Saturday, October 30, 2004


Perhaps in response to the glut of those so-called "reality" shows (at least those which are affected by audience participation), a couple of the scripted series are leaving facets of their fate up to the fickle feelings of their fans.

On a recent episode of 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent', two different endings were filmed to show what happened to Detective Goren's arch-nemesis. In one scenario shown on the East Coast, Nicole Wallace lived, killing her protege and making good her escape.

But on the West Coast, Wallace was killed with two shots to the heart by Goren's partner, Detective Eames. But she killed her protege in that scenario as well.

116,000 people logged on to to vote as to which ending would be her fate.

The answer was revealed on the following Sunday night's show. As a child-killer, one would think Nicole Wallace was an easy target for getting "voted off the island". Dick Wolf, the 'Law & Order' overlord, has proven time and again that actors are interchangeable and definitely replaceable. But he's a big fan of Nicole Wallace - "Personally I am loath to find permanent solutions for characters who leave shows."

It appears the audience agrees with him. There were 62,074 votes to let her live, and 54,224 wanted to see her dead. (By the way, I voted for Nicole to live. I agree with Wolf: all the great TV heroes should have their arch-nemesis.)

With the other show, the audience participation is not as direct, but its impact has more import. The producers of 'Jack & Bobby' have filmed three endings for the November 3rd episode. One ending has Grace McCallister ecstatic (which probably means, knowing Grace, that Kerry wins), one in which she's downcast but determined to see Hillary Clinton win in the next election, and one in which a recount will be needed.

Which one they use depends on how the presidential election goes the night before.

Perhaps they should have filmed four endings - in case pigs start flying and Ralph Nader wins. Now that would make for an incredible ending; maybe they could get Bruce McCullough to play the Flying Pig! ('The Kids In The Hall')

If there is need of a recount, they might need to do an extra episode just to deal with the injunctions, inevitable court rulings, and the ensuing race wars (as warned by Robb Courdry of 'The Daily Show').


Thursday, October 28, 2004


I've only seen a handful of episodes from 'The George Lopez Show' - Those that had some kind of impact for Toobworld. It's certainly not a ground-breaking show, but it's not all THAT bad. The updated entry for Earth in 'The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy' could be used for Lopez: "Mostly harmless".

Of course, it doesn't help when Lopez blasts a hole through the fabric of the TV Universe with an episode full of "dream zonks".

Dream zonks happen during a TV character's deep sleep cycle, where his dreamscapes have other TV shows as their settings. It happens more often now that TV shows are being written by those who were raised on Television and use it for their cultural touchstones. Older shows involved people of a different generation, a different mindset. For instance, Rob Petrie dreamed his way through a particular marital problem with a silent movie motif.
(Considering his admiration for Stan Laurel, this should probably have been expected.)

I should also mention that that particular episode of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' is considered, by Van Dyke himself among others, to be the worst episode of the series.

In the last decade or so, lots of TV characters have slumber-stumbled their way into recreations of other TV shows. 'Roseanne' Conner and 'ALF' both ended up on 'Gilligan's Island' where they could escape the pressures of whatever problem they were facing in the waking world.

'ALF' also found himself hosting 'The Tonight Show' with Pope John Paul II as his guest. This isn't a zonk at all, however. Talk shows, variety shows, news programs, and game shows can exist both in the real world and in Toobworld; and therefore they can be legitimately used in other TV shows.

At any rate, the dream job of hosting 'The Tonight Show' put the Melmacian in good stead to host his own talk show on TV Land.

Here's another example: Ross Harper ('Day By Day') envisioned himself as a member of 'The Brady Bunch', thinking them to be the ideal family; at least, better than his own.

Those 'Perfect Strangers' of Chicago, Larry and Balki, found themselves in Bensonhurst, courtesy of a dream about 'The Honeymooners'. One would have thought portraying Ed Norton might have been easy for Bronson Pinchot, but it was Mark-Linn Baker who nailed the impersonation of Ralph Kramden. Also, my hat's off to them for the way they even recreated the type of gitches found in "One Take" Gleason's show.

Then there are the shows where characters aren't happy just skewering one TV series in their dream fugue state. No, they have to have multiple dream sequences in one dream and blast even more holes through the TV tapestry.

