Saturday, September 11, 2004


Much like the English language and rock 'n' roll, the TV Universe absorbs material from other sources and remakes them as its own.

Books ('Brave New World', 'Centennial'), movies, ('Madigan', 'Blue Thunder'), plays ('The Odd Couple', 'You Can't Take It With You'), comic books ('Superman', 'Batman'), comic strips ('Blondie', 'Garfield'), and even songs (the 'Gambler' series of TV flicks).

And so here we are with the prep school world of John Knowles' classic 'A Separate Peace' now enshrined in the firmament of the TV Universe.

This elegiac tale of loyalty, betrayal and all of the attendant primal emotions among the boys of Devon Academy before WWII has already been filmed back in the early 1970s. Now the TV Universe can embrace Gene and Phineas as its own.

Definitely 'A Separate Peace' will be adding the Devon Academy to its list of institutions of higher learning. But as to whether or not there will be other ways this TV movie can expand the universe, I'll have to depend on others to let me know.

I don't plan on watching it.

'A Separate Peace' was one of the most disturbing books I've ever had to read, second only to 'The Lord Of The Flies'. (And for me, that was traumatic!)

'A Separate Peace' is beautifully written, deeply moving, and not something I want to revisit.

And yet even so, I highly recommend everybody else should read it, or at least to watch this tele-version.

"A Separate Peace"
Sunday 7:30 pm


Thursday, September 9, 2004


So I watched 'Joey' tonight. And how you doin?

You ever have one of those old 'Friends' you feel uncomfortable with when the rest of the gang isn't around?

I found parts of this spin-off cringe-worthy. First off, I don't like to watch people in really embarrassing situations - I had to leave the room when Mary Richards started singing "A Quarter To Three" as an audition for Lou Grant. And I imagine stupid people like Joey will often find themselves in such situations. (i.e. the 'Hollywood Minute' audition)

I've never liked any debut episode - except for 'The Prisoner'. But not even the first episode of 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' was really enjoyable to me. And Mayr's show is second only to 'The Prisoner' in my esteem.

Watch the first episode of 'Friends' again - it has a very odd, disjointed feel to it. Maybe it's because all of the characters aren't that jelled yet. It's like they're still feeling their way (which is better than feeling your sister's artificially inflated breasts - now THAT was another cringeworthy moment!)

Drea deMatteo as the new version of Gina Tribbiani is fantastic and it's nice to see her doing some lighter material. (Luckily for this recasting, the original Gina wasn't memorable enough to make an impression - well, unlucky for that actress, I guess. Sorry, kid.)

And it wasn't until the end before Joey's nephew Michael showed some potential as a character, what with the stuttering and his ineptitude about women. It's not just the rocket scientist intelligence that separates him from his Uncle Joey.

My jury's still out on Bobby the agent and the girl who lives next door, but they both have potential.

And then there's Joey. Unfortunately Joey is fully realized from the start. We know him... and there's not that much to know. Of all the characters to be spun off from 'Friends', maybe he did have had the most options for possible plotlines. But like the old sitcom joke says, deep down he's shallow. There was plenty to explore when it came to spotlighting Frasier Crane once he left 'Cheers', but Joey Tribbiani?

We're gonna have to bring in more of his sisters....

Still, it made contributions to the TV Universe:

a new TV show called 'Nurses' (not to be confused with the one from the real world)

'Hollywood Minute' - a show similar to 'Entertainment Tonight' (and not to be confused with David Spade's )



When I was a kid, the Fall Preview TV Guide was my favorite holiday event, as anticipated as the Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas presents.

I'd spend hours poring over it, studying the show's descriptions, plotting my sked choices with military precision.

The apogee was reached in the early nineties, when the Fall Preview was spread out over three weeks of issues. I think it caused massive sensory overload.

Nowadays, the Fall Preview TV Guide has lost some of its lustre. There are so many other sources for news about the Fall TV season: online sources like Yahoo! and; magazines like Entertainment Weekly. (Being a larger sized format, EW gets the advantage now - more details about each show, and printing large enough for my aging eyes to read!)

Or maybe it's because the Fall Preview TV Guide lost its magic hold over me once Rupert Murdoch bought the company.

Right from the beginning back in 1953, the decision was made by the editors to use artwork for the cover which would suggest the changing of the season. The reasoning was that they would not show partiality to any new show by featuring it on the cover for that one issue.

But since Murdoch gobbled up the company, the Fall Preview TV Guide has featured various TV stars on its covers (usually the cuties). At least in his defense, it's not FOX shows every year.

