Saturday, April 22, 2006
I made it to the opening screen credits.
It was too late. When it came to giving a rat's ass (which I think may be one of the tattoos on Michael) about the fate of these characters, that ship had sailed. (Sorry about mixing the metaphors, but it works, mate! Rats..... ships. I guess I'm the rat who abandoned ship.)
After half a century, the American TV viewer has been conditioned to accept such a long hiatus for the summer. But when you yank a compelling, story-driven show off the air for 1/4 of its first season, how can you expect the audience to still be patiently waiting for your return? They've more than likely moved on, sampled other shows during its absence and found them to their liking.
Take 'How I Met Your Mother', for example. Actually the example isn't that great - the problem here is that I used to watch both shows on Mondays as they followed each other on opposing networks. When 'Prison Break' returned, it was scheduled to air in the same time slot as 'HIMYM'. But by that time, my allegiance was firmly in the sitcamp.
(And even that was tested by a break of several weeks at the height of a storyline!)
Another show that has suffered from constant interruptions which test an audience's loyalty is 'Lost'. And this show is so deeply involving that breaking the narrative flow as ABC has stupidly done for both seasons only gives the less committed viewer time to consider what's going on and realize it's just not worth enduring the pace of the revelations to find out the answer to the mystery.
But ABC programming chief Steve McPherson isn't deaf to the complaints of the 'Lost' viewership.
Here's an excerpt that was recently featured at The Tail Section.
McPherson wants to maintain that audience loyalty next season. He's looking at running original episodes of 'Lost' over consecutive weeks without repeats--an answer to constant fan gripes.
"I like the idea of people knowing that 'Lost' is on and is going to be on in originals for a long period, then have it take a break and put something else in there," he says. "Whether that's a January through May run or a big installment in the fall and another post-January, I'm not sure yet. But we're definitely considering it."
They still don't fully grasp it yet, but it's a start. The concept of the TV schedule is outdated, you stupid suits! The fans have been telling you that they don't want any break! Forget about the mandated Sweeps period. Make arrangements with Nielsen and the advertisers for alternate time periods in which to measure the size of the audience.
Just because a show begins in September (and that was only chosen in the old days because new cars were unveiled in that month) doesn't mean you have to stretch out its run to make it to May. Nobody wants to see Shannon shot dead one week and then Sayid and Shannon making out
Like I said, it's too late for me and 'Prison Break'. I'll just keep track by reading the entries at epguides.com. And if I feel it was compelling enough that I should have been watching, well, I'll just wait until it's released on DVD and see if Netflix is carrying it.
But who's got that time to spend on re-living the past if you're not already in solitary confinement?
The film - set for release in 2008 - will focus on the early days of Captain James T Kirk and Mr Spock and will tell of their first meeting at Starfleet Academy and their first outer space mission.
Personally, I always thought it had been established that Spock was several years older and thus farther ahead of Kirk in his career with Starfleet, including his school days. But this might work to the plot's advantage - have Spock act as sort of a mentor to the younger Kirk who might be at first resentful for having the Vulcan "half-breed" watching over his shoulder.
Abrams will write the film with his "Mission Impossible" (May that film franchise burn in Hell!) co-writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. Continuing the connection with 'Lost', the film will be co-produced by Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk.
The decision to revive the 'Trek' franchise comes a year after the cancellation of spin-off TV series Enterprise, which was axed after four seasons due to poor ratings.
Rumours that the film series would continue in a different form have been circulating since 2003. For instance, Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard of 'The Next Generation') told ITV1's 'This Morning' earlier this year that there was "interest in bringing the 'Next Generation' cast together with actors from different 'Star Trek' series".
Being all for the blending of the 'Trek' spin-offs, I'd like to see this happen. I think the story should be centered around the space station Deep Space Nine and focus on the worm-holes of Bajor. Starfleet should be making the attempt to rescue Captain Benjamin Sisko from his exile among "the Prophets".
Besides the various cast members to be used, there could be plenty of work for some special guest stars who could play assorted Bajorans, "Prophets", and maybe even Vulcan emissaries who accompany a very ancient Vulcan matriarch named T'Pol, who suffers from Bendii Syndrome which brings her into spiritual contact with the "Prophets" and thus kicks off this mission.
(One casting suggestion for playing an alien guest star? Get Ethan Suplee, who plays Randy Hickey on 'My Name Is Earl', to be one of the dim-witted Pakleds.)
Among the cast members from the various shows to be used, I'd refrain from bringing back Odo, who should remain among his people, the Founders of the Dominion, and Data, who was destroyed at the end of the last 'Trek' movie, "Nemesis".
And perhaps the participation by Whorf, Riker and Dr. Crusher could be avoided by having them remain on active duty on other vessels. Whorf would have gone back to the Klingon empire; Riker would be helming his own ship; and Dr. Crusher might be either in charge of a medical vessel as was seen in alternate future in the finale for 'ST: TNG', or she could be visiting with her son Wesley.
In fact, now that I think of it, Wesley could be brought in to use his newly blossoming powers to make contact with Sisko in that alt. dimension where he's supposedly trapped and bring him home. But in the process, Wesley is lost there instead.
That would make a lot of Wesley-haters in the audience very happy. They'd be walking out of theatre, cheerfully humming the theme music.
Most of the 'Deep Space Nine' cast should be brought back, as the space station would still be their base of operations, Kira Nerys in command of the facility. For medical emergencies during the episode, not only would you have Dr. Bashir (with his Trill wife Enzi Dax by his side) but also the holographic medical program downloaded from the returned 'Voyager'.
Captain Janeway, who knew Sisko, could be the front-line leader of the search and rescue, while Admiral Picard would be have overall command of the operations. And Seven of Nine could lead the expeditionary force that enters the particular wormhole that might lead to the whereabouts of Sisko.
Jake Sisko would be there out of concern for his father; and Mr. O'Brien would be working in conjunction with Geordi LaForge to keep the unstable, experimental equipment being used from blowing them up Real Good.
Via the wormholes, they might even come in contact with Neelix and the colony of Talaxians again. Or they could travel through Time (which had no meaning to the Prophets) to go back in Starfleet history to meet the original surviving members of the first 'Enterprise'; to find out what Dr. Phlox knew about the mystery of the "Prophets".
