Sunday, November 9, 2008


So, after some discussion during the night with my blogmates Rob Buckley and Thom Holbrook over in Facebook, I watched that full 'Knight Rider' episode "Knight Of The Living Dead" at And like Thom said, there was more to the references to Billy's costume as Captain Jack Harkness, all of it to be found in the pre-credit sequence.

The segment I saw on YouTube was Zonk-free, but just a moment earlier, Billy struts into the control room in his duster and spinning about in the hope of being admired. As two lovely techs walk by and appraise him skeptically, Billy says to the effect of "What? I'm Captain Jack Harkness! You know, 'Torchwood'? 'Doctor Who'?"

Bastard! No, not Billy. He can't help saying what's in the script. I'm bleeped at the writer. Once again they have to run a pop cultural reference into the ground by over-splainin it in order to make sure everybody in the audience understands!

My feeling is that if you think the in-joke needs a splainin added on top of it, then it's not even worth going for it. Just drop it.

When I was in my early 20s, I read a novel by John Myers Myers called "Silverlock". It was probably my first exposure to crossover literature (followed soon after by 'The Incompleat Enchanter' by Pratt and deCamp). In "Silverlock", every place visited by the hero, and every character he encounters, is from another work of classical literature.

Myers Myers doesn't beat you over the head with these references. If you don't get them, it doesn't ruin the enjoyment of the story. One could even go into it knowing nothing of these references beforehand and think of them as being original to the novel. What's been fun in the years since I've read "Silverlock" is occasionally stumbling across one of those characters from the book in their original works or mentioned in passing elsewhere. And I get that "Ah, so that's where he came from!" moment wash over me.

The reference to Captain Jack Harkness in 'Knight Rider' could have provided that type of pleasure in discovery to some viewer, had not the writer decided he had to spell it all out with a belabored bit of dialogue. One day that viewer, with no previous knowledge of the time-traveling omnisexual, might stumble across 'Torchwood' while flipping the remote, and exclaim "Ah, so that's where he came from!" (Or in Jack's case, "who he came with".......)

Not possible when the writer thinks his audience is stupid and won't get it without him spelling it all out.

Note to the writers: maybe you do illuminate the reference for those not clued in to the original source material. But a good chunk of your audience is made up of genre fans who already know who Captain Jack Harkness is and like you did with me, you're just pissing them off by treating them with such contempt.

Besides, most of them are just waiting for the next scene in which Deanna Russo strips down inside KITT, so get on with it!

Okay, getting back to Billy's mention of 'Torchwood' and 'Doctor Who'; this Zonk can still be disabled. It would have been nice if he just mentioned 'Torchwood'; at least then we could say that he was referring to the organization and not to a TV series.

The reference to 'Doctor Who' as a TV series is not something we haven't seen before in Toobworld - 'Eureka', 'Extras', 'EastEnders'..... (Something about shows beginning with "E"?) And here's the standard splainin I've used in the past:

Most references to 'Doctor Who' within another TV show which should be sharing the same reality are about the movies which starred Peter Cushing back in the 1960s. And for alls we know, there have been movies since then about "Doctor Who" in Toobworld featuring other actors. (This gives us an out in case specific actors are named or shown - cases in point: Pertwee as seen in 'Supernova' and Tennant in 'Extras'.)As to why there would be a movie about the Doctor, here's my theory: Some movie producer heard rumors of the Doctor's existence (It's not like he was hiding himself back when he visited London in the sixties and seventies.) and decided to cash in by making a movie about him. Of course, he didn't know all the specific details about the mysterious stranger and that's why the character is actually named "Doctor Who" in the movies. But he did know enough that he was able to get right such details as the Doctor zipping about in the TARDIS and having a grand-daughter (although he has two in the movie).

UNIT realized that it would be better to let these productions take place in order to help keep the Doctor's identity a secret; let him hide in plain sight as many citizens of Toobworld would think he was just a movie character and dismiss any involvement he might have in some large disaster as being just a movie stunt. (One way in which the destruction of Big Ben in "Aliens Of London" could have been covered up.) And so the production of these movies would have been actively encouraged.

Billy's mention of 'Torchwood' would still be a reference to the real organization, which they would have had knowledge of in their own organization. And in fact, the same would hold true with the Doctor, but Billy would have given the movie moniker of 'Doctor Who' for the benefit of those techie girls. (They would only have said "Doctor who?" anyway.)

Apparently Captain Jack and Torchwood must have been dramatized in one of those 'Doctor Who' movies and/or TV shows.......

So for Toobworld purposes, that should serve as a splainin to disable the Zonk and to keep the connection between 'Knight Rider' and the 'Doctor Who' franchise viable. (Our standards are not the same as those maintained by our crossover friends, the Westphallians: we think everybody's already in the TV Universe; eventually a certified link will show up to connect them.)

Toby O'B

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