Saturday, August 20, 2005


'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.....

Location: London, England
Date: 1941
Enemy: The Empty Child

After chasing a mysterious capsule through time, the TARDIS lands in London during an air raid, where Rose is swept off her feet, and lands in the arms of a time traveller called Captain Jack.

The Doctor, on the other hand, follows a girl to a meeting of the homeless children of the Blitz. Here a child in a gas mask is terrorizing them by tapping into phones and making all sorts of things happen, all the while crying out for his mummy.
[Thanks to]

London, 1941, at the height of the Blitz. A mysterious cylinder is being guarded by the army, while homeless children, living on the bombsites, are being terrorised by an unearthly child.

A mauve cylinder hurtles through space and Time with the TARDIS in hot pursuit (literally -- the Doctor burns his hand on the overheating console). According to the Doctor, mauve is the universally recognized code for danger; humans use red, but the rest of the Universe thinks that’s camp.

The Doctor has hacked into the cylinder’s flight computer and is following it, but the cylinder is jumping time tracks, making it difficult to lock onto. Whatever it is, it’s dangerous and it’s 30 seconds away from crashing down in the centre of London...
[Thanks to The Doctor Who Reference Guide]


In chasing down the Tula warship that Captain Jack Harkness deposited in London, it's never stated exactly where the TARDIS lands. Nor is the nightclub in which the Doctor seeks information... information... information... identified. And both those facts (or lack thereof) help my argument for this crossover.

Rose may eventually end up in Jack's Tula time-vessel and hovering outside of Big Ben, but she had been sailing over London at the end of a barrage balloon tether. Who knows where she originally started her journey?

It's going to be my contention that they began this adventure in the East End of London.

When the TARDIS crossed paths with Jack's ship, I think it created a confluence of time-stream energies churned up by the conflicting nature of the technology from both vessels. The Doctor was using Gallifreyan equipment, while Jack depended on Tula tech. Although the basic energy from the time-space continuum was the same, it was altered by each of these time-ships and then created something new - a permanent vortex near to the site where the TARDIS landed.

For most of the two-part episode (concluding the following week in "The Doctor Dances"), the TARDIS remains in a back alleyway. This is where the temporal wormhole establishes itself. And I believe this alleyway is none other than Duckett's Passage, through which Gary Sparrow was able to travel back in Time from the 1990s to the London of 1941 in 'Goodbye, Sweetheart'.

Since it was pretty well established in this series of 'Doctor Who' that the Time Lord never hung around long enough to see his meddling all the way through to its conclusions, it's not surprising that he never noticed that he had left behind a Time Vortex in Duckett's Passage. And obviously Jack wasn't going to look into it, nor would he have cared, really.

And so Gary Sparrow - TV repairman in the 90s, singer of Beatles tunes in the 40s - was able to take advantage of the rift in Time to easily jump into bed with his wartime mistress Phoebe before going back home to his shrew of a wife Yvonne.

A place often frequented by Gary and Phoebe during the Blitz was the Royal Oak, and it's also my contention that this was the same nightclub in which the Doctor hoped to find out where the Tula warship had crashed.

(As a further crossover, I think this is the same nightclub visited by Sgt. Hanley - he had yet to receive his commission to Lieutenant - on "A Day In June" three years later in the pilot episode of 'Combat'.)

"I think perhaps your logic is wearing a little thin."
The 2nd Doctor
'Doctor Who' - "Tomb Of The Cybermen"

After the problems I've had in trying to make the argument for my crossovers with "Rose" and "Aliens In London"/"World War Three" and see them basically go up in smoke, it's nice to think that this one should be pretty safe.

Even better, there's this plot description for one of the very last episodes in the series:

'Goodnight, Sweetheart' - "Just in Time"
When a workman arrives from the far future to mend a hole in the space-time corridor, Gary must decide where his future lies.
[Thanks to]

It's my belief that this workman was one of the Time Agents with whom Captain Jack was formally associated. And that will lead to the next perfect crossover for next week's episode of "The Doctor Dances".


Friday, August 19, 2005


My crossover compadre Thom Holbrook has updated his great Crossovers & Spinoffs page (link found to the left). And he has a great article detailing how 'Battlestar Galactica' (the new version) should be linked to 'Firefly', all based on an in-joke:

And I'm more than willing to accept it. The new version of 'Battlestar Galactica' may be the better show, but I relegated it to Earth Prime-Time Delay where all the remakes of TV shows exist. (At least the first remake attempts.) The original show just worked better in connection to Earth Prime-Time. And besides, it does have that great connection to 'McCloud' (Grover played by Ken Lynch) and 'Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman' (UBS TV network from 'America 2Night') via 'Galactica 1980'.

