Saturday, April 16, 2005


This was posted at one of the many Live Journals that are dedicated to the TV series 'Lost':

'Desperate Housewives' had a scene where the red-head's son (sorry, I don't watch the show, I just happened to turn it on at the right second) was watching tv.

It just happened to be the Pilot of 'LOST' (the scene where Kate is running in the jungle from the "monster").

I'll have to catch this in repeats, I guess. This could be all splained away depending on what exactly was shown in the clip.

If it turns out that we never see the face of actress Evangeline (::sigh::) Lilly, then we might assume it could be any chased-by-a-monster movie scene, or even a modern-day version of "The Most Dangerous Game" scenario of being "hunted" in the jungle by a big game hunter.

But if we do see that it's most definitely Evangeline Lilly and that this is specifically a scene from 'Lost', well......... Dude, why can't we claim the same cop-out? So long as we don't get further coincidental details that would "locke" it into being 'Lost'- like an appearance by her co-stars Dominick Monaghan and Matthew Fox or a shot of the Oceanic plane's cockpit, - and so long as Bree and her son don't mention the name of the show, then why can't it be just a scene from a movie that amazingly mirrored the events we know occurred in the show 'Lost'?

It's not like the folks back home know what happened. For all we know, they must think that everybody on board Flight 815 perished in the Pacific.



Of all the fictional universes created from the artistic fires of Man's imagination, (the Literary Universe, the Musical Universe, the universe based on greeting cards, etc.), the TV Universe is probably most closely related to the movie universe (dubbed by Craig Shaw Gardner as the "Cineverse" in his trilogy of books known as the Cineverse Cycle.)

Of course there are those movies that are actually extensions of a particular TV franchise, most notably the series of 'Star Trek' films.

There are movies which were adapted for Television to be TV series, like 'Stargate SG-1', 'Uncle Buck', and 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding'.

(And there are those like 'M*A*S*H', 'Peyton Place', and 'The Dead Zone' which actually started out as novels. 'The Odd Couple' and 'Barefoot In The Park' had their genesis in the Theatrical Universe.)

Many movies were virtually recreated as one-shot TV adaptations, with only their shortened lengths as the major difference, for '20th Century Fox Hour'. Movie classics like 'Laura', 'The Ox-Bow Incident' and 'Miracle On 34th Street' could lay claim as existing in Toobworld as well.

('Miracle On 34th Street' was remade yet again in the 1970s, and that version with Sebastian Cabot has been delivered to the land of TV remakes, Earth Prime Time-Delay.)

I'm bringing all of this up because this weekend there's a new addition to the list. Showtime is presenting 'Reefer Madness', a musical based on the cult "classic" film of the 1930s. It's actually arriving via the universe of musical comedy, as this TV special is based on an Off-Broadway production from a few years back.

So there's a twist - it's not only a TV adaptation of a movie, but it now contains song and dance as well. And as you probably expected, we've got a Toobworld splainin to go along with it.

Here's our missing link: Back in the 1930s, when this sorry tale of debauchery takes place, the wretched rabble ruined by reefer (heh heh heh) in the TV universe must have been visited by the demon known as Sweet. Sweet's talent lay in causing people to express their innermost fears, desires, and thoughts in song and dance. And he would drive them onward with this compulsion until they literally danced themselves into self-combustion.

('Buffy The Vampire Slayer' - episode 6.7, "Once More With Feeling")

We've seen Sweet's handiwork in other shows as well - 'Hull High', 'Cop Rock', 'That's Life'... even the Great American Soup commercial starring the late great Ann Miller.

And this is just more proof that he's been around for a long time. We know he was in the ghost town of Sonora back in the days of the Old West ('Saga of Sonora', NBC1973). And going even farther back, Sweet must have been in the region of Bethlehem when Christ was born, which would explain why the three wise men broke into song as they followed the Star of David ('Amahl And The Night Visitors', NBC 1951 [first staging]).

We'll be more thoroughly exploring the legacy of Sweet the Demon in October. That's when he will be the special inductee into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame for all of the toe-tappin' work he did behind the scenes in Toobworld.

'Reefer Madness' premieres tonight (Saturday, April 16th) at 8 pm EDT on Showtime.




If this crossover had gone as originally announced, I would have declared it as the top crossover of the week. And the 'Y&R' and 'ATWT' connection would have had to settle for "Miss Congeniality" runner-up.

