too Something"
- Eric's Book (1996) TV Episode .... Professor Skaggs
- Luther Get Your Gun (1996) TV Episode .... Gunnar
- Harley's Holiday (1994) TV Episode (voice) (as Frank Cover) .... General Vreeland
"Living Single"
- School Daze (1994) TV Episode .... Professor Fletcher
- Day One (1994) TV Episode .... Mr. Thurnhurst
"In the Heat of the Night"
- Unfinished Business (1991) TV Episode .... Tommy Vincent
- Just a Country Boy (1991) TV Episode .... Tommy Vincent
"Who's the Boss?"
- Let Her Tell You 'bout the Birds and the Bees (1991) TV Episode .... Mr. Campell
- Ms. Mom (1991) TV Episode .... Mr. Kimball
[It's my opinion that this is an error on the part of the IMDb; that both characters should be named "Kimball".]
- The Butler Did It (1988) TV Episode .... Alfred
"The Love Boat"
- Your Money or Your Wife/Joint Custody/The Temptations (1985) TV Episode .... Marvin Brown
- The Patriots (1968) TV Episode .... Pepper
"The Jackie Gleason Show"
- The Honeymooners: Be It Ever So Humble (1967) TV Episode .... Police Officer
- The Honeymooners: Flushing Ho! (1967) TV Episode .... Police Officer
"Naked City"
- Kill Me While I'm Young So I Can Die Happy (1962) TV Episode .... Jergens



Two weeks ago, 'Supernatural' tackled a common theme in the TV Universe - the reincarnation of human souls as motorized vehicles.

'Struth - it's more common than you might think!

As stated in the theme song for 'My Mother The Car', apparently everybody in Toobworld knows that we are all reincarnated eventualy. And in the show, again according to the song, Dave Crabtree's mother made the choice to come back as the 1928 Porter instead of as another human being or even as an animal like a dog, or an organ grinder's monkey, or even as a bowl of petunias (all of which have been reincarnated humans in one TV outlet or another).

This same voluntary decision to become a car must have been made by the vengeful spirit who possessed Oliver Pope's car in "You Drive", an episode of 'The Twilight Zone'. Pope had struck a boy with the car and fled the scene. Afterwards his car came alive in order to force him into owning up to his crime.

It's unclear as to who that spirit might have been - it's certainly not the boy as he was not yet dead. Maybe it was the soul of one of the boy's deceased relatives. Or perhaps it was the soul of a children's welfare advocate; maybe somebody who once worked with Neil Brock. ('East Side/West Side')

Another vengeful spirit operating heavy machinery might have been "Killdozer". But it's believed that an alien being was actually at the controls in some way.

Whether the relentless truck in "Duel" was possessed or controlled by aliens or just manually operated by a human being was never resolved. We never got a really good look inside the cab of that truck. But at the same time, I don't think it was ever a consideration to be anything else than just a mad trucker behind the wheel. Things were less complicated back in the early 1970s.....

KITT of 'Knight Rider' would not fall into this category. It's neural net, probably based on the cybernetic designs of Questor and Hymie the Robot, mirrored an actual personality.

Over in the Tooniverse, auto-reincarnation could be the splainin for 'Speed Buggy'. And 'Turbo-Teen' was a true interface between car and man - an 'Automan', if you'll forgive me for mentioning that.

(In the 'Futurama' episode "The Honking", the robot Bender transformed into a were-car at night.)

As for the 'Supernatural' truck in "Route 666", it was the evil, murderous soul of young Cyrus Dorian, a racist who had been killed in the early 1960s. But as Dorian had murdered several people while he was alive, his monster truck rally of retribution only staved off the inevitable - a one way ticket to Hell.


Toobnote: It's possible that the family name of "Dorian" was handed down as a first name to a cousin so as to reinforce the familial link to a new generation.

And thus Dorian Lord of 'One Life To Live' might provide a "family tie" to 'Supernatural'.....