Besides, I really wasn't too keen on trying to find a place in the main TV Universe to wedge in 'Firefly'. Its view of the future didn't seem to gel with a more generic vision which could easily house 'Star Trek', 'Babylon 5', and 'Doctor Who'.

It's the same problem I have with shows like 'Andromeda', 'Planet Of The Apes', and others.

Visit Thom's site. The power of crossovers compels you!



"The Empty Child", the ninth episode of the new 'Doctor Who' series, introduces us to one of the most interesting characters to not only appear in the "Whoniverse", but in all of sci-fi Television: Captain Jack Harkness.

On paper, Captain Jack might seem like a stock character. He's a charming swindler from the 51st Century, a former "Time Agent" who's way with words (not to mention his way with women... and men) has helped him to escape several near-death experiences in the past. His former employers wiped out two years of his memory and it scares him as to what he might have done during that period. So he's turned against the Time Agents and gone rogue, supporting himself as a con man with a bit o' thieving on the side.

Reduced to its basics like that, there's really nothing about Jack Harkness we haven't seen before.

The wisecracking adventurer? O'Neill (NOT McNeil - thanks, WSN!) in 'Stargate SG-1'.
The time-traveling trickster? Berlinghoff Rasmussen in an episode of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'.
The man who fears the lost memories of his past? Michael Alden of 'Coronet Blue'.

There's an added twist to his character to which I alluded above: Captain Jack Harkness is bisexual, flirting with both Rose and the Doctor as well as with Davitch Pavale and Lynda with a Y on the Gamestation, and with Algy during the London Blitz of 1941.

But even that isn't what sets him above many others in the registrar of TV sci-fi characters. In fact, it shouldn't matter at all. At one point the Doctor points out to Rose that Jack is from the 51st Century, when the human race is well out into Space and meeting and er.... "meating" alien races (much to Lady Cassandra O'Brien's chagrin). So it would only be natural for Society's perceptions to have expanded and become more enlightened. In such a world, Jack would never feel the need to be choosy about whom he "dances with".

I just hope we don't have to wait that long for it to happen.

So it's all of those qualities in his nature combined that keep Jack from being the dull boy. But still and all, that could be found on the printed page of the script. Everybody - even the characters from 'Homeboys In Outer Space' could look good on paper.

For Jack, what was needed was the right actor who could fulfill all those cliches: someone to breathe life into the role; someone to pick up the ball and run with it; someone who makes the role so much his own that it would inconceivable for anybody else to come along and play it.

Someone like John Barrowman.

I believe that sometimes an actor will be working on a role and must think to himself: "This will the role for which I'll always be remembered."

I like to think that James Cromwell was thinking that as he danced freely and wildly in Farmer Hoggett's living room for "Babe". And the same goes for Jimmy Stewart as he filibustered in "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" and as he ran down the streets of Bedford Falls in "It's A Wonderful Life".

I think it would apply to John Barrowman as well. That when presented with the opportunity to play Jack, he saw his chance to make his mark in Toobworld. You can practically feel his exuberance flooding his scenes without ever going totally over the top into hamminess.

Not many performers could say that. In sci-fi, Ricardo Montalban in "Star Trek: The Wrath Of Khan" is a master at this. John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness can stand in his company.

As a televisiologist intent on the alternate reality of the TV Universe, I shouldn't be even recognizing the actors who bring these roles to life. But I thought Barrowman merited the moment in this spotlight.

And I'm probably not the only one to think so. The two-parter of "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances" could have been his only showcase in the series. The story's ending could have gone in a decidedly different direction!

I don't know if Russell T. Davies conceived of the character and then let someone else write the episodes, but he must have known how... fanTASTic Jack was because he remained as the Doctor's latest companion to the end of this series run.

It's possible that Jack may come back in the show. John Barrowman seems to think he will, but Outpost Gallifrey reports that he will not appear at all in the 2006 season of the series.

And you know what? If he does come back, I hope it's for a very short stay.

That's right, I only want him hanging about long enough to launch his own spin-off from the series!

RTD has done an incredible job of reinvigorating 'Doctor Who' so that it's no longer the zipper-up-the-back rubber monster joke it had sadly become, but instead is arguably the most exciting SF program on TV today. But even so, it has the weight of the traditional trappings upon it and there's not much chance to escape considering it's basically regarded as a children's program. (For example - the BBC scotched the original plans for Jack's "costume" (or lack thereof) in "Bad Wolf" and they forced the showrunners to scale back the transformation of Dr. Constantine in "The Empty Child" so as not to scare the wee ones.)