This might be where T'Pol comes in; where her ancient self could meet up with her younger self.
And during their down-time, the characters can get better acquainted and rested up at Quark's bar.
Ultimately, who would be the hero of the adventure?
As for this movie to be made about Kirk and Spock as undergrads at Starfleet Academy, the movie should end with Spock being assigned to the Enterprise, leaving Kirk behind to finish his studies. That way we could meet younger versions of Captain Christopher Pike and Dr. Piper.
Finally, one suggestion: please guys - and I'm referring to Mr. Abrams, Mr. Lindelof, and Mr. Burk, - PLEASE find a way to work in the numeric sequence "4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42". Maybe even a connection to the mysteries of Rambaldi.
Your fans will go crazy for those types of link!
I think there's enough time between me and the project so that I can go in now with a fresh outlook and being hacking away at it with editorial machete. Should I ever feel the need to club it to death, I have the mashie-niblick on stand-by.
There is a whole sub-plot which I know I can easily jettison and save to open the next installment. (I can't help it - I have a trilogy in mind!) And only now am I able to see that. I'm also going to combine two more characters to bring the DeMillian horde down.
It's an adventure set in the TV Universe; that much I can say. But it's not like fanfic at all. Well, maybe a little. There may be three or four actual TV characters, mostly obscure and never named in the book, in little more than cameo hommages more to the actors than the characters.
For the most part, however, I'm merely using the generalized conventions of the TV Universe - your basic cliches - and not taking a dump in somebody else's sandbox. I'm not as delusional as this other "Hope-less" writer who shall remain nameless (although Lee Goldberg can pretty much fix you up with that info!)
As progress is made, I'll keep you up-to-date.
So far I've finished re-reading about four chapters. (It was pretty busy at work!) And what struck me so far is something that played out for me to be a bit prescient.
There is a minor character loosely based on one of my brothers (also on a friend and a former room-mate). His character suffers from an old leg injury.
Turns out my brother ripped his Achille's tendon - near the top of the calf! - earlier this year and he went through a long rehab period for it.
Suddenly I feel like Keenan Wynn in that 'Twilight Zone' episode! Maybe I should write in a million dollars for one of the two characters based on me!
Friday, April 21, 2006
I'm such a tease......
It's been about a month since the last episode of 'InJustice' aired, and I'm really missing it. The show served as a nice antidote to the conservative 'Law & Order', where innocent people are never wrongly convicted. It just NEVER happens in Dick Wolf's corner of Toobworld.
I don't know if 'InJustice' is off the air for good or not; whether there were any more episodes being held back or if it might be renewed for next season. (Kyle MacLachlan is now involved with 'Desperate Housewives' and Constance Zimmer at least has been attached to a pilot project. So it's unlikely the show will ever return.)
But within the block of episodes shown, there was a glimmer of hope that 'InJustice' could be linked to Toobworld at large. And this was thanks to casting and the Theory of Relateeveety.
In the episode of "Public Burning", Charlayne Woodard guest starred as a radical Catholic nun named Sister Gloria Quinn.
Brianna: I didn't know you knew the Death Row Nun.
I'm not sure if she had a national reputation as the "Death Row Nun" or if it was just in California, but it seems like it had become a specialty for her, to the exclusion of other pursuits in social work.
So based on that supposition alone, I don't think Sister Gloria Quinn could be the nun who dispensed clean needles to junkies and worked to talk hookers out of plying their trade on the streets of New York. And that's not counting the factors of a difference in location and a different name.
That nun, also played by Charlayne Woodard on at least six episodes of 'Law & Order: SVU', was named "Sister Peg".
But! - and this is well within the realm of possibility - Sister Peg and Sister Gloria Quinn could be identical twins who not only shared the same DNA, but also a faith so deep that they both took vows in an order and a need to combat social injustice.
If so, this brings 'InJustice' into the connected weave of Toobworld rather than just floating free in the void. That's because 'Law & Order: SVU' is a spin-off of 'Law & Order' which had several crossovers with 'Homicide: Life On The Street'. And that Baltimore-based procedural had at least one - maybe two - characters from 'St. Elsewhere' appearing during its run (Dr. Roxanne Turner and maybe Dr. Victor Ehrlich).
And as everyone should know by now, 'St. Elsewhere' is the great hub of the TV Universe, no matter what your interpretation of the dimension is.
So unless there has been anything in her past 'SVU' episodes to contradict this premise, then I think it can be accepted as unproven fact.
At least until the day comes when a future episode has Sister Peg declare that she was an only child.......
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Henderson Forsythe, an accomplished character actor who demonstrated his versatility in plays by dramatists like O'Neill, Beckett and Pinter and in rollicking musicals, movies and television — including 31 years on the soap opera "As the World Turns," died on Monday at his home in Williamsburg Landing, Va. He was 88.
Mr. Forsythe was acclaimed for his portrayal of Ed Earl Dodd, the earthy, profane sheriff in "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." He won the 1979 Tony Award for outstanding featured actor in a musical for the role, and when he reprised the role in London, was nominated there for actor of the year in a musical.
Millions of fans of "As the World Turns," knew Mr. Forsythe's character, Dr. David Stewart, as if he were a family member. From the time he replaced Ernest Graves, who briefly played Dr. Stewart, in December 1960, Mr. Forsythe saw his character through almost innumerable twists and turns, none more intriguing than when he almost married a second wife while suffering from amnesia in 1981. Dr. Stewart died in 1991.
His television appearances ranged from playing Dr. Kildare's father to roles in episodes of "Law & Order" to Big Bud, a crotchety old geezer, in "Eisenhower and Lutz," a 1988 series.
In one episode, Big Bud recounts that he took some sushi home once. He said he "fried it up and wasn't half bad."
In interviews, Mr. Forsythe insisted he did not consider acting in a soap opera to be beneath him. "It's the variety that makes it interesting," he told The Associated Press in 1979. But his first love remained serious theater, though in 1994 he played a reincarnated Col. Harland Sanders in commercials for KFC restaurants.
