Thursday, January 10, 2019



It's that time of year again, when we all make lists and think back over the past year, in whatever field of interest concerns us, and chronicle the high points and the lows.  For the past few years I've been presenting this compilation as an awards show, the Toobits, which of course celebrates my two bits about Toobworld.
As it is with any such list you'll find in TV columns across the country these last few weeks, these are my opinions.  You're welcome to your own and I hope you'll share them, but I'm sticking to my weapons of choice.  (It could be you won't see something that was a favorite of yours because I just never got around to seeing it.  There's only so much time in the world - even for a do-nothing-else-anyway sort like me! - and I've only got the two eyes… even if they do operate independently of each other at times.)
Unlike the Emmy Awards which will just keep handing out trophies to the same shows and actors forever, only shows, episodes, characters and what-not that debuted in 2018 can be considered.  (And by "debuted", I mean that which I first came in contact with in 2018. It could be a few years old, but if it's my first time seeing it, it's new.)  
This one-time-only rule includes characters who have been recast; those are still the same characters who already exist in Toobworld.  (But there were a few notable appearances that deserved honorable mention, and they get it.)
So without further ado, let's have at it:

‘800 Words’

As usual for this one-man triumvirate, I didn’t discover this show until February of 2018, but it’s been around since 2016.  It has one of my favorite sub-genres: the quirky community of eccentrics.  It’s one of those shows I just want to get inside so that I can become friends with these people.  Look for it to show up in a few more categories this year.

It premiered in December of 2017, but I didn’t start watching it until the four episode replay on January 3rd.  This is a wild and inventive, funny, sick, violent, and disturbing new show based on a graphic novel.  Christopher Meloni really gets to cut loose even moreso than in ‘Oz’ or his too-short turn in ‘True Blood’.  And I don’t know if Happy the Imaginary Friend would have been less interesting (been there, done that) had it not been for Patton Oswalt’s vocal contribution. Expect to see ‘Happy!’ also show up in a few more categories before the end.

I know this is a remake of a British show and so I’m curious if that was better than this.  I made it through one episode and had when the second week rolled around, I just cancelled the recording of it and deleted the automatic setting for it.  It was especially disappointing to me as I’m a big fan of David Tennant and I would have liked to have seen more of Juliette Lewis in her swimming outfit.  But Jennifer Garner was a real pill, a drag, as the main character.  I see enough of her in the credit card commercials.
“A Man In An Orange Shirt"

This was British television’s leading light in marking the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality in most of Great Britain.  It was shown on PBS in June of this year during the celebration of Pride.  I recognized only two actors in the production – Vanessa Redgrave and Frances De La Tour – and that worked to its advantage for keeping me involved in the story.

There was another “Sharknado” movie this year, wasn’t there?  They’re all bad, even they know it and probably make it so deliberately.  Yeah, I just checked the IMDb; there was another one, billed as the last.  Sure.  Right.  I gave up on the series when the Hoff ended up on the Moon, but I feel confident in saying this was the worst TV movie of the year even if I didn’t see it.


I said at the beginning that “new in 2018” means “new to me” and here we have an example that is about ten years old!  I never even heard of it when I found it in a Google search back in March.  (I was looking up information about a different character played by ‘DNA’ star Tom Conti.)  It had a 21st Century feel to the Hitchcock mode of suspense, but not quite with the Master’s finesse.  Part procedural, part soap opera, part stalker film, the aforementioned Conti as a retired forensics detective had the lovely Samantha Bond as his wife and ‘Bones’/’Alphas’/’Mad Men’ actor Ryan Cartwright as his son. (I can’t prove it but I wouldn’t be surprised if this role as Seth gave Cartwright the boost to his career with those other shows.)  There are other episodes supposedly still to be seen but they’re in an anthology format rather than a continuous story as found here.  I’ll still track them down.

Tourism Australia – “Dundee: Son Of A Legend”

And by choosing it, you know it had to be good because I can’t stand Danny McBride.  (There are only two of his projects I made it through – “Pineapple Express” and some sword and sorcery spoof.  Maybe it’s me but Life is getting shorter and I could be watching other stuff.)  It was a clever spoof of movie trailers which even featured the original Croc, Paul Hogan.

Dr. Pepper – “Fansville”

Life in a small town dominated by fans of college football teams, either State or Tech.  Just the right touch of risqué as well.  (But if I had put down the rule that series can’t win year after year, I would have voted for the “Evil” friends from the Spectrum commercials.  They had several new spots this year which were great.) 


