Monday, July 2, 2012



As the train carrying Helen O'Hara heads around the bend, we're going to shift our focus from her for awhile - in fact, we won't be returning to her story again until we reach the late 1960's in the Toobworld timeline.

We'll instead be turning our attention to her younger brothers, the twins Jim and Frank.

But first I thought I should talk a bit about Superman, since he's part of the O'Hara family now. (At least in my televersion of life during prime time.)

For Earth Prime-Time, Superman (aka Clark Kent) is only that portrayal by George Reeves as seen in 'Adventures Of Superman'. Other shared universes, like my esteemed comrades at the Wold Newton Universe and the TVCU, see all of these characters more as archetypal concepts so that they could be portrayed by several different actors yet still represent the same man (or woman.) But the Toobworld Dynamic remains true to the visual nature of the medium, and so any recasting of a role has to be accounted for. If there are no splainins that can keep a particular version of a character in the dimension of Earth Prime-Time, then - thanks to 'Sliders' (primarily, although other shows have used this gimmick) - we have plenty of other TV dimensions where those versions can hold sway.

George Reeves is not Dean Cain, nor is he Tom Welling. Their versions of Superman and the adventures they experienced don't add to the overall essence of the character. They are instead separated from each other in three different dimensions. (I've never considered where Cain's Superman from 'Lois & Clark' is located, but Welling's embodiment of the Man of Steel is to be found in the same dimension as 'The West Wing'.)

The Toobworld Dynamic is more than life during prime time; it's what happens after a show goes off the air as well. So if George Reeves was Superman even after the series ended, why didn't we see him or at least hear of his exploits during some of the catastrophic events that struck Toobworld over the last fifty years since the show was on the air - the collapse of Sunnyvale into the Hellmouth, the explosion at Moonbase Alpha, the disappearance of Oceanic Flight 815, invasions by the Canamids, the Cybermen, the Daleks, the visiting Invaders and the invading Visitors. Perhaps there were tragic accidents involving the Amsterdam Queen and the Super-Train after their shows went off the air. Even the real-life horror of the collapse of the World Trade Center towers would have to be considered since TV shows like 'Touch', 'Rubicon', 'Rescue Me', and 'CSI: NY' have deeply incorporated it into their plotlines.

In fact, it was that national tragedy that got me thinking about "Whatever Happened To Superman?", which I published in the old Tubeworld Dynamic website a few months after the fall of the towers. I got a bit of flack for that at the time, but soon enough the TV Universe was weaving it into the tele-mosaic - see the list of other shows which used the attack on the World Trade Center in their stories, compiled by my fellow Iddiot, Nora Lee Mandel.

If the World Trade Center collapse was part of Toobworld as was Superman, than in the realm of the TV Universe, why couldn't he have flown to New York City from Metropolis and prevented it from happening in Toobworld?

The only conclusion I could think of was that Superman himself must have already died.

Superman would have been about 76 years old by then. (He was an infant when he crash-landed on Earth back in 1926. This makes the character younger than the actor who played him. If Superman's age had been based on that of Reeves, then he would have been about 87 years old by September 11, 2001.)

So he could have died of old age. My own father never saw that age, and he was my Superman, so why should Clark Kent? Living under a yellow sun made him invulnerable, but he was not immortal.

I wanted to find a TV-based splainin for his demise, one that could also create a link to some other show. I thought that might be tricky - not much call for Kryptonite in other TV series.

But I did find the circumstances that were perfect

I don't know if this is how it played out on screen when the first season finale of 'Crime Story' was first broadcast, or if it has since been edited to be even more trippy for this video, but here are the basics:

Ray Luca and his dimwitted henchman Pauli made good their escape after a shoot-out on the streets of Las Vegas. Since Luca was wounded, Pauli had to make the decision where they were going to hide out - and he chose a house located in the middle of the A-bomb testing site. They were still out there when an atomic bomb was detonated... and yet they survived to return for the second season.

There's only one way that could have happened - Superman must have come to their rescue.

For whatever reason he was in the area ('Adventures of Superman' had scenes set outside of Metropolis that were basically desert-like in location, so maybe it's not too far away from Sin City?), Superman reached Luca and Pauli in time to shield them from the immediate effects of the blast. (They probably later died from radiation poisoning after 'Crime Story' concluded.) But Superman might not have been so lucky himself.

Atomic radiation might not have been harmful to him, but those desert sands may have had Kryptonite dust mixed in as well. That Kryptonite may have penetrated his clothes and permeated his skin, leaving him poisoned and slowly dying from the exposure.

Realizing that there was no cure, Superman probably put his affairs in order and finally revealed his secret to Jimmy Olsen so that the cub reporter could tell his story to the world. 

 And as was the case with the Gallifreyan Time Lord known as the Doctor, Superman must have realized that even one cell of his corpse would be worth anything to his enemies. Since fire wouldn't be able to destroy his remains, Superman either took off into outer space to die among the stars (or even in the heart of a red sun), or he used his fading powers to go back in Time and die in an undisclosed location in Earth's past where his corpse could naturally decay before anyone back in the Future could capitalize on what was left.