When a perfumed envelope arrived from Connecticut which was addressed to Charles and marked "Private and Personal", his ex-wife Allie struggled with the moral dilemma as to whether she should open it. So after falling asleep while watching late night TV, Allie slipped into the worlds of those TV shows she was watching; TV shows which should have been integral - vital! - components of her own world.

When it came to Allie's particular problem, - opening the envelope - the scenario was perfect for 'I Love Lucy'. And Allie and Kate appeared as Lucy and Ethel, appropriately enough.

The actual scenario and its fallout were played out on 'Here's Lucy' as well, with a memorable bit by Gale Gordon as Theodore Mooney. For those who think Jane Curtin as Kate was better as Ethel and could never portray a man like Mr. Mooney, stay tuned.....

In the next dream vignette, Allie saw herself in the WJM newsroom as Mary Richards from 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'. And this time, Kate showed up as Lou Grant!

As disturbing enough as it was to see Jane Curtin with a bald head like Ed Asner, we can only thank our lucky stars she never took off her shirt to show how far the follicle impersonation actually went!!!

And now here's 'The George Lopez Show', where George struggled with his fears and issues over life insurance and
Death by falling asleep in front of the TV. This time, he found his situation reflected in his own versions of such TV classics as 'Leave It To Beaver' (hence the episode title: "Leave It To Lopez"), 'The Munsters', and the most intriguing of the bunch, 'The Jetsons', those futuristic visionaries from um... 2002.....

Like I said, the show's not ALL bad and there was plenty to like in these dreams. 'Leave It To Beaver' is always an easy mark, and George's son did a good job of capturing the essence of the Beav. It's too easy to fall into the trap of parodying 'The Munsters' and they did, relying only on the toonish qualities of the characters. And even then, it was (painfully) obvious that George Lopez is no Fred Gwynne.

But at least it was saved by a dream where the toonish aspects actually helped; even Mr. Sprocket and Rosie the Robot were represented by cast member impressions of 'The Jetsons'. All that was missing was the scene of George walking Astro on that slidewalk. But at least they did get him sucked into a machine to accentuate the underlying theme of his fear of death. And he got to use the line "Jane, stop this crazy thing!" so I had no quibbles with it, even if it does wreak havoc on my vision of Toobworld.

My opinion wasn't shared by all, however. Here's what David Bianculli had to say that morning in the New York Daily News:

"For Halloween, the cast of this sitcom takes on the personas of three other TV families: The Cleavers, the Munsters and the Jetsons. The last family, not usually seen in three dimensions, is the closest thing to a reason to watch. Remember, though we're talking about 'George Lopez'. In 40 years, will anyone on TV be dressing up as the Lopezes? (It's a rhetorical question.)"

How are we supposed to splain away dream zonks? The main problem isn't the dreams themselves, it's the fact that the characters drive it home before they go to sleep that their inspirations will be coming from old TV shows. With the dreams, at least they can be dismissed as either the ravings of the sub-conscious mind, or they could be supernatural entries tapping into aspects of other lives in Toobworld.

But when they're actually identified by the characters as being inspired by old TV shows which by all rights should exist in the same universe as they do?

I just want to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head!


Wednesday, October 27, 2004


In this case, I'm talking about my own......

Shirley is an actress who's appeared on 'Monk', 'Strong Medicine', 'The West Wing', 'Lois & Clark', 'CSI', and 'Angel'. I've known her for so long, we now consider ourselves twins of the soul.

Anyway, she sent out this notice of a small movie she made with Danica ('The Wonder Years') McKellar and I thought I'd share it with you.

(Mostly because I'm on the road and can't do much of an entry today. Bwahahaha!

Hello Everyone,

A short film I did is now in the Century City Film Festival and it's been making the rounds on the circuit (Maryland Film Festival, Crested Butte Reel Fest, and Big Bear Lake In'tl Film Festival). "Intermission" consists of 3 vignettes that take place in the women's room during intermission of a play. The film stars Joanna Cassidy, Danica McKellar, and Julie Brown (my wonderful scene partner).
For more info:
To book tickets in advance, go to the following website:
(The CCFF site is all flash so if you're on dialup, it may be a bit slow.)

