Saturday, September 4, 2010


On Thursday night, I finally fast-forwarded my way through the recording of the 2010 Emmy Awards presentation; got it down to about an hour's worth of actual viewing.

As usual every year with the ceremony (as well as at the Oscars), I was not looking forward to the "In Memoriam" tribute segment. Lately those who passed away in the industry were given short shrift either by an obsession with flying camera-work or by not getting mentioned at all.

But I have to admit that this year's tribute was pretty good, especially the choice of Jewel to sing her composition which dealt directly with the loss of a loved one......

Of course, there was still the matter of who didn't make the cut.....

I'm glad that they did mention Art Clokey, James Gammon, and Caroline McWilliams; but why were they chosen and not Peter Haskell or Dorothy Provine? Dorothy Provine, for bleep's sake! She would have been good for an audience reaction, surely?

They included Edward Woodward, Brittany Murphy, and Gene Barry, all of whom passed away in 2009, but after that year's telecast of the Emmys. But why not Carl Ballantine, Connie Hines, or Arnold Stang?

I realize it's a question of time - they had to fit the segment around the song - but they abused that in producing the video. It should always be a collection of equals; no one should be singled out for more air time. So I would have cut down that mini-tribute to David Wolper so that he was just a photo and identification like most everybody else behind the camera. One clip for Roy Disney would have served as well.

I would also have excluded Patricia Neal (at the very least chosen only one quick clip, not three!) and Dorothy Adelle DeBorba (the little girl from "The Little Rascals").

The argument used at the Academy Awards for excluding Patrick McGoohan in their tribute was that he was primarily known for TV, despite appearing in "Ice Station Zebra", "Escape From Alcatraz", "Scanners", and even being nominated for an Oscar for his work in "Braveheart"!

So I would say then that the reverse should hold true for these two ladies. Patricia Neal did do TV, but she was better known for her films - she won the Oscar for "Hud"!

And even though the TV of my youth was saturated with "The Little Rascals" on Saturdays, those films were still made for the movies.

And I would have cut out the tributes to Corey Haim and Andrew Koenig. With Haim, again, it was because he was better known for the movies rather than TV. And I'm sorry about the troubles Koenig may have been going through to have taken his own life, but if it hadn't been for his father being Walter Koenig of 'Star Trek' fame, I don't think many people would have ever heard of him.

So that wouldn't be too much time saved, but it would have been a start, enough to squeeze in a few people from this list I put together:

Peter Haskell - 'Bracken's World', 'Ryan's Hope', and plenty of guest-starring roles ranging from 'The Outer Limits' and 'Frasier' to 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' and 'Columbo'

Dorothy Provine - 'The Roaring Twenties' and 'The Alaskans'

Corey Allen - as a director of many TV shows, if not for his acting as well

Mitch Miller - How could they miss Mitch Miller? 'Sing Along With Mitch'! And it's not a question of the cut-off date for production of the video - Maury Chaykin made the cut; he died on July 27 (his birthday). Mr. Miller passed away on the 31st. And Ms. Neal died August 8th. So how could they exclude Mitch Miller and yet pay tribute to Captain Phil Harris?

Daniel Schorr - The news is just as integral to television as so-called "reality" programming. So Harris made the cut, but not a journalist who won THREE Emmy Awards?

Nathan Scott - a composer who gave us music for 'Dragnet,' 'Lassie,' 'Have Gun-Will Travel,' 'Rawhide,' 'The Twilight Zone,' 'The Untouchables' and 'Wagon Train'! A simple photo like those for writers Bernie West and David Lloyd would have been sufficient.

Because of the production deadline, I'll give them a pass on writer Jackson Gillis, but he better be mentioned at next year's presentation!

Okay, I'll bet off my soapbox now. I could rant a little more, but the heights are making me dizzy and I'm getting a nosebleed.....





I had no memories of this in the news, despite it taking place the next town over from my family's summer cottage. But then I saw the date on which this happened listed in news stories.

On June 10, 1983, my Grammy O'Brien passed away, so I wasn't really paying attention to much else....




"A Cry For Help: The Tracey Thurman Story"

Philip Baker Hall

From the New York Times:

Published: November 6, 1988

M. Joseph Blumenfeld, the former chief judge of the Federal District Court in Connecticut, died of heart failure yesterday at Hartford Hospital. He was 84 years old and lived in Bloomfield, Conn.

Judge Blumenfeld, who was appointed to the Federal bench in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, was still active as a Senior Judge, carrying a full court calendar despite his official retirement in 1977. He suffered a heart attack in his chambers on Friday.