Yet, there's nothing about these covers that set them apart from any other issue during the year. Go to the TV Guide website and look in their cover gallery. Select "Fall Preview" as the keyword. You can evoke a sense of the time period just by looking at the artwork used in any particular year before Murdoch took over.

After that, you have to depend upon your knowledge of TV trivia as to when the featured show debuted.

This year, the cover displays Heather Locklear in a dress that looks like it was designed by that hooker on 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'. Locklear is one sexy lady, but this outfit cheapens her. It makes it look like she's got rows of teats; like she's ready to nurse a litter......

Looking at this year's Fall Preview TV Guide still fills me with excitement, but now I feel so dirty because of it......


Wednesday, September 8, 2004


'Two And A Half Men' will launch their new season with a casting coup. This year's Oscar winner Sean Penn will be appearing as himself. This provides a link to 'Ellen' (the sitcom, not the talk show) in which Penn showed up to pay tribute to Emma Thompson. (And in the TV universe, Thompson is from Ohio, not England!)

Elvis Costello will also appear in the 'Two And A Half Men' opener. Like Penn, he appeared as himself in 'The Larry Sanders Show'. But he also has 'Third Rock From The Sun' to his credit, and he worked at a rock and roll fantasy camp in 'The Simpsons'.

Even though it's not so much fun to count talk shows and variety shows, Costello played a memorable set on 'Saturday Night Live' back in the '70s. And it was one of those times when you remembered why live TV could be so much fun!

There's another "self-portrait" in this year's season openers. 'My Wife And Kids' (the show, not my own) welcomes Michael Jordan as his own self. (Who else is he going to play at a basketball fantasy camp?)

Hmmmm..... Fantasy camps seem to be the place to meet celebs in the TV universe. Not everybody's going to get stuck in an ATM during a blackout with Jill Goodacre. Bada Bing, Chandler!

When it comes to "crossing Jordan", there's 'A Season On The Brink', the dramatized look at the life of Bobby Knight. But we also have to count the ads His Airness made for Haynes underwear.

Yes, those blipverts count, folks! Especially the one where the two girls are in the park guessing as to whether or not the passing guys are wearing boxers or briefs. The commercial may be less than a minute, but it tells a story so it's a legit piece to the cosmic puzzle.


Tuesday, September 7, 2004


NBC Wednesdays
8 - 9 pm EST

Whenever a show was in danger of losing its core audience, in danger of "jumping the shark", the cast would be shipped off to Hawaii... and thus jump the shark anyway.

So what should we make of a series that's not only situated in the 50th state, but is actually entitled 'Hawaii'?

Based on its description, it's a cop show that's trying for the 'Miami Vice' mojo. But I get the feeling it will end up more like such 'Vice' wannabes as 'Houston Knights', 'Hawaiian Heat', and 'The Insiders'.

Being set in Hawaii isn't really the curse; it's what you do with it. Great shows have been set in Hawaii in the past, and the producers of this show could have paid tribute to them by hinting that they all take place in the same universe. (Of course, that could have backfired. It might have been seen as wishful thinking.)

See, you don't need an actual crossover to make such connections. A mention can do the trick just as easily. 'Magnum P.I.' pulled that off with allusions to Steve McGarrett and the 'Hawaii Five-0' squad.

But what did 'Hawaii' do? They had carjackers running around in Jack Lord masks, thus negating the concept of a shared universe. A quick, cheap joke like that earns my curse for a quick cancellation.

Back in 1993, 'Big Wave Dave's' tried a similar stunt. But in that sitcom, there was a secondary character who was named Jack Lord.

Now, this could have been acceptable. Jack Lord had a movie career (although not a very memorable one), and they could have been just playing on that. I would have given them the benefit of the doubt for the sake of the TV Universe. But no, they have to push it home that Jack Lord was best known for his work in the long-running 'Hawaii Five-0'.

That tidbit of info doesn't serve as a link between 'Big Wave Dave's' and 'Hawaii', by the way. It's more a case of guilt by association.

Book 'em, Dan-O!


Monday, September 6, 2004


Tonight, A&E is presenting 'The Riverman', the story about the hunt for the Green River Killer.

The real life case echoes that of 'Silence Of The Lambs', as the lead investigator consults with another serial killer to understand that kind of a mindset.

And the other serial killer turns out to be Ted Bundy, making his third appearance in Toobworld.

