Saturday, July 9, 2005


While doing research on Simon Callow and his portrayals of Charles Dickens for this week's look at a 'Doctor Who' episode, I came across these two entries of his work in the TV Universe.....

'Inspector Morse' - "The Wolvercote Tongue"
Originally aired: Friday December 25, 1987 on ITV1
Writer: Julian Mitchell
Director: Alastair Reid
Story: Colin Dexter
Guest Stars: Simon Callow (Theodore Kemp) , Kenneth Cranham (Cedric Downes) , Roberta Taylor (Sheila Williams) , Robert Arden (Eddie Poindexter) , Christine Norden (Laura Poindexter) , Bill Reimbold (Howard Brown) , Helena Stevens (Shirley Brown) , John Bloomfield (Phil Aldrich) , Mildred Shay (Janet Roscoe) , Jane Bertish (Marion Kemp) , Christine Kavanagh (Lucy Downes) , Cherith Mellor (Fiona Hall) , Nicholas Bell (Dr Swain) , Maureen Morris (Nurse) , Ron Copsey (Waiter) , Teddy Thompson (Waitress) , Colin Dexter (Man behind Morse in The Randolph Hotel) , Sara Coward (Lynn, hotel receptionist) , Iain Ormsby-Knox (Duty Sergeant) , Tim Faulkner (Hotel Manager)

Laura Poindexter, a rich American tourist, dies in the Randolph Hotel, Oxford, apparently from a heart attack, but Morse suspects foul play. Laura was due to return a historic jewel to an Oxford museum, and it has gone missing. Then Dr Kemp, who is a womanizing historian, dies of a fall, Lucy Downes is crushed to death in a telephone box, and Dr Kemp's widow appears to take a fatal overdose of Paracetomol.Morse believes the deaths are all linked.

'Scarecrow and Mrs. King' - "The Times They Are a Changin'"
Originally aired: Monday October 8, 1984 on CBS
Writer: Mark Lisson, Bill Frochlich
Director: William Wiard
Guest Stars: Sky Dumont (Baron Von Eiger) , Simon Callow (Haddy Kemp) , Kevork Malikyan (Ortiz) , Lee Patterson (Matthew Hearns) , Kristina Van Eyck (Inga) , Elma Karlowa (Baroness)

Amanda and Lee must oversee the return of a 1960s radical who is involved with Munich terrorists.

A period of three years in the Toobworld Timeline separate these two episodes. So it doesn't seem too radical an idea that the historian Theodore Kemp might be the twin brother of Haddy Kemp. (I'm not sure if he is the radical of the 60s in the 'Scarecrow & Mrs. King' episode.)

"Haddy" might be a nickname derived from Hadrian, Hayden, Haddon, or perhaps Hedley. As children, maybe they were known as "Teddy and Haddy".

We'll never know if they were related or not, unless Haddy Kemp one day returns in some other spy series and metions a twin, as Dr. Kemp died in that episode of 'Inspector Morse'. But as I've never seen that episode of 'Scarecrow & Mrs. King', I have no idea whether or not he survived either.


Friday, July 8, 2005


"Dum loquimur, fugerit invida aetas; carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero."
[While we are speaking, envious time is fleeing; seize today, place very little trust in tomorrow.]
Odes 1.11

It was Charles Dickens' ruminations upon his life and his feelings that it was a failure, and his later exhultation that Life - and he himself - still had so much to offer, which sold me on declaring the tele-fiat that Simon Callow's should be the official portrayal of "The Great Man" on Earth Prime-Time.

But there have been other actors who have assumed the role over the years, and they should not be discounted. (Although I have eliminated those actors who portrayed Dickens in the movies.)

For the most part, these other Dickenses (Dickensii?) appeared in biographical presentations which all covered the same ground, so I have no qualms in dispersing them to be Dickensian doppelgangers in different dimensions.

Chief among these would be Anton Lesser, who has two productions to his credit in which he appeared as the author. One of these was a very noble effort - the multi-part PBS production which examined Dickens' life as well as his works.

Should Mr. Lesser ever do so again on Television, he might present serious competition to Mr. Callow for the prime prime-time position. But it would have to be within the framework of a fictional storyline which must really knock my block off (or even sink my battleship). And having seen Simon Callow do just that in the 'Doctor Who' episode "The Unquiet Dead", I find it hard to believe it can be done.

When it comes to one-man shows about Charles Dickens, Simon Callow was not the first out of the gate. Emlyn Williams achieved acclaim for his lauded Broadway production transplanted to TV in 1983.

As for other actors who played the role in biographical TV movies, Roy Dotrice divvied up Dickens with Simon Bell and Gene Foad in 1976's 'Dickens Of London'. In 'The Great Inimitable Mr. Dickens' from 1970, Anthony Hopkins depicted Dickens long before he digested kidneys.

I'd be curious as to how the author of "A Tale Of Two Cities" fared in a third - Berlin, - when "Ein Weihnachtslied in Prosa oder Eine Geistergeschichte zum Christfest" premiered in Germany with Peter Arens as Dickens.

Dickens stature as an author is secured, but his stature as a man seems to fluctuate in the TV Universe. Even without the elevator shoes he wore in 'The Munsters', Fred Gwynne was of an imposing height. If 'The Land Of The Giants' dimension had their own version of this literary giant, perhaps we can place "Any Friend of Nicholas Nickleby Is a Friend of Mine" in that realm.