But spinning off Jack Harkness to his own show could free up RTD to tell time travel stories which he could never do on 'Doctor Who'. And Jack Harkness would be the first secondary character from the show who could really make a spin-off series work. (Sorry, K-9 and Sarah Jane Smith!)

So here's a tip of my Toob top hat to Captain Jack Harkness with hopes we might one day see him zipping through the relative dimensions of Time and Space in his own show.

That would be fanTASTic!


Thursday, August 18, 2005


Today marks the fiftieth anniversary for the second major event in my life. No, not my circumcision; there could NEVER be anything major about that. ::sigh::

On this date all hell broke loose in the Naugatuck Valley in Connecticut. After two hurricanes slammed the area one right after the other, the dams burst and washed away much of the region. At least 75 people perished that day, and there are many places from Winsted down to Bridgeport that still bear witness to the devastation.

There's a picture of me as a two-month old seated on a manhole cover in Winsted, with my Dad standing next to the manhole tube and holding me up. All around him, Main Street had been washed away.

Our cottage survived the rising waters of Highland Lake, although it did reach the top of the porch. But our good fortune was at the expense of all those in the town below as the lake surged over the area where the spillways are now and made the name of the Mad River below totally appropriate.

There can still be seen watermark levels on some of the industrial buildings that lined that river on Main Street in Winsted. But on the whole, despite the damage that town sustained, at least they were basically the headwaters. Towns further down the Valley - Thomaston, Naugatuck, Ansonia - were hit far worse.

I don't know if this will reach any Connecticut readers in time, but CPTV, Connecticut's public television station will broadcast a special on the Flood of '55 tonight at 8 pm EST.

I've always thought the tragedy would have made for an excellent movie of the week - a deadly natural disaster, small towns, probably some interesting New England characters.

Perhaps one day it will be.

In the meantime, a search of Google News turns up plenty of articles today about the "Flood of 55". And these sites will also yield stories and pictures of interest:



I thought I was the only one who rushed off to the IMDb whenever someone's TV credentials are invoked.

Check out this op-ed piece about that alleged murder suspect in California, who claimed to be a series regular on 'Mighty Morphin Power Rangers':

The idea that some sicko might trumpet any possible link to celeb-hood as a defense tactic would make for a great storlyine in a David E. Kelley production. And I'll bet the actual murder - tying the victims to the anchor of a yacht and tossing them overboard alive - will show up not only in 'Law & Order', but on 'CSI: Miami' as well.


Monday, August 15, 2005


Relax. It's not what you think.....

The first season of 'McCloud' has come out on DVD and I plan to pick it up. It's a guilty pleasure, true, but I've also heard that in the pilot episode, Marshal McCloud rode his horse through the lobby of my place of employ. So I'd like to see if that's true.

Besides, I always get a kick out of TV shows and movies that jumble NYC locations altogether. And of course, 'McCloud' had many great guest stars.

Today, Channel 55 out of Long Island showed an episode of 'McCloud' as their afternoon movie. And it served as the perfect example of those great guest stars: Burgess Meredith, Vic Morrow, Moses Gunn, Joyce Van Patten, Alfred Ryder, Lou Frizell, and Allen Garfield. All but Frizell (who played a detective) were in a gang of drug smugglers working under the cover of the Tranquil Valley Mortuaries, just outside of NYC.

Of course, Marshal McCloud was able to bring an end to their activities. And as he and Chief Peter Clifford were walking out of the lavish estate grounds upon which Tranquil Valley was located, a voice-over announced that the gates of Tranquil Valley would open again at nine in the morning... under new management.

Any guesses as to who that new management would be?

Prove me wrong, but I think Tranquil Valley would have been one of the first acquisitions for the Kroner Corporation as they went national.

A classic Missing Link!

For the next thirty years or so, Kroner would become the country's leading mortuary conglomerate. And as such, they became the Goliath of nemeses to Fischer & Sons Mortuary in Los Angeles. But eventually they collapsed under their own internal weight of greed and corruption.

('McCloud' & 'Six Feet Under')


"It is not good to speak of the Dead.
If they hear you talk about them,
They come in the night to steal your eyes."
'The Wild, Wild West'


The concept of Toobworld is a fluid one; it has to be. Shows will come along in the future which will cause necessary rewrites to the TV Universe backstory already in place. New characters added into historical situations, alterations to the personal histories of various characters (this especially happens in soap operas), and recasting of characters - these are some of the more prevalent reasons we have to go back and change a previously held position.

And then there are the times when we just plain get it wrong.

With the very first crossover article I wrote about the new 'Doctor Who' series, starring Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor, I tried to make the argument that it could be connected to 'Queer As Folk', the UK version. I thought it would be a cool way to mark the two shows produced by Russell T. Davies. If I remember correctly, I used as one reason the fact that the Doctor had a "Northern" accent, as in from Manchester, the locale of "QAF".