Everybody knows in a second life, we all come back sooner or later.
As anything from a pussycat to a man eating alligator.
Well you all may think my story, is more fiction than it's fact.
But believe it or not my mother dear decided she'd come back.
As a car...
She's my very own guiding star.
A 1928 Porter. That's my mother dear.
'Cause she helps me through everything I do
And I'm so glad she's near.
My Mother the Car.
My Mother the car.
Paul Hampton
'My Mother The Car'

Thursday, February 9, 2006


From the "Ask Ausiello" column at TV Guide Online:

"Eric Dane — that's Jason Dean to all you 'Charmed' fans — has landed the pivotal role of Dr. Mark Sloan on 'Grey's Anatomy'. Mark is the creep who slept with Addison behind Derek's back. "

A few months back, I posited a theory that Dr. Greg House could have been the son of Dr. Mark Sloan of 'Diagnosis Murder'. (The fact that R. Lee Ermey eventually played the role wasn't a deterrent; House's mom could have slept around!)

I don't know how much we'll learn about this new Dr. Mark Sloan on 'Grey's Anatomy'; whether or not we'll learn of his parentage, background, etc. But I'm of the opinion that we shouldn't get worked up over him being the illegitimate son of Dick Van Dyke's character. I just don't see that as happening.

However, he could be a namesake. We know Dr. Sloan had a lot of relatives in the Sloan family tree (granted, a lot of them were bumped off in one episode). Surely one of them might have honored Mark Sloan with a child named after him, a cousin for Steve Sloan . And upon growing up, perhaps this new Mark Sloan decided to become a doctor as well.

But it doesn't sound as if he was quite as honorable as his predecessor.....

We shall see what we shall see.



Nam June Paik, the avant-garde artist credited with inventing video art in the 1960s by combining multiple TV screens with sculpture, music and live performers, has died. He was 74.

The Korean-born Paik also coined the term "Electronic Super Highway" years before the information superhighway was invented.

Paik's work gained international praise from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, among others, and much of it is on display at the Nam June Paik Museum in Kyonggi, South Korea.

"He really led the development of a new art form, bringing the moving image into the modern art world," said John Hanhardt, senior curator of film and media arts at the Guggenheim.

"He foresaw that video would be an artist's medium, that it would be in museums," he said. "It's a heroic achievement."
Reuven Frank, a pioneering TV news producer and executive whose decision to pair two anchors on one newscast resulted in the groundbreaking 1950s nightly broadcast, "The Huntley-Brinkley Report" on NBC, died Sunday. He was 85.

Throughout his 40-year broadcast career, Frank stressed the importance of strong visuals and storytelling techniques in reporting news stories.

While such an approach might not seem radical today, in the 1950s television still lingered in the shadow of radio, and Frank sketched out a roadmap to exploit the new medium to the fullest.

As he later wrote: "Pictures are the point of television reporting."

Many of his acclaimed documentaries are still considered TV milestones, especially "The Tunnel," a 1962 report that depicted the escape of 59 Germans through a passage under the Berlin Wall.

The United States government pressured NBC to delay the broadcast citing Cold War sensitivities. When it finally aired, the program won an Emmy Award and inspired at least two subsequent feature films.

Frank served two tenures as president of NBC News, from 1968 to 1972 and from 1982 to 1984, and mentored such journalists as Tom Brokaw, John Chancellor, Linda Ellerbee and Andrea Mitchell.
George Walsh, who became known as the voice of "Gunsmoke" after he introduced the western series on CBS radio for nearly a decade then followed the show to television as its announcer, has died. He was 88.

Walsh, an announcer and a newscaster at KNX-AM (1070) from 1952 to 1986, died of congestive heart failure Dec. 5 at Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, said his daughter, Fran.