This was the original commercial from last year:

The sequel was probably meant for the Super Bowl, but it did get a sneak preview in a special about holiday blipverts.  That's where I grabbed these screen shots.

Rocket Mortgage featuring Yogi Bear and Boo Boo


Showing up so soon after the Parkland school shooting, this is a chilling argument in favor of getting our priorities in order when it comes to protecting the kids in school; protecting all of our citizens from what is fast becoming a weekly occurrence – mass shootings.

Globe Telecom – “The Missing Dog”
If this doesn’t tug at your heart strings, you’re probably already dead and just haven’t noticed it yet.  Maybe you should have a lie-down.


“The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” – ‘The X-Files’
Hilarious riff on the lore of ‘The X-Files’ and by the end you couldn’t be sure if it had actually happened or not.  A wonderful gift for the X-Fans in the tradition of “The Last Repose of Clyde Bruckner”, “Small Potatoes”, and “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space”.  Expect to see it show up again in a few other categories, not all of them good.
‘Murphy Brown‘

Time marches on and ‘Murphy Brown’ reflected that in the return. It had no choice, really, several of the actors had died since it was last on, the TV industry and the model for news presentation have drastically changed.  Plus the fact that Drumpf was now president meant that a lot of the focus had to be on him.  He made that a necessity.  Sure, the writing isn’t as sharp as it once was, but it was nice to have returning TV characters come back pretty much as we remembered them.  Unlike another show I could name but I shall refrain to protect the Imploded.

‘Major Crimes’ - "By Any Means Part 4"
There are several reasons why it deserved the honor.  The suspense driving the series for the last handful of episodes as the deadly dance between the department and Philip Stroh reached its climax kept me on the edge of my seat.  And then there was the loss of Captain Sharon Raydor, the lead character, with about five episodes to go which was quite a shock.  Until the very end of the next episode after her death I was convinced it was all a ruse to bring Stroh out of hiding.  But there would be no happily ever after for Sharon and Andy Flynn.  At least there could possibly be one for Rusty Beck, but I never warmed up too much to the character and was screaming at the TV that he was acting like a stupid jerk.  At least none of the other major characters were killed off and Life marched on for several of the regulars.

'Major Crimes' - "By Any Means Parts 1-4"
For the same reasons listed above, but the arc for Sharon has more impact for playing out over four hours.
‘800 Words’
The possibility that three characters had perished, another who went into labor without knowing who among three men was the father of her twins, and the aftermath of the chaos wreaked by a newcomer to town had me pining for the arrival of the show’s third season to American shores as soon as possible.  (Confession: I watched a lousy version of the third season premiere on YouTube just to end the suspense.  I’m usually against that sort of thing but I was in agony.  I couldn’t even make it through the show’s scheduled run on CPTV’s Spirit before buying the DVDs for the first two seasons.)
‘Murdoch Mysteries’
It was too much of a downer and sort of meh.  Thankfully there will be a 12th season and hopefully the writers will be re-energized for new stories.  (Which is not to say the rest of the 11th season was bad.  There were some very engaging plotlines and new historical figures to meet as well as several returning historicals.
‘Midnight, Texas’
There’s nothing worse than seeing a show you like get cancelled.  Unless it doesn’t get the chance to make a proper goodbye to its audience.  So it was for this quirky horror/supernatural series in one of my favorite sub-genres – remember that quirky community premise full of eccentric residents?  Midnight took that to the extreme!  Oh well.  At in my concept of Toobworld, it still exists out there in TV Land even if we can no longer see it  And of course it will always be available in BookWorld.
‘Station 13’ from ‘Grey’s Anatomy’
I have nothing to add to that.  Slim pickin’s this year.
"Timeless: The Miracle Of Christmas Part I"
The TV movie which aired just before Christmas wrapped up the storyline quite satisfactorily and still left the door open for occasional return visits.  (And for the fanficcers out there, maybe the team could get started on fixing the historical changes they and the Rittenhouse organization caused, like the murder of Elliot Ness.  As it stands now, the show ended on an alternate Toobworld so far removed from Earth Prime.)

‘Magnum P.I.’