"Nearly Departed" (1989) TV Series .... Grampa
"Eisenhower & Lutz" (1988) TV Series .... Barnett M. 'Big Bud' Lutz
"Eight Is Enough" (1977) TV Series .... Big Bud
[This is the same character in both shows, a fact pointed out in several online encyclopedias, but not mentioned in any of the reference books I have here in Toobworld Central. You learn something new every day... too bad it took the man's death for me to discover this.]
"As the World Turns" (1956) TV Series .... Dr. David Stewart #2 (1960-1990)
"The Edge of Night" (1956) TV Series .... Martin Sprode (1958)
"From These Roots" (1958) TV Series .... Jim Benson (1958-1960)
Carolina Skeletons (1991) (TV) .... Judge Brickstone
In the Line of Duty: Manhunt in the Dakotas (1991) (TV) .... Doc Martin
Sessions (1983) (TV)
Word of Honor (1981) (TV) .... Peterson
Zoya (1995) (TV) .... Arnold Evan
Teamster Boss: The Jackie Presser Story (1992) (TV) .... Senator Bruckmeyer
Separate But Equal (1991) (TV)
Concealed Enemies (1984) (TV) .... John Foster Dulles
"Freedom to Speak" (1982) (mini) TV Series .... Sam Ervin/Lyndon B. Johnson/John Marshall
Crisis at Central High (1981) (TV) .... Glenn Huckaby
TV GUEST APPEARANCES
"Law & Order"
- Blood Money (1999) TV Episode .... Hamilton Stewart
- God Bless the Child (1991) TV Episode .... Lucius Carpenter
"I'll Fly Away"
- Amazing Grace (1991) TV Episode
"The Corner Bar"
- To Your Good Health (1973) TV Episode
- Between the Rats and the Finks (1964) TV Episode .... Grayson
"East Side/West Side"
- Takes Sides with the Sun (1964) TV Episode .... Bowen Munro
- A Taste for Vengeance (1963) TV Episode .... Dr. Morton
- The Riot (1961) TV Episode .... John Andrews
"The United States Steel Hour"
- Night Run to the West (1963) TV Episode .... Calvin Broderick
- Second Chance (1958) TV Episode .... Dr. Bill Ward
- An Ancient Office (1962) TV Episode .... Dr. Stephen Kildare
"Play of the Week"
- All Summer Long (1961) TV Episode
- Police Lt. Charles Becker (1960) TV Episode
- The Human Barrier (1957) TV Episode .... Dr. Barnes
- The Mother Bit (1957) TV Episode .... Mr. Minton
- The Furlough (1957) TV Episode .... Police Sergeant
- The Playwright and the Stars (1957) TV Episode .... Riley
"The Alcoa Hour"
- A Double Life (1957) TV Episode .... Victor
[Credits from IMDb.com]
Add one more to the list of mysteries amassing like moss on the island of "Lost."
Forget for a second the true identity of Henry Gale, the black smoke that peered into the eyes of Mr. Eko or the map that appeared to Locke on the hatch door. Here's what's truly puzzling: Why can't ABC move the massive audience that tunes in Wednesday at 9 p.m. to the 10 p.m. slot?
It's difficult to understand why the pairing of "Lost" and "Invasion" didn't work. Anyone who has sat glued to their couch between 9-11 p.m. on Wednesday has to marvel at how similar in sensibility these shows are, from their eerie tone to the plot puzzles that are carefully strewn like a breadcrumb trail leading viewers from episode to episode.
You would think all "Lost" fans would love "Invasion," but that's the black magic of primetime scheduling for you. The practice of maintaining audience flow is equal parts art and science -- always unpredictable, even when it seems a textbook example of how to develop and schedule around hit lead-ins.
I think the answer is simple. It doesn't matter what follows 'Lost', no matter what the channel. Last year 'The West Wing' followed 'Lost' at 9 pm, but over on NBC. It's one of my favorite series; it will stand the test of Time as one of the greatest TV shows ever made.
But I had to set my VCR to record it because I was too hyped up over what I had just seen the hour before over on ABC with 'Lost'. I didn't want to dilute the experience by watching any other TV show so soon right after that. It didn't have to be similar, it didn't have to be on the same network, it didn't have to be perfect for my demographic. I just didn't want to watch.
Instead, I wanted to abandon the TV entirely and immediately discuss what I had just seen with other like-minded viewers wrapped up in the island's mystery. To hell with the concept of water-cooler TV - waiting until the next day to discuss it at work wasn't going to cut it.
Besides, we don't even have a water cooler where I work......
This is why I think 'Invasion' lost all those 'Lostaways'. They were all online over at The Fuselage and other message boards dedicated to 'Lost'. And that's the price networks are going to have to pay for developing a symbiotic relationship with the Internet.
MISSING IN ACTION?
At the funeral for Leo McGarry in last week's 'The West Wing', we saw many characters from the series' past who returned just to film these scenes as just cameos with no dialogue: former Vice President John Hoynes, Security Advisor Nancy MacNally, Congresswoman Andie Wyatt, and the three Bartlet daughters.
However, there were others we didn't get a chance to see at the funeral who made significant contributions to the series and to the Bartlet administration over the last seven years. Of these, Sam Seaborn's absence will probably be splained away this coming Sunday when Rob Lowe returns to the series after three years away.
But what of the others like Jordan Kendall (Leo's attorney and former girl-friend), Mandy Hampton (DNC political consultant), Surgeon General Millicent Griffith, Secret Service Agent Ron Butterfield, General Alexander of the Joint Cheifs Of Staff, White House Counsel Oliver Babish and his predecessor Lionel Tribby, Chief Justice Evelyn Baker Lang and fellow Justices Christopher Mulready and Roberto Mendoza, and former President Glenallen Walken?
Who says they weren't there? Did you see the size of that crowd in the National Cathedral? We didn't even see 1/20th of the people attending Leo's funeral in those five minutes of screen time.
And anybody who says they couldn't be there because the actors weren't there to be filmed just doesn't understand the concept of Toobworld........
ACROSS THE MULTIVERSE
Detectives Green and Briscoe of 'Law & Order' meet Bruce Wayne of 'Batman':
(Thanks to hooper x)
This past Monday, Joan's cousin dated a player for the San Diego Sabers on 'Girlfriends'. It was a showcase for a potential spin-off sitcom to be called 'The Game', which is hoping to land a spot on the very competitive fall schedule for the CW.