Beginning in 1952, Walsh opened the weekly series that was broadcast live on radio with these words: "Around Dodge City and in the territory out West, there's just one way to handle the killers and the spoilers, and that's with a U.S. marshal and the smell of 'Gunsmoke.' "

The radio version of "Gunsmoke," which starred William Conrad as Marshal Matt Dillon, aired until 1961. When it moved to television in 1955, James Arness took over the starring role but Walsh remained as the show's announcer.

Walsh, who once said the "Gunsmoke" cast thought the radio show would last forever, had only to look at the streets
of Los Angeles in the 1950s to see the future of episodic drama.

"It was unbelievable. People were standing in the rain outside department stores watching television when it was new," Walsh told The Times in 2000.
Alan J. Shalleck, who collaborated with the co-creator of "Curious George" to bring the character to television and a series of book sequels, was found dead Tuesday outside his home here. He was 76.

A police spokeswoman, Sgt. Gladys Cannon, did not disclose details of the death, but said that the police were treating it as a possible homicide.

Mr. Shalleck was the writer and director of more than 100 short episodes of "Curious George," which were seen on the Disney Channel.

The original series of seven books about a mischievous monkey named Curious George began in 1941, shortly after George's creators, H. A. Rey and Margret, his wife, fled the Nazis and settled in the United States. A precursor of the character had appeared in a book they did in France in 1939. Hans Rey did the illustrations and Margret wrote the stories.

Mr. Shalleck had approached Margret Rey about bringing Curious George to television in 1977, the year her husband died. In addition to turning out more than 100 five-minute television shorts, Mr. Shalleck and Margret Rey wrote more than two dozen more books about George.

"Curious George" is making its debut as a full-length feature film on Friday, with the voices of Will Ferrell, Drew Barrymore and Dick Van Dyke, among others.

A Syracuse University drama major, Mr. Shalleck got his start in 1950 in the CBS mailroom, working his way up to associate producer for "Winky-Dink and You," a television show in which children drew on a plastic film placed on the television screen. He later produced children's films and formed his own company.



I received the following notice via Entertainment Weekly:

VH1 and Entertainment Weekly are scouring the country to find 16 three-person teams who think they've got what it takes to compete in the most intense pop culture trivia tournament to date, The World Series of Pop Culture.

The tournament, which will be taped to air on VH1 in late summer 2006, will happen over the weekend of April 28th through the 30th in New York City.

Whether teams consist of friends who gather to watch "Lost" every Wednesday, co-workers who spend lunch hours discussing their favorite films, or siblings who grew up addicted to sitcoms, the three members must have extensive knowledge of the films, TV shows, music, and pop culture happenings of the '70s, '80s, and '90s through today.

Do you think you and your cohorts have the pop culture smarts to beat out the competition? Then come meet us in person and prove it!

Casting Calls followed by Regional Qualifying Games will be held by appointment only in the following cities on the following dates:

• Los Angeles: March 4-5
• Chicago: March 11-12
• Dallas: March 18-19
• Atlanta: March 25-26
• New York: April 1-2

Go to (under "SPECIAL COVERAGE") or (under "SHOWS" and then "CASTING CALLS") to apply!

Contestants must be U.S. Residents and at least 18 years of age at the time of the audition. Go to or for further eligibility requirements.

Don't ask me to join your team. I could do nicely in the TV category, and probably hold my own when it comes to the movies, but music and general pop culture..... meh, not so much.


Wednesday, February 8, 2006


Henry McGee, the actor best known as the straight man and the epitome of "culture" in the Benny Hill TV show, has died at the age of 77, his agent confirmed.

McGee spent 20 years in various roles as Benny Hill`s on-screen partner.

He also became known to millions in the United Kingdom in the mid-70s, when he was cast alongside the Honey Monster in the Sugar Puffs TV commercial.

But he was best known for his roles in comedy series, when he usually played the "straight man".

TV roles included parts in 'Last Of The Summer Wine', 'Z Cars', 'Rising Damp', 'The Goodies', 'The Saint' and 'The Avengers'.

