Saturday, December 30, 2006



This will be my last post of the year, as I'll be away from Toobworld Central for the day tomorrow. So I thought I'd take this moment to dismantle one last Zonk threat to the integrity of the TV Universe....

"You're a suburban dentist, not Tony Soprano."
"We both kill people."
'My Family'

For the benefit of the audience viewing at home, that was meant to be just a joke reference to HBO's 'The Sopranos', which I guess has found a home on British TV. But within their own reality, Tony Soprano is a real American mobster who has gained fame - and infamy! - not just in New Jersey, but in England as well.

This shouldn't be a surprise, as American gangsters, both real and imagined, have long held the attention of the world. I'll bet that even in Calcutta, people know of Al Capone, Don Corleone, and John Gotti.

So why not Tony Soprano? He's certainly gaining more notoriety even as he tries to maintain a low profile behind the scenes in the mob. But after being shot and nearly murdered by his uncle Corrado Soprano, Tony's story was broadcast as news and probably transmitted across the wires to be picked up by news services all around the globe, if they desired.

Therefore, Ben and Susan Harper would have heard of Tony Soprano and his reputation as a mobster, and so both of them were able to play off of that.

And therefore, no Zonk!

Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 28, 2006


It's the end of the year as we view it, and time once again to present the Toobits!

The Toobits are my little awards for those achievements that best represented the TV Universe.

These are not meant to be seen necessarily as the best in quality when it comes to direction, acting or their scripts. I'll leave that to other end-of-the-year lists and awards. The Toobits celebrate those characters and programs that helped to expand and connect the TV Universe. The show could be total drek (and I don't think any of my choices fall into that category, really - well, not totally), but if they can keep the Great Link thrumming then they're just as worthy as anything written by an up-and-coming Paddy Chayevsky.

Last year I disqualified a lot of shows that came over from England because they were from years earlier; they just didn't get seen here in the U.S. in time for qualifying for 2005. Since then I realized that I would always be discriminating against some high quality productions that have provided marvelous material for Toobworld.

So instead, this year the only qualification is that it had to debut on American screens in 2006, since I am the only arbiter when it comes to the choices. I accept that those imported programs will have occurred in Toobworld history at an earlier date, but I'm dealing with a personal, Real World timeline when it comes to judging them.

So "Casanova" and 'Murder City' and the 'Jericho' starring Robert Lindsey could be considered, even though they were produced and shown in Great Britain earlier than 2006. ("Casanova" and 'Jericho' obviously would have to be placed far earlier on the Toobworld timeline anyway.)

Several categories from last year have been dropped; others have been added. The Toobits will always be in flux, depending on the needs of that year.

So with all that out of the way, here's a review of the best new shows and characters (no reruns!) serving the greater glory of Toobworld in 2006: Some of these should be o'bvious as to why I chose them, but for many of the categories I have added my two bits about the Toobits.

Sorry about that, Chief. Couldn't resist.

By the way, there is a spoiler in here for the American audiences. I'll give you fair warning to look away when the time comes......

: '30 Rock'
Being set in the televersion of NBC, rather than some fake TV network, '30 Rock' has already taken advantage of a guest appearance by Cousin Conan. I'd be surprised if NBC's indomitable workhorse, Jay Leno, doesn't eventually show up in the hallways of 'The Girlie Show'. Or maybe even Lorne Michaels! And it's a great show for plugging other NBC shows - they already did a fantastic job for the GE trivection oven!
DRAMA: 'Heroes'
It didn't take them long to make an actual crossover - with 'Las Vegas' via the Montecito. I'll be curious to see what other shows may be in store for a ride on this phenom's coat-tails. ('Scrubs' might even jump on the bandwagon. And Masi Oka's appearance on 'Studio 60' will be just cross-promotional, not a crossover.)

Runners-up: 'Kyle XY' & 'Eureka'

David Tennant has a sensibility that seems to say "I know I'm not the real Casanova, I am the legend." And even then, he knows he's the legend for the TV Universe.

'The Lost Room'
After six hours, there were still nearly 100 objects we never got to see from that motel room.

Or did we, but in some other show?

Think of all those magical objects we've seen in shows like 'The Twilight Zone' or 'Friday The Thirteenth - The Series': shoes, a stopwatch, a radio, a diary. Could they have been present at the event of May 4th, 1961? And where else might we find some of these objects? Could Van Stratten ('Doctor Who' - "Dalek") be a Collector? Could one of the objects have crossed the ocean and found itself tucked away in the warrens of 'Torchwood'?

'Life On Mars'
This will be a finite series, wrapping it all up with the second season. I have no clue as to which direction it will take but don't you wish it's actually happening? I want "The Gene Genie" and sweet Annie Cartwright to be real, dammit!

'The West Wing'
With all the roadblocks against them, from a lack of Aaron Sorkin's input to the death of John Spencer, they were still able to rise above the obstacles and deliver a very moving send-off.

'Prime Suspect'
It wasn't just the fact that Jane Tennyson was able to return and wrap up her career in Toobworld. They also brought back an integral character from the show's earlier seasons. Sadly, had they waited, it would have been too late.......

As I mentioned earlier, it gave History the playful sheen of television, which is why I chose it over 'Elizabeth I'.

My only regret - the real-life meeting between Casanova and Ben Franklin was never dramatized. It would have been nice to see Tom Bosley assay the role one last time; not sure who else might have filled his shoes....

Runner-Up: 'Doctor Who' ("Tooth And Claw" & "The Girl In The Fireplace")

Some episodes have been a bit off, and the team can be the 21st Century equivalent to 'F Troop' at times. But it's always been gripping, since we know no one is safe. And it's one spin-off that isn't just a carbon copy of the show that spawned it. Even with references back to 'Doctor Who', 'Torchwood' has gone off on its own original path.

They couldn't even bother to stick on the 'Law & Order' prefix. And no good splainin as to how ADA Cabot was back from the protection program.