The CW is rising from the combined ashes of both the WB and UPN, which means more than half of the shows currently being broadcast on both networks will have to go.
But 'The Game' may have a jump shot edge over the competition in that 'Girlfriends' has proven to be quite a ratings warhorse and because Kelsey Grammar has been one of the executive producers.
('The Game' is a terrible title, by the way, but so is 'Girlfriends' and so was 'Friends' in my opinion,so what do I know?)
Ask.com "Animals In Pants"
While searching for a pot-pie recipe, a scientist decides to use Ask.com. A female scientist, who's standing next to him while holding a baby orangutan, is curious about the tools used by the site and he says, "Without tools, we'd just be, well, you know..."
That's when the little orangutan interjects: "animals in pants."
Neither lab researcher is startled by the ape's use of human speech. Therefore, it's my belief that ever since 1983, when an orangutan named Cha-Cha accidentally drank a strange mixture of enzymes and developed an IQ of 285, that same reseach center has been conducting research into rediscovering the proper mix of enzymes for that elixir.
And it appears that finally, after 23 years, they've succeeded in creating a new 'Mr. Smith'.
Speaking of Ask.com and missing links, they're also running another commercial in which a Sasquatch used the search engine to find romance with a human.
I don't think it's supposed to be Harry of 'Harry And The Hendersons', although he does have access to a human habitat. Perhaps he's just one of Harry's cousins, in town to get laid.....
NEW @ TOOBWORLD CENTRAL
Being a fan of Robert Culp, my latest bootleg DVD is of his 1957-59 Western, 'Trackdown' in which he portrayed Hoby Gilman, Texas Ranger.
The four episodes on the disc are:
"The Full Hand"
I also picked up several books linked to 'Lost'. Chief among these is "The Lost Chronicles", the official companion book. Usually I don't like to pick up these books until a series has run its course, unless the show looks like it won't have the legs to continue having books about it published after cancellation.
There's no danger of that with 'Lost' in my mind, but when I saw that this also contains a DVD of behind-the-scenes footage, I figured I'd pick it up. I know - I don't like looking behind the curtain when it comes to making TV shows. But remember - this show is made in Hawaii. On the beach. Lots of people in skimpy outfits........
I also picked up two of the tie-in novels:
"Signs of Life" by Frank Thompson
"Secret Identity" by Cathy Hapka
I thought my taste for tie-in novels had run its course after so many years of devouring 'Star Trek' books, but I'm so hyped on this show that I figured I might as well give it a shot.
I also have a Big Finish Audio CD of a 'Doctor Who' adventure featuring Colin Baker as the Sixth Incarnation of The Doctor with Nicola Bryant returning as Peri Brown. It's called "Her Final Flight" (referring to the TARDIS and not to Peri, I believe).
This just happened last night on 'Bones':
While in New Orleans to help Dr. Temperance Brennan find out who was framing her for a voodoo murder, FBI Agent Seely Booth warned her to start acting like a normal woman instead of as Lily Munster.
Booth wasn't referring to Lily as a TV character from 'The Munsters'. He was talking about the actual (undead) woman. At some point in time after the series cancellation, the existence of the Munster family became common knowledge - especially to the FBI. You can't have that many of Eddie's teachers, co-workers, politicians, and petty crooks enter the house at 1313 Mockingbird Lane without word of the fright-fest family getting around.
Probably Agent Booth heard about them from fellow agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully while they were still part of the Bureau.....
Finally, Booth, in that same episode of 'Bones', also made a passing comment about tossing the Ring into the molten river ("Blah blah blah").
There's no Zonk! in this, because JRR Tolkien's epic "The Lord Of The Rings" is not part of Toobworld proper. Oh, it exists in the alternate dimension of the Tooniverse, and over in that alternate universe of Mankind's imagination, the Cineverse, as well as in universes based on Broadway and on orchestral adaptions.
Obviously it reigns supreme in the Literary Universe.
I would love to have "The Lord Of The Rings" as part of Earth Prime-Time, but I won't count the many TV specials that were presented as promotions for the movies; that's a cheat.
So here's my Wish-Craft. I hope someday Peter Jackson might turn his attention to two major sections of the epic which he had to excise for time and space: the story of Tom Bombadil and the Scouring of the Shire. Either as separate tales or as part of one great story that could be presented as a two-part, four-hour mini-series.
It'll probably never happen, but that's what the Wish-Craft is all about - the hopeless dreams of a TV fanatic.
Thanks to Lee Goldberg's blog (You'll find the link to the left), I found the home page focused on the "scandalous" book "Oakdale Confidential", which has thrown the town of Oakdale into an uproar on the soap opera 'As The World Turns'.
The website also has a blog which is being handled by "Anonymous" who wrote the book. The mystery author wrote the book in the voice of whoever will be eventually revealed as the author on the show. He/she is also doing triple duty blogging as Katie and as Luke, both from 'ATWT'.
From the blog's first entry:
I am Anonymous. I’m a ghost-writer, and my latest project is “Oakdale Confidential” from Pocket Books, a novel written to celebrate As The World Turns 50th Anniversary.
Starting April 7, 2006, at 2PM on CBS, the characters of fictional Oakdale USA are going to be all up in arms, wondering who wrote this scandalous, sexy, anonymous novel. The story will play out on air for weeks, and eventually lead to many complications in the lives of Oakdale’s favorite couples.
"Oakdale Confidential" is also available here in the Real World.
There's another book being published in Toobworld as well as in the Real World this TV season. "Bad Twin" by Gary Troup (an anagram for "Purgatory") has already been seen in manuscript form on 'Lost', being read by Hurley. I'm sure we'll be seeing it again in the hands of Sawyer, a voracious reader.
The identity of the true author of "Bad Twin" is also being withheld at this time, but apparently he/she is a noted mystery writer. As for Gary Troup, it's believed he was the guy in the pilot who got sucked into the engine.
(Watch that scene again in VERY slow motion. You can see the Smoke Monster swoop in and slam against the side of the engine just before it explodes!)