He also appeared in the TV series 'Let There Be Love', 'No That`s Me Over There' with Ronnie Corbett, 'The Worker' with Charlie Drake, and played the title part in 'Jimmy And The Desperate Woman'.

"Let There Be Love" (1982) TV Series .... Dennis Newberry
"Frankie Howerd Strikes Again" (1981) TV Series
"Up the Workers" (1973) TV Series .... Richard (Dicky) Bligh
"Reg Varney" (1973) TV Series .... Various Characters
"Slapstick and Old Lace" (1971) TV Series .... Various parts
"No, That's Me Over Here!" (1967) TV Series .... Henry

"Take A Pair Of Private Eyes" (1966) TV Series .... Charles
"The Worker" (1965) TV Series .... Mr. Pugh
"Tell It to the Marines" (1959) TV Series .... Lt. Raleigh
"The Benny Hill Show" (1969) TV Series .... Himself/Announcer/Various Roles (1969-1970, 1971-1989)
"The Benny Hill Show" (1955) TV Series .... Himself/Various Roles (1968)

Mr. H Is Late (1988) (TV) .... Tall undertaker
A Soirée at Bossom's Hotel (1966) (TV) .... Demolition expert
Pity About the Abbey (1965) (TV) .... Sir Peter Watling

Benny Hill's World Tour: New York! (1991) (TV) .... Various roles
Frankie Howerd Reveals All (1980) (TV)
Ted on the Spot (1979) (TV)

"Last of the Summer Wine"
- The Miraculous Curing of Old Goff Helliwell (2003) TV Episode .... Goff Helliwell
- The Great Motor Race (1982) TV Episode
It Ain't Half Hot Mum"
- Star Commandos (1980) TV Episode .... The Brigadier
- The BBC Honours Sykes (1979) TV Episode .... Roger
"The Galton & Simpson Playhouse"
- Swap You One of These for One of Those (1977) TV Episode
"Rising Damp"
- The Perfect Gentleman (1975) TV Episode .... Seymour
"Cilla's Comedy Six"
- Every Husband Has One! (1975) TV Episode .... Russell Stanhope
"Doctor in Charge"
- The Merger (1973) TV Episode .... Sir John Pollock
"The Goodies"
- The Lost Island of Munga (1973) TV Episode .... Nasty Person
- The Stolen Musicians (1971) TV Episode .... The Music Master
"The Protectors"
- The Numbers Game (1972) TV Episode .... Frank
- The Public School Murder (1969) TV Episode .... Ward
"The Avengers"
- You'll Catch Your Death (1968) TV Episode .... Maidwell
"Softly Softly"
- The Linkman (1967) TV Episode .... Mortimer
- The Investors (1967) TV Episode .... James Mortimer
"The Saint"
- Flight Plan (1966) TV Episode .... Reeves

"The London Palladium Show"
- Episode #1.2 (1966) TV Episode
"Z Cars"
- A Shame to Take the Money (1965) TV Episode .... Dr. Rourke
- A Simple Case (1963) TV Episode .... Cantle
"Public Eye"
- They Go Off in the End, Like Fruit (1965) TV Episode .... Madely
"Gideon's Way"
- How to Retire Without Really Working (1965) TV Episode .... Mack Martinson
- Wormwood (1963) TV Episode .... The Photographer
"The Odd Man"
- The Sheep 'Neath the Snow (1963) TV Episode .... Drunk


Tuesday, February 7, 2006


Writer and producer Ken Levine posted a very interesting crossover in connection to the Super Bowl. It's a 'Cheers' scene that, like the 1984 MacIntosh blipvert, aired only once. Unlike that ad, it really hasn't been seen again. Levine is even afraid there's no longer a copy of it anywhere.

But he's posted the dialogue, which includes a serlinguist turn by the NBC "tout" Pete Axthelm.

You can read it here.

