Saturday, May 12, 2007


I went to see "Mary Poppins" on Thursday. Not the current Broadway musical, nor the 40plus year old Disneyfied movie upon which it's based.

This was a TV production, of course; presented as a live 'Studio One' production in 1949!

The recognizable names in the cast were Mary Wickes as Mary Poppins, EG Marshall as Mr. Banks, Tommy Rettig as Michael Banks (before he went on to fame in 'Lassie'), and a name recognizable to fans of character actors - David Opatashu, who played Bert the Match Man. (His chalk drawings were crude, without the benefit of Disney animation to bring them to life. But at least he didn't try to single-handedly destroy the Cockney accent, as Dick Van Dyke was once voted as doing.)

As this was a live production from the early days of Television, it looks very primitive and has several technical gaffes. The major glitch comes when Mary Poppins and the children visit Mary's cousin (not uncle), Albert Turvy. When they were supposed to magically end up on the ceiling, the camera shuts off, although the soundtrack continues. Mary and Albert scramble to improvise patter until the picture was restored.

And Tommy Rettig is constantly aware of the camera, exhibiting the early warning signs of tele-cognizance!

P.L. Travers, who wrote the original stories, came to my children's lit class at UConn back in the mid 1970s as a guest lecturer. I don't remember what she thought of the Disney movie*, but I know she did hold off his pestering for the rights to film it until 1961. And then only after securing script approval rights.

I'm not sure how Worthington Miner got her to sign off on this production for TV, unless she was just as strict with her demands. As such, I think she must have approved of Mary Wickes as Mary Poppins. Who doesn't love the late Mary Wickes? She came far closer than Julie Andrews to the image of the nanny, as seen in the illustrations by Mary Shepard. And she better fit the spirit of the novel's Mary, with her acerbic, stern demeanor.

There were plenty of times when I wondered if she was perhaps related to Miss Elvira Gulch of Kansas (as played by Margaret Hamilton in 'The Wizard Of Oz')!

At one point, there was a slight turn of her head caught at the right moment by the camera, when her expression reminded me of someone whom I had seen on TV recently. A second later and it was gone. It took me until several hours later, once I got home, before I hit on the answer: Rachel Griffiths, of 'Brothers & Sisters' and 'Six Feet Under'. It got me thinking that perhaps "Mary Poppins" might be a role she could take on someday!

The one character who did give me the creeps was an old woman and an associate of Mary's who peeled off the fingers of her left hand to give to the children as treats. I'm glad I wasn't around back then to see this as a kid; I would have had nightmares for weeks!

Having read two of the "Harry Potter" books and seen all of the movies, I know that JK Rowling has taken inspiration from plenty of other sources and given them her own twist. (Fluffy the three-headed guard dog for instance - I wonder if the pedigree can be traced straight back to Cerberus?)

So I think her candy treat of the beans of many flavors was inspired by the type of medicine given out by Mary Poppins. All I remember from seeing the movie forty years ago was that "a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down". But if the TV adaptation was following the book closely, the medicine tasted differently to each recipient. For Michael, it was a lemon ice; for Jane, it was a strawberry cordial. I can't remember what it tasted like for Mary - I think it would have been in keeping with her nature for it to be a draught of beer!

Taking the technical crudities into account, it was an enjoyable hour spent at Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane. And it provides Toobworld with its own version of Mary Poppins, yet another literary figure, like Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes, to take up residence in the TV Universe.

Toby OB

*The only thing I remember to this day from that class with P.L. Travers is that she had this disgusting physical tic that one might expect from one of the Visitors on "V"......

And now I can't get it out of my mind...... damn!


We've seen in the past on various TV shows that some fictional characters are related to the televersions of real world celebrities.

Captain Megan Russert of the Baltimore Police Department in 'Homicide: Life On The Street' is related to NBC newsman Tim Russert.

Vera Louise Gorman is related to the late Art Carney, as seen on 'Alice'.

And Luke Skywalker believes that he is kin to Mark Hamill; or so it was mentioned on 'The Muppet Show'.

A new real to reel relative showed up on 'Entourage' this week. "Mrs. Ari" (we don't know the first name of Ari Gold's wife) had family over to break fast at the end of Yom Kippur, and one of them was her Uncle Shelley.

Uncle Shelley was played by Shelley Berman. As nothing contradicted otherwise, I see no reason why we can't assume he was appearing as himself.

Toby OB

Friday, May 11, 2007


I watched last night's debut episode of 'Traveler' with the hope that my plan on linking the show to 'Gilmore Girls' would not be the only connection I might make for it in Toobworld.