Tony Jay is also a very tall actor, but his performance as Dickens on the TV series 'Sisters' was a figment of Teddy Reed-Margolis' imagination. His appearance as a towering spirit guide was more than likely influenced by Teddy's personal evaluation of the Great Man.

But of all the various "Charles Dickens" who have appeared on TV, there is one whom I now consider a charlatan.

On 'Bonanza', Jonathan Harris played him in the episode "A Passion For Justice". The author had come to Virginia City, Nevada, during his American speaking tour (1867-68) and while there he became embroiled in a legal dispute from which the Cartwrights had to extricate him.

A Passion for Justice
1hr 0min
When the Virginia City newspaper begins serializing Dickens' latest novel without his permission, the author arrives in town to register a protest-and gets arrested and fined for his troubles. Despite Dickens' imperious refusal to pay the fine or speak in his own defense, Dickens' cause is championed by four of his biggest fans--the Cartwrights.

"A Passion for Justice" originally aired September, 29 1963. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

When I first saw this episode back in 1999, I was all set to proclaim it as a major showcase for Dickens in the TV Universe. (I've always enjoyed seeing the fictional versions of historical figures interact with those TV characters who were totally fictitious.)

Jonathan Harris certainly looked the part, although his beard was quite modest in comparison to its look in the Real World. But then, physical similarity has never been an over-riding factor in many programs. (Judith Light as Ryan White's mother in is a good example.)

Even Simon Callow didn't look exactly the same when playing Dickens in 'Doctor Who' as he did in 'The Mystery Of Charles Dickens'. But I have a splainin......

Although presented on Television first, 'The Mystery Of Charles Dickens' takes place AFTER the 'Doctor Who' episode. Having survived the attack by the Gelth, and the consumption of gas, and being forced to wrap his mind around the idea of the TARDIS itself, Charles Dickens was understandably aged by the entire experience. And sadly, it led to his death in the middle of the following year -- 1870.]

Playing fast and loose with historical record doesn't present a problem for me as a Toobworld caretaker either. This episode of 'Bonanza' certainly does that, as Dickens never got past the Mississippi River during either of his speaking tours here in the Real World America. (He had been to the United States twenty years earlier in 1842.)

But I'm willing to accept that he did so in Toobworld. (Hell and damnation! I'm more than willing to accept that Mark Twain boarded the starship Enterprise in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'! And of course, it was Dickens' interaction with the Doctor and the Gelth in "The Unquiet Dead" which triggered this treatise!)

Here's how the chronological conundrum was addressed in a 'Bonanza' timeline website:

November 9, 1867:
British novelist Charles Dickens arrived in America for a speaking tour. The westernmost city he visited was Buffalo, New York. He left for England on April 22, 1868.

[Either “A Passion For Justice” is entirely fictitious or Ben wrote a very persuasive letter of invitation to Virginia City because Dickens was in poor health at this time and the Transcontinental railroad was more than a year from completion. Of course Dickens made the tour because of his need for money and Ben was a remarkably generous man…]

"A Passion For Justice" can't be entirely fictitious. I may be willing to bend the rules on a lot of things, but I have to stand fast with one dictum: If it's broadcast, it's part of Toobworld. (And even then, no one said I couldn't tweak that rule of thumb a bit.)

Having declared Simon Callow as the official Dickens, I can't very well just pack off Jonathan Harris and his interpretation to some other dimension as I have done with all of the others. Because that would mean I was sending off the TV show 'Bonanza' as well. And I'm not about to excise such a great component to the make-up of the TV Universe!

As you might expect, I have a splainin. Jonathan Herris was not appearing as Charles Dickens, but as a confidence man. He was capitalizing on the author's well-publicized speaking tour across America. Plain folk out on the plains might never have known that Dickens was never getting past the Big River; they probably never even considered looking into his claim to be the real deal when "Dickens" finally showed up in Nevada.

This poseur was there in response to a request by Ben Cartwright and the town council to regale them with his lecture tour. More than likely, he somehow intercepted that letter before Dickens could learn of it. This man - perhaps Dickens' business manager for the American tour? - then decided to impersonate his boss and reap the rewards for himself.

I've got to hand it to this confidence man; he certainly was a master of his grifter craft. Because while he was there near the Ponderosa, a man framed him for a crime for which "Dickens" was more than prepared to take a stand. He maintained the illusion that he was the Great Man in order to protect his good name. Some other trickster might have just cut his losses and run.

But then again.... He probably had not been paid yet for the lecture and he wasn't about to leave without that money; not after all the work he put into the scam.

If this idea that the fake Dickens of 'Bonanza' worked for the "real" (that is, the tele-version) Dickens seems plausible, then it means he was working for the character as played by Simon Callow.

And that means.... a hypothetical link between 'Bonanza' and 'Doctor Who'!

Think where that might have taken us in the idealized TV Universe....

Little Joe romancing Susan Foreman

Leela mistaken for a woman of the local Indian tribes

The TARDIS struggling under the weight of Hoss as a passenger!

Fanfictioneers, start your engines!