I consider it a true connection to 'Cheers', which means the crossover standings for all concerned have just been upped by one more link. That puts Norm and Cliff into the stratosphere with Munch in my book!


Monday, February 6, 2006


This is from my brother Bill:

I just watched all the ads via AOL and my two top ones were:

1. AMERIQUEST - Hospital (Laughed so loud neighbors could hear)
2. FEDEX - Caveman. (very clever and great special effects)

I had honorable mentions as

BUD - the Barn
BUD - the Streaker

And for sentimental or other reasons:

DOVE (the best message of all of them Sunday)
UNITED (I admire the animation work that went into it)
DISNEY NFL (It recognized the cultural phenomenon of that phrase as soon as it showed Phil Simms from the Giants 1st super bowl win, but also respected both teams, including the nicest guy in the NFL, Shaun Alexander.)

I wish he also clued me in on what he thought was the worst. Nothing like Blipvert Scheudenfreude!



My friend Ivy spotted this:

Saw this on a website article.
Charlie, a bass player in a successful rock band - and a heroine addict.
Maybe it's an allusion to his relationship with Evangeline Lilly. LOL!



"Brain transplants, Britney Spears having another hit record,
The Rolling Stones going on a farewell tour and actually meaning it,
Me caring about anything that happens on Wisteria Lane,
Jessica Simpson winning an Oscar, Jessica Alba winning an Oscar,
Jessica Simpson becoming Jessica Alba Simpson."
Dr. Cox

Looking through his list of of all the things that will happen before Carla won the lottery, one might think that it would be the doctor's reference to 'Desperate Housewives' that might have been more of a concern to me. But "me caring about anything that happens on Wisteria Lane" is just vague enough so that within the framework of Toobworld, he could be referring to a Wisteria Lane anywhere else in the country.

Then again, we know that both 'Scrubs' and 'Desperate Housewives' more than likely take place in California. Fairview, the town where the housewives live, is situated near an alkaline desert; that's where Mike was taking Zach's "dad" to kill him. And the SeaWorld in San Diego was featured in several episodes of 'Scrubs' when Elliot was dating the marine biologist guy.

So maybe both shows are located close enough to each other so that Dr. Cox might have been aware of the small news stories that came out of Wisteria Lane, Fairview, so often - houses burning down, suicides, murders, guys locked in basements......

But that's not the reference in Dr. Cox's diatribe that interested me. It was his belief that brain transplants had not yet happened. Ross Geller was of the same belief when he tried to show Joey Tribbiani how stupid the plotline was for the Toobworld version of 'Days Of Our Lives', when "Dr. Ramoray" was going to get a brain transplant from one of the female characters.

What none of them knew, nor could even have suspected, was that a successful brain transplant had already transpired by the fall of 1999. A top-secret government project placed the brain of a man named Michael Wiseman (who had fallen in front of a subway train) into a genetically perfect body.

(It's my belief that this "shell" was cloned and developed from tissue donated by a former government employee back in the 1960s named Eric Loengard as seen in the TV show 'Dark Skies'. For more on that, check out this post.)

Michael Wiseman - now known as "Michael Newman" - escaped from his government handlers in the spring of 2000, and we have never learned what his fate turned out to be. Whatever happened, the government was able to clamp down on any reports of the project leaking to the press. And thus there was no way for Dr. Cox to have known that such an operation as brain transplants could already be checked off his list.


"If ever we needed a brain, now is the time!"
Squiggy Squiggman
'Laverne & Shirley'



The big crossover from last week was actually a spin-off. It was shown on ITV in Great Britain, but I don't know if it will ever be seen here.

It was titled 'Lewis' and it featured Detective Sergeant Robbie Lewis who used to assist Inspector Morse. They worked together in thirty movie-length episodes, up until six years ago when both 'Morse' and the actor who played him, (John Thaw), passed away.

