Friday, January 7, 2005


Here's another "Lost In Thought"......

'Lost' finally returned from its holiday hiatus. Huzzah huzzah!

Sorry. Just wanted to continue with that "H" alliteration.

A curious thing struck me near the end - not surprising, in that so much of the show leaves me wondering what's going on by the time an episode ends.

During this episode, Shannon had been helping Sayid in deciphering the French notes of Danielle Rousseau in hopes that they might reveal a clue as to what the island was all about.

Shannon remarked that there was something familiar about the phrases and then it finally occurred to her. They were the lyrics to a song she heard over and over again on a video belonging to her French boyfriend's son.

And then she began singing the song in French. It was "Beyond The Sea", popularized by Bobby Darin.*

Although sung by Robbie Williams, the song is used in the movie "Finding Nemo".

Yet when Shannon referred to the movie, she only said it was "a fish movie; you know, one of those computer ones".

Why did Shannon dance around the title? It would have been much easier to just say "Finding Nemo", especially as it was a world-wide sensation. There was even a big plagiarism case against it lodged in the French courts before the plane crash.

Shannon always takes the easy way out; you'd think she would have just saved herself the hassle and said "Finding Nemo". And if Sayid still didn't understand, tough guppies.

I would have thought that at least behind the scenes, some synergy should have been employed. Especially as ABC - who broadcasts 'Lost' - is owned by Disney.

Ah, but Disney was basically just the distributor for "Finding Nemo"; Pixar was the animation company that created it.

And Disney and Pixar are having a parting of the ways. The evil empire of the rodent probably didn't want to give Pixar any more publicity, even though Disney would still reap profits from the movie.

I guess it's just a case of cutting off the nose to spite the fish......

["Beyond The Sea" was the favorite song of Dana Scully's father. He was a Navy man.... Was he somehow involved with the mystery of the island before he died?

Remember what his clone up in Twin Peaks said - "The owls are not what they seem......"

Okay, I'm rambling now.....]


* Good timing in the use of the song "Beyond The Sea" since the movie starring Kevin Spacey as Darin is now out in the theatres.

Bad timing with the sequence at the beginning, in which the beach was being destroyed by large waves. Everyone affected by the tsunami - and there are still 2,500 Americans alone missing from it - must have had some uneasy emotional responses to it.

And just a reminder - if you haven't already, please help in whatever you can with the disaster relief programs of the charity of your choice.


Tuesday, January 4, 2005


In response to my suggestion that Brian Dennehy should be considered as a retired cop now D.A.'s investigator to replace the late Jerry Orbach on 'Law & Order: Trial By Jury', my Toob buddy Hugh had this response:

"I was expecting you to pull out someone from Toobworld though --maybe a Hill Street alum."

I must be slipping. Why didn't I think of that???

That's the Toobworld way to go - find a cop from another old show and have him crossover to 'Trial By Jury'. And since Toobworld doesn't believe in the borders of network divisions, we can roam about at will to find a suitable cop.

Let's start with Hugh's suggestion of 'Hill Street Blues'. We know characters from the un-named city where the Hill Street precinct was located could go to New York City. Buck Naked, the flasher from 'Hill Street Blues', showed up twice on early episodes of 'NYPD Blue'.

But I'm not feeling the power from any of the surviving Hill Street cops. Too much of an ensemble show, perhaps. Or maybe it really was just too long ago and has lost its vitality.

Mick Belker could be the only possibility and he's too wacked to work for the D.A. - Arthur Branch would want nothing to do with him. More than likely they'd be prosecuting cases stemming from his involvement!

I don't think Frank Furillo would want to go back to actual detective work. He's probably quite comfortable in a position with some high-tech firm as a consultant by now.

And too many others from the original cast who played detectives have passed away.

Perhaps from the aforementioned 'NYPD Blue'? John Kelly might have been a possibility, but there's this lookalike of his named Horatio Caine who's working down in Miami, ('CSI: Miami'), and that might make it tough to bring Kelly back to the screens.