Just a note here - what won me over this year was the lack of blatant promotion for many of the crossovers chosen. They were usually in-jokes, subtle references to other shows.
'The Wire' & 'Homicide: Life On The Street'
A mention of Junior Bunk

'Studio 60' & 'Brothers & Sisters'
Kitty works for NBS

'Las Vegas' & 'The Office'
Dunder-Mifflin had a conference at the Montecito

'The O.C.' & 'Grey's Anatomy'
A character from California was going to work at Seattle Grace

'Heroes' & 'Las Vegas'
Ando and Hiro were at the Montecito

'Boston Legal' & 'Cheers'
Shirley and Ivan had dinner at Melville's restaurant above the bar

'Las Vegas' & 'Crossing Jordan'
Too many times to the well for these shows, going way beyond coincidence. But the deciding factor was in broadcasting the second half of a crossover on 'Las Vegas' when 'Crossing Jordan' hasn't even returned to the schedule yet to present the first part!

'Bleak House'

COMEDY: Jack Donaghy - '30 Rock'
He's dating Condoleeza Rice. His mentor is Jack Welch. He went to Ann Coulter's 60th birthday party. For that one alone - and for making it FACT in the TV Universe - he should be rewarded. Bwahahahaha!
DRAMA: Hiro Nakamura - 'Heroes'
Already he has one crossover under his belt with his visit to the Montecito. Will we eventually see him in the audience at 'TGS with Tracy Jordan'?

David Swain - 'InJustice'
Kyle - 'Kyle XY'

- Kitty Walker, 'Brothers & Sisters'
Sally Field as Nora Walker is the more interesting character, but Kitty works for NBS, which means she links to 'Studio 60'!
COMEDY - Betty Suarez, 'Ugly Betty'

- Frank Reynolds, 'It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia'
DRAMA - DCI Gene Hunt, 'Life On Mars'

- Thelma, 'Hex'
Even if she can't stay a teen ghost forever, ghosts don't always have to be seen. We could always just hear her voice doing a bit of haunting in another series.....
COMEDY - S.A.R.A.H. (the smart house), 'Eureka'


Martin Landau - Bob Ryan, 'Entourage'
Frances Sternhagen - Willi Rae Johnson, 'The Closer'

Reinette Poisson, Madame de Pompadour ('Doctor Who' - "The Girl In The Fireplace")

Sally Kellerman, 'The Minor Accomplishments Of Jackie Woodman'

PC Guy and Mac Guy - Apple Mac

Sarah Jane Smith & K9, 'Doctor Who' ("School Reunion")

Sam Seaborn 'The West Wing'
Dr. Noah Drake, 'General Hospital'
Robert Scorpio, 'General Hospital'
Holly Sutton, 'General Hospital'
Anna Devane, 'General Hospital'
Patch 'Days Of Our Lives'
Kayla 'Days Of Our Lives'
Cassie Newman 'The Young & The Restless'
Jordan Callier, 'The 4400'

'Eureka', Oregon

Elmo, Alaska, 'Men In Trees'
Sunshine Motel, New Mexico, 'The Lost Room'

Allttel phone service blending TMobile, Verizon, and Sprint

'So NoTORIous'

President Charles Logan - '24'

Runner-up: Lincoln Meyer, 'Boston Legal'

Isabelle, 'The 4400'

Runner-up: The Empress of Racnoss, 'Doctor Who': "The Runaway Bride'


"Drop your weapons!
You are surrounded by armed bastards!"
DCI Gene Hunt
'Life On Mars'

"I don't know what is more disquieting,
the fact that the statue is missing
or that it has four toes."
Sayid Jarrah

Okay, spoiler alert! Best to skip over these next few awards.....

Peter Petrelli, 'Heroes'

Rose Tyler, 'Doctor Who'

Mr. Eko, 'Lost'

FBI Agent Graham Kelton, 'Vanished'
Suzy Costello, 'Torchwood'
Reasoning for both: No one is safe!

Mr. Eko, 'Lost'
Reasoning: As highly dramatic as it was to see Mr. Eko be battered to death by the smoke monster, we ended up losing one of the most interesting and charismatic characters on TV this season.

'Studio 60'
Although the scripts have been getting better, nothing will erase the bad taste in my mouth from episodes 2 through about 5. Aaron Sorkin has the makings for an interesting behind the scenes look at a TV show. What he needs to do now is to let it go, let others write it instead. Otherwise, he's going to stay on his soapbox to get revenge against everybody who's wronged him.

Runner-up: 'The Nine'
The only saving grace to this show was the performance of John Billingsley as Egan Foote. Just for his introductory scene in the bank as he applies for a loan, Mr. Billingsley should get nominated for an Emmy.

So those are the 2006 Toobits. As always with lists like this, somebody might take umbrage at my choices over other candidates. If so, let me know what you thought. I won't change my choices, but I'd still like to hear what you liked/disliked.


The Stage's TV Today has their awards for the most interesting TV characters of the year. They can be found

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


And if all is right with the world, then agents in Hollywood should be ringing up Karen Zautyk in order to buy the rights to the story she wrote about the First Christmas, which was featured in yesterday's edition of the New York Daily News.

Ms. Zautyk is a member of the Daily News editorial staff, and the editorial page featured her bedtime story about a scared little lamb in the manger who came to play a vital role in the life of Baby Jesus.

No, not as chops and kabobs, you sick puppies!

I read "O Little Lamb, Who Made Thee?" and the first notion that came to mind was that it would make for a great holiday special - with classic animation or stop-motion puppetry or even 'Shrek'-like computer animation.

"O Little Lamb Of Bethlehem" would make for a great title. And there would be some choice voice-over roles to be found among the other animals in the manger for a few stars with recognizable voices.

Hopefully, the Daily News will see fit to run this story every year, so that it will gain classic status. But in the meantime, if you wish to read it for yourselves, click here.


Monday, December 25, 2006


"It's Christmas, Toby...."
Dwight Schrute
'The Office'

Yes. Yes, it is.....

When there's holly in the halls,
And the wreath's upon the wall,
When the night is filled with fallen snow...
And the candles are set forth
And the star shines in the north,
Upon a quiet world below...

Then you know it's Christmas time,
By the laughter everywhere...
Then you know it's Christmas time,
By the magic in the air.

When a tree is brought inside,
With its branches spreading wide,
Fresh from summer sun, and winter snow...
When it shimmers silver bright
With tiny stars of light,
When it's hung with bells and balls and bows...

Then you know it's Christmas time,
By the laughter everywhere...
Then you know it's Christmas time,
By the magic in the air.