Fran Dreschler's new sitcom, 'Living With Fran' debuted on Friday, April 8th, with two episodes on The WB. They formed book-ends around 'Reba', with an episode of 'What I Like About You' leading off the night.

But originally, the first show of the night was supposed to be the debut episode of 'Living With Fran', followed by 'What I Like About You'.

Normally, this would not have been a big deal, except for the fact that Dreschler's character (and the boy-toy character with whom the new Fran is having a relationship) were appearing in a cameo on 'What I Like About You'.

Had her show premiered first, then her appearance on Jenny Garth's sitcom would probably have been major TV crossover history - to have a crossover on the same night as its debut.

As it was, showing 'What I Like About You' first made the appearance by Fran nothing more than a spin-off showcase crossover designed to launch the new show from another, established, series.

True, it's still a crossover and notable for being on the same night as its premiere. It just doesn't have the same cachet to my (lack of) mind as it would have had 'Living With Fran' was premiered cold and then had the crossover appearance.

If only one of our two crossover winners had occurred the week before; I wouldn't have had to scramble to make that 'Apprentice'/'Papa John's' link!

Oh well. What the bleep.

At least this week, REAL TV crossover history was made and will be the Crossover of the Week.... to be announced after the weekend!


Thursday, April 14, 2005



What gives the TV Universe its viability are the official crossovers between shows. There are so many now, we can look upon the theoretical crossovers, the missing links, and the celebrities who appear as fictional versions of themselves in different shows to be just the star-stuff that's filling in the blanks of the universe.

I know there will probably be long stretches of time between those official crossovers, so I look for the trivial tidbits that help to create the shortcuts for the degrees of separation.

And then there are the times when the crossovers are tripping over themselves to get on the air.

It was feast not famine this past week with two official crossovers. The first one was not ready for prime-time, a crossover between 'The Young & The Restless' and 'As The World Turns'.

Michael Baldwin left his law practice in Genoa City, Wisconsin, long enough to represent Keith in his attempts to wrest custody of his nephew JJ away from his abusive dad Les JJ's mom Julia was murdered.

But when Michael's own past became an impediment to the case - after all, he had been convicted and jailed for attemped murder and rape! - the case almost tipped in favor of Les. But thankfully it was Carly who came through with the right idea to sway the judge's decision, so that Jack (whom JJ considered to be his "Dad") could keep the boy with him.

And as a sign of Michael's maturity over the years, he congratulated Carly for being the only one who really won the case.

'The Young & The Restless' already had several crossoverlings - Sheila, Lauren, Scott, - with 'The Bold & The Beautiful'. And 'As The World Turns' had a few characters who came over from 'Another World' when that was canceled. And 'Another World' led to a slew of official and unofficial crossovers during its history, so this was no small potatoes!

Coming up.... the other Crossover of the Week which brought back the glory days of whine and neuroses....


Tuesday, April 12, 2005


There's one other remake on the air now, and it's just finishing up its first season.

'Battlestar Galactica' has garnered great reviews, all of which agree on one key point.....

It's far superior to the original.

I guess anybody else might decide to give Toobworld a touch of class when it comes to this show, and assign the remake to the main TV Universe. Of course, this would mean that the original version from the late 1970s would have to be banished to the world of remakes, Earth Prime Time-Delay.

Well, frak it. I just can't do that.

Oh, it's not like I'm holding myself and my TV Universe ideals to a high standard. I've done that type of fudging with the placement of remakes before. The example that comes straight off the top of my head is that of 'The World Of Horace Ford' which starred Pat Hingle as an episode of 'The Twilight Zone'.

But a few years earlier, it had been presented in another version, but this time starring Art Carney. That version probably can only be seen nowadays by visiting the Museum of Television & Radio. Perhaps some bit-torrent outlet might have it online to check out.

'The Twilight Zone' version, however, lives on in syndication (although it was out of circulation for a loooong while.) And it can still be seen on occasion during 'Zone' marathons on the Sci-Fi Channel.

Such visibility strengthens a show's "gestalt"; gives it more vitality in the minds of the viewers. And that's what brings the TV Universe alive - the memories of those who saw such programs.