Date: Wednesday October 27, 2004 · 12:45 PM - 2:45 PM TOMORROW!Century City Film FestivalShorts: Ha Ha Funny/Strange Part 1 (2:00:00)
(1) Hot Sex and Stan (2) Intermission (3) Tea Time (4) Husband School (5) Pol Pot's Birthday (6) Ends of the Alphabet (7) Earl's Your Uncle (8) Maestro
Location: Fairfax 37907 Beverly Blvd.Los Angeles , CA
Directions: Venue number: (323) 655-4010. Near Fairfax/Beverly Blvd. intersection. Across the street from CBS Entertainment Center.

C'mon down if you can!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


As a member of the Museum of Television & Radio here in New York City, I get an inside shot at many events held at the museum. Unfortunaetly, because I work an overnight shift, a lot of them I have to let slip by.

But there was a recent seminar that I knew was an opportunity for a friend of mine - yet another of the "Iddiots" I've been mentioning of late, - who would love the chance to attend. It was a chance to meet Ricky Gervais, creator and star of the BBC cult comedy 'The Office'.

He was appearing at the Museum to promote the 'The Office Special' which just recently debuted on BBC-America, picking up the story of the employees at the paper company in Slough two years after the end of the regular series.

So I contacted Kim, who can be heard in the local radio worlds, and gave her the chance to see one of her comedy hotties live and in person.

Since she had the chance to take along someone else, another Iddiot friend of mine, Amy - who owns and operates a neat little teashop on 94th and Amsterdam - joined Kim for the seminar......

From Amy:

Oh, Toby!

What a fine evening Kim and I had at "The Office" screening! And I understand none of it would have been possible without your mighty television power. Thank you so much!

You scored us into the main room (no measly satellite feed for us!) and we got to sit in the second row right at the feet of Mr. Gervais! It was a really good time! Thank you so much!

Hope you're well! What's up there in Tubeworld?
And here's a missive from Miss Kim:

Miss Amy and I sat second row center in the main theater, while most ticketholders to this sold out show were relegated to annex theaters! We had a blast, Toooby.

*I* even got a round of applause. (see, 'bout middle of the page)

Thanks again for the hook-up.

You da gov'hah.
~ K

Yes.... I am beneficent AND magnanimous! (For two such lovely ladies, it's not hard to do!)

And for those of you who are loathe to click the hyperlink, here's Kim's report on the event:

In Gervais

Monday night your Kimberly was at the Museum of Television and Radio for the premiere of The Office Special, which will air on BBC America Thursday night. Creator, star, and plump hottie Ricky Gervais was live and in the soft, white flesh, just a few feet from me.
Your Kimberly mustered her nerve and asked something like: “Hi, Ricky.” (That part I’m sure about. I had to keep repeating to myself that his name wasn’t David.) “I’ve gotten some interesting response when playing “Paris Night” and “Free Love Highway” on the air, and I’m wondering how many more you have like that, and whether you’ve considered releasing an album of David Brent’s music.” Throw in some “uh”s and “uhm”s, and that’s pretty much it, I think.
I was, of course, too nervous to catch his answer. Mainly ‘cause I was TALKING TO RICKY FREAKING GERVAIS. I think it was something like “no,” followed by some elaboration that sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher talking.
And he said I was “sweet for doing that.” Sweet. For doing that.
I then told him I want to make his babies and hold hands with him whilst shopping at Costco and stuff. But it turns out my lips weren’t actually moving during that part.

Probably just as well.

<> <> <>

Here's the link again to Kimberly's website:

And here's a link to a great website (run by yet ANOTHER Iddiot!) for lots of great things - especially bars! - to enjoy in New York City:

I've added that link because the Murph hosts a regular column by Kimberly and that's where I lifted this essay.


Monday, October 25, 2004


"The secret of drama is
To make the expected into the unexpected."
Peter Lorre
'Route 66'

Ashlee Simpson had a microphone malfunction on 'Saturday Night Live', scurrying off stage when a production glitch caught her lip-synching the wrong tune.

Simpson, who is the younger sister of singer and TV star Jessica Simpson, sounded great belting out "Pieces of Me" in her first segment on the show. And now we know why - lip-synching!

It was the same song that she butchered at August's MTV Music Video Awards, drawing withering reviews for a flat, out of key performance.

But when she came out to debut the song "Autobiography" for a second set, the hell of live TV bit her in the ass. Whoever was responsible for piping in a studio-engineered rendition for Simpson to mouth screwed up, playing "Pieces" once again.

