Tuesday, December 16, 2008


No, it's not about Bush in Iraq, but hot bleep! Didn't that make for great toob?
December 16, 1960:
While approaching New York's Idlewild Airport, a United Airlines Douglas DC-8 collides with a TWA Lockheed Super Constellation in a blinding snowstorm over Staten Island, killing 134.

There's no way that a sitcom would ever trade on that for laughs; perhaps, as was the case with the concert in Cincinnatti that claimed lives, a sitcom might follow the example of 'WKRP In Cincinnatti' - to use the tragedy to illustrate its impact on the show's characters.

If there was any show that might have touched on this tragedy at that time, I'd nominate 'Naked City'; having them take the modern approach of their plot being "ripped from the headlines", a la 'Law & Order'. But if we were to think of a sitcom of the time that might have had some kind of peripheral connection to the event, then I think 'Car 54, Where Are You?' would be my pick.

Of course, I'm looking at it in the broader sense of Toobworld, not as if it would be the typical plot of a 'Car 54' episode, but rather as an event that affected them off the screen.

And perhaps, in a TV Universe sense, the show even referred to the domino effect from that crash in their theme song, written by Nat Hiken:

"There's a hold up in the Bronx,
Brooklyn's broken out in fights.
There's a traffic jam in Harlem
That's backed up to Jackson Heights.
There's a scout troup short a child,
Kruschev's due at Idlewild
Car 54, Where Are You?"

'Car 54, Where Are You?' began in 1961. A year earlier, Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev had been in New York City from September to October for the opening sessions of the United Nations.

From Wikipedia:

Khrushchev repeatedly disrupted the proceedings in the United Nations General Assembly in September-October 1960 by pounding his fists on the desk and shouting in Russian. On September 29, 1960, Khrushchev twice interrupted a speech by British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. The unflappable Macmillan famously commented over his shoulder to Assembly president Frederick Boland of Ireland that if Khrushchev wished to continue, he would like a translation.
The notorious shoe-banging incident occurred during a debate, on October 12, over a Russian resolution decrying colonialism. Infuriated by a statement of the Filipino delegate Lorenzo Sumulong which charged the Soviets with employing a double standard, Khrushchev accused Sumulong of being "a jerk, a stooge and a lackey of imperialism". Later Khrushchev appeared to have pulled off his right shoe and started banging it on his desk.

On another occasion, Khrushchev said in reference to capitalism, "We will bury you". This phrase, ambiguous both in the English language and in the Russian language, was interpreted in several ways. Later, he would refer back to the comment and state, "I once got in trouble for saying, 'We will bury you'. Of course, we will not bury you with a shovel. Your own working class will bury you."

As the Idlewild tragedy happened on December 16 of that year, the timeline doesn't work... for the real world. Toobworld, however, could be a different story.

This is how I'd play it out if I was filling in the blanks......

Keeping the scenario within something of a sitcom framework, it could be that once he was back in Mother Russia, Kruschev would have realized that he was missing his favorite pair of shoes, his "lucky pair" - the ones he used in his tirade at the United Nations. After realizing that he left them behind in Manhattan, Kruschev got frustrated by his aides' lack of success in tracking them down until he finally decided to go back himself and retrieve them.

By this point in Time, it would be just a day before the Idlewild crash in December of 1960.

When he finally arrived in America, his flight was originally supposed to land elsewhere because of the tragedy. But Kruschev would be depicted as the arrogant, stubborn bully that he seemed to most Americans, and he would have insisted on landing at Idlewild anyway, just to get back his stupid shoes. And that's what could have caused the panic about his arrival at the airport.
"Ooh! Ooh! Look! It's Kruschev!"

By the time 'Car 54, Where Are You?' premiered in 1961, the story of the Premier coming back to America (Telemerica, actually) had become the stuff of legend... and even of song.

That's what could have happened. Anything's pozz'ble, just pozz'ble, in Toobworld.......

Toby O'B

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