Proving that Time and Life continue for TV shows even when we can't view them, a lot had happened to Lewis in that six year hiatus. His wife had been killed in a hit-and-run case three years ago, and he accepted an overseas posting to escape his grief. Upon his return, there appeared to be nothing open for him except as a trainer of police recruits - not a very bright future ahead, to be sure.

And then he got caught up in the murder investigation of a mathematical genius, which was lucky for Lewis.... For the victim, not so much.

Lewis got his own assistant in James Hathaway who brought his own spin on the sidekick role, in that he was a former student of theology.

And in a way, the spirit of 'Morse' was invoked by some of the clues he left behind, in files on a similar murder case from years before.

This was a one-off (not be to be confused with "one off the wrist"), a pilot in the American vernacular, to see if a spin-off series would be viable.

Even though 'Morse' could be felt throughout, it appears the creators were able to make 'Lewis' stand out on his own - but have him use a few tricks from his personal Obi-Wan Kenobi.

[Many thanks to Martin Conaghan, who filed a report at]


Sunday, February 5, 2006


Even though Al Lewis is dead, Grandpa Munster still "lives" on in Toobworld. As a character, he has enough appearances in a wide variety of programs/movies to insure that he will one day be inducted into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame (probably in the October berth when the time comes).

But I'm guessing your average viewer probably knows very little of this vaudevillian vampire, who has more of Brooklyn than the Balkans in his character.

The basics - he was a vampire whose real name was Count Vladimir Dracula. He was the father of Lily Munster, father-in-law to Herman Munster, and the grandfather of Eddie Munster. I am unclear as to the exact relationship he had with Marilyn Munster, but she looked upon him as "Grandpa" as well.

Being a vampire fell more into the ethnic category, while his job description could be accurately summed up as mad scientist and inventor. (Not sure if that provided taxable income.)

Grandpa had a pet bat named Igor and at least one other child, a son Lester who was also a vampire.

The following information about Grandpa Munster was culled from the entries for 'The Munsters' and 'The Munsters Today', found in a book of TV trivia by Vincent Terrace.

1] As of 1964, Grandpa was 378 years old.
2] He was married 167 times.
3] His first love was named Shirley Zlebnick.
4] One of his earliest wives was Katja; they met at the Joan of Arc roast.
5] Joan of Arc was also enamored of him. (She once told him, "You enflame me!")
6] He was a member of the Sigma Alpha Aorta fraternity at the University of Transylvania. That's where he first met Genghis Khan.
7] He and Genghis Khan established the very first blood bank.
8] He worked as a fang sharpener when first starting out, for which he was paid 2,000 sloskies an hour. (That equals about eight cents.)
9] He also worked as a guillotine janitor.
10] His hometown was in Transylvania.
11] He once owned the infamous Bates Motel, but sold it to a nice young man and his mother....

There are also at least two Zonk!s that can be attributed to him:

A] His favorite TV show is 'My Three Sons'.
B] His transistorized divining rod picks up 'My Little Margie'.

It doesn't take long to realize that some of the "facts" in Grandpa's biography just don't add up. Literally.

If he was 378 years old in 1964, then he would have been born in 1586. But Genghis Khan died in 1227, and Joan of Arc burned at the stake on May 30th, 1431.

It reminds me of another resident of Toobworld who made some wild claims about his background - Jack Styles, whose adventures were spelled out in the series 'Jack Of All Trades'.

But there was a good reason for that - those stories were based on Jack Styles' autobiography and he was a teller of tales on a par with Baron Munchausen.

In other words, he was a lying sack of cow-plop.

As for Grandpa, we can find a splainin for the discrepancies in his background check in his occupation. As an inventor, he probably cobbled together his own time machine.

None of the following assertions can be verified. I'm just throwing them out there to hopefully make his existence in the TV Universe more believable.

First off, we have to address an o'bservation I made earlier - that he has a decided Brooklyn accent and Bowery Boys attitude, rather than the stock "Blah blah!" inflection you'd expect in the stereotypical vampire from Transylvania.