Santa Claus
'The Great Santa Claus Switch'

Written by Jerry Juhl
Music by Joe Raposo
Special thanks to
Tough Pigs for the transcription.

Merry Christmas and all the best for 2007 from all of me at Toobworld Central!


Sunday, December 24, 2006



Well, well, well......

Here it is, Christmas Eve, and you still don't have a gift for that special someone on your list.

Okay. Here's the thing. If you're reading this blog on a regular basis, you can count yourself as a televisiologist. And if that special someone is also a televisiologist, well! Not only are you a very lucky git, but I have just the gift idea that you'll enjoy just as much as they will.

Of course, they won't be getting it in time for Christmas, but hey! You're a televisiologist! Surely you've watched enough TV in your lifetime to have figured out a way to get out of that potential argument!

In the meantime, order the book "Christmas On Television" by Newsday TV columnist and special Christmas episode junkie Diane Werts.

Here's a description of the book from Greenwood Publishing:

Christmas just isn't Christmas without Christmas on TV. Whether it's the made-for-television specials of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Frosty the Snowman," a "M*A*S*H*" Christmas in Korea, Kramer playing Santa on "Seinfeld," or the annual holiday disaster on "The Simpsons" or "South Park," television's many representations of this beloved holiday have become as essential a part of our holiday season as lights, gifts, or mistletoe. In this entertaining chronicle of television and the Christmas season, former Television Critics Association President Diane Werts weaves discussion of the many programs that have appeared during the holiday season throughout the years with interviews with writers, producers, and stars. Not only are readers given a chance to re-live their favorite holiday moments on TV, but also to gain illuminating cultural insights into the increasingly strong bond that unites these two American traditions.

For more reviews of the book by other TV critics as well as noted TV producer and writer Lee Goldberg, click here:

If I may, I'd like to suggest that you order the book through TV Shows On DVD, so that they might benefit from you supporting their sponsors. That's a great website that really goes the extra mile to find out all the details about the upcoming releases of your favorite shows on DVD.

My only complaint about "Christmas On Television" is that it was outdated as soon as it was published. So long as there are TV shows being produced (which have a life expectancy past thirteen weeks!), there will always be new Christmas episodes expanding the TV Universe in one way or another. (And this book has all those categories neatly assembled!)

I get the feeling that Ms. Werts will update the book again in a few years, as happens with the various TV encyclopediae. In the meantime, she hasn't lost her enthusiasm for the topic since writing the book as she still writes up a complete list of Christmas episodes and where/when to find them - even when they're outside her readers' viewing area. (She urged her readers to find somebody in Philadelphia to tape the vintage episodes - from Jack Benny to Ozzie and Harriet - that were going to be broadcast down there this holiday.)

Okay, guys - you say your special someone isn't that into Television. Well, normally I'd say dump the frakkin' grinch (I didn't actually type "grinch") and find someone who better understands you; someone you can more easily assimilate..

But it's Christmas. Not enough time to really go out and find a replacement for some under-the-mistletoe canoodling. So you better go for broke with what you've got and save the CSI scenario for a later date.

I'm not reporting anything new here - this Christmas gift suggestion has swept the Internet like wildfire in just one week, with even play by play analysis about its creation in the New York Times.

I am, of course, referring to the music video "Dick In A Box" from 'Saturday Night Live'. Let Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake show you exactly how to please that special someone with your personal Yule Log.

You want to wrap a bow around it, that's your business.....

You can find the video uncensored at either or at

Okay, so that's our inaugural Twelve Days of Christmas in Toobworld for 2006. If you enjoyed it half as much as I did in preparing it, then I had twice as much fun as you did. Sounds fair.

So as the Two Ronnies might have said,

It's Merry Christmas from me, and it's Merry Christmas from him.....

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2006



In Toobworld, the most prevalent source for Santa Claus sightings are in the commercials, the blipverts. I think it's safe to say that Santa has been invoked more often to sell products than Abe Lincoln and George Washington combined.

My tele-buddy Hugh Davis might argue that all of these Santas are the same St. Nick and that they all belong in the "Ad-verse", his coined name for a TV universe that is made up only of TV commercials. Sometimes, there are blipverts that are too difficult to realistically squeeze into the logical confines of the main Toobworld, but for the most part I'd rather keep them all in either Earth Prime-Time or one of its alternate dimensions, rather than a whole new universe like Skitlandia or the Tooniverse. (Otherwise, we'd lose out on all of the characters and the physics-warping attributes those commercials provide.)

For me, the greatest of all the Santa Clauses in TV commercials exists in the alternate dimension where we'd also find Gumby and Pokey, Davey and Goliath, Moral Orel, and all of the characters from 'Robot Chicken' and those Rankin-Bass puppetoons - the clay/stop motion Toobworld.

It's a classic, truly vintage blipvert that has to be up there in the top ten of holiday advertisements: Santa Claus riding downhill on a Norelco triple-headed razor. (One of my favorite Christmas cards which I've sent out over the last few years shows Santa riding the wrong side of the razor!)

Another one that's been popular the last few years shows Santa Claus and the M&M candy guys finally facing each other and realizing that they each exist. Okay, I know I'm a bit of a simpleton, but watching Santa and Red faint because of their encounter never gets old for me.

So far as I'm concerned, this is another example of the main Toobworld Santa Claus, employing yet another disguise in case he met some humans in the house. He just never expected to find a couple of anthropomorphized candy snacks.

For this holiday TV season, there are three commercials featuring Santa Claus which I'd like to examine....

One of these blipverts is for Loew's, the helpful hardware place and we see Santa Claus outside the store examining his list. You can see what's coming long before it happens, as there's a terribly strong wind swirling all about St. Nick. The wind grabs the list out of Santa's hands and blows it away. Luckily a Loew's employee is there to suggest that Santa give out Loew's gift cards instead.

That guy better be getting a major promotion from the home office!

But then again, I don't think that's the real Santa Claus. I would think that a Spirit - practically a demi-god! - like Santa, who could deliver all of the toys in one night and use magic to get into people's houses, would be able to bend the winds to his will and force the list to come floating back to his hands.