Charles Dickens was portrayed in the TV Universe by the follwoing actors:

Peter Arens
. . . Weihnachtslied in Prosa oder Eine Geistergeschichte zum Christfest, Ein (1960) (TV)

Alan Badel
. . . Secret of Charles Dickens, The (1979) (TV)

Simon Bell [as a boy]
. . . "Dickens of London" (1976) (mini) TV Series

Marshall Borden
. . . Christmas Carol, A (1982) (TV)

Simon Callow
. . . 'Doctor Who' (2005) TV Series
. . . Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairy Tale (2001) (TV)
. . . Mystery of Charles Dickens, The (2000) (TV)

Roy Dotrice
. . . "Dickens of London" (1976) (mini) TV Series

Gene Foad [as a young man]
. . . "Dickens of London" (1976) (mini) TV Series

Fred Gwynne
. . . Any Friend of Nicholas Nickleby Is a Friend of Mine (1982) (TV)

Jonathan Harris
. . . "Bonanza" (1963) TV Series

Anthony Hopkins
. . . Great Inimitable Mr. Dickens, The (1970) (TV)

Anton Lesser
. . . Dickens (2002) (TV)
. . . London (2004) (TV)

Michael Maloney
. . . "Let's Write a Story" (2003) TV Series

Michael Redgrave
. . . Mr. Dickens of London (1968) (TV)

Emlyn Williams
. . . Emlyn Williams as Charles Dickens (1983) (TV)


Hugh Davis could well be the most loyal correspondent I have. He's been writing to me about my TV Universe theories - and great ones of his own! - since my Tubeworld Dynamic days. And even when he doesn't agree with me, Hugh always has well-thought-out responses to my wacked-out topics.

In regards to my latest post, "Who, Watts, and How!", he sent the following reply:

The fact you call DiT a "cute" story is either tongue-in-cheek or suggesting you haven't seen that garbled tale. I like the idea, as you can imagine, but it's poorly executed. I wish they'd gone all out with it, as the Curse of the Fatal Death did, with a little more time devoted to the story and just a little more money (hardly a requirement for my favorite sf show, but it can always help). But with everyone wanting to celebrate the anniversary, plus with the profits raised going to a major charity, you'd think they could have put more into it. Sigh. An opportunity wasted.

(In your bit on EastEnders, you say Chrissie Watts, whose been on the show a year, offed Dirty Den. Do you follow the soap? I used to watch it, and Den disappeared years ago--did they bring him back only to kill him?)

You may know this story, but the plan (before they got stuck making DiT) was to make a movie-length adventure for the 30th anniversary called "Dark Dimension." Part of the plot (in fact, the fulcrum for the action) was for the 7th Doctor to go back and help save his 4th incarnation, who appeared older at the start of the movie and disoriented. The story would reveal that something had gone wrong with the Doctor's regeneration into his fifth self, causing a continued disruption in the time stream, now being fixed by McCoy's Doctor.

The end result (which I think is brilliant) was going to be the need to go back and make sure the regeneration occured as it should, and thus that was why the Watcher is in Logopolis (if you'll remember, the Watcher was a white spectral being who followed the Doctor around until his fall from the tower, when he merged with Baker's body, allowing the regeneration). It's the only time the Watcher was used (unless you count K'Anpo/Cho Je in Planet of the Spiders, when it turns out the young assistant was the Tibetan Monk/old Time Lord's future incarnation) for a regeneration, and I think the retcon effect of this movie, which backtracked to explain its occurence, was clever.

Unfortunately, the film fell through. I think the final and overbearing straw to break its back was the budget, but there were also complaints, particularly from Colin Baker and Jon Pertwee, that their Doctors barely appeared (Colin was quoted as saying there were just "cough and bit parts" for them) in a supposed multi-Doctor story.

Personally, I am very sorry this wasn't made. I think it's attempt to explain why Tom Baker had aged was at lest novel (not unlike the idea of "Season 6B," which attempts to explain why Troughton looks older in 5 Docs and 2 Docs--an idea given pseudo-endorsement with the announcement of a novel set during that time). (Now they never bothered why Pertwee had aged, but maybe that was cause you didn't need to--he appeared the same--or why the 1st Doctor looked entirely different in 5 Doctors, and I'm fine with a little different look or aging, but at least they were taking it into account.)

The greater loss is that it doesn't appear Tom Baker will return to Doctor Who, even though he's the elder statesman at this point (and increasingly elder, when you consider how young all the latest Doctors, including "sidestep" Richard Grant, have all been). I understand the Big Finish audio people have tried to bring him in for a CD story, but he's asked to play it "his way" (apparently "as Tom Baker," and not as his 4th Doctor persona), and they can't come to an agreement.

Given he apparently has poor health and doesn't like to travel much to film, I'd think this would be an ideal arrangement, but he's resisted. When the new series was announced, he was quoted as saying he'd like to play the Master, and I think they should use him--perhaps not as the Master, but as a villain. Then, he could play the part pretty much as he wanted, and the script editors could work out why a villain looked like a former incarnation.

Perhaps Meglos somehow replicated himself, minus the cactus spines, or perhaps that Watcher idea could be used here as well.

Anyway, that's my latest .02,

PS from me:
"Hugh's .02"... That'd make a great title!

Thursday, July 7, 2005


This story appeared today on the BBC Online site:

'EastEnders' actress Tracy-Ann Oberman, who plays Queen Vic landlady Chrissie Watts, is to leave the soap. Oberman, 35, has been on the cast since April 2004 and will exit the BBC One show later this year.