During his 27 years on the bench he was considered one of the state's most lenient and liberal Federal judges and decided several cases of national significance.

He was the first Federal judge in the nation to allow a woman to sue the police for failing to adequately protect her against an abusive husband. The woman, Tracey Thurman, of Torrington, Conn., was awarded $2.3 million in 1985 and her success paved the way for about 20 other women across the nation to seek redress in Federal courts in similar cases.

During his career, Judge Blumenfeld ordered state officials to pay for abortions for welfare recipients even when the mother's life was not in danger. He also ordered Connecticut officials to undertake an extensive outreach program to inform the poor that they were eligible for food stamps.

Judge Blumenfeld was born in St. Paul on March 23, 1904. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota in 1925 and a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1928.

Among his other decisions, Judge Blumenfeld approved the $1.5 billion merger between the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation and the Hartford Fire Insurance Company in 1971 and later rejected efforts by Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate, to have the case reopened to determine if President Richard M. Nixon had intervened in the settlement of antitrust cases against the company.


Friday, September 3, 2010


Just got the word in my email box:

To Our Valued Customers...

Time Warner Cable is always negotiating new deals with TV networks. Recently, we reached a new long-term agreement with Disney/ABC and ESPN, so you can continue to watch your favorite channels and the shows you love for years to come.

There will be no interruption of ESPN or Disney channels, as well as WABC in New York, KABC in Los Angeles, WTVD in Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville and WTVG in Toledo. They'll stay right here on Time Warner Cable. In fact, our agreement means more networks and services for you, including the following*:

•Disney Junior - a new 24-hour basic channel for preschool-age children, parents and caregivers launching in 2012.

• - ESPN's live sports broadband network will be available to all Time Warner Cable subscribers who get ESPN.

•A New ESPN Service - customers will be able to view ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU through broadband and mobile Internet devices.

•ESPN Goal Line - a college football super-highlight channel will be available only to Time Warner Cable’s Sports Pass customers starting as early as September 4, 2010.

•ESPN Buzzer Beater - a college basketball service similar to ESPN Goal Line, will be available to Time Warner Cable’s Sports Pass customers for college basketball season.

•Expanded Video On Demand Services - including ABC On Demand, Disney-branded On Demand offerings for kids, local sports content in select markets, plus the subscription Video On Demand service "Disney Family Movies."

•Start Over and Look Back - featured on a variety of Disney Media Networks content.

•ESPN Deportes - will be available to a larger Time Warner Cable footprint.


*All on a market-to-market basis.

Great. I thought I had too many ESPN channels as it was. But okay, I know for everybody else, there's sport. But I wish my local Time Warner would give me back the Fox Movie Channel which used to be a freebie. It looks like it's a premium channel now....

I wasn't concerned with the battle between Time-Warner and Disney/ABC. Now that 'Lost' is gone, I didn't have that many shows left on that network to be that concerned - 'Modern Family', 'The Middle', 'Brothers & Sisters', 'Castle'. That's it. And I could easily go watch them elsewhere.......

But it's settled, so great. On with the shows.....



TV critic/columnist Alan Sepinwall shared his favorite memory of 'Beverly Hills 90210' for yesterday's observation (NOT O'Bservation this time!).

What's Alan Watching?

Since I didn't watch the show, I had no idea about that temporal Zonk. I suppose it's something I'll have to address one day.

But I'll hold off as long as possible.....



The folks at noticed something strange in this past week's episode of 'Warehouse 13' - something I noticed as well. I figured it was meant as a cheat - that we were meant to think it was really HG, but that it was instead some other woman - maybe even Tia Carrere's character. In fact, when the bad guy finally revealed himself, I was expecting the daughter of Artie's Russian contact, not the son.......

So, if you've been watching 'Warehouse 13', with Jaime Murray on a recurring basis as this female HG Wells (See my take on that!), what do you think - was Helena* the one who froze the agent to death?


In my original article, I listed her first name as "Hannah". I'm pretty sure that's what I heard. But now I'm seeing it listed as "Helena". So I'm not sure if it's me or a production gaffe.

Probably me.....



"A Cry For Help: The Tracey Thurman Story"

Dale Midkiff

In 1983 Charles “Buck” Thurman was sentenced to 20 years in prison after his brutal attack on his wife Tracey Thurman led to a $1.9 million suit against the Torrington, Connecticut police. In the Torrington case, Thurman was found guilty of stabbing his wife 13 times, stomping on her head, and partially paralyzing her for life.