D'OHHHHHH! (as another Simpson would say.)

Simpson hopped around briefly, looking like a badly manipulated marionette. Then she got off the stage with her tail between her legs as her band half-heartedly faked away. Luckily, mercifully, for them, the show finally cut them off and went into the salvation of a commercial.

When the cast of the live show came out to bid the audience good night, actor Jude Law tried to explain Simpson's slipup."What can I say folks, live TV," Law shrugged.

''Exactly,'' Simpson said. ''I feel so bad. My band started playing the wrong song. I didn't know what to do so I thought I'd do a hoedown.'' A still-humiliated Simpson apologized to her fans - and blamed her band for playing the wrong song.

What might hurt her most about the incident is that she bragged in print about how she hated the practice of lip-synching. "I'm totally against it and offended by it," she said in the magazine "Lucky". "Personally, I'd never lip-synch. It's just not me."

She said, "I'm going to let my real talent show, not just stand there and dance around."

With the technical glitch, she was exposed as not having any real talent and in the end she couldn't even pull off the dancing around.

I had taped the show because I was going to be at work at that time. The story was in the Sunday morning New York Daily News, so I was prepared to see it. Now, I'm one who relishes the sense of scheudenfreude, (forgive me if I spelled that wrong!) that particular delight in the misfortunes of others. And yet even I was left uncomfortable seeing her squirm about onstage, not knowing what to do. But them's the breaks when you try to force yourself onto the public as a "pop star singing sensation" by riding on the dubious coat-tails of your older sister. (And whether or not Jessica Simpon's talented is something I can't figure out.)

It didn't take long for critics to vent their rage on Ashlee Simpson's official Web site.

"Finally, you're exposed for the fraud that you are," wrote an E-mail poster named drdrewby minutes after the embarrassing performance. "You have cheated your fans and people who actually thought that you had a lick of talent. You should quit the music business because you are now and always will be a complete and utter joke."

Said CowboyJeff99: "I knew she sounded like crap live, so I was 'wondering' what was going on when her voice sounded just like the radio edit."

On, Michael Allison wrote:

"Concerts and television broadcasts should be required to specify when a performance is not LIVE both vocally and visually. I've been sitting here for twenty minutes trying to figure out a politically correct and kind phrase to serve as the disclaimer for this new rule, but so far I've come up empty.

No one is going to warn viewers or concert attendees that their performance is going to be lip-synched. Perhaps they could label it a "dramatic performance" which would at least admit that they are 'acting' like singers, without actually singing.

Obviously this wouldn't apply to scripted television (such as sitcoms) and movies where the audience expects to see acting and special effects, but when someone gets on stage at a concert or televised show (SNL, award shows, Variety shows, etc) there is an expectation of a genuine musical performance.

Live should mean Live, and if it's not live be honest about it!"

And on the Idiot's Delight Digest, my fellow Iddiot, Tim Hibbs wrote:

"Personal to Ashlee Simpson:

Blaming your band for your lip-syncing breakdown on SNL was weak, girlfriend. Judging from the scuttlebutt I heard my daughter and her friends tossing around this morning, you’d better do some damage control quick before you totally lose your tweens. Right now, they feel like you’re a big phony. And by damage control, I mean SING THE FREAKING SONGS LIVE!!! Jeez, compared to what you did Saturday night, Avril looks like Lou Reed.

Rolling Stone’s David Wild had the best line about your second SNL “song” on this morning’s 'Today' show: “It was like watching the Zapruder film of lips-yncing- you couldn’t believe you actually seeing what you were seeing.”

Catch a clue from your big sis who, underneath all the tuna and buffalo wings jokes, really can sing. Who knows, maybe you can, too, but we’ll never know unless you actually try it live. Talk it over with your 'fatherger' and give the band a big fat raise."

Blaming the band at the end, that's what bugged me the most. I have no trouble with the notion of lip-synching. It's an accepted fluke in the TV Universe, right up there with vocal dubbing. Unlike the real world, there are those people in Toobworld whose lips don't match up to what they are actually saying.

And it's not like I would hold her totally responsible. I'd also lay some blame on Lorne Michaels. I've always had this image of him - and I can't say whether there is any truth to it, - as a tight-ass control freak on that show. Now, the regular cast would probably adhere to his rules; they're under contract and most likely wouldn't want to damage their future careers.