There have been other books published in the past that were packaged to look as though they came right out of the world of the show; there was one for 'Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman' and a great recreation of the Access Guide for 'Twin Peaks'. The series of paperbacks about the adventures of Jessica Fletcher from 'Murder, She Wrote' are written in the "first person", but this isn't the same thing as being one of the many novels written by JB Fletcher getting published in the Trueniverse.
But as near as I can figure, "Oakdale Confidential" and "Bad Twin" are the first examples of tie-in novels that actually play a role within the framework of the TV shows that spawned them. I'm surprised Paramount never released at least one 30s-era mystery novel allegedly written by Dixon Hill, favorite author of Captain Jean-Luc Picard of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'. With the amount of books they have released as tie-ins to that franchise, somebody must have realized there would have been plenty of geeky fanboys out there ready to buy it!
Still, there are plenty of TV shows in the past which could have pulled off this same synergistic marketing ploy. However, many of them weren't on the air long enough to get the paper loaded into the typewriter. (Hey - I said these shows were in the past!)
'Bram & Alice'
'Living in Captivity'
'Stark Raving Mad'
'What's Happening Now!!'
'Window On Main Street'
Since there's always an appetite for mystery novels, perhaps those shows that featured mystery novelists would have fared better with tie-in novels "written" by the main characters:
'Glynis' (It was always a Wish-Craft for me that Glynis Johns might one day appear as her title character from this little-known series on 'Murder, She Wrote'. It would have been a natural. She did appear on the show finally, but as a totally different character.)
'Over My Dead Body'
'The Snoop Sisters'
With 'Sable' and 'Stone' it was more a case of the show itself being the mystery. 'Sable' was about a spy who claimed to be a writer of children's stories as a cover story; while 'Stone' was about a police detective who wrote novels.
The British have had several shows which could have capitalized on this notion. Chief among them would have been 'Jason King' - the title character "wrote" the popular series of "Mark Caine" novels.
'Blackeyes' (The name of the novel written by the main character)
'The Singing Detective' (It's hard to picture Denis Potter selling out in that way, however.)
Two of the biggest hits on TV in the 1980s could have really cashed in on this idea. At the height of its popularity, 'Magnum, P.I.' could have published one or two novels allegedly penned by the mysterious Robin Masters, who owned the estate where Magnum was in charge of security.
And as Nancy Weston's children's book played such an important role in the ongoing plotline on 'thirtySOMETHING', the show's creators could have capped off the story with the book's publication in the Real World as well as in Toobworld.
There were a few sitcoms about authors which would have provided alternates to the novel idea. Dick Loudon ('Newhart') wrote how-to books and continued to do so even after he purchased an inn in Vermont.
On second thought, maybe it was just as well we never got any Dick Loudon how-to books published in the Real World. As it turned out, Dick was nothing more than the dream-state alter-ego of pschologist Dr. Bob Hartley of 'The Bob Newhart Show'. There are too many people out there already with a tenuous grasp on reality as it is (not that anyone comes to mind - ahem!).... I'd hate to think they'd be damaged further by such mind-bending books.
Somebody who looks amazingly like Loudon, Bob McKay ('Bob!'), created the comic book, "Mad Dog". They should have at least given the comic a one-issue try-out as a promotional for the sitcom. As would have been the case with the Dixon Hill novels for 'Star Trek', you've got a built-in collectors' mentality out there who would have gladly bought it and slapped it into mylar for posterity.
And perhaps a collection of the fictional "Cosmic Cow" comic strips might have been in order to help expand the interest in Ted Knight's sitcom 'Too Close For Comfort'. I'm sure it could have been a best-seller - the show ran far longer than I would have ever guessed to be possible, so somebody was a big fan of it.
Any one of those books could have then done a crossover with the best series ever about the world of publishing - 'Dream On'. But as that would have been too much of a stretch, the HBO sitcom could have instead created a novel to be published in both worlds. It would have provided a story arc over an entire season, from its conception through the contract negotiations (for movie rights as well!) and marketing strategies until its publication to cap the season finale.
And the identity of the author would have been integral to the ongoing storyline: Dr. Richard Stone, an ubermensch looked upon as a savior to the world and bane of the existence of book editor Martin Tupper after Stone married Martin's ex-wife Judith.
I think it would have worked. I'd make book on it!
[My thanks to TV Acres - link to the left! - for most of the series cited in this post.]
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
This includes the Tooniverse, where several series have been adapted for that pen-and-ink realm with some variations. These include:
'The Addams Family'
'The Brady Bunch'
'Mork & Mindy'
'I Dream Of Jeannie'
'The Lone Ranger'
'My Favorite Martian'
'Laverne & Shirley'
By way of daughter 'Tabitha', 'Bewitched' could also be included in that group. But Darrin and Samantha also appeared in the Tooniverse via 'The Flintstones'. However, they were the original souls who would be reincarnated millions of years later as the witch and mortal of Westport in the 1960s-70s.
Other TV characters who have been found in the Tooniverse without their home shows include Number Six of 'The Prisoner' and the Gallifreyan Time Lord of 'Doctor Who'. Both of them showed up in episodes of 'The Simpsons' (as did the sentinel balloon Rover from 'The Prisoner').
I was especially glad to see that the Doctor had an animated presence in Toobworld, because it helped to buttress a theory I had about another cartoon character. On Earth in the Tooniverse, sentient humanoid animals live side by side with the humans. This should be the general rule throughout the universe, and therefore Gallifrey should be no exception.
If Huckleberry Hound lives on the same planet as Homer Simpson (as we saw in an episode of 'The Simpsons'), then why can't we assume that Mr. Peabody is originally from the cartoon version of Gallifrey? This Time Lord canine now lives on Earth, disdainful of its inhabitants, and visiting past eras with his human companion via his TARDIS, which he has remodeled into something he's dubbed a "Wayback Machine" (WABAC).
Last month, we found another refugee from a live-action TV series taking up residence in the Tooniverse. On the "Sibling Rivalry" episode of 'The Family Guy', mobster Christopher Moltisanti of 'The Sopranos' helped Stewie Griffin plant a tree in a Quahog park.
("Christophuh" was probably in Rhode Island on family business for T. Everybody knows about the mob presence in the Ocean State... maybe Chris had dealings with the Ant Hill Mob......)
