Monday, May 5, 2008

Today's TWD: "The Essentials"

I don't know if the Turner Classics Movie channel still does this, but they used to have a regular feature called "The Essentials". During "The Essentials" they'd play those movies that were essential for a film fanatic's well-rounded collection.

In a way, the concept of Toobworld has its own "Essentials". These are the TV series which provide the foundation for many of the building blocks in the TV Universe. Some of these shows aren't great classics; some are probably considered not good at all. But that doesn't matter. What matters is that they established a premise which can be used to link other shows together.

For example - reincarnation. Just recently, I made the theoretical link between 'Doctor Who', 'Quincy', and 'My Family', all based on the idea that just maybe certain characters in those series were the same, sharing the same soul. And I had the precedent to make this claim with the theme song from 'My Mother The Car', definitely one of the least respected shows in history. (I refuse to call it the worst. I can think of plenty of others which could probably lay claim to that title!)

Anyway the rules of reincarnation are mapped out in the first stanza of the 'My Mother The Car' theme song:

"Everybody knows in a second life,

We all come back sooner or later.
As anything from a pussycat
To a man-eating alligator."

Here are a few other TV series and the topics for which they could be considered the patrons:

'Homicide: Life On The Street'
- John Munch
'St. Elsewhere'
- St. Eligius Hospital
With this character and this location serving as the nexus, Toobworld can be officially linked through about 130 shows at least. (Toobmate - gotta come up with a better moniker than that! - "RAF" has the most amazing list of shows that he can make the argument for connecting!)

- escaped souls
Speaking of souls, sometimes we see a TV character get killed as the bad guy in a show, only to return later in another series, again as a bad guy as well. They could be the escaped souls of those earlier characters who haven't been recaptured yet by Zeke Stone or Sam Oliver. (My Iddiot friend Listener Mara suggested this is how 'Angel' came back from Hell in 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'. He just never encountered Zeke and Sam.... yet.)

- alternate dimensions
"Mirror Universes" didn't originate with 'Sliders'; 'Star Trek' and its sequels especially would delve into the concept of an alternate evil mirror universe. But 'Sliders' helped popularize Hugh Everett's "Many Worlds" theory of quantum mechanics.

- the rules of witch-craft
Aunt Clara can probably take the credit for the most important - what happens to a witch when the powers begin to fade. They have to transform themselves into something that can be useful - like a rocking chair or a bed warmer. Also, a witch can't travel back beyond the time of her birth - another good rule.

'Quantum Leap'
'Time Tunnel'
- changes to Toobworld History
If there are certain factors in TV shows that prevent them from being part of the main TV Universe, we can use the characters in these shows to suggest that they went back and changed the course of the show's history after the fact. So that even though we saw something happened on that show, Sam Beckett and the others went back in Time to put right what once went wrong. (For instance, 'Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea' was broadcast in the 1960's, but took place in the early 1970's. And they had as President a man named McNeill. It's the Toobworld contention that somehow Dan Vasser of 'Journeyman' went back in Time and re-adjusted the timeline so that the President was Nixon as it was meant to be.)

'The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy'
- 1] realignment of Earth's history
- 2] the Golgafrinchans
Arthur Dent, last survivor of Earth in 1980/81 before it was blowed up real good by the Vogons, ended up on Earth back in the time of the Neanderthals. All actions he took from that point on altered the timeline of Earth. The Golgafrinchans crash-landed with him and probably inter-bred with the Neanderthals to create the true human race. (Three generations later? The cavemen of 'It's About Time'!)

'The Wild, Wild West'
- Fabian Lavendor was an undertaker who could fake an Old West bad guy's death and help him get back into the public with a new name. This could splain away why we saw so many Western cowboys played by Morgan Sheppard and Jack Elam, among others.

- Dr. Miguelito Loveless is just my all-time favorite TV character and I try to link him to as many shows as I can, from 'Bonanza' and 'Amos Burke, Secret Agent' to 'Get Smart', 'Star Trek' and 'Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea'.

'Buffy, The Vampire Slayer'
- Mr. Sweet is a demon who causes people to burst out into song to express their inner selves against their wills. As good a splainin as any for 'Cop Rock', 'Hull High', and 'That's Life' and any other TV character who suddenly bursts into song, like Olive in 'Pushing Daisies'.

- Immortality
Let's say we see an actor in a role that takes place in the modern day. But we also see him playing another role on a different show but it's set in an earlier time period. Those two characters could be the same person, operating under different names, because they're Immortals.

'Friday The 13th - The Series'
- evil objects
Remember that devil doll from 'The X-Files' and especially Talking Tina from 'The Twilight Zone'? Speaking of 'TZ', how about those electrical appliances that tried to kill Richard Hayden in one episode? They're eeeeeevilllllll! And they probably came from the accursed antiques shop in this show.

"Star Trek - First Contact"
Yep, we have a movie in the list! In this film, Jean-Luc Picard and his team went back in Time to thwart an evil plot by the Borg to alter the world's destiny. By helping out Zephraim Cochrane, they inadvertently changed History themselves. This splains why the 'Enterprise' helmed by Captain Archer was more technologically advanced than the Enterprise of the original 'Star Trek' series. The original series played out, but if we could actually go back and see it again within the reality of the TV Universe, Kirk and Company would now have a starship filled with the latest CGI tech. (Big thanks to my Little Buddy Sean who came up with this theory. One day he'll have it all written up and I'll feature it here in the blog.)

It may be still early to add this one to the list, but here's a possible candidate:

- The Numbers
I've been enjoying the treasure hunt for Hurley's Numbers in other TV shows, but it's not always proven that they had any effect on the characters in those shows. Still, some of those used within 'Lost' itself really didn't have much impact where they were used.
- the Island
We'll have to wait until the very end of the series before we can say for certain that this magical mystery tour should have any impact on Toobworld at large.

Do you have any suggestions for this list of "The Essentials"? Let me know!

Toby OB

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