Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Now that I've got over 2,000 posts under my already taxed belt, I thought I might take the opportunity to restate what this "Toobworld Dynamic" is all about.

"Toobworld" is my term for Earth Prime-Time, that fictional universe in which everything from TV actually takes place. Part of that is concerned with the practice of TV crossovers, in which TV shows are connected by some character - or even a prop or location - which appears on more than one series. There are several very good websites out there which deal with crossovers specifically - the two best are Thom Holbrook's "Crossovers & Spinoffs" and "Tommy Westphall's Mind: A Multiverse Explored". (You can find the links to these sites, among MANY others of interest, there to the left.)

But my vision of Toobworld covers a lot more ground and is a bit more general in scope. I take it for granted that every show is already connected. Then I set about either finding a reason why they don't fit into Earth Prime-Time (and therefore must be shuttled out to an alternate TV dimension) or coming up with an explanation (I use the term "splainin", of course!) for the many discrepancies caused because obviously the creators of all these shows aren't working in collusion with each other.

Basically, I fill in the cracks of the Great Mosaic of the TV Universe jigsaw puzzle. I provide the caulk. If there isn't an official link between two shows, I can probably come up with a viable theory for one that at least would involve the circuitous route of "six degrees of separation".

Here is a list of the topics I usually cover here at Toobworld blog, "Inner Toob". All of these are useful in supplying the links necessary to join such disparate shows as a crime drama and a Western, a cartoon with a sitcom.

CROSSOVERS & SPIN-OFFS (taking a cue from Thom Holbrook's site)
The following topics all deal with the real and imagined connections between series:

This is about the actual, documented crossovers between shows that are usually sanctioned by the networks.

This now is a merger with another former category, "A Touch Of Sequelitis", dealing with the spin-offs and sequels to established shows.

These aren't official crossovers, but ones that I can rationally argue as being legitimate. (The title is a play on a character's name from 'Route 66'.)

Those connections that definitely don't exist and still need a lot of tweaking to make it at least sound as if it's possible. (The title is a play on a character's name from 'The Mod Squad'.)

Absolutely no connection can be found - yet! - between two shows, but I bring them up in the hopes somebody out there reading this might be able to think of one!

A very specific form of "Linkin' Case" in which I find links for episodes from 'The Twilight Zone'.

"Zonks" are those bugaboos which throw a cosmic spanner in the works of the TV Universe, usually in the form of one TV show making a pop culture reference to another TV show AS a TV show - when in "fact", they both should be sharing the same TV universe. I have to use a lot of pretzel logic at times to talk my way out of this one! (The term comes from those awful prizes to be found on 'Let's Make A Deal'.)

This next batch of topics is my most populous - dealing with various aspects of Toobworld's population:

Usually this is a profile or some kind of salute to a TV character for any number of occasions - marking the birthday or the death of the actor who played them; if they were a veteran, I might salute them on Veteran's Day. That sort of thing.....

These are the celebrities from all walks of Life who appear as fictionalized versions of themselves in TV dramas and sitcoms. They are not appearing at their real selves because they are interacting with fictional characters, and so that makes them just as fictional; they become true TV characters. And thus they are valid reasons to link shows together.

These are the portrayals by actors of real people, either of historical figures or of people who exist today in the Real World. So this could range from Paul Giamatti as John Adams in an upcoming HBO production to Judith Light as Ryan White's Mom in a TV movie. Usually Toobworld takes a pass when it comes to more than one actor playing a particular role - let's say the classic, Abraham Lincoln, - in several different TV series. That comes down to perspective and recollection of what the historical figure looked like. But if it's a portrayal to be found in several different TV movies and mini-series that just keep going over the same ground - this time, let's go with JFK and Jackie O as the example - then we might as well spread the bounty and dole these TV productions out among the many alternate TV dimensions.

Actors don't just take one role on TV and then walk away - they keep showing up playing different characters on a wide variety of TV series... if they're lucky enough to get the work. So splainins have to be found as to why so many characters might be walking around Los Angeles or New York City who look exactly the same, especially in the cases of TV shows which already have some kind of bond between them. (It's a condition I sometimes refer to as "urichosis".) Among the reasons might be aliases, cloning, genetic relations, androids, alien impostors, or good old fashioned plastic surgery.

This goes into more detail with the concept of genetic relations. Usually there are two characters out there who look exactly alike because they are "identical cousins", or one of their parents fooled around. But it also explores multi-generational reasons as to why shows might be linked - for instance, the suggestion that Dr. Gregory 'House' might be descended from Rothbart of Bainsbridge from 'The Dresden Files'.

Reincarnation is a fact in Toobworld. It's all spelled out in the theme song from 'My Mother The Car':

"Everybody knows in a second life, we all come back sooner or later. As anything from a pussycat to a man eating alligator."

