Tuesday, March 1, 2011

MALICK IN WONDERLAND

In order to deflate a lot of Zonks, Toobworld Central had to concede that a lot of TV shows that we watch in the Trueniverse are also TV shows in Toobworld. Most of the time they are adaptations or re-enactments of the "real life" events depicted in the actual TV shows. 'The Brady Bunch', 'Gilligan's Island', 'Happy Days', and even 'Star Trek' are examples of this.

Some TV shows have their titles invoked in other TV series, but those shows have such generic titles they could be about anything (so long as no other details are revealed. 'Cold Case', 'Law & Order', 'General Hospital', 'CSI' - these are good examples of that. (Although it seems like they can't just mention 'CSI: Miami' without throwing in mentions - and even parodies! - of David Caruso.)

We've even seen clips from these TV shows within TV shows, the classic being a scene from the televersion of 'Murphy Brown'. As seen on 'Seinfeld', that also starred Candice Bergen as the reporter, just like in the real world, with Cosmo Kramer as her latest secretary.

Most recently, I wrote about the excerpt from
'Burke's Law' starring Gene Barry as seen in an episode of 'Burke's Law' starring Gene Barry!

Those and others like them were all quick clips, mostly serving as punchlines. But now, this may be the second biggest example ever, one that ran for several scenes throughout an hour-long soap opera. This is about the crossover between the sitcom 'Hot In Cleveland' and 'All My Children'.....

It's been a running gag on 'Hot In Cleveland' that fading soap opera queen Victoria Chase is bitter rivals with Susan Lucci of 'All My Children'. 'AMC' and its plots have been mentioned in other TV shows in the past, so we can't dismiss it as a generic TV show title, like it was a reality TV series or something. Toobworld Central had to accept that the televersion of 'All My Children' was a dramatization of the "real-life" events in Pine Valley. (When the show stars a soap opera diva who went for so long without Emmy award recognition, it was bound to be a magnet for pop culture references. Hey, had she won early and often for playing Erica Kane, Lucci might never have been asked to host 'Saturday Night Live'!)

Two episodes of 'Hot In Cleveland' were focused on the behind-the-scenes activities at a taping of "All My Children' with appearances by Darnell Williams, Michael E. Knight (more on him in a later post), and of course, Susan Lucci. Lucci played up her role beautifully, not afraid to show that she was different (maybe) from her true persona - as Victoria called her, "a conniving tea-cup poodle". I always enjoy seeing celebrities not afraid to portray themselves in a bad light on TV. Kevin Bacon on an episode last year of 'Bored To Death' comes to mind, but the all-time best was the late great Lloyd Bridges on 'Ned & Stacy", where he played himself as a kleptomaniac neo-Nazi cross-dresser!

Victoria Chase had gone back to Los Angeles to film a guest appearance on 'All My Children', and we got to see the blocking of that scene and its catastrophic consequences. When all was said and done, however, that hospital bed scene was scrapped and we learned that a new scene was written for her. That's proof right there that even though the Toobworld 'All My Children' was based on the "real life" events depicted in the actual show, sometimes characters and scenes are created with no basis in "fact".

And then, with the sitcom's two-parter over, the next day had the crossover's finale on the soap opera itself.....

Do you remember how I've stated in the past that
the credits have no bearing on what we actually see in the TV Universe?

This is the exception: With that opening credit letting us know that Victoria Chase was the special guest star, the show was also announcing that we weren't watching the Trueniverse 'All My Children'. The following hour was probably a one-time only broadcast of a fictional episode from within the TV Universe.

And since several citizens of the Pine Valley population were depicted in other scenes, O'Bviously this show within a show went to great lengths to find actors who looked exactly like the people they were playing....... (Leave me my delusions, please.)

This wasn't the first time in Toobworld history in which the actual show was abandoned for the show within a show. The best example is that of the interregnum between Clayton Moore's appearances as 'The Lone Ranger'. Those episodes which starred John Hart are actually the Toobworld episodes of the show which everybody refers to when the the classic Western is mentioned in other shows, like 'Happy Days' and 'The Fall Guy'. (John Hart appeared as himself in episodes from both shows.) John Hart was the TV Lone Ranger; the real Lone Ranger looked like the actor Clayton Moore. (Hart must have made such an impression as the televersion of the Lone Ranger that hundreds of years in the future, a Time Agent would be named after him - Jon Hart, as seen in 'Torchwood'.)

So Wendie Malick played Victoria Chase playing Gertie Stein, who was supposed to work for Erica Kane as a maid and then served her as a bartender in the bar owned by Erica's daugher. And in both cases, Erica got her fired. This was probably due to Susan Lucci's influence over the writers, giving her this on-air opportunity to humiliate Victoria (knowing that many in the audience would confuse the actress with the character and thus Victoria came off as a loser.) Lucci was probably also responsible for Victoria being saddled with a name like Gertie Stein. She probably wanted to equate Victoria in the minds of viewers with the unattractive looks of the famous writer Gertrude Stein. By Friday, everything was back to normal for the Trueniverse audience. The last episode of that week's 'All My Children' strip was the one that showed the "real" people of Pine Valley. If you wanted to see any more of the fictional version of the show, you'll probably have to keep watching shows like 'Hot In Cleveland' which might refer back to it. (But then, at best you may get just audio from the show.)

So thanks just to that one little screen credit for Victoria Chase, this was an actual crossover and not just actresses appearing on each other's show. And more than likely it was audacious enough to best any other candidates to be the Crossover of the Year at the 2011 Toobits Awards (to be held in January.)

Thanks to my friends Mark & Michael for making sure I saw that episode of 'All My Children'.....

BCnU!

2 comments:

Michael said...

Russlle T Davis and Doctor Who WISHED they could do this.....isnt it funny, how the long shots win it. And also, American TV still can be amazing.....

Michael said...

Betty White spoke so many time about Robert Reford, yet he wouldn't be a crossover. But on "Golden Girls" Bob Hope (Who passed away) and Bert Reynolds both guest starred! I hope the one who is alive shows up and make a connection to the old series, since this one seems to be leaning towards the old one.