Her character dealt the blow to kill husband "Dirty" Den and will leave in a "spectacular" storyline, a spokesperson for the show said.

But Chrissie will not be killed off and the door will be left open for her to return.
Yes. I freely admit it. I have 'Doctor Who' on the brain. But when I read that news item, I naturally thought that a departure via TARDIS fit the description of a "spectacular storyline" exit.

And the idea that the Doctor and Rose should facilitate Chrissie's escape from Albert Square in the Watford area isn't all that far-fetched. That's because there was already an established connection between 'Doctor Who' and 'EastEnders'.

It's true! Except for the unfortunate bracketing of the scenes from the "Children In Need" charity show, and from 'Noel's House Party' for the second half, a cute little Time Lord story unfolded about the Rani's plot against the Doctor in Albert Square.

And it wasn't just any incarnation of the Doctor who was involved. There were seven versions of the Time Lord caught up in the disruption of the Time Stream, with the reappearance of many of the Doctor's companions from the various eras. And all of them interacted with several characters from 'EastEnders'.

(The First and Second Doctors were already captured by the Rani and only seen as heads floating in the stasis of a "Time Tunnel". This was due to the inescapable fact that William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton had passed away. Tom Baker took part, but only in an opening warning to his other selves. His appearance was so radical from his last known look as the Doctor, that a possible splainin would be that the Fourth Doctor had been ravaged by his imprisonment in the Time Eddy during "The Five Doctors".)

And as each of the remaining four Doctors and their assemblage of Companions scrambled about Albert Square around the Queen Vic pub, they encountered such area residents as:

Pauline Fowler
Kathy and Ian Beale
Sharon Mitchell
Pat and Frank Butcher
Mike Yates
and Grant and Phil Mitchell.

It was a frenetic, sometimes confusing adventure, but it had the willing involvement of all those previously connected to the show, save for Hartnell and Troughton, of course. Even Colin Baker, the Sixth Doctor, returned to take part - even though he left under such bitter circumstances that he refused to participate in the regeneration scene.

Add to this the fact that the script was by long-time 'Doctor Who' producer/writer John Nathan-Turner, and I can't see any real reason it should not be considered canon in the tele-version of 'Doctor Who'.

Therefore, why not do a crossover with 'EastEnders' again to help facilitate the departure of such a popular character as Chrissie Watts.

When the Time comes, why not a Time Lord to arrange transit?


Wednesday, July 6, 2005


Time for my weekly plaint......
[Musical cue: Give The People What They Want]

Before I left for work on Monday night, I watched the fireworks display sponsored by Macy's on NBC. And as it went on, I just got more and more pissed off.

Can't these TV directors covering live events ever get it right and trust in their audience? Television is a visual medium and how much more visual can you get that a fireworks array?

We don't need incessant voice-overs when the image can say it all. (When Cal Ripken broke Gehrig's record, at least then the sportscasters knew to shut up and let us feel as if we were in the stadium as well.)

We don't want the cutaway shots to the audience as they ooh and ahh over the bombs bursting in the air. You give us that, and we miss out on our own chance to ooh and ahh over a particular starburst.

Okay, maybe I'm just speaking for myself, but I definitely don't need some floor level camera giving me an unobstructed view right up Donald Trump's crotch.! Next time, make me happy. Just zoom in on his latest wife's rack and edit Mr. Combover out of the shot altogether.

We don't need fancy shots and graphics cluttering up the screen. Just before going to a full-screen moment with the New York Pops, the director first gave us a boxed insert of the orchestra. And that effectively sucked up at least a third of the fireworks display, ruining any sense of the composition of the explosion display.

And why even bother showing us the orchestra? We were watching for the visuals of the fireworks; the orchestra was there to be heard, not seen.

And it's not even as if they were actually playing! The New York Times had exposed their dirty little secret earlier in the day when they revealed that all of their pieces had been pre-taped a few days earlier. Skitch Henderson - who looked like a puppet which had outlived the guy pulling the strings, - and the orchestra were just going through the motions in time to the recording.

They didn't need to be there, and we didn't need to see them.

And for God's sake, either get rid of Al Roker as the Ringmaster, or get him a better writer. To claim that Mariah Carey can put Lady Liberty to shame? I like looking at Mariah Carey; I'm not that big a fan of her songs.

But you don't say something that stupid on a day when we're celebrating the concept of our country's freedom and during a time of troubles when the country should pull together, you go and disparage the leading symbol of our country's ideals like that?

It was downhill from there.

If I wasn't scheduled for work that overnight, I might have gone down to see it live and in person, rather than settle for the second-hand Toobworld version. Or I might have gone home to Connecticut and celebrated with a local, home-brewed fireworks display; one that was more intimate and less likely to be laden with commercial overkill within the array itself.

There was only one upside to this year's production over the ones in the past. At least this time we weren't subjected to talking heads of NBC stars like Sam Waterston and Rob Lowe as they intone portentous passages to hammer the meaning of independence into our noggins.

Bad enough we had to have The Donald up there to lead the countdown. But then, when you've only got the one big TV sensation left, you have to fall back on its star power. Especially after the dreadful TV season NBC just experienced.

Even if it is a megalomaniacal gasbag.

And hey - it could have been worse. We could have been subjected to the Declaration of Independence being recited by Joey Tribbiani!

God bless America!