You don't want to go too far back; I think Adam Flint ('Naked City') is wayyyy too old to get back into a daily grind. And unfortunately, the Theo Kojak of the main TV Universe has passed away. (There's another Theo Kojak, soon to be found in the alternate Black TV dimension. Come back in February - Black History Month - for an explanation of that world.)

So here's a possibility - why does it have to be a retired MALE cop? Why not a woman?

And so I'm thinking.... why not one of the Lady Blues of 'Cagney & Lacey'?

For the same reasons mentioned in regards to John Kelly, I don't think we could get Mary Beth Lacey to take on the job with the D.A. We can blame it on a judge's mom up in Hartford, Connecticut. ('Judging Amy')

But there's always Chris Cagney.

Yes, I know. The same argument could be made because there's a waitress down in Pittsburgh who's very supportive of her gay son; she's a real broad-minded broad. ('Queer As Folk')

But the role isn't that central to the show, and if they've already got most of their latest season filmed, there shouldn't be too much of a scheduling conflict anyway. Besides, it doesn't seem as if the producers of 'Law & Order: Trial By Jury' were planning on putting too much of that show on the shoulders of Jerry Orbach. So maybe they could cut the same kind of slack for Sharon Gless while she juggled both roles.

I have no idea how Bebe Neuwirth will be playing her role as the A.D.A. on 'Trial By Jury', but even if it isn't a character as tightly wound as her brilliant portrayal of Lilith Sternin Crane on 'Cheers' and 'Frasier', I think there would still be a wonderful contrast of style with the more flamboyant and brassy Chris Cagney.

So there's another, more Toobworldian, suggestion for the new investigator for the D.A.'s office.

Hrmmm..... I wonder if Fox "Spooky" Mulder is looking for a job.....


Monday, January 3, 2005


When Jerry Orbach passed away a week or so ago, he had only completed three of the first six episodes of the latest spin-off from 'Law & Order', 'Trial By Jury'. Luckily for us who were fans of his work, we'll be able to see these when the show premieres in March. And we'll be able to say goodbye one more time to a great TV character.

But TV is a business, and I get this feeling that even as Orbach was dying, the suits were already trying to figure out who should replace him on the show. Not as Lennie Briscoe, obviously, but as another seasoned, veteran detective now retired and working for the D.A.'s office.

It would have to be somebody with the "oomph" to convey the experience of a cop who had seen it all in NYC, I would think. An actor who generated not only star power, but also the believability of his character's years in the trenches.

The other day the New York Daily News published pictures of those celebrities who attended Jerry Orbach's memorial service. And among them was an actor who worked with him in a movie back in the late 1980s. And just looking at him in his trenchcoat as he entered the chapel convinced me that the producers of 'Law & Order: Trial By Jury' should at least consider this suggestion, if not actually approach him with an offer.

Brian Dennehy.

Like I said, it's just a suggestion. But I think it's a winner from the perspective of not only the producers - who would be getting a powerhouse of an actor, - and of Mr. Dennehy - who would have the luxury of a settled location for working and in the heart of the theatre world to boot! - but also from the vantage point of the audience.

Hopefully somehow this suggestion has already come to mind for those who have some say in the casting......


Sunday, January 2, 2005


To kick off the yearlong birthday honors list of inductees into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame, and because the theme for January is TV Classics, we have chosen the most famous TV detective known only by one name - Columbo.

He's been a legendary TV icon for over 30 years, recognized the world over by his shabby raincoat, cheap cigar, and the shuffling demeanor that has tripped up nearly all of his suspects.

In the TV Universe, Lt. Columbo (as played by Peter Falk) first appeared in a pilot movie 'Prescription Murder' which was based on a Broadway-bound play by Levinson & Link. (This play had earlier been made for TV as "Enough Rope", an episode of 'Suspense' with Bert Freed as Columbo.)

A second pilot was ordered which brought forth 'Ransom For A Dead Man'. This led to the inclusion of 'Columbo' into the 'NBC Sunday Night Mystery' wheel, along with 'McCloud' and 'Macmillan & Wife', among others.

Years after 'Columbo' finally left the airwaves of the Peacock network, the police lieutenant showed up, older and even more rumpled, at ABC in a series of specials that continue to this day.