I know. Pretty weak.

But even better, one of the main characters was named Vince Tyler, and I proposed that he was cousins with the character of "Rose".

There would have been one glitch, however. Vince was described as being a total 'Doctor Who' nut. Not having seen the show, I thought one way to avoid this Zonk! would be to argue that he was obsessed with the online web-site about the Doctor which was run by Clive, as seen in that first episode.

Well.... Now I've seen the first two parts of the UK version of 'Queer As Folk'.

And that Zonk! has sunk me.

In the first installment, Vince got set up on a date with a girl from work who fancied him, never realizing he was gay. And even though she was not about to make him change teams, he was having a good time talking to her. And it all began with a conversation about how 'Coronation Street' ending up going head-to-head in the TV skeds against 'Doctor Who'.

To make matters worse, one of the guys in their party acted out the part of a Dalek: "Exterminate! Exterminate!"

The Internet is popular and getting more so all the time, but you don't see that type of acknowledgement of its content as popular culture. It's got a long way to go before its references are considered as widely accepted as those from TV and the movies.

I would like to keep that family tree connection for the Tylers. And just throwing out the first idea to pop into my head, I'm wondering if it's feasible to think that maybe there was a TV show in the TV Universe which was based on the "real life" exploits of the Doctor.

After all, he was known on Earth (although not in a general sense). And even though UNIT might have tried to keep his involvement with them a secret, we know from Deep Throat & Watergate and the Downing Street Memo that nothing remains secret for long.

Somebody, some screen-writing version of Carl Kolchak, might have nabbed a copy of the "X-Files" from UNIT which dealt with the Doctor and found them to be so fantastic that they based a TV series on him. And what do we know of that series (at least so far in my viewing) but that his enemies included the Daleks. I don't think any appearance/invasion by the Daleks on Earth Prime-Time could be that completely covered up that ordinary people had no knowledge of it.

Otherwise, there's always my backup plan: ditch 'Queer As Folk' altogether and go with a different show to connect with the episode "Rose".

And the show I have in mind? 'Grace & Favour', the sequel to 'Are You Being Served?'.

Here's how it works - between the two "comedies" (I've seen them; the quotation marks are deserved!), Young Mr. Grace died in a scuba accident. The Grace Brothers Department Store went out of business by 1991, and the staff left to run a manor house hotel in the country.

So between 1991 and 2005, the building which previously housed Grace Brothers was sold to the department store company Henrik's. And this was the company Rose Tyler was working for when she was attacked by the Autons and where she first met the Doctor.

It can't be proven, and even better, it can't be disproved.

And you know what I could do.... Based on the spoiler photos that have been coming out for the Christmas episode, "The Christmas Invasion", there will be some key scenes taking place at Henrik's Department Store. So if I can't find something better, I'll keep 'Grace & Favour' on stand-by in case of emergency.

It's always nice to have a backup.


Sunday, August 14, 2005


It's always nice when family members come back to visit......

According to the fan club list for her official website, (which I found mentioned at the Outpost Gallifrey site), actress Zoe Wanamaker, is set to make a repeat appearance during the second series of 'Doctor Who'.

She appeared in the second episode of the latest series, "The End Of The World", as Lady Cassandra O'Brien, probably a future relation of my tele-version. When I wrote about this episode a few weeks ago I mentioned how much I hoped we would see her again in one form or another.

I'm hoping she'll be returning as an earlier version of Lady Cassandra, but as of now, it is unclear as to whether or not she will reprise the role, do voiceover or be seen in the flesh (what's left of it), or perhaps something else entirely.

Ms. Wanamaker is apparently taking part in the series early in the season, possibly in the first episode. (I'm not sure if that's a reference to the Christmas special or not.)



Oscar winner Jon Voight has replaced Ian Holm in the CBS miniseries about Pope John Paul II.

The four-hour miniseries, working under the straightforward title "Pope John Paul II," has begun production in Krakow, Poland, and will later shoot in Vatican City.

Holm, who was originally set to play the late pope as an older man, dropped out of the project for "personal reasons," CBS says.

Voight, a four-time Oscar nominee and best actor winner in 1979 for "Coming Home," will now take on the role of John Paul during his papacy. Cary Elwes is playing Karol Wojtyla as a younger man.

Also in the cast will be James Cromwell, Ben Gazzara, and Charles Dance.

If only the recasting involved getting Elijah Wood to play the younger Wojtyla. Then I could have used the headline "Il Papa's Got A Brand New Baggins"......

I figure I'm already in dutch with my church, so what the bleep.