Submitted for your approval.....

When regular visitors to the Talk Back boards at Ain't It Cool News posted their theories as to what might happen during the finale of 'Lost', some of these intrepid Junior Televisiologists came up with some wacked-out ideas; crossovers that made me remember why I enjoy the "philosophy" of televisiology.... and made me want a taste of the primo bleep these dudes must have been smoking.

Here are some of the best that I found during that particular thread:

It will turn out they're on Danger Island when they see
that wacky Chongo running out of the woods towards them
by Monkeybrains2005-05-25 03:35:47
Jan Michael Vincent will make a long awaited comeback flying Airwolf. And Ben Gunn will still have his gold.

Who knows. I'm there anyway.
Best way to get my attention? Talk about my all-time favorite show!

You wanna know what they really find at sea?
by GoonF2005-05-25 08:02:23
Rover, the anti-escape orb from 'The Prisoner'. Meanwhile, No.2 opens the hatch so the castaways can escape No.6 who has mutated horribly due to radiation posioning.
This fellow spends too much time in the Tooniverse, but it's still a great idea!

What's in the hatch?
by TFMinistry2005-05-25 09:19:38
Another hatch, twice as difficult to open. What happens with the monster? It gets eaten by another monster. Off-screen. We do learn the monster's name though--El McGuffino.

What happens to the raft? Comical hijinks wherein they run out of food and Character A stares at Character B and sees his face imposed on a giant-turkey like object.

Or so I've been led to believe.
This seemed like a natural......

It's obvious. The monster is Jim Backus.
by GoatZinger 2005-05-26 06:08:20
You know it's true.....3 hour cruise, hole in the side of the Minnow, etc. Diamond Jim was the only one that survived all these years on that island....and he's Hungry.

If that's the only way to keep Mr. Howell, a great comic character of Toobworld, alive in some alternate universe, then I say offer him all the Boone-burgers he wants!
And here's one that's topical (unfortunately)......

No, no, no! In the other Lost TB someone suggested that the island is being run by Michael Jackson!
by L.H.Puttgrass 2005-05-26 06:19:23
That's why the Others want the boy.

by Sans Souci2005-05-25 12:16:23
I'd much rather prefer it if a guy with big ears in a black leather jacket emerges from the hatch, says "fantastic" a lot and thanks the group for clearing off his TARDIS before taking off, promising them they'll get answers and get rescued...someday.

Which gives me an idea. I say once we get England totally hooked on 'Lost', then we cut off access to any new episodes from Season Two until they start shipping over the new 'Doctor Who'.

Really put the squeeze on them and deny them access to 'Desperate Housewives' as well.

If push comes to shove and they wanna play hardball, force them to watch 'Redneck TV'. A few evenings of enforced telly with Larry the Cable Guy should make them come to their senses.......


Tuesday, July 5, 2005


"Shoe Hand" sent me the link to this story:

Astrologer Sues NASA Over Comet Probe

Yahoo! News & AP
Tue Jul 5, 9:58 AM ET

NASA's mission that sent a space probe smashing into a comet raised more than cosmic dust — it also brought a lawsuit from a Russian astrologer.

Marina Bai has sued the U.S. space agency, claiming the Deep Impact probe that punched a crater into the comet Tempel 1 late Sunday "ruins the natural balance of forces in the universe," the newspaper Izvestia reported Tuesday.

Bai is seeking damages totaling $300 million — the approximate equivalent of the mission's cost — for her "moral sufferings," Izvestia said, citing her lawyer Alexander Molokhov. She earlier told the paper that the experiment would "deform her horoscope."


Do you know what this all reminds me of......?

"We are quite definitely here as representatives of the Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Sages, Luminaries and Other Thinking Persons, and we want this machine off, and we want it off now!"

"What's the problem?" said Lunkwill.

"I'll tell you what the problem is, mate," said Majikthise, "demarcation, that's the problem!"

"We demand," yelled Vroomfondel, "that demarcation may or may not be the problem!"

"You just let the machines get on with the adding up," warned Majikthise, "and we'll take care of the eternal verities, thank you very much. You want to check your legal position, you do, mate! Under law the Quest for Ultimate Truth is quite clearly the inalienable prerogative of your working thinkers. Any bloody machine goes and actually finds it and we're straight out of a job aren't we? I mean what's the use of our sitting up half the night arguing that there may or may not be a God if this machine only goes and gives us his bleeding phone number the next morning?"

"That's right!" shouted Vroomfondel, "we demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!"

(from Chapter 25 of "The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy")



'Doctor Who' is back on Earth!

Fifteen years after the last regular episode, six years after the one TV movie for the Eighth Doctor, we've had a full series of thirteen episodes featuring Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Incarnation.

The final episode for this year has aired, signaling the end of Eccleston's tenure and marking the debut of David Tennant in the role.

And so to celebrate, most of my essays and all of the Crossovers will be dedicated to the Doctor for the rest of the summer.

Be forewarned: In my essays during this summer salute to 'Doctor Who', there will be spoilers for each of the episodes, especially in regard to summaries.....

First off, here's a recap of the episode:

Location: Cardiff, Wales
Date: 24th December, 1869
Enemy: The Gelth.