There is a format to 'Columbo' that can be as tradition-bound as some religious ceremonies. For instance, in the best episodes, the murderer is tripped up by either that which he killed for in the first place, or by something that he loves the most.

Those few experimental episodes that have strayed from the classic style ('Undercover' being the best - or rather, the worst - example) have not been too successful.

When an episode remains true to form, there's no more compelling TV, no matter how many times you view it.

The secret was never in the actual mystery. 'Columbo' dispensed with the conventional 'whodunnit'; it was more of a 'how to figure it out' mystery. In fact, because you always knew who the murderer was and because you followed his or her story first before ever meeting Columbo, it could be said that the guest murderer was the star role and Columbo a supporting player.

The secret to the longevity of 'Columbo' is the interplay between the adversaries; as best explained by the title of a later episode: "It's All In The Game".

Some might argue that despite two pilot films and two versions of the series on different networks, 'Columbo' should count as one long run. And therefore the Lieutenant doesn't meet the requirements of three different appearances.

I disagree. I do see these as four separate entries, and thus, more than eligible for induction.

As for the Bert Freed version and the Falkless "spin-off" first known as 'Mrs. Columbo', I brush them aside. The episode from 'Suspense' took place in an alternate TV dimension, and Kate Mulgrew's character was married to a different Lt. Columbo in the L.A. police force. (There's no law saying there could be only one.)

But there are two other appearances by Lt. Columbo, as played by Peter Falk, which I do include as part of his overall contribution and which therefore would make him eligible to the naysayers. But there is some fancy footwork involved, which is why the Lieutenant is being inducted this year rather than by the usual means.

First up, there was a convention for police detectives in Hawaii which was seen in an episode of the CBS TV show 'Magnum, P.I.'. There were several detectives at that convention who were unnamed, but it was obvious by their appearance that they were famous TV characters from other shows. Lt. 'Kojak' was one, recognizable by his bald head and lollipop. And another was 'Columbo'.

These little cameos weren't by the original actors playing them, of course. But the camerawork tried to stay far enough away to be good enough for the instant recognition without giving away too much detail.

The other appearance by Lt. Columbo took place during an episode of 'The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast of Frank Sinatra'.

Columbo made a surprise appearance on the dais to salute Ol' Blue Eyes, and never once was he identified as Peter Falk. He remained true to the character, going on and on about how the Mrs. loved Sinatra, and the fact that they came from the same place.... All of it was pure Columbo, just delivered in a humorous fashion.

It shouldn't be too surprising that Columbo would be so entertaining in front of the cameras like that. He had experience on TV before, when he appeared on Norman Paris' cooking show.

And it's not surprising that Sinatra and the others act as though they knew who he was. By that point in his career, Columbo had investigated several very high-profile cases in which those involved - like publisher Arthur Kennicutt or psychiatrist to the stars Ray Flemming, - might have been friends to these celebrities. And then there were always those cases Columbo investigated which we never saw on screen!

So, questionable yet basically legitimate appearances in a rival network's detective show and a comedy roast; add those two to the more accepted output of 'Columbo' and the character deserves one more accolade to go with all of the others (which include being in the Top Ten most memorable TV characters of all time).

Just one more thing....

As will be established later this year, 'Columbo' did make a theoretical connection to another TV show with the episode "Identity Crisis". The murderer was Nelson Brenner, a double-agent played by Patrick McGoohan.

It's our belief that this character was none other than Number Twelve, the spy who was brought into "the Village" as a look-alike to 'The Prisoner' Number Six. Now, it looked like that character was killed off by "Rover" AKA Orange Alert, but as we learned from the last two episodes of 'The Prisoner', Death wasn't always permanent due to their scientific advancements.

And that's a fourth qualification, if accepted. And since this year's inductions are in celebration of my birthday, what I say goes.

Therefore! By the powers invested in me, I name Lt. Columbo a member of the TV Crossover Hall of Fame. This old man got the call. Now he can play "Knick-Knack" in the Hall.

Knick Knack, Paddywhack.