Thurman was released from prison in 1991 after serving only nine years of the twenty year sentence. In 1999 a woman Thurman was living with in Northampton, Massachusetts, and mother of their child, fled the state accusing him of repeatedly choking and sexually assaulting her.

No criminal charges were filed as she only asked for a restraining order to keep him away from her. The order was issued, she returned to Massachusetts and Thurman, who has a long history of ignoring court orders, violated this latest order.

Thurman pleaded guilty only to violating a restraining order. A judge placed Thurman on probation for a year. He ordered Thurman to participate in any counseling ordered by the probation department and ordered him to comply with the restraining order against him.

This was the only action taken by the judge despite the fact that Charles “Buck” Thurman is a chronic violent abuser who has a history of beating women and ignoring court orders. Buck Thurman had a restraining order against him and he was on probation when he beat and stabbed Tracey Thurman and traumatized her for life.
- Richard L. Davis
SAFE Speaker


Thursday, September 2, 2010

90210 DAY

September 9, 2010


Even the Huffington Post has noted the date and its significance.

For those of you who liked 'Beverly Hills 90210', I hope you have a great time celebrating the occasion today. For me, it's another day closer to the Apocalypse. ( wasn't too happy with me for pointing that out in a Facebook comment on their page. But then, it just didn't sit right that the "occasion" was being used to shill the show. Oh, well - I saw the point in their response, that I was insulting legit fans, and they were right. I apologize for doing so - over there. Here in my own bailiwick it's a whole nutha story......)

I can't think off-hand of this happening with any other show, having a built-in reason to celebrate. So I hope those fans who do like '90210' indulge in the opportunity while they have the chance.... It won't come around again for a century!



Stan Lee is definitely getting inducted into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame next year. I'm thinking for June.

I realized he deserved it when I heard the news that he'll be appearing in upcoming episodes of 'Eureka' and 'Nikita' (although I don't know if he'll be in those shows as a card-carrying member of the League of Themselves.)

He was recently in an episode of 'Entourage' and in 'The Big Bang Theory' last season. Plus there were his animated appearances in 'Spiderman' and 'The Simpsons' and live-action crossovers into the Tooniverse with 'The Fantastic Four' (where he displayed his serlinguistic abilities) and 'The Muppet Babies'.

It will be not only for his onscreen appearances as himself in Earth Prime-Time as well as the Tooniverse, but also for creating so many Marvel comic book characters that have been translated to the world of television.

And here's a little something that mixes all of that up:

Oh. By the way..... It's probably not safe for work. Or your kids.......



The Emmy Award presentations are always a good source for TV crossovers. This past Sunday, we got to see such a crossover - between 'Modern Family' and 'Family Guy'.......

This wouldn't be Stewie Griffin's first appearance at the Emmy Awards - he and Brian Griffin did a song-and-dance number on stage when FOX hosted the broadcast. That served as a good example of how characters from the Tooniverse can cross over into Toobworld. But this time, Stewie found himself in Skitlandia, the TV dimension for sketch comedy. BCnU!



"A Cry For Help: The Tracey Thurman Story"

Nancy McKeon

From All-Movies:
Tracey Thurman was a real-life Connecticut housewife who, throughout her marriage, suffered horrendous abuse at the hands of her husband. The beatings culminate in a single bloody night when Buck Thurman stabs his estranged wife 13 times. She survived--barely--and Buck was arrested.

[The significance of this frame grab: Ms. Thurman was so badly injured still when she took the stand, that she could not raise her right hand to take the oath.]

Having failed to get proper protection from the local police force, Tracey successfully sued the officers in 1989. The long-range result was the Thurman Law, which called for mandatory arrests in wife-beating cases in Connecticut and several other states.

Nancy McKeon, who plays Tracey Thurman in "A Cry for Help", starred in the film in the hope that it would prevent Buck Thurman's early release from prison.

"A Cry For Help: The Tracy Thurman Story" first aired on October 2, 1989; Thurman was scheduled for release in 1991.


The true-life events happened in the next town over from the Lake cottage which has been in my family for generations. While I was on vacation there back in August, 28 year old Charles Motuzick - the son of Buck and Tracey Thurman - pleaded guilty to one count of possessing narcotics (while on parole) and will be going back to prison for at least the next seven years.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


"I absolutely hate it when someone tells me 'no'
or 'it can't be done' or 'that's just the way it is.'
James J. Lee
Discovery Network hostage taker

"Don't tell me what I can't do!"
John Locke

Special Guest Appearance: Medium Rob!

Modern Family make-over: Family Guy and George Clooney!