I went back into the archives of "The Medium Is Not Enough" - all the way back to July of last year! - for his review of the show because his encapsulation of the plot was really good:

The plot
A trio of Yale grad students make their way to New York to celebrate the end of their courses and their final days in academia. One's off to become a lawyer, the other - the son of one of the richest men in America - is off to the world of investment. Will Traveler? He's more of a mystery.

After a night of partying, it's prank time. So the trio of pals makes their way over to the Drexler Museum of Art for a little bit of rollerblading. While Traveler tapes them on his omnipresent camcorder, lawyer-to-be and investor-to-be zoom through the museum and into the outside world.

They wait, then get a call. It's Traveler. "I'm sorry I had to do this," he says, then one of the wings of the museum explodes.

It's not long before TV screens around the country are showing pictures of our heroes fleeing the museum (coincidentally, the one piece of security footage that survived) and the unlucky duo are soon being hunted by the FBI. There's help from investor-to-be's dad, who also suffered a mild bit of government persecution during the 90s and so has dummy bank accounts and other aids for runaways on hand.

Soon, it becomes clear that Traveler has set them up. There's no record of him at Yale. There's not a single photo of him from their two-year friendship that doesn't have him covering his face or turning away from the camera. And although his body is found, charred and unrecognisable, at the gallery, the suspicion is that Traveler is still alive and has had them in his sights since before they ever met.

But why did he blow up the museum? Why did he involve these two men? And why is the servile doorman from their hotel suddenly breaking them out of custody and murdering FBI agents? His advice - "Trust only each other" - seems like the best advice they're ever going to get...

[As always, the link to Rob's TV blog is to the left......]

My idea for linking 'Traveler' to 'Gilmore Girls' went smoothly - the three friends are identified by an onscreen caption that they've finished grad school at Yale. Rory Gilmore just got her Bachelor's degree there as well. It doesn't matter that 'Traveler' sat on the shelf nearly a year before it was broadcast - it didn't officially become part of the TV Universe until this year.

So Jay, Tyler, and Will are members of the Yale Class of 2007, just like Rory.

However, even though I stated that 'Traveler' is part of the TV Universe, it's not part of Toobworld.

Why? It's because of a piece of dialogue from FBI Agent Fred Chambers. He wanted the whole affair wrapped up before President Shears returned from Tokyo.

I've stated this often enough here in my blog: the President of the United States in Toobworld must reflect that of the one in the real world... whether you like him or not.

By creating a new POTUS, 'Traveler' automatically gets shunted off to its own little TV dimension.

I blame 'The West Wing' for this. In the old days, Agent Chambers would have just as easily said he wanted the case wrapped up before "the President" got back from Tokyo. That way we could assume that the President was George W. Bush.

But by stating his name, it seems obvious that the producers plan to bring the action right into the Oval Office. 'The West Wing' has made exposure to the President as an actual character almost de rigeur. Since it premiered, we've had '24', 'Prison Break', 'Vanished', 'The Dead Zone', and of course, 'Commander In Chief' bring us fictional presidents so that the showrunners can involve those in power to the very highest level.

Must be a sign of the times, eh?

Toby OB


One of the four shows I watched today at the Museum of Television & Radio was from 'Have Gun, Will Travel'. For all I know, I had it on my boxed set of the first season, but when I saw it listed while looking at the credits for Richard Boone available for viewing, I decided to choose it.

The episode was "Marshal of Sweetwater", written by the Great Bird of the Galaxy, Gene Roddenberry. And it dealt with Paladin's eventual clash with an old friend from his Army days, Tom Carey, who was now the town marshal in Sweetwater. For the sake of a theoretical crossover, I'm going to assume this Sweetwater was situated in Arizona.

(Oddly, Carey called him by the name of Paladin, which the character didn't assume until after he took up his mantle of "knight without armor in a savage land". However, we never did learn Paladin's real name - his origin story only had him as a gambler before he assumed the name of Paladin.)

Having the story situated in Sweetwater provides an additional link to the 'Maverick' mythos. The two shows were already connected within the TV movie "Gambler 4: Luck Of The Draw" when Bart Maverick played a champeen poker game at the Carlton Hotel in San Francisco with the late Paladin's own deck of cards.

In this case, Sweetwater was the town in which 'Bret Maverick' decided to settle down to play poker at the Red Ox Saloon and run a few cons on the side. After the death of Marshal Carey, apparently Tom Guthrie was then brought in to be the Sheriff. Guthrie would hold that position until he was defeated in an election by Mitch Dowd.

The saloon in "Marshal of Sweetwater" was the Gold Lily and it was run by Marie Ellis. It's probably not the same establishment under a new name and management as the Red Ox Saloon, which was run by Mandy Packer.

