Saturday, December 27, 2014


The Television Universe has plenty of abnormalities that mark it apart from the "Trueniverse". Androids, aliens, talking animals, new nations, etc - it makes me laugh when politicians complain about how a certain situation from "Earth Prime" is portrayed in "Earth Prime-Time", because it has no bearing on the original.

One way in which Toobworld differs from the real world is in the use of "reruns". Not the type of reruns we expect from our TV shows, but in the carbon copies of people and situations that arise from TV show remakes sharing the same world as the original TV series.

In case that's confusing - Sorry about that, Chief! - here's an example: Earth Prime-Time has a proliferation of remakes for the Columbian TV show 'Betty de la Fea', including the American version 'Ugly Betty'. One might expect that each of these remakes would be sent packing to some other TV dimension, but there are enough differences - names of characters, companies, and definitely locations! - to allow them all to remain in Earth Prime-Time. The same goes for all of the international 'Office' clones as well as 'All In The Family' and its British inspiration 'Death Do Us Part'.

Exceptions include the clones for 'Shameless' and 'Being Human'. They were just too exact in their remakes, right down to character names. ('Being Human' had different character names but the situation? A vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost share an apartment. If only the American version had used at least one different category of "monster" for the room-mates - a witch instead of the over-used vampire, perhaps.)

There are certain motifs which are replayed all the time in Toobworld - main characters holding out in a jury vote; pregnant women in the elevator when it goes on the blink; seasonal motifs like rehashed versions of "It's A Wonderful Life" and/or "A Christmas Carol". And my personal favorite - the magician who dies in a sealed coffin that was at the bottom of a pool in front of witnesses... and who was shot to death! (I've seen it done three times so far, a Levinson & Link classic! And the third time was in the sequel to the first depiction.)

Sometimes if enough time has passed between the lives of such replayable character types, I make the claim that it is a case of reincarnation with them reliving their lives. My best example of this would be aristocratic Ross Poldark and his gypsy wife Demelza of Cornwall. Two centuries later, they were reunited in San Francisco as uptight yuppie Greg Montgomery and his hippie wife Dharma Liberty Finkelstein.

I've also noted "bleed-throughs" from other fictional universes, and a good example of this would be the characters from Dashiell Hammett's "The Maltese Falcon". This classic detective novel is better known for its second movie incarnation with Humphrey Bogart but it has never been adapted for television, not even during the heyday of movie adaptations in the anthology TV series from several of the major movie studios.

However we have seen the archetypes of those classic characters played out in Toobworld on several TV shows including 'Get Smart', 'It Takes A Thief', 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'. Usually it comes down to the bad guys being the overweight mastermind and his weasely accomplice, sometimes with a hired gun and a femme fatale in tow.

Although they didn't resemble the Gutman, Joel Cairo, and Wilmer the gunsel from "The Maltese Falcon", we did see those archetypes in an episode of 'The Rogues' - "The Laughing Lady Of Luxor".

The MacGuffin, the object everybody was chasing, wasn't a falcon statue, but a bas relief portrait of Cleopatra which was a cheap copy. However, the wire used to hang it on the wall was a recording of top secret information smuggled out of the Soviet Union.

And the stand-ins for the archetypes were:

Dubrovin - a Russian agent (for Caspar Gutman)

Spiro Deleanos - a Greek scrounger/thief (for Joel Cairo)

Lawrence Creighton - Dubrovin's hired "muscle" (for Wilmer)

Catherine de Montrachet - the femme fatale working both sides (for Brigid O'Shaughnessy)

They may not have looked the parts, but they served the same functions as the characters in the book and in the movies.


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