Once you accept the fact that a show is going to be a total remake, it makes it easier to accept the changes they make, beginning with the casting, which means you have to think of it as being in another TV dimension.  ‘Magnum P.I.’ pulled that off by adding depth to Magnum’s backstory and not just as a flashback.  Plus we had another iteration of one of the latest trends in recasting – gender-switching.  She may not be her sister Honeysuckle (who captured my heart with ‘Foyle’s War’) but Perdita Weeks may prove to be the better actress and she has definitely made Higgins her own.  (A moment of silence for John Hillerman, please….)  Having said all that, I should also point out that I have yet to see ‘The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’.  But that would then be qualified for 2019’s  Toobits race.
I don’t know if it will hold up, but the purpose of a pilot is to lure somebody to come back for the next episode, hopefully the entire series.  This pilot did that and added an interesting backstory which could be a theoretical link to ‘Endeavour’.  Plus there was a cameo appearance by future Hall of Famers Penn & Teller and the location at the beginning of the episode took place in Las Vegas, which already is a member of the TV Crossover Hall of Fame. (Update – yeah, it didn’t hold up.  But I stand by the pilot.)

‘The X-Files’ - “Rm9sbG93ZXJz”
You have to admit, it’s clever, if nearly impossible to memorize (to me, anyway).  In Base64, this translates to “Followers” and the computer language seems apt for an episode about artificial intelligence.

This title translates to "The Truth Is Out There."


‘The X-Files’ – “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat”
It may have excelled in so many other categories, but this title was horrible.  If they asked me?  “Reggie Something” or some such variation - “The Misremembered Life of Reggie Something”, “The Mengele Effect”, “Mengele/Mandela”. or “In Memory Yet Bogus” would have been so much better!

‘Doctor Who’ – ‘Rosa’

No aliens, just a bigoted human murderer from the far future who was trying to prevent the events which made Rosa Parks into a civil rights icon.  The Doctor and her team weren’t overtly involved in her life save to undo the damage caused by Krasko.
‘The X-Files’ – “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat”

The episode was full of clips from old episodes with Reggie Murgatroyd added in to show a revised history.  And to set it up, we saw Reggie added in a few episodes earlier: “This” had a quick screenshot of his FBI ID card.

‘Doctor Who’ – “The Demons of Punjab”
The Doctor and her team became involved in the life of Yasmin’s grandmother back in August 1947 when India underwent the Partition which created Pakistan.  The added urgency to the trip was that the wrong move could wipe Yaz out of existence.
‘The Big Bang Theory’ - "The Conjugal Configuration"

Raj got into an online Twitter war with Neil DeGrasse Tyson which he lost once Tyson contacted him directly.  But it didn’t end there.  We then saw Tyson deliver a “DeGrasse Kicking” to Bill Nye the Science Guy.  (Both of those men will one day be inducted into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame.)

“Love Is A Gift”
A budget video by Phil Beastall.  
A young man, with a topknot I would love to snip off, counts down to Christmas – the day when he will listen to the last cassette tape his mother made for him before she died years years earlier.  I dare you to watch it and not choke up.


‘Murphy Brown’ – “Fake News”
Murphy Brown’s hashtag

In the first episode of the reboot, Murphy’s son Avery helped his Mom start her first Twitter account.  They chose “@RealMurphyBrown” as her handle.  Coincidentally, that’s also the handle for the show’s creator, Diane English.  (I doubt her password is “Aretha4ever” however.)

‘The Conners’
I'm throwing them a bone.  They get points just for being able to overcome the insurmountable odds of Roseanne's Twitter explosion which almost took down everybody around her.

We weren’t much of an NBC family when I was growing up.  This was largely due to living in the BC era (Before Cable).  Channel 30 was a UHF station, heavily affected by rain.  So I’m sure whatever was on CBS or ABC got the upper hand.

So now I’m just about finished watching the eighth and final season of ‘Ironside’ (thanks to COZI-TV) and have enjoyed it so more than I expected.  So much stuff I’ve gleaned from it which I can use for Toobworld.  For example: their San Francisco newspapers - usually it was the San Francisco Dispatch and I can use that to link to 'Hawkins'.  But they also had a few editions of the San Francisco Chronicle and I made a huge (theoretical) crossover between 'Ironside', 'Columbo' and 'The Patty Duke Show'!


This was an early 70s courtroom mystery series which starred Jimmy Stewart as Billy Jim Hawkins.  Unfortunately there were only seven episodes but each of them is TV movie length and make for a comfortable viewing experience with great B-Listers as the guest stars, but especially Strother Martin as Billy Jim's cousin RJ.  It's one of those times where I wish I had the chance to go back in Time and retool some of the elements but on the whole it's a fun mini-series from back in the days when you didn't have to endure a season long story arc.



This is more of a Better Late Than Never/Online TV Experience - Ray Milland’s private eye series from 1959-60.  The copies I’ve found on YouTube are probably a few generations old, but still an interesting show.  Once you get past the idea of Milland as a babe magnet, that is. 

Part two coming up!

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