'Entourage' is winding down and you can feel it in the performances and the story-lines. Sometimes it's been almost painful to watch. (On the Toobworld front, however, it maintains a high level of "League Of Themselves" appearances that will serve well for future connections.)

One bright spot in all of this has been the opportunity to ogle - er, watch - Autumn Reeser in the role of Lizzie Grant.

I've seen her in a few things before (but not 'The O.C.' - not my thang), and I was hoping her two guest appearances on 'Human Target' might lead to her joining the cast. Instead, I see she's joining the cast of 'No Ordinary Family' as the wife's co-worker. (Hopefully they'll expand on that, even if it means she's revealed to be one of the bad guys.) But I came up with an idea for her to star in her own show, one which would build on the Past.


That's right - the 1972 rotating "Mystery Movie" starring George Peppard as Thomas Banacek, a freelance insurance investigator in Boston who solved impossible thefts for a very large fee.

I see Autumn Reeser as a third generation Banacek (Please, Lord - NOT a Thomasina!) who is following in her late grandfather's footsteps.

But she's not freelance as he was; she would work for a specific firm as she's still just starting out, as good as she is.

And here's the kicker - her boss at this company would be Carlie Kirkland, the character played by Christine Belford in the original series. Although this Banacek is sporting a great track record in with recovery results, Ms. Kirkland is still antagonistic towards her. That's because she can't help holding it against Ms. Banacek that her grandfather found love and started a family with somebody else, not her.

This wouldn't have to be a network show. As it would be set in Grandpa Banacek's old stomping grounds of Boston, I think an episode of 'Leverage' would serve up nicely for a backdoor pilot.

Why did I think of 'Banacek' as a vehicle for Autumn Reeser? I just like the way that she fills out a business suit. And Thomas Banacek was always a snazzy dresser.

Besides, I just want to hear more of those phony Polish proverbs.....



Since Sunday was the night of the Emmy Awards presentation, HBO showed their own version of a memorial tribute to all the characters who've died so far on their hit series 'True Blood'.....


Well..... After that gruesome bit of nastiness, how about something to cleanse the palate?

Here's the opening musical sketch from Sunday night's presentation of the 63rd annual Prime-Time Emmy Awards.

I had to look up one of these people, so I can understand if you don't know all of them.

Here are the people involved:

Jimmy Fallon
Lea Michele
Chris Colfer
Cory Monteith
Amber Riley
Tina Fey
Kate Gosselin
Jon Hamm
Betty White
Jane Lynch
Jorge Garcia
Joel McHale
Nina Dobrev
Tim Gunn
Randy Jackson

I'm pretty sure I caught everybody with that list.

My IDD friend Esther noted in Facebook that the ensemble could have used a vampire, but I guess they came close by including Nina Dobrev.

I wish Jorge Garcia had a better entrance, but seeing him next to Jon Hamm made me think - there's a buddy movie I'd like to see!

This has already been nominated for the 2010 Toobits Awards for Best League Of Themselves Appearance (Group)......



I already know I won't be into "The Walking Dead" for the long haul. As it will have to be sent to an alternate TV dimension because it will be a prime-time Earth overrun by zombies, it won't hold much interest for me as a Toobworld caretaker.

Besides, my interest in zombies faded after the shopping mall zombie flick by Romero back in the late 70's. (Although I may still check out "Zombieland".)

Anyhoo, just because I'm not into it, that doesn't mean I should withhold info from my visitors who might like it.

So here's the link to the trailer for this new series.....

The Walking Dead



After a month that seemed to be full of outlaws, we're kicking off September with still another.....


(Coming in October to the Sundance Channel)

Edgar Ramirez

From Wikipedia:
Ilich Ramírez Sánchez (born October 12, 1949(1949-10-12)) is a Venezuelan convicted in France. After several bungled bombings, he achieved notoriety for a 1975 raid on the OPEC headquarters in Vienna, resulting in the deaths of three people. For many years he was among the most wanted international fugitives. He is now serving a life sentence in La Santé Prison in Paris for the murder of two French agents of the DST (counter-intelligence) and an alleged informant.

Ramírez Sánchez was given the nom de guerre Carlos, when he became a member of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Carlos was called The Jackal by The Guardian when Frederick Forsyth's novel The Day of the Jackal was reportedly found among his belongings.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010


So that's it for the August TV Western theme.

Here are a few topics for posts that I never got around to finishing the research:

A look at Doc Holliday, as played by Peter Breck in six episodes of 'Maverick'. Hopefully I can find a way to let him stay in Earth Prime-Time as Holliday along with Douglas Fowley (the official Doc Holliday of Toobworld, from 'The Life And Legend Of Wyatt Earp').