I think it's because he didn't grow up in Transylvania at all. I think Grandpa actually did come from Brooklyn!

The way I see it, he was born of Transylvanian immigrants descended from the original Vlad Dracul's family tree, probably in the first decade after the turn of the 20th Century. They christened him Vladimir Dracula in honor of his famous forefather, and he probably picked up the nickname of "Count" in the school-yard or on the street corners. And that's how he came by his natural "dese dem and doze" demeanor.

But to reconcile that theory with the other claims he made about his life, the invention of his own time machine seems to work the best. And it's not too far-fetched a possibility; not for a man who came up with a potion that could change one's gender and created a robot brother for Eddie named Boris. (And don't forget that transistorized divining rod!)

I figure he came up with the basic design of the time machine as a young man barely out of his teens, perhaps even basing his device on the papers left behind by Professor Gilbert in 1890. ('The Twilight Zone' - "Once Upon A Time")

As the Wizard of Oz once said, "Times being what they were," young Vlad probably decided to escape the dreariness of the Depression via his time machine. And this would be how his assertions that he knew Genghis Khan and Joan of Arc can be made factual. In a way, Vladimir Dracula would have been a lot like the Gallifreyan Time Lord known as the Doctor.

During the next several decades of his biological timeline, the Count decided to expand his knowledge of his ancestral lands. So he enrolled in the University of Transylvania, probably majoring in Mad Science and minoring in History.

He also met and married most of those 167 women he claimed to be his wives. He wasn't the ideal husband - he'd live with them for a few years, and then move on to some other era. Scattered throughout History, it's likely that his DNA has been diffused all over the world. If so, it's entirely possible that quite a few characters we know in the TV Universe can probably trace their lineage back to him. Among these might be other characters played by Al Lewis, since it's a Toobworld claim that genetic echoes are quite strong. Identical likenesses can crop up even thousands of years after the original was alive.

When he was in his fifties, Vladimir Dracula found himself in the 1630s, and that's when his time machine finally failed him. Somehow it must have broken down. It could even be that it was deliberately scuttled - not necessarily by Vladimir, but perhaps by the Gallifreyan Time Lords. Maybe they sabotaged it because they saw his time-flitting to be a threat to the sanctity of the established chronology of Earth.

Trapped as he was now in the past, Vladimir Dracula knew there was no way he could make it back to the 20th Century; very likely he wouldn't even survive to the middle of the 17th Century. And that's when he came up with a mad gamble - he would seek out his famous forebear, the legendary Vlad the Impaler who was now known as Count Dracula. Hopefully he would be able to persuade the vampire to sire him into the Kindred, so that he would be able to make it back to the 20th Century as one of the Undead.

Whether it was Dracula himself who performed the deed, or some other vampire, it is obvious by his appearance that this American namesake was not made into a bloodsucker himself until he was in his mid-fifties. It could even be that one of his two children - Lily and Lester Dracula - were already vampires themselves, and it was one of them who helped their father cross over to the Other Side.

After that, his life proceeded as expected from the TV show. He helped reconnect the various parts of one of Dr. Frankenstein's prototypes (found in the medical building of the university in Heidelberg) which became known as Herman Munster. And his relationship with the Creature led to his daughter's introduction and infatuation with the younger Herman. (There is a 154 year age difference between them.)

Vladimir waited until he knew his younger self had vanished into the Time-stream before he brought the family over to America to begin their new life. Establishing their residence in the town of Mockingbird Heights, their story was finally available for viewing by the Trueniverse audience about a quarter century later.

I have no problem with the claim that he once owned the Bates Motel, as it became part of the TV Universe with a TV movie about young Norman Bates.

Like I said, this is just a theory, but it helps smooth out the kinks in Grandpa Munster's backstory and makes it more believable.

Yeah, I know..... We're talking about 'The Munsters'. Believability doesn't factor high in their little corner of Toobworld. But whaddya gonna do?