So on a technicality, perhaps in some future Birthday Honors induction, Christopher Moltisanti could qualify for membership in the TV Crossover Hall of Fame. That's because he's also a "Skits-oid Man", seen in a comedy bit about the writers of 'The Late Show with David Letterman' on an Emmy Awards telecast.
In that same episode of 'The Family Guy', another TV character crossed over into the Tooniverse - Elwood Blues. While Stewie was in the playground, Elwood was walking past in the background. Catching sight of him, Stewie called out: "You got my Cheez Whiz, boy?"
The same set-up happened in "The Blues Brothers" movie when Elwood returned to his transient hotel.
Elwood and his brother Joliet Jake may be better known for their appearance in the movie, but they do have a presence in Toobworld thanks to their performances on 'Saturday Night Live'. And as they also made at least one recording, the Blues Brothers are true citizens of the Multiverse.
In one of the more comical sub-plots in this latest season for 'The Sopranos', "Paulie Walnuts" Gaultieri found out that his Ma wasn't his ma; his Aunt Dottie - a nun! - was. When she was a young girl in the waning days of World War II, while she was still a novice who had not yet taken her vows, Dottie worked as a hostess at a USO canteen. There she met a sailor by whom she had a baby... Paulie.
(I'm assuming that Paulie is roughly the same age as Tony Sirico, the actor who plays him; and Sirico was born in 1946.)
His Aunt Dottie was a bit, well, dotty... when she finally confessed this to Paulie on her death-bed; so that if she ever remembered the identity of Paulie's biological father, she took the name with her when she died days later.
I don't see how Paulie would be able to ever find out the sailor's name, unless it was actually entered on his birth certificate. And considering the fact that David Chase has let a lot of plot-lines slide to the wayside rather than get wrapped up neatly - just like in real life, - more than likely Paulie will never find out.
He is a pretty clueless guy, after all. I don't think it ever occurred to him that he could have been banging a distant cousin when he slept with a prostitute in Italy, who had come from the same small town as his grandfather.
But as he is so obsessed with the concept of his own conception, Paulie might get it in his head to track down the guy who knocked up his real Ma and maybe even wack him!
Good thing then, that the TV character I have in mind passed away more than twenty years ago in Toobworld (as did the actor who portrayed him).
So for the time being, I think I'm pretty safe in putting forward this theory as to who his biological father might have been in Toobworld. He's a classic TV character seen every day on TV Land, one who did serve in the Navy during the Big One.
Ward Cleaver, as portrayed by Hugh Beaumont on 'Leave It To Beaver', grew up on the family farm outside of Mayfield in what could be described as a Tom Sawyer-like childhood. But after spending his four years at State University living in a frat house (where he was elected president) and serving as an engineer in the Seabees during the war, Ward Cleaver probably felt the need to sow a few wild oats (or some other kind of seed) while on leave in New York City once his unit returned home to the USA.
He probably never even realized that he had impregnated Dottie; otherwise he would have done the right thing and married her to give his son a name. Instead, he went home to Mayfield and married his sweetheart June Bronson and they raised two boys in a warm and loving home.
This means that Paulie Walnuts would be half-brother to Wally and the Beav.
Ooh, marone! Makes your head spin, don't it?
But as there is something to be said for nurture vs. nature, the only thing Paulie would have inherited from Ward Cleaver would have been his DNA. Without the firm guidance from Ward as a father figure, Paulie found himself on the path that has surely placed him on the highway to hell.
Unlike many father/son pairs in Toobworld who look alike due to the same actor playing the role, I'm not saying that Ward Cleaver and Paulie Gaultieri are identical twins or even near as. But there are just enough physical similarities (which could have been diluted by the chromosomal contributions made by Dottie) to make them a reasonable match as father and son.
Take a look for yourself:
Perhaps this combination might work better:
Paulie ......... Ward
Or enter their names in Google Image Search and see what photos you come up with!
Did Ward ever tell his beloved June that he had fooled around before they married? Something tells me he would have owned up to it......
If you don't, you only make matters worse."
'Leave It To Beaver'
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
My thanks go out once again to the fine folks at TVSquad.com. I posted my question about the sixth pall bearer at Leo McGarry's funeral in the episode "Requiem" of 'The West Wing'. And several readers quickly added their two cents.
The head honchos at TVSquad picked up on the question and gave it a showcase to get more responses.
I've since re-watched the scene - several times, in fact, and mostly because I found it very moving, - and I agree with the majority opinion: that the sixth pallbearer is the significant other of Mallory O'Brien, Leo's daughter.
We first see him sitting beside Mallory in the front pew. [Heh heh. "pew".] When the camera cuts to an overhead shot as the pallbearers get into position around Leo's coffin, we see him get out of the front pew to take his place opposite President-elect Santos.
As to who exactly he is, that is, his name, and as to what his relationship with Mallory actually is (husband? fiance? boyfriend? beard?), that seems to be still up in the air and provided plenty of speculation.
Someone claimed that there was a passing line of dialogue early in this season about Mallory on the campaign trail while pregnant. Of course, we're no longer in the 1950s, so that no longer has any bearing on her marital status.
I always hoped she would eventually get back together with Sam Seaborn, but that's life in Toobworld for ya.
Now, if I could just find out who the crying, older woman with reddish hair was in the congregation.... Could that have been Leo's ex-wife, Mallory's mom?
First up, my thanks to a reader at Lost: The Tail Section for spotting a connection in 'Lost' to Stephen King's production of 'Kingdom Hospital'.
The balloon basket for "Henry Gale" had bumper stickers advertising his various sponsors for the round-the-world trip. Among them was one that added to the 'Lost' mystique - for Mr. Cluck's, where Hurley used to work.
But the other one is for Nozz-o-la Cola, a product placement straight out of King's imagination (and apparently used in several novels as well).
Pretty good stuff (the link - not sure about the cola), and in any other week it might have been top dog. But my chosen biggie is the cat's meow!
(Go to the April Archives and scroll down for the pictorial proof of the bumper sticker.)
As for the other link, I tip my cap to the folks at TVSquad.com. An eagle-eyed viewer caught a frame grab from 'The War At Home' on FOX last Sunday night in which the family took off on a plane trip.