Can Earth Prime-Time support both Pete Duel and Roger Davis as Hannibal Heyes?

If both versions of Hannibal Heyes exist at the same time, why would their family saddle them both with that name? I think it goes back to the American Revolution and a Hessian deserter......

If the Good Lord lets me hang around for another year, I'll hopefully have them done next August.



What the hell.... I know the rest of the posts today were centered around Mark Twain, but I couldn't help myself to one last article about 'Maverick' to finish off the TV Western theme.

And since it concerns another writer, one played by Kevin McCarthy who also portrayed Mark Twain on TV, why not?

Thanks to my fellow Iddiot, the Kryptonian Uncle Brian-El, I now have my own copy of "Between Time And Timbuktu" which was based on the various stories by Kurt Vonnegut.

My favorite character in the tele-play is the gentle holy man in the forests of San Lorenzo, Bokonon. A lot of this can be attributed to the fact that Kevin McCarthy played the role.

Bokonon was something of a con man, not unlike the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz; only instead of floating down onto the island of San Lorenzo in a balloon, he washed up on its shores some 47 years before we meet him. (As Stony Stephenson is being tossed about in Time and Space via the Chrono-Synclastic Infundibulum, we have no clue as to when in Time he meets Bokonon. But I do like to think it's on Earth Prime-Time.)

No matter the intent Vonnegut had in mind for Bokonon in his original incarnation - the Literary Universe - we only deal with the televersion. And it occurred to me that he might be related to one of the most famous families in all of the Old West.

I think Bokonon could be descended from the Mavericks.

Here he is, washed ashore in a foreign land with no means to take care of his needs. Does he try to get a real job, make some money? Hardly. Instead he takes the L. Ron Hubbard approach.....

"When I washed ashore on this island, I found a people almost crushed by poverty and political repression. I have given them a religion of harmless lies, and you can see how happy they are." - Bokonon

With his religion came the best-seller: "The Books of Bokonon". It's filled with such aphorisms as:

"When the truth of your life is too terrible, that truth becomes your enemy."


"You have to be careful what you pretend to be.... Because one day you may wake up to find that's what you are."

Those are the types of sayings one would expect to hear being quoted as being the words of wisdom from Beauregard "Pappy" Maverick, the head of the Maverick clan back in the mid-1800's. He was known for the following "Pappyisms":

"Some men are afraid of the dark, and some men are afraid to leave it."

"A coward dies a thousand deaths, a hero dies but one. - A thousand to one is pretty good odds."

"A man does what he has to do - if he can't get out of it."

"Early to bed and early to rise’ is the curse of the working class."

"If at first you don't succeed, try something else."

"If you haven't got something nice to say about a man, it's time to change the subject."

"Love your fellow man, and stay out of his troubles if you can."

"Man is the only animal you can skin more than once."

"Marriage is the only game of chance I know of where both people can lose."

"Never cry over spilled milk... it could've been whiskey."

"Son, stay clear of weddings because one of them is liable to be your own."

And those aren't bad proverbs on which to found a religion.

Somewhere along the branch of that family tree, I'd hazard a guess that a veteran of the Civil War married into the Maverick clan. (Well, the odds would suggest there'd have to be a girl Maverick eventually.) And that man would be later known as Walter Jameson; he'd go on to outlive most of his in-laws and probably all of his children and grandchildren as well.

It would be his introduction into the Maverick genetic line that would account for the... Face of Bokonon, as it were.....

"Between Time And Timbuktu"
'Maverick' - "Pappy" (many others)
'The Twilight Zone' - "Long Live Walter Jameson"



Perhaps the best known portrayer of Mark Twain is probably Hal Holbrook with his one-man show "Mark Twain Tonight!"

From Wikipedia:
Mark Twain Tonight! Is a one-man play devised by Hal Holbrook, in which he depicts Mark Twain giving a dramatic recitation selected from several of his (Twain's) writings, with an emphasis on the comic ones. However, a lengthy excerpt from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is always included.

The recitation's genesis was a show that Holbrook performed with his first wife Ruby where she would interview him portraying famous people in history, including Twain. Holbrook revised the concept into a one-man show in the 1950s, first performing it at the Lock Haven State Teachers College in Pennsylvania in 1954. He made his first New York appearance as Twain in the Off-Broadway engagement in 1959 and premiered it on Broadway in 1966.