"Show some respect for tonight's guest of honor.
Why don't you go upstairs and change your socks?"


There has been a lot of rumination in blogs and newspaper columns of late regarding the mortality of TV characters. This topic came about because of the untimely passing of John Spencer, who played Leo McGarry on 'The West Wing'. This caused some consternation among the fans and the creative team alike because McGarry was the Democratic candidate for Vice President and as such an integral part of the storyline leading up to the series' finale.

But of course, it was mostly because John Spencer was such an accomplished actor and seemed like a great guy, and his character of Leo was so well-loved by the fans.

It looks like the character will also die, just a day before the election, which will air in April.

I've often stated that just because an actor has passed away, that doesn't mean their TV characters have to die as well. But of course, the creators of the show have the right to dictate the characters' fates if the show is still in progress. Nowadays, to make sure the character and the actor are both given their proper tributes within the series, the character is usually killed off as well. Some of the actors in this group have been Lynne Thigpen on 'The District', John Ritter of '8 Simple Rules', Phil Hartman on 'NewsRadio', Redd Foxx on 'The Royal Family', and Jerry Orbach on 'Law & Order: Trial By Jury', the show he joined after leaving the original in the franchise.

When Nicholas Colasanto of 'Cheers', Michael Conrad of 'Hill Street Blues', and John Hancock on 'Love And War' all passed away during the runs of their shows, the deaths of their characters were acknowledged, but their replacements on the jobs were quickly brought in to fill the void.

I would prefer that the character just simply relocate to a different part of the country, for whatever reason. This is how 'Phyllis' said good-bye to Judith Lowry as Mother Dexter, and it was the splainin for Mr. Wilson on 'Dennis The Menace'.

Of course, with the characters played by Ritter and Foxx, this would not be viable, as their shows revolved around them as the heads of their families.

But most often, especially in soap operas, the role is simply recast. Hannibal Heyes of 'Alias Smith And Jones' and Julie Erskine of 'Phyllis', - these are a couple of such recastaways.

However, when you're dealing with a legendary character, that's just not a viable option. After the death of Raymond Burr, there were a couple of TV movies about Perry Mason's law practice being handled friends of Mason. But replace Mason himself? Not after CBS learned the hard way back in the early 70s that Raymond Burr WAS Perry Mason.

All that's fine for TV shows that are still being broadcast, but what about those shows that are already off the air? It's basic Toobworld belief that they continue to exist off-screen, with the fates of their characters in Limbo. But we don't have to think of them as being dead, even if the actors who played them have passed away.

Take Bobby Buntrock, for instance, who played Harold Baxter on 'Hazel'. Buntrock was 22 years old when he died in a car accident (on the same bridge that killed his mother just the year before).

But that doesn't mean Harold Baxter died as well. He could still be alive today, about 55 years of age, with a family and even grandchildren of his own.

Think of all the great TV actors we lost last year, such as Bob Denver, Howard Morris, and Frank Gorshin. Wouldn't it be nice to think of Gilligan, Ernest T. Bass, and the Riddler as still being alive? The Riddler plotting once more in Gotham City; Ernest T. Bass skulking about in Mayberry; and Gilligan gumming up the works no matter where he was.

Yesterday we lost another actor who gave us a legendary TV character - Al Lewis, who played Grandpa Munster (aka Count Dracula) on 'The Munsters'. (He also played Leo Schnauzer on 'Car 54, Where Are You?', but I think we can safely assume that Leo passed away already. Faced with another generation of Toody and Muldoon in the theatrical adaptation, he was almost certainly killed by the stress caused by their very presence.)

With Grandpa Munster, it could be said that Al Lewis didn't start playing the role until after Grandpa was long dead. In fact, as a vampire, he was un-dead.

Al Lewis is dead. Grandpa Munster will be un-dead forever.

Unless of course, he runs into one of the Slayers.....