I'm thinking that this was just some ordinary Joe who was a bit eccentric; someone who enjoyed doing his Christmas shopping dressed as Santa Claus, to fully celebrate in keeping with the spirit of the season. And when he lost his list, he substituted with the gift cards which would all be charged to his credit card, like any other guy would do.

The other interpretation of Santa Claus is a little more troubling when it comes to a Toobworld overview. Taken on its own, it should be considered warm, tender, and loving: Santa goes shopping for something special for the little lady, and he gets her diamonds. (My memory is shot nowadays, but I'm thinking this was an ad for Kay Jewelers. It might have been for Zayle's....)

In the end, Santa ans his woman are all cozy in their hideaway, and you know he's going to get some good lovin' that night because of his thoughtful gift. Like I said, all warm and tender, right?


Thanks to a TV movie which starred Angela Lansbury and Charles Durning, Mrs. Claus of the main Toobworld must resemble a certain mystery novelist from Cabot Cove, Maine. And I don't think that the Missus shares the same metamorphing ability as her husband.

So although Santa Claus could be the one for the main Toobworld, as played by Charles Durning (but this time in disguise), that wouldn't be Mrs. Claus. That SHOULDN'T be Mrs. Claus!

If this was the main Toobworld, then it looks like Santa is gifting his mistress with a little holiday bling.

Not the image a company would want to foster in Toobworld, even if they cared that such an interpretation of the TV Universe existed.

So here's my proposal - o'bviously, this is a Santa Claus from an alternate dimension. He could still look like Charles Durning, but just happened to still be wearing the visage he assumed to visit the jewelery store at the mall. As for the woman in the advert, she would be Mrs. Claus, but not the same woman to be found in the main Toobworld. Here, the dimension had a divergence based on the choice Santa made when it came to matters of the heart.

Finally, there's yet another blipvert in which I totally forget what the product is. (This may be more the failing of the advertising company to burn the product's name into my memory than it is of my memory itself.)

Santa and one of his elves have been pulled over to the side of the road by a police officer. When Santa can't produce his driver's license or his registration, the commercial warns us that we'll probably be on our own when it comes to providing presents.

I have no problem with this being the Santa Claus of the main Toobworld; and it provides the jolly old elf with a new adventure (albeit 30 seconds in length!) for 2006, to go along with his cameo appearance at the end of the Christmas episode of 'Las Vegas' this year.

We don't learn who the elf is, but he's definitely not Gumdrop, the serlinguistic elf who addresses us from the big red chair in the blipvert for Radio Shack. I don't know who that actor is, but he isn't bad. I could see him assaying the role of one of Dr. Loveless' descendants someday......

(If I find out the names of the sponsors for these blipverts, I'll come back in and edit this piece.)

As Stan Freberg used to sing, Christmas comes but once a year so you better make hay while the snow is falling. So, in keeping with the spirit of this seasonal post, there's only one way to sign off. Instead of my usual "BCnU!", may I just say....

Buy Buy!

Friday, December 22, 2006


Now, my friends, I will show you
the way the real Santa Claus should look.
Please! As if there was such a person as Santa Claus,
which is of course absolutely ridiculous in a people's democracy
Chairman Georgi Koz
'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.'

As mentioned earlier, there have been many incarnations of the "Real" Santa Claus on Television. Many of those to be found in TV series, ('Bewitched', 'Batman', 'Las Vegas', and 'The Love Boat', for example) are all the same St. Nick, but with a different appearance for each occasion.

But there are Santas out there who must find their home at the North Pole of alternate TV dimensions. In this, they are no different from the many portrayals of other historical characters, like John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, and Frankenstein's Monster.

In my second posting for the season, I used Art Carney's interpretation in three different productions as the reason to make his residence in the evil mirror universe. As to where these other Kris Kringles should be located, I'll leave that as a Christmas mystery. The remake dimension? The Jed Bartlet dimension? The dimension where women are the dominant gender? (Well, I have an idea for that one....)

In some of these dimensions, it is the same jolly old elf as has been known since the legend began. Others are recruited, as was Henry Corwin (Carney) in that episode of 'The Twilight Zone'. For still others, it's a family business that eventually is also handed down to the heir apparent, whether that's a Nick or a Nikki.

Here are just some of the alternate versions of Santa Claus.

Santas in need of replacements:
Lloyd Bridges (Santa Claus)
. . . In the Nick of Time (1991) (TV)
Nigel Hawthorne (Nick)
. . . Call Me Claus (2001) (TV)

Santas with offspring:
Matthew Walker (I) (Santa Claus)
. . . Twice Upon a Christmas (2001) (TV)
George Wendt (I) (Santa Claus)
. . . Santa Baby (2006) (TV)
John Wheeler (XI) (Santa Claus)
. . . Meet the Santas (2005) (TV)
. . . Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus (2004) (TV)

Santas with problems:
James Coco (Santa Claus)
. . . Curious Case of Santa Claus, The (1982) (TV)
Harry Frazier (Santa Claus)
. . . Elf Who Saved Christmas, The (1992) (TV)
. . . Elf and the Magic Key, The (1993) (TV)
George Hamilton (I) (Santa Claus)
. . . Too Cool for Christmas (2004) (TV)
John B. Lowe (I) (Santa Claus)
. . . Ultimate Christmas Present, The (2000) (TV)
Leslie Nielsen (Santa Claus)
. . . Santa Who? (2000) (TV)
Dick Van Patten (Santa Claus)
. . . Santa Trap, The (2002) (TV)

This is not a complete list, not by a long shot. I never fully investigated TV characters by the names of "Kris Kringle", "St. Nick", "St. Nicholas", or "Father Christmas". And there are a few Santas who show up in blipverts (the Toobworld word for commercials) who couldn't possibly be THE Santa Claus of Earth Prime-Time.

But more on those guys tomorrow.....

There is another alt. dimension Santa for Toobworld who has not yet had the chance to come into being. In "Checking It Twice", Santa would become separated from his elf with the list and until they are reunited, he can't deliver the toys properly. Writer/Producer Bryce Zabel co-wrote the script and he and his partner have been trying to get this project off the ground for years.

Unfortunately, it looks as though they may have finally faced reality (Ugh!) and accepted that it will never be made for TV. But because of that, they are offering those who may be interested a chance to read the script in PDF format at Bryce's site, "For What It's Worth". (Look for Bryce's name in the links to the left and click that to find the script.)