This doesn't mean that a reincarnated character has to come back played by the same actor. In Toobworld, I believe the Roman emperor Claudius returned as a Chicago psychologist named Robert Hartley ('I, Claudius' & 'The Bob Newhart Show'). But most of the time, humans come back as talking dogs.....

This doesn't refer just to the creations of Jim Henson, but to all puppets who appear on TV in ways that have them interacting with humans who treat them as alive. I take my cue for the puppetry splainin from a 2nd Century text, "True History" which detailed the Island of the Blessed. In this land, all the people were spirit forms who needed to wear purple-dyed cobwebs in order to give themselves form. Centuries later, they wear puppet shells which give them the attributes of whatever form they've taken. So for all intents and purposes, Kermit IS a frog; Topo Gigio IS a mouse; and the Hamburger Helper is a glove. However, most ventriloquist dummies in TV are just props for an act. (But if a puppet is treated as just that - an inanimate puppet - than that's all it is.)

Once a month, Toobworld Central celebrates a character (or sometimes even a location or artifact) which unites at least three TV shows, TV movies, or commercials together by appearing in the triumvirate. Sometimes we also honor those individuals behind the scenes responsible for such crossovers. For instance, this month the inductee into the Hall of Fame is Russell T. Davies, who brought the 'Doctor Who' franchise back to life and which now has three different series on the air - 'The Sarah Jane Adventures' which just began yesterday, 'Torchwood', and the original, 'Doctor Who'

This is a feature I don't enjoy doing - we salute the TV characters who were played by actors and actresses who are no longer with us. (Just the other day we took a look at the many regular characters portrayed by the late Alice Ghostley.) I used to chronicle all of the TV work done by these performers but that became too much of a strain not only on my time but on my soul - very depressing!

This batch of topics covers the many dimensions of Toobworld, and even goes outside the universe:

Thanks to shows like the 'Star Trek' franchise, 'Hercules: The Legendary Journeys', 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' and especially 'Sliders', there are alternate TV dimensions. This is a godsend for those times when we just can't logistically link a TV series in the same universe as all the others. For instance, the latest trend is having a different President of the United States (POTUS) than the one in Earth Prime and Earth Prime-Time. Which means that shows like '24', 'The West Wing', 'Mr. President', 'Hail To The Chief', 'Commander In Chief' and even 'That's My Bush!' have to be dumped elsewhere. (The most recent show to be exiled was 'The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman' because their California governor is Lee Majors instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger who is established as the "governator" in several sitcom references elsewhere. We can fudge the fact that Robert McCallister of 'Brothers & Sisters' is a senator from California instead of Dianne Feinstein - for now - but Governor Majors is too specific a reference to gloss over.)

I used to include TV cartoons in the general Toobworld dimension, but the proliferation of talking animals like Huckleberry Hound and ageless characters like Bart Simpson make that impossible. So they have their own dimension where basically anything goes... and usually does.


The comedy sketches to be found in variety shows are usually at variance with Toobworld, so they get their own dimension to keep them out of trouble. It's a land of wild and crazy guys.....

This category usually deals with the appearance by TV characters in other media, like in movies, theatrical plays, or in books. It's a multi-verse thang.

For the most part, TV commercials are part and parcel of the main Toobworld, but it can get to be a dicey thing sometimes.

And then there are those miscellaneous topics that don't fall neatly into categories:

TWIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES - the latest news about Television
WISH-CRAFT - what I would like to see happen in Toobworld

WORLD TOOB - about TV shows from other countries, which are just as valid in Toobworld as American series
LOST IN THOUGHT - specifically geared towards one of my all-time favorite shows, 'Lost'
WHO'S ON TV - this time geared to another fave, 'Doctor Who'
LA TRIVIATA - the flotsam and jetsam that make up the small details of Life in TV
IDD - usually about my friends in the Digest list group focused on free form DJ legend Vin Scelsa and his radio show "Idiot's Delight"
MAILING TOOB - increasingly rare, but sometimes I do hear from people about my ideas!
MY SO-CALLED LIFE - me, me, me!

So if you're just joining us, already in progress, those are most of the topics you can look forward to reading about here at "Inner Toob". I hope you stick around for the rest of the journey - 2,000 posts and we ain't there yet!

Toby OB


Anonymous said...

//I use the term "splainin", of course! for the many discrepancies caused because obviously the creators of all these shows aren't working in collusion with each other.//

Or are they...........................?


Sean said...

Well set out, Tube, -- but I always preferred one of your earlier concepts of the Puppet Ghettos, like Sesame Street, where all the puppets in Tubeworld were shipped off to live to explain the puppets...


Toby said...

That still applies, Sean. I just didn't bring it up. It does help splain as to why we never saw living puppets on 'NYPD Blue' etc......