Holbrook's performance was first noticed by New Yor] producer John Lotas at The Lambs Club in Manhattan. Lotas presented the show at the Forty-First Street Theatre, where it ran for 174 performances. He won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for that appearance and an Emmy Award nomination for the 1967 television broadcast (which was produced by David Susskind) on CBS.

Holbrook continues to tour in the play (on Broadway as recently as 2006) and alternates the material that he performs. The original program from the 1959 Off-Broadway engagement included the note “While Mr. Twain’s sections will come from the list below, we have been unable to pin him down as to which of them he will do. He claims this would cripple his inspiration. However, he has generously conceded to a printed program for those who are in distress and wish to fan themselves.”

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Samuel Clemens' death this year, Mr. Holbrook performed the role again.

There's a DVD available of that 1967 performance, but it's also available in ten parts on YouTube. Here's the first segment and you can work your way through from there.....



As seen in the opening of the 'Bonanza' episode "The Twenty-Sixth Grave".......


This picture of Kevin McCarthy as Mark Twain in 'The Rifleman' is one of the best televersions I've seen of the author - at least as far as pictures go. I've yet to see the actual episode, but as a big fan of Mr. McCarthy's work, I'm sure he did a very convincing job.

"The Shattered Idol" concerned Samuel Clemens' visit to the town of North Fork in the New Mexico territory. Here's a great description of the episode , written as though it came from Lucas McCain's diary.....

I've seen it stated that 'The Rifleman' took place in the 1880s, and this episode just may confirm that.

From Wikipedia:
Twain's next major published work, "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", solidified him as a noteworthy American writer. Some have called it the first Great American Novel, and the book has become required reading in many schools throughout the United States. "Huckleberry Finn" was an offshoot from "Tom Sawyer" and had a more serious tone than its predecessor.

The main premise behind "Huckleberry Finn" is the young boy's belief in the right thing to do though most believed that it was wrong. Four hundred manuscript pages of "Huckleberry Finn" were written in mid-1876, right after the publication of "Tom Sawyer".

Some accounts have Twain taking seven years off after his first burst of creativity, eventually finishing the book in 1883. Other accounts have Twain working on "Huckleberry Finn" in tandem with "The Prince and the Pauper" and other works in 1880 and other years.

The last fifth of "Huckleberry Finn" is subject to much controversy. Some say that Twain experienced, as critic Leo Marx puts it, a "failure of nerve".

Ernest Hemingway once said of "Huckleberry Finn":"If you read it, you must stop where the Nigger Jim is stolen from the boys. That is the real end. The rest is just cheating."

So Clemens' vow to finish the book would put this episode around late 1882. And that's an awful long time for Twain to be still grieving so heavily for the loss of his baby son Langdon. Langdon died of diphtheria at the age of 19 months before the end of 1871 back in Buffalo, New York.



Recastaways are a common enough occurrence in Toobworld, thanks to the constant turnover of actors for characters in soap operas. They can be easy enough to splain away when they're fictional characters; the televersions of historical figures can be a bit trickier. An Abe Lincoln in one TV movie who's different from the Honest Abe in another TV movie is easy enough - they're from two different TV dimensions. Two different President Lincolns in TV series that should be in the same TV dimension? Several options are available - quantum leaping, alien replacement, Famous Impostor Syndrome.

But recasting an historical figure within one TV series not once, but twice? And screwing up the Toobworld timeline in the process? That needed some thinking to splain it away....

The example I have in mind is from 'Bonanza' in which Samuel Clemens - AKA Mark Twain - showed up in three different episodes over the course of the series:
"Enter Mark Twain" from 1959 in which Mark Twain was played by Howard Duff'
"The Emperor Norton" from 1966 with William Challee as the author and riverboat captain (and Sam Jaffe as Joshua Norton)
"The Twenty-Sixth Grave" from 1972 featuring Ken Howard as Samuel Clemens.

First off, let's go back over the way to date episodes from 'Bonanza' in the Toobworld timeline. (And I promise - no stupid jokes about dating episodes.)

Every season of 'Bonanza' was about what took place one hundred years before, although I don't think it has to be a hard and fast rule. And when it comes to the 1872 entry especially, I think we have to abandon it altogether. But more on that later.

So those three episodes in which Mark Twain appeared supposedly took place in 1859, 1866, and 1872 respectively. Leaving the last episode aside, Samuel Clemens was 24 in "Enter Mark Twain" and 31 years of age at the time of "The Emperor Norton". And yet he was played by actors aged 46 (Howard Duff) and 62 (William Challee). Sorry - neither one of them looked as though they might have been younger. In fact, when Duff stepped into the office of the Territorial Enterprise newspaper, the editor called him "Old Timer".

