Monday, October 24, 2011


One of my co-workers, Kevin "Boomer" Brown, clued me in to Antenna TV and I easily found it on my cable line-up. Since then my DVR is in danger of being stuffed to the cyber-gills.

Of all the goodies from my youth I could be enjoying - 'Hazel', 'Dragnet', 'Rin Tin Tin', 'Burns & Allen', 'Father Knows Best', etc. - the one that I'm wallowing in is 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents'. Back in August, my classic TV fixation was 'The Rifleman'. (Hopefully you were paying attention.) That month just seemed perfect for a dusty trails TV Western. But this time of year is better suited to a darkly humorous murder mystery anthology series.....

I'm finding that I can see beyond what the episode actually offers to find other theoretical slices o' life during prime-time. These don't necessarily have to be crossover suggestions; sometimes it's just an expansion beyond the script of the events depicted in that episode.

A case in point - the first episode I saw upon my re-immersion into 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents' was "Whodunit". It starred John Williams (practically a regular in this anthology series!), Alan Napier, Amanda Blake, Jerry Paris, Philip Coolidge (another frequent guest star), and Ruta Lee. The framing scenes were set in Heaven, and best of all they didn't conflict with the basics established in other shows like 'Second Chance', 'The Twilight Zone', and 'Curb Your Enthusiasm', among others.

But it wasn't the possibility of a crossover that intrigued me with this episode; it was the chance to explore what happened after the credits rolled.

John Williams played a mystery writer named Alexander Arlington who wrote under the name of Slade Sanders. (It could be "Slade Saunders" - I heard both pronunciations during the episode.) He appears to have written a series of mysteries that began with "Murder Of A ____", although there may have been other title themes as well. One of his published books was "Murder Of A Moneybags" and his last novel, apparently rejected by his publisher, was "Murder Of A Mannequin". (Moneybags... Mannequin.... It could be his title theme was even more specific: "Murder Of A M_____".)

During the episode, Arlington received word from his publishers that they were not satisfied with his final draft for the latest Slade Sanders novel. And we also learned that his assistant Talbot felt confident enough to be able to continue the Slade Sanders line without Arlington. (Although I'm not saying that made him the murderer.....)

It's not giving anything away to reveal that Arlington would be murdered at midnight that same day. We learned that in the beginning when he arrived in Heaven. But in the Terran-bound Toobworld timeline, the story basically ended on that day.

So what might have happened afterwards?

I'm thinking that with the notoriety of Arlington's murder, the publishing company would have had a change of heart and published "Murder Of A Mannequin" as it was. And even though they originally thought it was far from Arlington's best work, they would have touted it as his final and greatest work to boost the sales.

However, I also think that they would have then hired Talbot to continue the line of Slade Sanders novels in the Arlington tradition - in much the same way that Eric Van Lustbader has continued the Jason Bourne novels after the death of Robert Ludlum.

By the way, it's the Toobworld Central position that any publishing house that goes unnamed in a TV series must be either Coventry House (from 'Murder, She Wrote') if it's a high-end publication, or Whitestone Publishing (from 'Dream On') for books of lesser quality. So I'm thinking that even though Whitestone could count Dame Margot Woodhouse, who wrote "Death Rinses Out A Few Things", among their authors, Alexander Arlington's "Slade Sanders" series made their home at Coventry House.


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