Their airline? Oceanic!
Again, a really nice link as it brings 'The War At Home' into the Toobworld family officially. But it's also a case of been there, done that ('JAG', 'Diagnosis Murder', 'Alias', several TV movies).
Visit again on Monday to see what Crossover topped these two worthy contenders.....
Monday, April 17, 2006
Here's what I wrote over in the comments at TVSquad.com:
The one point where I found myself choking up was at the wake, when President Bartlet had to force himself to be "on", and he sought out Margaret to tell her that Leo loved her... and then he launched into a great Leo story.
I also liked and understood the little showcase that Ainsley got, from within the story and from a real-world point of view (take advantage of her visibility from 'CSI: Miami'.)
But why nothing more than a few shots of Mallory O'Brien, Leo's daughter? Shouldn't the President have said something to her? Why didn't we get to see him and Abby go to the home of Leo's ex-wife to pay their respects?
I understand the needs of keeping the show's other storylines moving, but something could have been lost in order to have this closure for Leo in connection to his daughter.
Oh well. Maybe we'll get to see her again once Sam comes back.....?
I've been thunking more upon it since writing that......
'The West Wing' doesn't portray a perfect world, and it's certainly not one here where it's created. But perhaps they could have expanded the season for one more episode just so that this one, "Requiem", could have been solely about all the various aspects of Leo's funeral and wake as seen by the many people whose lives he touched. Wait until next week to get back to the business about the transition.
In that, I'm in accord with TV critic Alan Sepinwall. ("What's Alan Watching?" - link to the left) I didn't agree with his opinion that Leo's actual death was mis-handled in the two-part "Election" episode, but I think his complaints regarding the memorial episode are justified.
Instead of the maneuvers surrounding Donna's temporary living arrangement, wouldn't it have been nice to have seen an awkward exchange of dialogue between Annabeth Schott and Jordan Kendall, the attorney who represented Leo at the Congressional hearing and who also dated him afterward?
(I heard that Joanna Gleason - who portayed Jordan in a handful of episodes back in 2001/2002 - was asked to come back for a cameo in this episode as had so many others; but I didn't see her on first viewing of the crowd in the Cathedral.)
Surely the sub-plot about the Speaker of the House wrangling could have waited for one more week. That way we could have had the scene I wanted between President Bartlet and Mallory O'Brien. (Her married name has nothing to do with my desire for these scenes! Well... maybe a little.....)
However, I think the Ainsley Hayes scene needed to be here - the wake was her only opportunity to corner CJ in hopes that she'll put in a good word for Ainsley to get the White House Counsel job.
Obviously, due to obigations in the Trueniverse (She now plays Calleigh over on CBS on 'CSI: Miami'.), they only had access to the actress for this one episode. And it's my suspicion they used her to float the idea about bipartisanship in the Santos administration.
Maybe I'm crazy - Okay, I AM crazy - but I think they were setting the stage to bring in the now unemployed Arnold Vinick for the job of Secretary of State. This would give the neophyte Santos some heft in international relations, as well as giving him a golden opportunity to reach across party lines to heal a divided nation.
But what do I know?
It looks as though they might be bringing in Governor Baker of Pennsylvania as the new Veep, but I still would like them bring back the character of former Governor Buckland as played by Kevin Tighe in a memorable performance. Hey, this is Wish-Craft, after all.
Still, it comes down to my desire to have seen more of Allison Smith as Mallory. We needed that more personal bond with the memory of her father, perhaps through the use of flashback clips. (And the same would apply to Jed's memory of his old friend as well. What I really would have liked there would be a flashback including not only Jed and Leo, but also Mrs. Landringham as well!)
For what we got, it was sweet and moving, without becoming cloying. But because we have seen what this show has been capable of in the past, it could have been so much more.
One final note......
Can anybody out there in TV Land tell me who the sixth pall-bearer was. We had Bartlet, Santos, Josh, Barry Goodwin, and Charlie. But the Sixth Man ("You are Number Six....") - who was he?
I kind of like the idea that he is someone we don't know from the show; somebody Leo knew from another aspect of his life. In that way, it's another example in which we see that life in Toobworld goes on even if we can't view it.
But I'm keen to find out his identity, nevertheless.
Cartman was in Hollywood, hoping to force FOX into canceling 'The Family Guy', allegedly to keep the terrorist placated as the cartoon was supposedly going to depict the prophet Mohammed in the show. (Actually Cartman just wanted the show off the air because he didn't find it funny.) Stan followed him out there to stop his campaign - his argument being that if the network gave in to the Islamic terrorists, they win.
Why Bart Simpson was originally in Hollywood is unknown, but not out of the realm of reason. He's been to New York City, Australia, England, and he even washed up on a desert island when the school bus crashed into the ocean.
And there's always the possibility that Springfield isn't too far from Hollywood; we've never learned in all the years it's been on the air exactly what state this particular Springfield is in, although it does need to be near the ocean, apparently.
Now, a cynic might claim that Bart was there on the FOX lot just because he was an "employee" of the network, but that takes all the magic out of it. And considering the fact that the two-part 'South Park' episode was already one big Zonk! by going after 'The Family Guy' as a TV show rather than accepting it as being integrated into the same universe, who needs that headache?
There was no doubt that it was Bart Simpson, even if Nancy Cartwright wasn't providing the voice. Any vocal differences could be attributed to a cold, anyway. Despite the alteration in his appearance due to the animation style of 'South Park' as opposed to that of 'The Simpsons', Bart looked just like he does in his hometoon. The red shirt, the short pants, spiky hair, and the yellow skin coloring. He was even carrying his green skateboard (using it as a weapon) and he said one of his most famous of catch-phrases: "Cowabunga!"
Stan and Cartman never addressed him by name, not that he introduced himself on screen; they only referred to him as "Kid". So that leaves the question of his identity open for inference, and I'm taking the option that best suits Toobworld: it WAS Bart Simpson.
And even though it's not my birthday, I'm applying my mantra of "What I say, goes."
As the Bart-Man and Cartman would say -
Don't have a cow, man. Respect my authority!
