Monday, August 18, 2014


"Ruggles Of Red Gap" was the first big American film for Charles Laughton and its been a comedy classic - if a bit creaky - ever since.  It told the story of Marmaduke Ruggles, a gentleman's gentleman who was "lost" in a poker game in Paris back in 1908.  His new masters, Egbert and Effie Floud, brought him to America and he found himself in the decidedly uncivilized Old West, in the town of Red Gap.

The story seems to mirror the life of Edward Hewitt, who also started out his adult life as a valet but found himself (due to gambling as well, but this time his own) in the area of Stockton, California.  Like Ruggles, Mr. Hewitt eventually turned to making a career for himself in the culinary arts.  (All of this happened in the 'Big Valley episode "Danger Road".)

I was tempted to make the claim that "Ruggles Of Red Gap" - which began life as a serialized novel and then a play before there were two silent movie adaptations - was based on the life of Edward Hewitt - at least as far as within the reality of Toobworld.  O'Bviously that wouldn't hold up in the real world since Hewitt didn't show up on television until the late 1960s.

But as it turned out there is still yet another version of "Ruggles Of Red Gap" - a 1957 TV musical which starred Michael Redgrave as Ruggles and with Jane Powell, Imogene Coca, David Wayne, Paul Lynde, and Hal Linden.  I'm not sure if the Paley Center has a copy of this production in their archives, but I have seen the soundtrack album available online.

Musicals are a tricky thing when it comes to their placement in the Television Universe - into which dimension should they be placed?  Some musicals are adaptations of theatrical productions, so I think those should go right into the world of ToobStage.  

But this was made for television with original music by Jule Styne.  And even though everybody breaks into song, Toobworld has a secret weapon to splain that away.  (But there are times when I think I should just chuck all TV musicals into their own dimension and be done with it!)

Mr. Sweet is a demon whom we met in the musical episode of 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' ("Once More With Feeling".)  He would cause humans to reveal their true natures through song and dance - until the exertion and overload of emotion killed them.  

He only appeared on TV that one time and yet he's a member of the Television Crossover Hall Of Fame.  That's because we use him as the scapegoat whenever there's a musical episode of a TV series or even an entire series with musical scores.

As for TV series in which Sweet was involved, there's 'Hull High', 'Cop Rock', and even earlier, 'That's Life' from 1968.  TV shows like 'Community', 'Psych', 'Grey's Anatomy', 'House', 'Fringe', 'How I Met Your Mother', and even 'American Horror Story' all had musical episodes that had to be due to the demon Sweet. (After that 'Buffy' episode, it seemed like everybody wanted to get into the act.)

At least with 'Scrubs', there was a medical reason why a patient saw everyone around him as singers and dancers.

So, thanks to the participation of Sweet, I have no problem with keeping this one-shot production of "Ruggles Of Red Gap" in Earth Prime-Time.  That is, at least until a straight version of the story is adapted, perhaps as an original production for Encore Westerns.

But if I might add a little twist for the 1957 version.....?

If demons are not immortal, they are at least incredibly long-lived.  So I have no problem in believing that Sweet was alive back in the days of the wild, wild West and survived easily into the Future to eventually confront Buffy and her Scoobies.

But what if he was on his second go-round through the Toobworld Timeline because of a Weeping Angel?  As you'll see come October, I think there's a Weeping Angel in America which has sent other TV characters back in Time to the days of the Old West.  

It's just an idea and probably not worth bothering with....

Unless you're a fanficcer of course.  And if so, you're most welcome to the idea.  (So long as you give me credit for it!)


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