Sure, the original 'Battlestar Galactica' was hokey. The sequel, 'Galactica 1980' was even worse. But it had fun special effects that were unseen on TV up to that time. There were plenty of classical/biblical references that were reminiscent of the types of names you'd find in Robert E. Howard's Conan stories. And lots of great guest stars like Ray Bolger, Lloyd Bridges, Patrick Macnee, Ray Milland, Edward Mulhare, and Fred Astaire.

And the sequel, when they finally reached Earth in 1980, made two references that allowed me to link the shows to 'Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman' and to 'McCloud'. Since they've already been on Earth for over two decades, I'm using them to help splain away the people behind the Eugenics Wars of the late 1990s

So like I said, frak it. I'm keeping the original series in the main Toobworld.

And if this Galactica crew ever lands on Earth, then they'll just have to do a crossover with the Herman Munster that's played by John Schuck, instead of with Fred Gwynne's original.


Monday, April 11, 2005


The new version of 'Kojak' stars Ving Rhames in the role made famous by Telly Savalas. Both men share similar qualities; for example, when necessary, both Kojaks are implacable forces in the battle for Justice.

But their hardened exteriors could just as easily be replaced by their Inner Theos..... They're not afraid nor ashamed to show their softer sides.

Physically, their Kojaks are similar - imposingly solid and most definitely bald. Their sartorial style is distinctly their own and they both have a predilection for lollipops.

But even though a gulf of thirty years separates the debuts of both characters, it's a physical difference that really throws them into two different worlds......

Unlike the original Kojak, this year's model is black, Baby.

It's not the first time a show has been recast with black actors to play roles once perceived as being white. And I'm thinking that for the Television cosmos, these examples might be enough to warrant a whole new TV Land - Earth Prime Time Noir, perhaps? - where characters we once thought of as being white are now portrayed as being black.

ARCHIE BUNKER: How come every picture I ever see of God, He's white?
HENRY JEFFERSON: Well, maybe you were looking at the negative!
('All In The Family')

The first example I have isn't actually a remake of a TV show......

In 1970, Neil Simon's 'Barefoot In The Park' crossed over from the world of Theater and then the realm of Film before finally settling down into TV Land. Simon apparently wrote it as somewhat of an autobiographical piece I think; and after the play and the movie versions, I see the main characters as being inherently white - but not so much that racial recasting affects the believability. (It's not like having the Osmonds playing the Jackson Five.....)

There had been no other TV version of the stage play before that, so by all rights 'Barefoot In The Park' should not have to be forced to relocate. That's quite understandable; if you want to consider it part of your own main TV Land, that's fine. I'm just trying to get enough shows to justify this separate dimension. (Bad enough that I've got '24' in isolation in its own dimension.)

A decade later, and another TV show appears on the schedule which could be included in this "Earth Prime-Time/BET".

In 1982, fussy photog Felix Unger and sloppy sportswriter Oscar Madison returned to the airwaves, but not played by Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. (That wouldn't happen again in the main Toobworld until the 1993 reunion movie 'The Odd Couple Together Again'... not to mention the several commercials and public service announcements they did together in character.)

One quirk of this universe that is highlighted in the 1982 version of 'The Odd Couple' was that not everybody who is white in the main TV Universe would be automatically black in this one. Murray the Cop was played by Al Molinaro in the 1970s version of 'The Odd Couple', and it was John Schuck who took on the role in the 1980s version.

Schuck may have been green at one point in Toobworld (actually, in one of the offshoot dimensions) when he portrayed Herman Munster. And he may have had pink blood as several Klingons in the 'Star Trek' franchise, but not even Henry Jefferson could make the argument that John Schuck was black.

(I had a joke about that just now, but I won't debase my blog by repeating it. Not that it was politically incorrect, - which it was! - but because it would have invoked 'Holmes & Yoyo'.......)

Just as an allowance was made to bring 'Barefoot In The Park' into this new Toobworld dimension, I think we should trigger one of the other exemptions to add yet another candidate to the lineup on Earth Prime-Time/Bet. Certain movies have been considered part of the TV Universe because they are too closely connected to either TV shows which they spawned, or which grew out of successful TV series.

The 'Star Trek' franchise, 'Charlie's Angels', 'Batman-1966', 'The X-Files: Fight The Future', 'Buck Rogers In The 25th Century', 'McHale's Navy Joins The Air Force'...... I even argue to include 'Maverick' in the bunch.