I harbor no illusions about the power of "Inner Toob", but who knows? Maybe somebody will learn about "Checking It Twice" from reading about it here, and finally make this particular dream come true.

Isn't that what Christmas miracles are all about?


Thursday, December 21, 2006


THE TV UNIVERSE AS WINTER WONDERLAND ran a contest to celebrate Festivus, asking its readers to rewrite a Christmas song to reflect our Television obsessions.

Click here if you want to read the winning entry by Liz:

I entered the contest as well, and the song reflects my "big tent" view of Toobworld.

I don't want my entry to die a lonely death in the comments section of the contest post. So to give it some semblance of immortality, I'd like to now present "Living In The TV Universe" (sung to the tune of "Winter Wonderland"):

Killer Bees
Hear them buzzin'
Patty Lane
And her cousin
All of the casts
From shows in the past
Living in the TV Universe!

Mister Ed
and the Riddler
And from 'Roots',
there is Fiddler,
Plus all of the folks
From 'Diff'rent Strokes'
Living in the TV Universe!

Hooterville's the place where they can gather
To celebrate the closing of the year
We'll see Beaver Cleaver (Jerry Mathers)
And Floyd the Barber played by H. McNear.
Doctor Who,
Bert and Ernie,
on his journey
A Sanford named Fred
A Baxter named Ted
Living in the TV Universe!

Archie Bunker argues with the Sleestaks
Jeannie's blinking after Fonzie flirts
Sgt. Friday's looking just for the facts
And Kirk beams down expendable "red-shirts".
Emma Peel
and Miss Piggy,
Lennie and
his pal Squiggy
Tossing hats with Mary
It's legen- wait!- dary!
Living in the TV Universe!

Living in the TV Universe....
Living in the TV Universe....

Wednesday, December 20, 2006



Any one of the Iddiots at the Idiot's Delight Digest can tell you that I'm somewhat infamous for "going there" in my posts to the IDD. It's a delicate dance, "Going There And Back Again", and there have been a few times when I've gone too far in what I wrote.

This may be one of those times.......

Except for certain characters in the Tooniverse (that TV Universe for cartoon characters), like the Flintstones, Time has no meaning when it comes to the aging process. There was an episode of 'The Simpsons' in which we learned that Bart was born in 1984, and yet here we are in 2006 and he's still in the third grade.

In the main Toobworld, 'The Prisoner' took place back in the late 1960s, but the pen-and-ink Number Six of the Tooniverse (again, from an episode of 'The Simpsons') looks to be the same age as his flesh-and-blood counterpart from 1967. Batman eventually will retire to be replaced by 'Batman Beyond', but until that happens, the animated Batman we see nowadays is the same Caped Crusader that's been around since before the 'Super Friends'!

This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the animated version of 'How The Grinch Stole Christmas', and for me it has never gotten old. (I still thrill with the race down the side of the mountain, my favorite sequence!) Sadly, here in the Real World Time does march on and we've lost all five of the major players in the creation of this masterpiece - Thurl Ravenscroft, who sang the songs; Albert Hague, who wrote the music; Boris Karloff, who narrated and provided the voice of the Grinch; the legen- wait for it! - dary animator Chuck Jones who brought the production to life; and Theodore Geisel, "Dr. Seuss" himself, who first created this wonderful tale.

As far as I know, only June Foray is still alive. She provided the voice of little Cindy Lou Who, who was no more than two. And it is Cindy Lou who is the focus of this Christmas Cracker......

Like I said, Time has no meaning in the Tooniverse for the most part, not even in the microscopic speck of a world where Whoville is located. But if the years passed as they do in the Real World, so much would have changed in the time since we last visited the Whos down in Whoville, the tall and the small.

For instance, Max would have long been dead, perhaps buried in a now-forgotten grave at the base of Mt. Crumpet. The Grinch might still be alive, even though he was already over 70 years old at the time of the story. (He mentions that he's been bothered by the arrival of Christmas to Whoville for over 70 years.) The Grinch was certainly not of the same species as the Whos, and could have been some kind of mythic, immortal creature.

And then there's Cindy Lou Who, the only Who down in Whoville whom we got to know by name. At the time of the story, she would have been no more than two - making her forty-two today, if the story's timeline progressed at the same rate as that in the Real World.

Ah, 42! One of those prime magical numbers in the TV Universe, thanks to 'The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy' and 'Lost'. And at 42, Cindy Lou Who would be resplendent in her maturity as a woman, I'm thinking; as beautiful as she may have been 20 years earlier at the age of 22.

I realize I'm projecting what she may look like as an adult, extrapolating from the fleeting images we have of her as a two-year old in the special. (And NO! I'm not into that, you sickos! I'm thinking of her strictly as an adult.) Based on what we saw of the other Whos down in Whoville (I just can't break myself away from typing that phrase!), the odds may have been against her from being considered sexy in human terms.

But it could be that Cindy Lou was some kind of genetic mutation, the progenitor of the next evolutionary step in the development of the Whos. She certainly doesn't look to be descended from the two Whos who appear to be her parents in the special........

So I keep wondering what she may have looked like grown up, and for an animated woman of a certain age, I think she'd still be gorgeous. And I have to confess to something else that would make her adult version sexy to me - a sense of "xenophilia" - that attraction to what is alien.

It's the same sensation I get from T'Pol of 'Enterprise' and Raffalo the plumber (perhaps a Bolian?) from the 'Doctor Who' episode "The End Of The World". Pointy ears and blue skin - who wouldn't find those chicks sexy? Then there's the sultry grey cast to Chiara on 'Farscape', and that prehensile tail of Trace Gemini's in 'Andromeda'. And let's not forget the green-skinned Orion slave girls of 'Star Trek'!

With Cindy Lou Who, it's the insectoid antennae which adds that sexy alien allure. In a way, she reminds me of the character Moonmaid created by Chester Gould for his comic strip 'Dick Tracy'. Back when I was a little kid, at an age when I still thought girls to be "bloopy" (as Will Robinson would say), I found Moonmaid attractive as well.

So, yeah. This is what it has devolved into - lusting after alien babes for Christmas. Once again, I'm "going there" and I'm sure it guarantees me a spot on this year's "Naughty" list.