The Doctor plans to take Rose back through time to Naples, 1860. Instead they arrive in Cardiff, 1869. In Victorian Cardiff, the dead are walking and creatures made of gas are on the loose. The time-travellers team up with Charles Dickens to investigate Mr Sneed, the local undertaker.
[Thanks to]


I think 'The Unquiet Dead' will stand as my favorite episode from this season. As a 'Doctor Who' story, it hearkens back to William Hartnell's tenure as the First Doctor. He had more adventures wading through actual historical events than did his successors, who spent more of Time battling aliens.

Some of those battles may have been during historical time periods - like the Fifth Doctor versus the "The Visitation" of the Terileptils during the time of Cromwell, - but it was the First Doctor who encountered more famous figures of History. Marco Polo, Wyatt Earp, Nero....

This time out, the Doctor met Charles Dickens in Cardiff on Christmas Eve, 1869, (about six months before he died), and the Time Lord still had time to squeese in a series staple: an alien invasion!

It's a heady mixture of Victoriana and Fantasy, my two favorite genres.

The involvement of Charles Dickens is the peg upon which we hang our crossover. It wasn't just that the Doctor teamed up with Dickens, but that Dickens was portrayed by Simon Callow. In much the same way that Hal Holbrook is celebrated for his ever-evolving portrayal of Mark Twain here in the United States, Callow is known for his one man show as the author of "The Pickwick Papers" and 'A Christmas Carol."

In fact, this marks the actor's third appearance as Dickens in Toobworld. So when the author is inducted into the Crossover Hall of Fame, he will bear the visage of Simon Callow.

As a one-man show, 'The Mystery Of Charles Dickens' is presented in the form of the touring lectures Dickens gave in which he read from his works. And that is what we see him do in Cardiff on Christmas Eve, 1869, when the theatre is disrupted by the appearance of the gaseous beings known as the Gelth.

So it could be said that we actually saw an excerpt of 'The Mystery Of Charles Dickens' during this episode of 'Doctor Who' before the alien interruption. Can't ask for a better crossover than that!

As I mentioned earlier in the heading, Callow also played Dickens in a TV movie celebrating the life and works of Hans Christian Andersen. Through this connection, 'Doctor Who' goes on to be linked with any production based on the life of P.T. Barnum which you'd prefer, since the link there is provided by the Swedish Nightingale, Jenny Lind.

(At least that's in theory. I've never seen this TV movie, but I did find a site that had a few pictures. And in one, Andersen is fawning over a poster of Ms. Lind.)

Like I said, 'The Unquiet Dead' is my favorite of all thirteen episodes, for which a good portion of that can be credited to Mr. Callow as Dickens. Thanks to his warm and touching portrayal of "the Great Man", we have our Crossover of the Week.

God bless us, everyone!


Monday, July 4, 2005


For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, the TV Crossover Hall of Fame was established in 1999 to honor those TV characters (as well as locations and objects) which unify the TV Universe. This includes real-life people who have fictionalized tele-versions of themselves, as well as the Creators who make the crossovers possible.

The original requirements have become easier to achieve in recent years (appearances in three different TV shows, TV movies, cartoons or commercials). But that's mostly due to the fact that those who make the TV shows nowadays grew up watching TV and love the self-referential nature of the medium. But it has reached the point where some might argue that just about anybody can get into the Hall of Fame.

And this year, that's just about true....

In 2005, I reach the half century mark; in just a few days, in fact. Like fellow bloggers Brent McKee and Tony Figueroa, I am a child of Television. And every year on my birthday, I celebrate in my blog (or the old Tubeworld Dynamic website before this) by announcing a Birthday Honors List; inducting someone special into the ranks of the Hall of Fame who might have just missed the requirements but who is nonetheless deserving of recognition for their contributions to the TV Universe.

My mantra for the choices made on my birthday is: "What I say, goes."

The first such honoree was Suzy MacNamara, Ann Sothern's character in 'Private Secretary'. She was honored because she was involved in the first TV crossover, on the premiere episode of 'The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour'.

This year, as I turn fifty, I'm applying that dictum of "What I Say, Goes" every month. Since we've reached the half-way mark for 2005, let's run down those who have been inducted so far this year:

JANUARY - Lt. Columbo
FEBRUARY - Barney Collier aka Mr. Peters
MARCH - John Drake/Number "6"
APRIL - Ted Baxter
MAY - Detective Kay "Katy" Howard
JUNE - Arnold Ziffel

BIRTHDAY HONORS - Toby "Hans" O'Brien

I've been running the TV Crossover Hall of Fame since 1999, and one day I will devote the time necessary to create a permanent home for it on the web.

If you're interested in seeing the full list (There are over 100 members so far!), then drop me a note at:




In the old days of the Tubeworld Dynamic, the Summer was dedicated to a TV Western showcase so that I might take off for the month of August.

Part of that tradition still exists in that the July inductee for the Crossover Hall of Fame is from a Western TV series.
And because this year I'm marking fifty years on your planet, I'm bending the rules a bit to welcome those citizens of Toobworld who might not otherwise have passed muster.

So for our Western nominee, we've gone from San Francisco to New Prospect, Oklahoma, and back again, following the trail of Paladin, the cultured and ethical mercenary whose real name was 'Hec Ramsey'.

We never learned Paladin's real name on 'Have Gun Will Travel'. IAnd apparently there were viewers who thought his full name was "Wire Paladin!")