Those I would totally dismiss as not having any connection whatsoever to the TV Universe aren't because of artistic failings (although it's certainly a viable argument against watching some of them!) Some of these movies, like the 'Addams Family' movies, are quite good. It's just that their castings leave no link to Toobworld.

Among these movies would be 'Sgt. Bilko', 'Leave It To Beaver', 'Dennis The Menace', 'The Beverly Hillbillies' with Jim Varney and 'McHale's Navy' with Tom Arnold. (Even though 'Barnaby Jones' and the original McHale make appearances in those last two, respectively.)

For this new Toobworld dimension, I'd like to offer up a candidate that hasn't even been released yet.......

Cedric the Entertainer is playing Ralph Kramden in the movie version of 'The Honeymooners'. This version is cast with African-Americans as Ralph, Alice, Norton and Trixie.

'The Honeymooners,' the much-loved TV series from the 1950s, starred Jackie Gleason (Kramden), Art Carney (Norton), Audrey Meadows (Alice) and Joyce Randolph (Trixie).

But the movie version, directed by John Schultz and written by Barry W. Blaustein and Danny Jacobson, features Cedric, Mike Epps, Gabrielle Union and Regina Hall, respectively, in the same roles.

Producer Paul Myler was angry when it was suggested that what makes the screen will be a rehash of what has been on the tube, albeit with a black cast.

"This is a new movie, not a remake," he insisted to the New York Daily News. "The script is based on a new story, using the characters of the TV show."

And that brings us back to 'Kojak'.......

Ving Rhames, who stars as 'Kojak' in the USA Network series remake, said that when he was growing up in Harlem, he never watched Telly Savalas in the original production.

"Who wanted to see a white man arresting some black people?" Rhames joked during an appearance before members of the Television Critics Association. "I saw that every day."

Asked to explain how his character came to have a Greek name like Kojak, Rhames said he'd never even been asked to explain the origins of his own name - either Rhames, which was partly Egyptian and Greek, or Ving, which, he revealed somewhat sheepishly, was short for what he called a Jewish-sounding first name.

"Irving," he said, and added tersely, "Next question."

I suppose I could have saved myself all this typing and any possible charges of cathode apartheid by just letting the show settle in with the other remakes on Earth Prime Time-Delay. But where's the sport in that? Like the 'Sliders' have shown us, there are thousands of possible Earths out there, why not one where it's possible that Beaver Cleaver and Mary Hartman (Mary Hartman!) are African-Americans?

What the Flicka! Why not 'Mr. Ed' as a hip, jet-black stallion?

But would that be popular?

I think you could make "BET" on it.....



The new version of 'Little House On The Prairie' has to be considered as being based on historical record. As it's based on the life of the book's author, Laura Ingalls Wilder, it has to be.

And that means it would be set during the same time period in history - whether it be Real Time or Prime Time, - as all of the other versions of the story. But it is being trundled off to the world of Earth Prime Time-Delay anyway; because the version from the 1970s not only beat it to the punch but is more firmly entrenched in the memories of those who watched it.

And that seems to add to the gestalt of Toobworld and makes it more "real".

There was another version of the story told just a few years ago. It was actually two TV movies - 'Beyond The Prairie: The True Story Of Laura Ingalls Wilder' (Parts 1 & 2). It starred Richard Thomas as Charles Ingalls. But it was only those two TV movies, so I'm inclined to toss them into yet another TV dimension.

Since this version of the Ingalls tale didn't involve cannibalism along the trail, or Charles Ingalls going off his nut and taking an axe to his whole family, I'm forced to abandon the attempt to stick them into the evil mirror universe. But I gotta tells ya, it was tempting.....

This version was only a limited time offer; just the two TV-movies. Therefore, by the powers invested in me by me, I'm going to put it into the alternate dimension known as Earth Prime Time-MOW.

"MOW" stand for "Movie Of the Week". This is the dimension which has the line of succession among the American presidents based on the various TV movies that had fictional presidencies depicted.

Among these would be:


'Washington: Behind Closed Doors'


'The President' Plane Is Missing' (not to be confused with the 'Saturday Night Live' sketch "The President Has Mustard On His Chin" which starred host Charlton Heston.)

They may have all had a fictional timeline but that chronology had to be based on the real one at some point in prime time.......