That's okay. I've been there before; I know my way around.....


Tuesday, December 19, 2006



In the last first-run broadcast of a 'Brothers & Sisters' episode, Cooper Whedon was singing a traditional Christmas favorite.....

Jingle Bells
Batman smells
Robin laid an egg
lost its wheel
and Joker got away

Yeah... it never gets old.....

What makes it different for young Master Cooper is that he lives in a world where Batman actually exists.

For Earth Prime-Time, Batman fought crime and served the citizens of Gotham City beginning in the mid-1960s. (The cartoon versions all exist in the Tooniverse. 'Birds of Prey', about Batman's daughter and her crime-fighting allies, takes place in an alternate TV dimension, most likely the evil mirror universe.)

That inocuous jingle would then have some basis in "reality" for its origins.

This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the encounter between Batman and Robin with Santa Claus. It was December, 1966 and the Dynamic Duo were doing one of their famous Bat-climbs up the side of a building in pursuit of the minor villain The Puzzler.

Suddenly, when what to their wondering eyes should appear but Santa Claus, who threw open the sash and popped his head out of one of the windows to see what was the matter as they passed by.

Sorry about that, Chief. Got carried away......

We can say for certain that Santa Claus was appearing in yet another of his guises, instead of with his normal visage that makes him look like the actor Charles Durning. Even buried under a rather fulsome white beard, you can tell he was assuming a new incarnation, if just for the voice alone! (A Real World note: Santa Claus was played by character actor Andy Devine, whose uniquely scratchy twang was due to an accident as a child, when he had been running with a stick in his mouth and he scratched his vocal chords.)

It could be that The Minstrel found out about their meeting with Kris Kringle and composed that little ditty as a way of needling the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder. Perhaps their arch-villain The Joker heard about it as it made the rounds of the Gotham City criminal underworld. And if so, of course he would have seen to it that the lyrics were slightly altered so that he would be the one to come out looking good.

Of course, there are other possibilities when it comes to the identity of St. Nick. He may not have been the real Santa Claus, but just a guy dressed up in the red suit for an office party or to give the little children of Gotham City a chance to tell Santa their last minute wishes for Christmas.

Perhaps, being full of the Christmas Spirit (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), he presented himself to Batman and Robin as if he really was Santa Claus. And they, being respectful towards the citizenry of Gotham even if they were inebriated, obligingly played along with the deception.

He could also have been a character we met before in 'The Twilight Zone', by the name of Frisby. He lived in North Carolina, not far from Mayberry of 'The Andy Griffith Show'. (Floyd the Barber's identical cousin lived there. Maybe it was his half-brother - Old Man Lawson must have been a horndog!)

As to why Frisby was up north in Gotham City, dressed as Santa Claus? Well, that would more than likely be the basis for yet another tall tale that would entertain his friends back at the general store. And the fact that he met Batman and Robin would be almost as big a whopper to them as the time when he told them that he was kidnapped by aliens!

Perhaps one of those cracker barrel buddies pulled out his banjo and first played the 'Jingle Bells' parody right there.

Or maybe not.....

There's still one more possible player behind the beard - Andy Devine himself!

Andy Devine was the host of a children's show called 'Andy's Gang' from 1955 to 1960, replacing Smilin' Ed McConnell who passed away in 1954. And like all variety shows, 'Andy's Gang' would also have a counterpart within the TV Universe.

So Smilin' Andy could have been on a promotional tour across the country for the show, which in Toobworld would still be running by 1966. (In the Real World, it went off the air in 1960.) And being "Tis the season", Andy was probably dressed up as Santa Claus for his Gotham City appearance.

When he looked out that window and saw Batman and Robin, he may have been surrounded by the little children, some of whom were probably residents of the Gotham City Orphanage (which by the year 3000 may be known as the Gotham City Orphanarium). Their lives would have been full of enough pain as it was without him breaking character to reveal who he truly was to the Dynamic Duo.

If so, it could be that Batman was able to see inside the room and see kids gathered around and so he willingly played along.

If this had been Andy Devine appearing as Santa Claus for an 'Andy's Gang' promotional tour, then there can be only one culprit as to who thunked up that derisive spoof of 'Jingle Bells' - Andy's co-star Froggy the Gremlin!

It certainly sounds like the kind of mean-spirited and childish doggerel Froggy might have come up with to taunt Andy. Batman and Robin were probably lucky that Froggy didn't plunk his magic twanger to cause their Bat-rope to snap!

Like I said, those are just possibilities. However, this being such a magical season, I think I'll just stick with the simple splainin:

Batman and Robin actually did meet Santa Claus in December of 1966, and that historic encounter became the inspiration for a modern-day "folk song".


If you want to see what Santa Claus looked like when he met Batman and Robin, click
here. And then follow the links to the page about the Bat-Climb. [Afterwards, check out the entire site. It's a great salute to the 1966 'Batman TV show!]

Also, Fred Hembeck has a HUGE page of "Santa Heads" (which may take some time loading!), in which there's a comic book representation of a meeting between Batman and Santa Claus. You can find it about 39 rows down......

Monday, December 18, 2006



It's been awhile since I posted an "O'Bservation". So I figured it was time to do one with a Christmas theme. And the holiday episode of 'Las Vegas' gave me more than a theoretical link to 'Doctor Who' to work with....

1] Add Sam Marquez of the Montecito to the list of TV characters who got the chance to see the real Santa Claus. At the end of the Dec. 15th episode, she saw him flying across the Vegas horizon after the death of one of her favorite "whales".

And because he was so far away, and just a silhouette to be seen, why don't we just accept that had we seen him, he would have looked just like an actor named Charles Durning!

2] Like talk shows, news programs, and game shows, variety programs which are seen by us in the Real World, can also be seen by the people of Toobworld. The characters within those variety shows, however, actually exist in an alternate TV universe, based on comedy sketches.

So when Mike Cannon mentioned Hannukah Harry, he was thinking about the Jon Lovitz character from 'Saturday Night Live'. If he had been in "Skitlandia", Hannukah Harry would be a real person.

3] One of Big Ed's rules for his enforced "Secret Santa" exchange was "No Re-Gifting". As splained in this blog some time ago, this is not a reference to 'Seinfeld'. Re-gifting is a well-known tradition in Toobworld.