Maybe Superman died back in the "Wild, Wild West"?
After he was gone, Jimmy Olsen (Superman's so-called pal) made a fortune with a tell-all book that made him a multi-millionaire. This book is still in publication in Toobworld, and is the source of all the information other TV characters have of Superman's personal life - including his secret identity on Earth of Clark Kent, his Kryptonian name of Kal-El, and that of his father, Jor-El (which Jerry Seinfeld uses as his ATM password.)

With part of the proceeds from his royalties, Olsen established the Kent Foundation, which came under investigation in the early part of this century in New York City. He also bought the Daily Planet, which is why we saw him standing outside of it when the Superman of the Tooniverse crossed over to hang out with Seinfeld in Metropolis.

One last point I want to make about Superman in Earth Prime-Time. When a TV character is adapted from another source, we have to take the TV version to be the official version, not the original source material. For example, in the novel of "Rich Man, Poor Man", the Jordache family had another child besides Tom and Rudy - a daughter. But she didn't make it into the mini-series and so she doesn't exist as far as Toobworld is concerned.

But sometimes an omission from the TV adaptation just means that we never got the chance to see that character or event on screen. Such is the case with the Superman mythos - all we ever saw of his enemies were the petty crooks and mad scientists, but never the colorful villains that were to be found in the pages of the DC comic books. It's the contention of Toobworld Central that those villains did exist in Earth Prime-Time, but Superman fought them in the unseen stories between the televised episodes, and perhaps even during the commercial breaks.

This is why Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and Mr. Mxyzptlyk - my choices for Superman's top trio in his rogues' gallery - were all mentioned in the previous episode of "Chiefly O'Haras", but not actually "seen". We know each of them exist in other TV dimensions - we've seen them in 'Smallville', 'Lois & Clark', 'The Adventures Of Superboy' and the many cartoon incarnations like 'Super-Friends' - so they're probably in Earth Prime-Time as well.

And keeping the time period in which Superman operated in mind, I have three actors in mind who could have played these roles:

"LEX LUTHOR" - R.G. Armstrong
Alexander "Lex" Joseph Luthor is a fictional character supervillain who appears in comic books published by DC Comics. He is the archenemy of Superman, a major adversary of Batman and all superheroes in the DC Universe. Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, he first appeared in Action Comics #23 (April 1940). Luthor is described as "a power-mad, evil scientist" of high intelligence and incredible technological prowess. His goals typically center on killing Superman, usually as a stepping stone to world domination. Though he periodically wears a powered exoskeleton, Luthor has traditionally lacked superpowers or a dual identity.

"BRAINIAC" - Michael Ansara
Brainiac is a fictional character that appears in comic books published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in Action Comics #242 (July 1958), and was created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino.

An extraterrestrial android (in most incarnations), Brainiac is a principal foe of Superman, and is responsible for shrinking and stealing Kandor, the capital city of Superman's home planet Krypton. Due to complex storylines involving time travel, cloning, and revisions of DC's continuity, several variations of Brainiac have appeared. Most incarnations of Brainiac depict him as a green-skinned being in humanoid form. He is bald, except for a set of diodes protruding from his skull.

Brainiac wasn't created until after the series went off the air, but that wouldn't affect what happens off-screen anyway.

"MR. MXYZPTLK" - Billy Barty
Mr. Mxyzptlk, sometimes called Mxy, is a fictional impish supervillain who appears in DC Comics' Superman comic books.

He was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and first appeared in Superman #30 (September 1944). He is usually presented as a trickster, in the classical mythological sense, in that he enjoys tormenting Superman. In most of his appearances in DC Comics, he can be stopped only by tricking him into saying or spelling his own name backwards (Kltpzyxm - "kel-tip-zix-um"), which will return him to his home in the 5th dimension and keep him there for a minimum of 90 days. However, this specific limitation of the character has been eliminated since the Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot, upon which the character leaves only when he willingly agrees to do so after meeting some conditions he sets, such as having Superman succeed in painting Mxy's face blue.

Originally I had Billy Curtis in mind for the role, but I think Barty would have brought the true impish quality of the character to life.

Superman may be dead in the TV Universe, but the Toobworld Dynamic posits that his legacy lives on with the child he had by Helen O'Hara. And like I said, we'll be getting to that story soon enough.....

  • 'The Adventures Of Superboy'
  • 'Adventures Of Superman'
  • American Express commercials
  • 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'
  • 'Crime Story'
  • 'CSI: NY'
  • 'Doctor Who'
  • 'The Invaders'
  • 'Lois & Clark'
  • 'Lost'
  • 'O'Hara, U.S. Treasury'
  • 'Psych'
  • 'The Queen And I'
  • 'Rescue Me'
  • "Rich Man, Poor Man"
  • 'Rubicon'
  • 'Seinfeld'
  • 'Sliders'
  • 'Smallville'
  • 'Space: 1999'
  • 'Super-Friends'
  • 'Super-Train'
  • 'Touch'
  • 'The Twilight Zone'
  • 'V'
  • 'The West Wing'
Coming up next: "Double Trouble"


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