But as we've seen in the past, the musical performances - when they're actually "live", - are something that's outside of his control once they're in progress. The two best examples are of Elvis Costello changing songs without warning on air, and Sinead O'Connor tearing up a picture of the Pope at the end of her song and declaring the Pontiff as the real enemy.

Like Mr. Allison noted, lip-synching on a show that's supposed to have a live, anything-can-happen atmosphere - a show that even has "Live" in the title! - is fraud. But for Michaels, at least he can keep it under his thumb that way.

But what do I know?

At any rate, to pass the buck and play Beat Down The Band...... There was enough time before the end of the show for everybody to realize that the audio glitch had been obvious to all, that the empress was wearing no clothes. And yet Ashlee Simpson tried to continue with the lie and topped it off by shifting the blame to her band-mates in an effort to make it look like it was still a live performance.

If I was in her band, I'd tell her to go bleep herself and quit. It was the ultimate insult and would damage my credibility as a musician if I stayed.

But as Dennis Miller would say, that's my opinion; I could be wrong.

At least we now know that 'Saturday Night Live' still has some oomph in the TV Universe after all these years. The story was picked up world-wide and Simpson is being raked over the coals for the fraud she is.

This came from, a site out of India:

"Even as she took her position, the first track started playing again, words and all. As she awkwardly looked around while 'her voice' from Pieces… played on, the studio audience, as well as the world watching the popular television show, burst into raucous laughter.

The 'manufactured MTV darling', said the Boston Herald, has been exposed as a lip-syncing fraud.

The band tried hard to suddenly look like they were rocking appropriately to the music, a task admittedly difficult when trying to play a softer song. A clueless Ashlee tried to gyrate painfully to the music, with an impromptu hoedown, and, after 35 seconds of the humiliaton, scampered off stage."

"Raucous". "Awkwardly". "Clueless". "Painfully". I could just picture that reporter and editor gleefully skimming through a thesaurus for the most cutting of words.

Well, she's performing tonight on NBC at the Radio Music Awards - that is, if she shows up. If for no other reason, NBC should get big ratings thanks to all the people who will tune in just to see if she has the guts to make the appearance.


(My thanks to the New York Daily News for the original news item.)

Sunday, October 24, 2004


It seems I shared Hugh's thoughts on the alternate TV universe of Earth Prime-Time Delayed before he had finished. Here are a few more things he had to say on the subject:

You are so swift with postings, that I didn't have a chance to amend one thing I put in. The Batman movie franchise can be linked to one of the Tube Worlds. Follow my logic (and I know, it can be a long, strange trip)...

The Batman movies from Tim Burton, et al were evoked in a few commercials, putting them onto some earth. There was both a Diet Coke ad and an ad for On*Star featuring Michael Gough's Alfred, so I assume that means he and the Batman are part of a BlipVert world or possibly Prime-Time Delayed. The Batman in those On*Star ads is clearly meant to be the Tim Burton-era Dark Knight, with the Batmobile, architecture of Gotham, etc. all matching. That Batman (the stuntman in the Batsuit appearing in the commercials) played Batman in a flashback on Birds of Prey.

As I've written you before, BoP makes a great link to the animated WB shows, with Mark Hamill providing the Joker's voice in a flashback on the live action show and having been the voice of the Clown Prince of Crime throughout the WB's run of shows, which I assume are part of the Prime-Time Delayed.

Ok, that's enough for now!

Pretty much I agree with all of Hugh's ideas, although I'm tempted to dump all of the animated Batmans into the Tooniverse, that alternate realm where animated characters hold sway. And the splainin for the difference between the Batman of 'Super-Friends' and the Dark Knight of the WB canon?

Who knows? Still another alternate to the Tooniverse? (The Twoniverse?) Perhaps the next generation of sons picking up the mantles of their fathers in both the cases of Batman and Robin? Or perhaps a self-adjusting time loop? (Sorry, I've been delving into Douglas Adams again.....)

It's going to take some thunkin' on my part. I don't want to just toss out a theory without working out all the possible Zonks it may create. When it comes to the contradictions to be found in the TV Universe, I'll leave that to the experts - the writers, producers, directors, and actors!