4] Although he wasn't actually seen or "heard" in the episode, Stephen Hawking added to his League of Themselves status when Big Ed made arrangements for Mike to speak with the noted astro-physicist in a video link hookup. We saw Mike's side of the conversation, therefore it has to be accepted that Hawking was on the other side.

5] This episode must have had animal rights groups up in arms when Delinda gave Sam a puppy as her Secret Santa gift. First of all, Sam is not really the type of person who's going to care for an animal. If it hadn't been for the death of her client and friend, she may have found a way to cause a fatal accident on the puppy. (Instead, she named it "Reggie" after her friend and warmed up to its companionship.)

It's a Rottweiler, so I wouldn't be surprised if Reggie grew up to become an occasional playuh on the security force for the Montecito!

But the real reason why the animal rights groups will be steamed is because they're trying hard to get the word out that you should never give a pet animal as a Christmas gift. It can be ignored and forgotten in all the hustle and bustle of the holidays. If you want to give a dog or cat as a gift, wait until after the holidays when everything has settled down.

6] Big Ed cut Mike some slack and let him wait until next year to put on a display that incorporates other holidays besides Christmas - like Hannukah and Kwanzaa. If the show lasts for one more season, we'll have to see if the writers and producers remember that detail......


Sunday, December 17, 2006



Gather round the "Who-philes" as well as the kiddies, because with today's Christmas cracker, we're linking 'Doctor Who' to 'Las Vegas'.

As Dwight Schrute of 'The Office' said, "It's a Christmas miracle!"

I've stated before that the current production of 'Doctor Who' is taking place in an alternate TV dimension. It has to be, since Russell T. Davies has seen fit to kill of Prime Minister Tony Blair and instead install Harriet Jones as the new PM during 2006.

The Eighth Incarnation of the Doctor, as played by Paul McGann in the 1996 TV movie, was the last time we saw the Time Lord in the main Toobworld.

But that doesn't mean his adventures have not been following the same basic plotline as those being shown in the TV program. And that includes the regenerations. Here in the main Toobworld, the Doctor has gone through two more regenerations, so that he has gone from looking like Paul McGann to resembling actors named Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant. We just haven't seen it happen in that version. (To be accurate, we never did see the regeneration from McGann to Eccleston in the alternate dimension either.)

In the main Toobworld version of 'Doctor Who', Tony Blair survived the attempt by "Aliens Of London" to cause "World War Three", and Harriet Jones did not become the Prime Minister.

Those episodes of 'Doctor Who' were shown in 2005, but they took place in 2006. And the 2005 holiday special, "The Christmas Invasion" will take place on Christmas Day of this year. In Toobworld, both the main version as well as in the alternate dimension, the invasion by the Sycorax soon after the regeneration of the Doctor into his tenth incarnation has not yet happened.

But we've already seen how that turns out here in the Real World: the Doctor defeats the leader of the Sycorax in mortal combat for the planet and holds the Sycorax to the rules of the engagement. (Since they lost, they have to leave Earth and never return, making sure to tell the rest of the universe that Earth has a new defender.)

Unbeknownst to the Gallifreyan, however, is that Prime Minister Harriet Jones has a secret weapon. As the spaceship is leaving Earth's orbit, she calls upon the services of the ultra-secret organization called 'Torchwood' to destroy the Sycorax spaceship, even though they were no longer a threat.

As the fragments of the spaceship - and the Sycorax people - re-enter the Earth's atmosphere, they will burn up to rain down from the skies as a fine ash... which many people will mistake for snow.

Now, that will all happen on Christmas in an alternate dimension, as seen on TV. But it will also happen for the Tenth Doctor of the main Toobworld as well. Only in his version, it will be Tony Blair who orders the Torchwood attack on the Sycorax.

And as the world turns in the main Toobworld, that ash will drift westward until late in the afternoon (Pacific time zone) when it will be falling in Las Vegas.

And even though it hasn't happened yet in Toobworld, we have already seen this "Christmas Miracle" of falling snow when the temperature was about 95°F. It happened this past Friday at the end of the 'Las Vegas' episode, "White Christmas".

As to why there was no mention of a spaceship hovering over London during that episode of 'Las Vegas', obviously Big Ed Deline and his employees were all too focused on their own personal problems regarding the holidays. And forget about the gamblers - nothing was ever going to make them look up from the craps tables... except maybe the mirrored bikini tops worn by "Santa's Helpers".

Having taken a taxi to get to work in Times Square during noon-time rush on 9/11, and seeing everybody in the streets going about their lives as if nothing had happened, I can believe that splainin.

And so, even though we only saw the alternate Toobworld version of that Christmas Invasion, it will happen to Earth Prime-Time as well. And all we will be able to see/have seen of it is/was the snowfall of Vegas. Behind the scenes, there is our Toobworld link between 'Doctor Who' and 'Las Vegas'.

Now, some might think it would have been easier just to declare that 'Las Vegas' should be dumped over in the same dimension where 'Doctor Who' is currently being seen.

They are neophytes.

To lose 'Las Vegas' in the skein of Toobworld would also mean that we'd have to move 'Crossing Jordan', 'Heroes', 'Passons', and the American version of 'The Office', which have all been linked in some way to 'Las Vegas'. And I am unwilling to lose so many wonderful shows from the "Great Link".


Saturday, December 16, 2006


When Santa Claus appeared in TV series, for the most part he was either impersonated by one of the regular characters or he's been one of "Santa's Helpers" who encounter the shows' stars.

I can't say for certain how many series regulars ever met the REAL Santa Claus, (I'd have to study that book by Diane Werts!), but two of them stand out in my mind because it's yet another thing they have in common.

I'm referring to Lucy Ricardo of 'I Love Lucy' and 'The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour', and Samantha Stephens of 'Bewitched'. ('Bewitched' has certainly been mentioned a lot these last few days in connection to Santa Claus. Better not tell the fundamentalists!)

Although Lucy met Santa Claus first from our viewing vantage point, Samantha more than likely knew him from long before that.

Lucy's encounter with St. Nick happened on Christmas morning, 1956, and it demonstrated how the jolly old elf had a mischievous sense of humor. Hoping to bolster Little Ricky's belief in Santa, his parents Lucy and Ricky and his honorary aunt and uncle Fred and Ethel all dressed up as Santa and showed up in the apartment at the same time. But when they took a head count, there were five Santas in the room. Once they figured that out, the real Santa magically vanished.