Sunday, April 16, 2006
As I just mentioned, tonight the principle players in the Bartlet Administration, as well as many of the featured guest stars we've come to know over the years, will say good-bye to Democratic warhorse Leo McGarry.
The death of the character, as most should know by now, was predicated by the real life death of the actor who portrayed him, John Spencer, who passed away of a massive coronary on December 16, 2005. Because he was so integral to the plotline of the show, there was no other way to get around his absence on the series, and so the decision was made for Leo to pass away as well.
That they did it in such a dramatic fashion - just hours before the polls closed in the election - has been questioned in a lot of blogs and reviews. But when it comes to the world of Television, that's the nature of the beast.
The thing is, because of that particular storyline on 'The West Wing', we don't have to be mourning Leo McGarry today. For at least the last two seasons, they've been presenting their episodes so that they were set in the future by about two years.
Therefore, in the alternate TV dimension of 'The West Wing', Leo McGarry still lives because he died on the night of the next presidential election. Since by law the election is to be held on the Tuesday following the first Monday of November, that means Leo McGarry will be alive in the concept of Toobworld until November 11th, 2008.
And remember, this is an alternate version of the main Toobworld, Earth Prime Time. That's because the President of the United States is currently Josiah Bartlet, rather than George W. Bush as is the case in Toobworld as well as in the Real World. (I've been calling it "Earth Prime Time-Jed" for want of a better term, although it makes me think of 'The Beverly Hillbillies'.)
Although we probably won't ever see most of them, all of the characters in the various alternate TV dimensions have counterparts in the main TV universe. Only on shows like 'Sliders', 'Star Trek', 'Deep Space Nine', 'Hercules: The Legendary Journeys', and 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' do we see these doppelgangers on a regular basis.
Sometimes we have to go to other TV shows entirely to see these characters' counterparts and how they differ from the versions we know. And Leo McGarry is no exception. To see how his life played out in the main Toobworld, we have to watch an episode of 'Touched By An Angel'.
In October of 1995, Monica was assigned to help a troubled TV reporter named Debra Willis do the right thing after she struck a teenager with her car in a hit-and-run accident. Debra found herself reporting on her own crime and trying to manipulate the investigation because one of her oldest friends was the detective in charge.
And that cop friend was named Leo, played by the late John Spencer. And based on the information that I've found so far on the episode, we never do learn Leo's last name.
So why can't it be "McGarry"?
As such, we can make the reasonable assumption that in the main Toobworld, Leo McGarry didn't go into politics after finishing his tour of duty in the Air Force during the Viet Nam War. Instead, he joined the police force, finally rising up to the rank of detective.
I can't say for certain what his physical condition was supposed to be naturally, but I would think that without the high-stress pressures of politics squeezing him from all sides as happened when he was the Chief of Staff for the Bartlet administration, this Leo McGarry would probably be spared the heart troubles he experienced on 'The West Wing'.
And that way, his character would still be alive in Toobworld.
(There's a very detailed website dedicated to 'Touched By An Angel' which has a picture of John Spencer as Leo in "The Driver".)
By the way, Leo McGarry wouldn't be the only member of the cast from 'The West Wing' who has a doppelganger in the main Toobworld who went on to follow a different career path in Life. In an episode of 'St. Elsewhere', probably the center of the universe for Toobworld, there was a doctor mentioned who was working over at Boston General. His name was Josiah Bartlet.......
The producers and writers of 'The West Wing' did a fine job in my opinion with regard to how the death of Leo McGarry should play out in those waning hours of election night. They didn't allow it to overwhelm the overall storyline; instead it flavored various aspects in the plot, especially when it came to its impact on Josh. I have no doubt that tonight's episode will allow the many characters their chance to grieve and thus allow us to mourn along with them. We get the chance to say good-bye without diluting the buildup to the biggest storyline of the season.
But it could have been a lot trickier in trying to recover from such a tragic loss. This wasn't the first time, nor will it be the last, when a key player in a TV series passes away while still involved with the show's production. And my Iddiot compadre "Cousin Steve" came up with a possible solution for when producers need that most final of exit strategies:
"I've LONG been a believer that series actors should be required to put a segment of tape/film in the can that might explain their sudden demise, departure, deportation, career change, or real life disappearance.
It was corny when 'The Sopranos' tried to lip sync Mother Soprano's exit. For 'The West Wing', they might have to use a long range body double through the cross hairs of a sniper. Or the out takes of Leo's heart attack scene. [Cuz wrote this up for the Iddiot's Delight Digest soon after John Spencer's passing.]
So, my contractual insertion for actors would require that every two years or so, they go before the cameras, maybe with other actors, and create a death scene, or an accident, or an airline flight to a foreign banishment, or a jail sentence, or a marriage overseas, or a career change, but not a face lift.
It makes sense to me. It would certainly save us from recasting the role and thus dispelling the belief in the world created by the show.
As for that reference to 'The Sopranos', that horrific scene would have worked just as well if they just showed Tony talking to his mother on the phone, where they could have just used those strung-together clips of her dialogue from those scenes. That way we would have been spared the ghastly attempt to blend various images of Nancy Marchand together.
Yes, even though we'll be mourning the loss of Leo McGarry tonight on 'The West Wing', at least we can take heart in the fact that at present he's still alive over there in the TV universe for at least another two years. In that way, he's like Kirk and Bones and Scotty and Spock and his father Sarek - but in their cases, they haven't even been born yet, let alone died in the TV Universe.
(To be exact: The deaths of Scotty and Bones are not confirmed in Toobworld yet; only the actors have passed away, and who could replace them in our hearts? Both Sarek and the actor who played him, Mark Lenard, are dead. Kirk died in the 'Star Trek' movie, "Generations", while Spock died in "The Wrath Of Khan". But he was brought back to life in the following movie, "The Search For Spock".)
Sadly, there's no splainin that can get me around the loss of John Spencer, an actor who quickly rose to the top tier of my favorites with his portrayal of Tommy Mulloney on 'L.A. Law' (another character of his who yet lives in Toobworld).
Unfortunately, the Trueniverse trumps all.
"There's a saying:
'Every man is put on Earth condemned to die,
Time and method of execution unknown.'
Perhaps this is as it should be."
'The Twilight Zone'