I'm leaning toward the idea that neither of them was Mark Twain.

And it's more than just the discrepancy in age, at least in the case of Howard Duff's Twain. "Enter Mark Twain" had Samuel Clemens in Virginia City when in real world history he was busy working for his riverboat pilot's license on the Mississippi. But a tweak to an historical figure's personal timeline in Toobworld can be allowed - for precedence, there's Jules Verne who was twenty years younger than he should have been in 'The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne'. So maybe the Toobworld Mark Twain did get out to Virginia City a few years earlier than he did in real life and tried his luck at mining before coming to work at the newspaper. Still there's the matter of him being nearly twice as old as he should have been....

Clemens had moved to San Francisco by 1864, so that would be consistent with him coming from Frisco in 1866 to testify on behalf of Emperor Norton. But there's no getting around the fact that the man who showed up in that courtroom in Carson City looked thirty years older than he should have been.

So what could be the reason, er, splainin? I think that first Samuel Clemens who showed up in Nevada circa 1859 had to be someone who needed to disguise who he really was; and he may have stolen Clemens' identity at some point while cruising along the Mississippi. It certainly wasn't a case of Famous Impostors Syndrome, because Clemens wouldn't become nationally known until about 1865.

Then again, he may have been a time traveler, someone with knowledge about Sam Clemens from the Future who had come back in Time to "re-enact" the life of Samuel Clemens - but a few years earlier than Clemens did so as not to disrupt the timeline. We just never got the chance to see in any TV series the confusion caused when the real Sam Clemens showed up two years later... at least in the original timeline.

The idea of a time traveler is intriguing for the Mark Twain played by William Challee. But it would be one who used an advanced upgrade to the quantum accelerator to let him take a 'Quantum Leap' beyond his own lifetime and into the space occupied by the real Mark Twain (who would spend the time in the facility's "waiting room".) For some reason, this temporal interloper thought he should look the way Mark Twain would famously look later in his career. Not that it mattered, since he was inhabiting the aura of the original Clemens. That's what the Cartwrights and Emperor Norton would see. We in the Trueniverse would be the only ones who could see the difference.

We could also cite Occam's Razor and look for a simpler splainin - such as William Challee playing a man with Famous Impostor's Syndrome who intercepted the plea for help from Ben Cartwright. With forged letters from Brett Harte and Robert Louis Stevenson to present at the sanity hearing for Emperor Norton, this unidentified man made himself up to look like Samuel Clemens - even though there was a thirty year gap in their ages.

Nevertheless, Ben Cartwright and his son Joe were fooled by the impostor. It had been about six years since they last saw a man who claimed to be Samuel Clemens and for all they knew, maybe the years of living the high life in San Francisco took its toll on the writer.

So let's take a look finally at the last portrayal of Samuel Clemens in the 'Bonanza' episode "The Twenty-Sixth Grave"......

It was as if a massive reboot had taken place in Virginia City. Six years after the last time he was allegedly there in town, and then as an old man, Clemens arrived in town as a young man. He was brought in to take over the Territorial Enterprise for a month or so and there was no mention or indication that Ben Cartwright knew the "reporter" from those earlier encounters. And nobody at the Enterpirse had any memory of his last time there when he returned.

When "Samuel Clemens" was last in Virginia City, Hoss was still alive and Adam was still on the ranch. But by 1872, Hoss had died and Adam had gone to sea (although he was back out West by the 1880s, as seen in an episode of 'Alias Smith & Jones'.) Little Joe was still alive and Ben had adopted Jaimie. Candy Canady was now the ranch foreman and Griff King (who may have been Buckskin Charlie King's brother) also worked on the Ponderosa. So there was no way to make any kind of claim that this episode had to take place before the other two. The only way to make sense of it all is if there had been that giant reboot. And thanks to events in both 'Primeval' and 'The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy', the Earth was supplied with such a revision. In both shows, characters went back in Time and caused massive alterations to the pre-established timeline - events that once took place no longer happened. For the example I usually offer, Henry Talbot McNeil was no longer the President of the United States during the late 1960's to the early 1970's, as seen in 'Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea'; as established in the real world, it was now a succession of Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford.

So with these massive reboots, that Samuel Clemens imposter played by Howard Duff never showed up at the newspaper office in Virginia City. The young man who would become Mark Twain, as played by Ken Howard, showed up as the only Mark Twain to work at the newspaper. And although the real Mark Twain worked at the Territorial Enterprise until 1864, his arrival there in 1872 must be attributed to the revised timeline, one of the many trivial differences between Toobworld and the real world.
And this time, Twain was played by an actor who was six years younger than Twain at the time. But that kind of age difference wasn't noticeable, unlike the case with Howard Duff in the role.....



