Sunday, August 19, 2007


Is it any surprise that this week's episode of 'Psych' contained a number of Zonks? You know Zonks - those references to other TV shows AS TV shows, when they should be sharing the same universe with the show containing the references. And "Meat Is Murder, But Murder Is Also Murder" had a slew of them; not sure if it now holds the record. (How can a show with such a short title have such long episode titles?)

But we caught a break this week in that most of the Zonks were just recitations of detective show titles spouted by Gus' Uncle Burton. They may be the same titles of shows we have (or had) in the Trueniverse, but that doesn't mean they were the same shows in the TV Universe.

For example....

'HILL STREET BLUES' - This was the first one out of the gate. Had it not been for the fact that we learned Uncle Burton loved his detective shows, I might have passed this off as a music program. But he was using it in comparison to his nephew's line of work with the police department.

Still, the 'Hill Street Blues' of Toobworld could have been about a blues musician who sidelined as a private detective, perhaps it could have been based on the late 'Johnny Staccato' who led a similar life back in the early 1960s. And such a TV show would be more in keeping with the situation Gus (actually, Shaun) was in - someone with an unusual talent working as a private eye.

'DIAGNOSIS MURDER' - Uncle Burton kept referring to 'Diagnosis Murder' as an actual person rather than as the show's title. So there was nothing in its use that Zonks Toobworld with references to Dr. Sloan. For all we know, 'Diagnosis Murder' could have been a dramatization of a book by Ken Franklin and the late James Ferris ('Columbo' - "Murder By The Book") as they also wrote a murder mystery with a similar title "Prescription Murder").

Of course, that book, along with many others by Franklin and Ferris, featured an elderly sleuth named Mrs. Melville. If the Toobworld version of 'Diagnosis Murder' was based on a book by Franklin and Ferris, then it must have featured a male investigator. Either that, or it was re-written for Television. This is because Uncle Burton referred to the person "Diagnosis Murder" as a "he".

'GHOST WHISPERERS' - No, that's not a misprint. Uncle Burton clearly stated the name as a pluralization. So in Toobworld, there is a show with a similar title but for all we know, it could be a reality series like 'Ghost Hunters'.

'THE ROCKFORD FILES' - TV series have been developed based on the lives of real people here in our dimension. For example, 'Toma', 'Bat Masterson', Allison DuBois ('Medium'), and Dave Barry (in 'Dave's World'). There's no denying that with his imprisonment for a crime he didn't commit and his subsequent career as a private investigator who lived in a trailer on the beach, Jim Rockford led a life that contained endless examples to be dramatized for Television.

If the Toobworld 'Rockford Files' which Uncle Burton was watching is a recent program, I have a suggestion as to who could play the Rockford of the 1970s era: an actor by the name of David Boreanaz. I understand there's a vampire and an FBI agent who both look like him. If it's a program about the present-day Jim Rockford, then that movie star James Garner might be a good fit for the role.....

'MATLOCK' - I've written about Ben Matlock and his presence in the TV Universe before. (See "
Supernatural Splainins III".) And as mentioned above in regards to Jim Rockford, apparently a TV show was made about this lawyer from Atlanta.....

'MURDER, SHE WROTE' - This could be a difficult one to splain.... Uncle Burton said about it: "They call the show 'Murder, She Wrote', not 'Murder, They Wrote'." Again, no mention of Angela Lansbury or of Jessica Fletcher, so the 'MSW' of Toobworld could be any other show instead of the one that we know here in the real world.

Perhaps it's a series based on the books by JB Fletcher; or perhaps it was a documentary about her, the type of thing you can see on Ovation......

'MANIMAL' - As crazy as the premise was for this series (A scientist can turn into a variety of different animals to fight crime.), it has to be accept that it is part of Toobworld. It was broadcast, the most basic requirement for inclusion, and it had a later crossover with another short-lived series, 'Nightman'.

The 'Manimal' TV series in Toobworld more than likely resembles 'The Rockford Files' and other shows like 'Gilligan's Island', in that it was based on a "true" story. I can't see how Professor Jonathan Chase could have kept his secret for very long, not in a world where Black Ops has such an extensive network to spy on us all. Sooner or later, the world was going to learn about his abilities and some TV suit was going to jump all over it as a concept to build a series.

About the only show that would qualify as a definite Zonk was the mention of 'The Fall Guy' and its star, Lee Majors. Now technically, there wasn't a direct connection between the two. Shaun said something to the effect that "you were looking for a fall guy, and Lee Majors wasn't available". He then learns that Lee Majors actually lives in Santa Barbara and was, indeed, available.

But that doesn't mean that he was making the connection to the TV show, nor that he was thinking of 'The Fall Guy' as any kind of a TV show. Shaun is known for his nonsensical use of non sequiters, and throwing out the name of Lee Majors as a possible candidate to be a fall guy instead of Chef Antonio made as much sense as any other name he might have conjured.

That splainin isn't what the writer had in mind and it doesn't fit with the preconceived notion of the viewing audience, but if it helps to keep the TV Universe tidy and clear of Zonks (Ooops! Bleed-over from 'Monk'!), then it works for me.

Oh. And this week's pineapple reference: Gus used the word in a string of non-related terms as part of his fake psychic routine.

Toby OB

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