According to an origin story during the series, he was just a gambler forced to pay off a mark by attempting to kill a mercenary named Smoke who was protecting some local ranchers. The only other thing we knew about this gambler was that he had been a Union army officer during the Civil War in charge of weapons. And like so many others who survived that struggle, like 'The Loner' named William Colton, he had become disillusions with Life.

In their first confrontation, Smoke recognized that the gambler was not only ill-prepared in skill to face him, but that he also was lacking the purity of spirit as well.

And so, for some unknown reason, Smoke offered to train the gambler until he was proficient enough in all skills to properly face him in combat. Perhaps it was because Smoke knew he was getting too old to continue his line of work; perhaps he even knew that he was already dying. And maybe he saw something in the gambler which reminded him of his own earlier self. (There's no denying that there was quite a resemblance between Smoke and the gambler, which we as the viewers can probably attribute to the fact that Richard Boone played both roles.)

"We've all got a little Obi-Wan Kenobi in us."
Reverend Jim Ignatowski

Eventually Smoke taught the gambler everything he knew as well as instilled in him an appreciation for the finer things in Life and a thirst for education and the arts. And then he and the gambler faced off in the combat they had been forced by duty to see through to the end.

The gambler won and Smoke died - although it could be said that the gambler did call upon a few dirty tricks to gain the upper hand. But with Smoke's death, the gambler tossed aside his prior allegiances and became the new protector of those ranchers; he became their paladin. And he rid them of the enemy who had once hired him.

All through his career, based in San Francisco, it became known that if you needed help against insurmountable odds and injustices, you just had to wire Paladin at the Hotel Carlton and he would come to your aid. (As his business card stated, "Have gun. Will Travel".) His fee was hefty, in order to maintain his lifestyle, but more often than not he performed his services to see Justice upheld.

"I never draw my gun, unless I intend to use it."
'Have Gun Will Travel'

But apparently as the years passed in the wild, wild West, Paladin must have undergone some kind of trauma or life-changing revelation that might have caused him to question his role in life. Not his convictions, nor his goals in helping others, but perhaps in the way he went about seeking to make right what once went wrong.

During this time, Paladin let himself go physically. He became fatter, less fastidious in his personal appearance. He always did have a rough-hewn complexion, but now he looked like the proverbial ten miles of bad road - on the surface of the moon.

Still his skills and his mental acuity never failed him. Paladin must have realized that he was being led inexorably down the same road Smoke once travelled, and although he would also face the end of that journey with the same sense of honor, there surely had to be another way to avoid bringing it on in such a wasteful manner.

So Paladin must have dropped out of sight for a time, casting aside the persona he had created for himself as a knight without armor in a savage land. Falling back on his true identity of "Hec Ramsey", he must have travelled East - perhaps to Chicago, maybe to New York, even onwards to a school like Harvard or Yale, - and there immersed himself in the "newfangled science of Criminology".

[Richard Boone once said in an interview that Hec Ramsey was Paladin, just older and fatter.]

When he had sated this thirst for such knowledge, Ramsey headed West again and found himself in New Prospect, Oklahoma at the turn of the century. (It could be that he was originally from that area, although the townsfolk didn't know him from the past.)

There he became the deputy to young Sheriff Stamp who was clinging to the notions of the past, perhaps fueld by the dime novel exploits of 'Bat Masterson', Matt Dillon ('Gunsmoke'), Tom Guthrie ('Bret Maverick'), and 'The Life And Legend Of Wyatt Earp'. Ramsey's use of scales, magnifying glasses and fingerprint detection also impressed Doc Coogan who sometimes did what he could in his field to help a fellow man of science.

Ramsey must have broken all contact with his former life in San Francisco when he left, because by 1906 he was considered dead by those who knew him at the Hotel Carlton. Those personal effects he left behind gained the value of museum artifacts, and it was with some reverence that his own pack of playing cards were used for the big high-stakes poker game held in the Carlton just before the Big Quake struck.

As to what might have prompted Ramsey to forsake his life as Paladin, I think it might have been the love of a woman who somehow broke his heart. Perhaps she died, or perhaps she left him without a word, without a clue as to where she had gone.

I like to think that she might have found herself carrying Paladin's child, and knowing that his life might lead to tragedy for all three of them, she left. This way their child could be raised in safety and Paladin would not have his concentration deterred in his quest for Justice.

Whether or not she kept her own name or perhaps lived her life under an alias, I think she might have raised this child by the name of Frank Hogan. (I want to believe that her last name really was Hogan, and that she grew up in the Tuscany Valley regions not far from San Francisco. Tuscany Valley is where the 'Falcon Crest' vineyards were just beginning to claim dominion over the region.)

Frank Hogan grew up to become the spitting image of his father, and in a way found himself following the same path - although more often than not down the back alleys of the City of Angels in 1946. ('Goodnight My Love')

[It's also one of my pet theories that his partner in the private eye biz was none other than the infamous Dr. Miguelito Loveless. But Loveless was suffering from amnesia and had taken the name of Arthur Boyle during this time. Those who read my summer essays about Dr. Loveless during the days of the Tubeworld Dynamic might remember why he could still look to be in his early forties by 1946 - Loveless was the illegitimate son of a Gallifreyan Time Lord by the name of Roarke ('Fantasy Island'! We already know he was descended from Alexander of the 'Star Trek' episode "Plato's Step-Children" on his mother's side.]