Recasting due to the aging of a character is given leeway in Toobworld, and we run the gamut with Samuel Clemens - from a young man to the crotchety old raconteur we think we know best.

These portrayals of Mark Twain by these actors are all acceptable to be the real Samuel Clemens:



For the last day of August, the month in which we celebrated the TV Western, we're tossing aside the "Two For Tuesday" aspect of our "As Seen On TV" showcase.

Instead, we're presenting the following posts in which Toobworld Central honors the memory of Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain.

Why? Because we marked a century earlier this year since the Great Man died.....

I hope you enjoy it.


Monday, August 30, 2010


During this month-long celebration of the TV Western, we come to the end of the month with the loss of an actress connected to one of the first of the "contemporary" TV Westerns. Gloria Winters, who played Penny on 'Sky King', passed away from complications of pneumonia at the age of 78.

Only a few weeks ago, 'Sky King' came up here at Inner Toob with a "theory of relateeveety" that linked it to 'Maverick'. Mrs. Winters-Vernon played Penny King, the niece to the title character (and according to Toobworld Central, both of them descended from outlaw Buckskin Charlie King.)

She was also a regular on 'The Life Of Riley' when Jackie Gleason played the lead role. (The later version of the series with William Bendix is the official version of Earth Prime-Time.)

'Sky King' was before my time, but I have several older friends for whom Penny King was one of their first crushes. And it's to preserve their memories of her that I think we should consider Penny King to have passed away in Toobworld as well.

Good night, and may God bless.



It may seem hard to believe, but the comedy Western 'F Troop' is considered a Toobworld essential. This is because it provides proof that several family members, even those who are not in a direct line of descent from each other, can share the same tele-genetic traits, thus being identical twins in effect.

It's a trait I call "agarnosis", named after Randolph Agarn..... It's not limited to Corporal Agarn, however. Sgt. Morgan O'Rourke supplies the classic example in which the father of a TV character looks just like his son. In O'Rourke's case, we saw it when Morgan O'Rourke Senior visited the fort.

Two TV characters don't have to be related to look alike and once again, 'F Troop' provides an example. The notorious outlaw Kid Vicious looks exactly like Captain Wilton Parmenter, who's in charge of Fort Courage. (I wonder if Kid Vicious had a girlfriend named Nancy?)

When it comes to examples of identical cousins, Randolph Agarn supplies the bonanza:

And those family members were just from one episode! Corporal Agarn also has a Russian cousin named Dimitri Agarnoff and a French cousin named Lucky Pierre.

So Toobworld Central feels safe in claiming that every character played by Larry Storch on television - except for himself on 'Married... With Children' - is related, from 'The Persuaders' to 'The Ghost Busters' to 'All In The Family'...... BCnU!


Bart 'Maverick' met the Wheelwright clan of the Subrosa ranch in the episode "Three Queens Full". Joe Wheelwright was the patriarch of the clan, grandson of "Four-Square" Wheelwright who had a reputation for being the most honest man in the territory. (Actually it turned out that he would often double-cross the Indians.) Joe Wheelwright's sons were Henry, Moose, and Small Paul (who may have shared tele-genetic stock with an outlaw also seen in 'Maverick' - Kid Curran). The Wheelwrights were mean to be parodies of the Cartwright boys of 'Bonanza', but Toobworld Central looks upon them as being their own characters and not Ben, Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe with aliases. Four-Square Wheelwright had another grandson, who may have been either Joe's brother or his cousin. His name was Verle Wheelwright and he ran gambling casinos. He had an alias, that of Big Creel Roberts, when he was running the Oriental Casino in Tombstone. But he must have reverted back to Verle Wheelwright after Bat Masterson ran him out of town. Once he re-established himself with a new gambling emporium, Wheelwright also tangled with two men named Thaddeus Jones and Joshua Smith. Smith and Jones were able to pull a fast one over on Wheelwright after he tried to cheat them out of the money he owed them. (This happened after a game of poker which they won fairly.) Neither Verle nor Joe ever mentioned having a brother, or even a cousin, but that's not unusual in Toobworld. How many times have we seen TV characters go years in their shows before a never before mentioned sibling shows up?

Just a theory of relateeveety as our Western-themed month of August winds down.....
'Bat Masterson'
'Alias Smith And Jones'