Sweetwater, Arizona, should not be confused with the Sweetwater location of 'The Young Riders'. Much as I would like to combine them all, 'The Young Riders' was located in Sweetwater, Wyoming.

Toby OB


It takes me a couple of days to see the latest episode of 'Doctor Who' shown on the BBC, as I depend upon my friends Mark & Michael to... ahem! - secure a copy. But at least I'm still months ahead of muh fellow Americans in getting that opportunity!

So Wednesay night after we were all blown away by the latest installment of 'Lost', I saw "The Lazarus Experiment". What a great story! And Mark Gatiss added yet another fantastic villain to the Doctor's Rogues Gallery, in the grand tradition of the misguided scientists.

And yet, on the long subway ride home later, I realized that the story could have had an extra jolt if only the character of Richard Lazarus had been tweaked just a bit, to tie this story in with a previous 'Doctor Who' storyline for an earlier incarnation of the Doctor.

Professor Richard Lazarus was 76 years of age, meaning that he was born in 1931. (The story takes place in March of 2007, according to the timeline I've seen.) In 1940, when he was about nine years old, Lazarus survived the Blitz while hiding out in a cathedral.

But what if they had portrayed him as having been born in 1937, so that he was four years old in 1941? And what if his first name had not been Richard, but James?

As a four year old, his "Mummy" would take to calling him Jamie.....

Click here to see what might have been if Jamie of "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances" and Richard were the same person.

Wouldn't it have been a great story if it turned out that 70 year old Professor Lazarus had in fact been "The Empty Child", whose life was saved by the previous incarnation of the Doctor?

If only his age had not been stated, we might have been able to fudge things a bit so that Jamie and Richard Lazarus were one and the same. We never learned the last name of Jamie nor of his mother, Nancy. (Perhaps her name was McGill, but she called herself Lil? Okay, maybe not.)

And it would not have mattered if it turned out that their surname was not Lazarus. In the chaos after the War as they rebuilt their lives, Nancy might have decided to give herself and her son a fresh start, a new beginning, by dropping ties to their old identities and marching into the future with the last name of Lazarus.

It would have been an appropriate name for them. After all, Jamie had come back from the dead once the nanogenes were able to sort out the true construct of human physiology.

And as for the difference in the first name, perhaps his full name was James Richard Lazarus. As a matter of fact, nothing prevents his name from being Richard James Lazarus, and it just so happened that his mother took to calling him by a pet name based on his middle name. But as he got older, Professor Lazarus would have cast aside the childish nickname to present himself more seriously with his proper name.

Having Professor Lazarus turn out to the young child saved by the Doctor back in 1941 would have added even more depth to the quandary faced by the Doctor when trying to find the means to defeat him. Here he had saved the world back in 1941 by saving this little boy's life, only to find himself having to save the world yet again by taking Lazarus' life now when he was an old man.

Click here to see both ends of that spectrum.

Ah well. Had it not been for the discrepancy in age (and Professor Lazarus was sharp enough to know how old he really was), I could have sold this theory. As it is, I'll have to file it away under "Wish-craft".....

Toby OB

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Not long after I posted my theory of "relateeveety" that a character named Vogel in the 'Doctor Who' story "Revelation Of The Daleks" could be descended from Ben Linus of 'Lost', my good buddy NY-Mark sent me the visuals necessary to illustrate my claim.

Click here to see a comparison between Ben Linus of the year 2004 and Vogel from the year 4610.

Thanks, Mark!

Toby OB


It was a beautiful day today, probably hit the 80s, and so of course I spent the whole afternoon inside at the Museum of Television & Radio here in NYC. (Not to be confused with the Museum of TV & Television in Springfield on 'The Simpsons'.)

While there, I picked up a new book for the archives here at Toobworld Central:

Cagney & Lacey ...and Me: An Inside Hollywood Story
(Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love The Blonde)
by Barney Rosenzweig

I also picked up another copy of the program guide from the old Museum of Broadcasting celebrating the work of Ernie Kovacs. Can't have too many of those in honor of the first purely televisual comedy genius!

Toby OB

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, here's what Damon Lindelof had to say about the season finale:

"It will make you realize that the house you are standing in actually has a lot more rooms than you thought when you came into it."

To me, that sounds an awful lot like the description of a TARDIS.

I believe there is a definite connection between 'Doctor Who' and 'Lost', which I plan to share after this season of 'Lost' is over, but I don't think an actual appearance by a TARDIS is in store for the May 23rd two-hour finale.

I was originally planning on waiting until the entire series was over before I revealed my theory, but 1) someone else might beat me to it (if they haven't already), and 2) who knows if I'll be still around by June of 2010?