The Deliberate Stranger (1986) - played by Mark Harmon
The Stranger Beside Me (2003) - played by Bill Campbell
The Riverman (2004) - played by Cary Elwes

Ted Bundy is now eligible to be inducted into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame. Whenever this might happen in the future, it would probably occur during October.

But there are so many other real life monsters awaiting their turn ahead of him - Adolph Hitler, Josef Stalin, Donald Trump.....

Well, Trump's got a monstrous ego, anyway.........


Sunday, September 5, 2004


2004 marks the 35th anniversary for the cancellation of 'Star Trek', and in to salute that infamous example of network programming ineptitude (May the network programmers be nibbled to death by ducks!), we have been inducting a different member of the original cast each month for the year.

As September is the month in which we honor the Creators of the TV Universe, then it is only right that the Great Bird of the Galaxy receives his due here. What started out as a simple vision of "Wagon Train to the stars" has spawned an industry that reaches beyond the TV Universe and into movies, books, comics, songs, and pop culture in general.

Gene Roddenberry lived long, he prospered, and he will be missed.
In case anyone was interested in who the other 'Trek' inductees have been up to this point, here's the rundown of the year so far:

January - Captain James T. Kirk
February - Lt. Uhura
March - Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy
April - Commander Montgomery Scott
May - Yeoman Janice Rand
June - Zephraim Cochrane
Birthday Honors - The Cast Of The Original 'Star Trek':
William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichole, Walter Koenig, Majel Barrett, Grace Lee Whitney
July - Ensign Pavel Chekov
August - Helmsman Hikaru Sulu

Every month I'll be posting the next inductee into the Crossover Hall of Fame, and we still have a few 'Trek' personnel to go!


I've been mentioning the TV Crossover Hall of Fame during my last few blog entries.....

I started the Hall of Fame back in 1999 to pay tribute to those TV characters who were especially notable for linking the TV Universe more cohesively.

At the time, my requirements for qualifications felt like they were a lot more stringent: each character had to have made an appearance in three different TV venues (series, mini-series, TV movie, cartoon, commercial, etc.).

I later expanded my roster of applicants to include real world personalities appearing as themselves. (How could you not induct Jack Benny or Milton Berle?) Later I started including objects like the Titanic and the NY Ledger, and will soon include locations as well. (Yale University, the Hotel Edison, Hooterville)

I even made special allowances, such as for Susie MacNamara of 'Private Secretary'. She may have appeared in only one other show besides hers (an episode of 'The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour', years after her own show ended), but it's generally conceded to be the very first TV crossover.

These special allowances are usually inducted as my "birthday honors list"; figuring that on that day, what I say goes.

As the years passed, the induction process began to gel so that each month had its own theme.

JANUARY - Classic TV
FEBRUARY - Black History Month
MARCH - Real Life Personalities (starting in 2007)

[This used to be a catch-all month]
APRIL - April Fools
MAY - "Queen of the May"
JUNE - Puppets/Cartoons
JULY - Western
AUGUST - "We Know Drama"

[I used to combine July and August for one Summer Showcase when I ran the Tubeworld Dynamic page on AOL... just so I could take a month off for vacation!]
SEPTEMBER - The Creators
OCTOBER - Horror & Evil
NOVEMBER - Politics & Newsmakers
DECEMBER - Tis The Season!

And every so often I would also celebrate those who linked to the Multiverse, having counterparts in such other fictional universes as the movie universe, the theatrical universe, the literary universe, the musical universe...... Hell, even the universe of greeting cards!

Someday I hope to find a permanent home for the TV Crossover Hall of Fame online, But in the meantime, I'll just point out that there are 132 members currently in the Hall.

And it doesn't look like I'll be running out of candidates anytime soon!


This just in - the first big prime-time crossover alert has been announced!

NBC has always been a safe haven for the concept of the Toobworld Dynamic ('Law & Order'/'Homicide: Life On The Street', 'ER'/'Third Watch', nearly all of their Must See TV sitcoms with each other). And according to Entertainment Weekly, the home of the Peacock has another one in the works.

Three of the main characters from 'Las Vegas' will travel east to Beantown for a 'Crossing Jordan' crossover. Meanwhile, Jerry O'Connell's character of Woody is joining the Boston-based forensics drama as a regular; and he'll be joining Jordan and Macy for a trip to the gambling mecca of the United States.

This will all happen during Sweeps. But of course. When else?

Now.... if there was only a way to work Detective John Munch into the storyline.....

Toby O'B3