Well, that should keep you off-balance for awhile.... Happy trails!

'The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw' (1991) TV movie (only mentioned)
'Hec Ramsey' (1972) TV Series .... Hec Ramsey
'Goodnight My Love' (1972) TV Movie ..... Frank Hogan
'Hec Ramsey' aka 'The Century Turns' (1972) TV movie pilot .... Hec Ramsey
'Have Gun Will Travel' (1957) TV Series .... Paladin (1957-1963)


Sunday, July 3, 2005


"Here's my report.
It's a bit of fun."
Keith Barrett
"The Keith Barrett Show"

Having only the one pair of eyes (and I still have my thumbs, so back off, Twiloites!), I can't see everything in the cause of Toobworld. And it triples in difficulty whne it comes to new additions for the TV Universe from other countries. I visit a lot of websites geared towards shows from Great Britain and Canada, a few from Australia and Ireland. I'd visit others, but I'm usually hampered by language barriers.

But it's never too late to add crossovers as soon as I finally do discover them. And I have one from the U.K. - 'The Keith Barrett Show'.

Here's a description from Ryan's British TV Show Reviews:

'The Keith Barret show' is a hilarious spin off from Rob Brydon's 'Marion and Geoff', where Keith Barret comes out of his car and onto a chat show.

Keith Barret interviews celebrity couples like Richard and Judy and Ronnie and Anne Corbett and the show works really well.

The comedy style is more accessible and less dark than 'Marion and Geoff', but its still really good. There are a few moments in the series that can be a little dull but there aren't many. Also, his constant use of his catchphrase 'It's a bit of fun' gets a little bit annoying after a while. Lets hope this series gets a DVD treatment.

Overall this is a great show, and its great to see the character Keith again. Its very funny and its worth checking out. As Keith would say, it's a bit of fun.

Here's what he thought about 'Marion & Geoff':

Ten minute shorts chronicling the story of a minicab driver inside his car recounting the breakup of his marriage to Marion (who remarried Geoff), which for some deluded reason he thinks there is still hope for.

Sad clueless gits have always been a mainstay of British comedy, and your tolerance for this will depend on how much masochism you can see a character inflict on himself in this one-man show.

And then for the prequel, 'A Small Summer Party':

A BBC one-off that is a prequel to 'Marion & Geoff', the ongoing saga of sad sack Keith (Rob Brydon) who can't get over his wife's new relationship. At last it is revealed the events leading up to their marriage breaking up, and we get to see the heretofore unseen Marion and Geoff, as well as Keith's children.

Still told in a semi-documentary style using camcorders and no laugh track, this deadpan comedy tests the viewer's patience to tolerate no-hope losers who don't see the obvious in front of them (in this case, Marion's flagrant affair with Geoff).

Of note is producer Steve Coogan's appearance as Geoff who, judging from appearances, might be worse off now that Marion is with him.

If you want to check out more of Ryan's views on Brit shows, here's the link to his site:

Like Ryan said in his review, with this new offering Keith joins the trend of trend of "Anybody can host a talk show" which gained popularity with 'The Kumars At No. 42'. And like the Kumars, as well as with Larry Sanders and Barth Gimble, there were plenty of real-life celebrities burnishing their memberships in the League of Themselves. (As a matter of fact, Keith and the Kumars share plenty of guests in common, like the husband and wife team of Richard & Judy, Ulrika Jonsson, and the great comedy legend Ronnie Corbett.)

Most of Keith's guests are presenters themselves in the world of British TV, - talk show hosts, game show emcees, music veejays. They help to expand the environs of Toobworld, but those types of links aren't very exciting.

But there are those who have appeared as themselves in fictional versions on sitcoms and drama series and those get my attention!

Here's a rundown of a few of his guests who helped to expand the TV Universe with the connections made by their tele-versions:

Episode: #1.1 - 5 July 2004
Judy Finnigan .... Herself ('The Kumars' & 'Absolutely Fabulous')
Richard Madeley .... Himself ('The Kumars' & 'Absolutely Fabulous')

Episode: #1.2 - 12 July 2004
Kerry Katona .... Herself (as Kerry McFadden) ('Bo Selecta')
Brian McFadden .... Himself ('Finbar's Class' & 'Bo Selecta')

Episode: #1.3 - 19 July 2004
Peter Stringfellow .... Himself ('Footballers' Wives')

Episode: #1.4 - 26 July 2004
Darren Day .... Himself ('Bob Martin')

Episode: #2.1 - 7 January 2005
Leslie Ash .... Herself ('Get Fit With Brittas')

Episode: #2.2 - 14 January 2005
Richard Whiteley .... Himself ('Emmerdale Farm' & 'My Family' & 'Fat Friends')
[Mr. Whiteley appeared in January of this year and just passed away at the end of June. As he was a legend in British broadcasting, tribute was paid him in the halls of government there.]

Episode: #2.5 - 4 February 2005
Eamonn Holmes .... Himself ('Give My Head Peace')

That guy Ryan has his own sources for getting tapes of British offerings, so I don't know if 'The Keith Barrett Show' is available for the rest of us. I suppose we have a shot to check it out if it was a BBC offering; then it might one day show up on BBC-America. For all I know, maybe it has already.....

At any rate, Keith Barrett is now qualified for entry into the Toobworld Crossover Hall of Fame!