But I do have this theory of "relateeveety" I can share which could connect 'Lost' to 'Doctor Who'. In "Revelation Of The Daleks", there is a toadying amenuensis named Vogel. When I watched the adventure with Mark & Michael last week, we all came to the same conclusion: despite the passage of many millennia, Vogel would have been able to trace his lineage back to Ben Linus, leader of the Others on the island!

Toby OB

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


After showing me "Daleks In Manhattan" & "Evolution Of The Daleks" this past week, my friends Mark and Michael popped in "Revelation Of The Daleks" from the Colin Baker years of 'Doctor Who'.

"Revelation" was similar to that 1930s-set adventure for the Tenth Doctor in that it dealt with the hybridization of the Daleks using human tissue. Davros was behind that mad plan and it all took place on the planet Necros.

Ooh, what a give-away!

Back when I was running the Tubeworld Dynamic website, once a month I would link an episode of 'The Twilight Zone' with some other TV show. Sometimes it would be as simple as a common family name (as in 'Ferris', to be found in the episode "Where Is Everybody?" and in the 'Columbo' episode "Murder By The Book"). Other times it would be due to similar themes (like the claim that the three-eyed Martian in "Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?" was in fact a Traskian as found in 'Farscape').

So with "Revelation Of The Daleks", I found the perfect episode from 'The Twilight Zone' for a theoretical link: "Elegy".

In that story, three astronauts were forced to land on an Earth-like asteroid where they found deceased humans who had been stuffed and mounted for display in bizarre yet ordinary tableaux: a beauty pageant, a honeymoon suite, a poker game, etc. The place was a planet-wide viewing mausoleum called "Happy Glades", and it was run by a robot named Jeremy Wickwire.

I'm suggesting that Happy Glades was found on Necros, the same planet where the Sixth Doctor battled Davros in Tranquil Repose Valley, another city-sized mausoleum site.

Doug A. Scott has one of my favorite 'Doctor Who' websites, one in which he maps out the timeline for all of the televised stories throughout the years: The Doctor Who Chronology.

And he places the year for "Revelation Of The Daleks" to be 4610:

Revelation of the Daleks: 1,2 ("long" episodes) or 1,2,3,4 ("short" episodes):

The 6th Doctor and Peri are lured to the mortuary world of Necros by Davros in order to kill him. Davros is posing as the Great Healer, in charge of the Tranquil Repose mortuary, whose "residents" he uses to create a new army of Daleks, loyal only to him. The travellers escape death, Davros' army is destroyed through the self sacrifice of the assassin Orcini, and Davros is taken back to Skaro to stand trial by the Imperial Daleks.

[Date is conjecture. Not too much time can have passed since "Resurrection of the Daleks," as Davros was not in suspended animation this time, but enough time is needed for Davros to have cultivated his "Great Healer" identity. I am arbitrarily placing this 20 years after "Resurrection."]

So I'm thinking that the era of Jeremy Wickwire running a related business concern on this asteroid may have been at least a century earlier, due to the antiquated look of the operation. Happy Glades may have been the genesis for Tranquil Valley, in fact.

As for the astronauts, it's my belief that they were from an even earlier time, based on their ship and their space-suits, and that they unknowingly passed through a temporal wormhole that brought them further into the future. Even if they had the fuel to escape Happy Glades/Necros, they never would have been able to reach "home" as they knew it.

As for Jeremy Wickwire, the android was created by a descendant of Professor Wickwire, a forward-thinking scientist of the late 19th Century who appeared in several episodes of 'The Adventures Of Briscoe County, Jr.'.

Toby OB3

Sunday, May 6, 2007


My friend Shirley, my spiritual twin, got her first national blipvert, after years of movie and TV work and local ads:

Just alerting you to be on the lookout for a Travelers Insurance commercial that I'm in. The real stars of the spot are a bunch of rabbits, all with one different colored paw. The premise is that we are scientists who no longer need luck, and therefore have successfully reattached the lucky rabbit's feet to the rabbits and are putting them thru rehab.

I know friends who have seen it but never looked at our faces because they were too busy looking at the rabbits swimming, on the treadmill, on the track, going thru the MRI, etc. There are two versions and they run on the internet, cable, and network stations.

Let me know when and during what show you saw it!

Thanks and hope you're well,


This just might be compatible to the theory I ran up that combined most of her TV appearances into twin sisters. But I'll have to see it first to verify that.

So far, the only Traveler's insurance commercial I've seen featured Richard Edson as the personification of Risk, which would neatly link up with the personifications of other aspects, like Love (Loni Anderson) and Guilt (Dom DeLuise), as seen in "Guilt Trip", an episode of 'Amazing Stories'.

Toby OB

"We are twins of spirit
No matter which road we take
Or what we forsake
Joni Mitchell