Apparently, Santa Claus never tired of that trick. About ten years later, when five members of 'The Addams Family' household dressed up in the red suit, he joined them as the sixth. It may have been his way os saying "Thank you" to adults who just wanted to keep the belief in Santa Claus alive for the kids.

And adults sometimes need a boost to their belief as well.

As mentioned previously, Samantha visited with Santa Claus on two occasions (that we know of).

I mentioned that Lucy and Samantha had something else in common: they both lived in Westport, Ct. The Ricardos moved there early in 1957, and Samantha moved to Morning Glory Circle after marrying Darrin Stephens less just over five years later.

I'm not a fanfic writer, only an enabler, so here's the idea I had: What better theme for mixing the characters of 'I Love Lucy' and 'Bewitched' than one about "Christmas In Connecticut"?

Aunt Clara wants to help Darrin close a deal with a client in time to be free for the holidays. But the client is proving to be a tough sell when it comes to hiring Darrin's fellow Westportian (?) Ricky Ricardo as the celebrity spokesman. Even though Ricky would be a natural in connection to the product, whatever it is (Hey! I can't do everything for you!), the client is a rabid anti-Communist and he equates all Cubans with Castro.

So when Aunt Clara casts her spell, she unfortunately (but expectedly) messes things up and turns Lucy into Fidel Castro just before the client is supposed to come over to their house for dinner. The fatigues, the cigar, the beard, the works! Although they don't know how it happened, Lucy and Ethel go to great lengths to disguise the fact that she now has a beard.

Hilarity ensues.

Luckily Samantha is able to save the day and find not only a reasonable explanation as to why Lucy looks like Castro, but also how it might be a great presentation for the product.

And everything is brought back to normal just in time for the big Christmas feast. And for good measure, maybe Santa Claus could revisit with both Lucy and Samantha.

That's my Christmas fanfic wish, anyway.


Friday, December 15, 2006



I think I satisfactorily presented my theory that even though the Santa Claus of the main Toobworld resembles an actor named Charles Durning, he still had the power to alter his appearance. And he did this so that no two groups of people could agree on what he actually looked like.

As the embodiment of the Christmas Spirit, Santa Claus wanted our belief in him to be based on faith, not fact. And as Dr. Miguelito Loveless (my all-time favorite TV character) once said, "All faith must have a little doubt mixed in. Otherwise it's just flabby sentimentality."

There have been countless TV episodes where we've seen characters who impersonated Santa Claus, most recently (in our timeline) Chris' Dad on 'Everybody Hates Chris'. (It actually happened back in the early 1980s.)

Yet nobody, except for maybe very small children, ever mistook these characters fro the real St. Nick. (For example - just picture Deputy Barney Fife as Santa on 'The Andy Griffith Show'.)

But there was a time when a Santa Claus impostor was believed to be the real deal, because of the magical things that happened because he was present......

'The Fall Guy' - "Escape Claus"
Episode Number: 99 Season Num: 5
First Aired: Saturday December 21, 1985 on ABC

A fitting story for Christmas--Santa is arrested for freeing reindeer. He asks what each wants for Christmas. Jody wants a 'white' Christmas in spite of the current heat wave; Colt reluctantly says he needs a new truck. There is a child care center threatened with eviction and some crooks want the bonds Santa's cellmate is hiding.

Writer: Philip John Taylor, Doug Heyes Jr.
Director: Bruce Bilson

Show Stars: Nedra Volz (Pearl Sperling), Lee Majors (Colt Seavers), Douglas Barr (Howie Munson), Heather Thomas (Jody Banks)
Guest Stars: Bernard Fox (Santa [Chris Winter]) , Hakeem Abdul Samad (Leon) , Tom Hallick (Max Diehi) , Robert Donner (Edmund Trench) , Stephen Liska (Kane) , Connie Lew (Jenna) , Elliott Scott (Daniel) , Judith Barsi (Little Girl) , Lynn Whitfield (Jeanne)

He gave his name as "Chris Winter", which would seem to be an obvious alias for the real Santa to use. And magical happenings did occur because of him, so that the bounty hunters were left to ponder whether or not he was the true Santa Claus after he vanished.

He was able to perform magic all right, but not because he was Santa Claus.

He was actually Dr. Bombay from 'Bewitched'!

The celebrated witch doctor would just as likely know Santa Claus personally as did Samantha Stephens. It's likely that he introduced the younger witch to the jolly old elf.

We don't always see everything that occurs on Toobworld. (My favorite example - when Khan met Chekov on 'Star Trek'.) So there might have been a reason as to why Kris Kringle himself could not come to the rescue of those reindeer, which is why he probably called in a favor from his friend Dr. Bombay.

As to why he tried to pass himself off as Santa, the witch doctor probably wanted to protect his own identity. it's one thing to magically appear in a mortal's home wearing an antique diving suit; at least there he was in the presence of other witches. But if he was detected performing magic spells by the mortal majority, it would be better to mistaken for a universally beloved figure like Santa Claus.

Sadly, we've seen in the Real World what happens when mentally disturbed parents think they're children are possessed. Just imagine what would happen if some jerk in Toobworld discovered that there were witches among us. It would be Salem all over again!

So Dr. Bombay played out the escapade in the guise of Santa Claus, giving himself the double-blind alias of Chris Winter, and never let on as to who he really was.


Thursday, December 14, 2006



For the main Toobworld, as well as for most of the alternate dimensions (and for the Trueniverse as well), Santa Claus is an eternal spirit, the same man who has always held the position.

But in several TV dimensions, Santa Claus is a job title that must be filled every so often by a new candidate as the old one either retires or dies. (Much like the situation in those Tim Allen movies.)

This was established in a TV movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, "Call Me Claus".

But it looks as though it may also be the case for the Santa Claus of the evil mirror universe made famous in the 'Star Trek' franchise.

Not that Santa ever met Spock or Whorf... that would be jumping the shark to be sure! But we know there are doppelgangers of the Greek gods living in that evil mirror dimension, thanks to 'Hercules: The Legendary Journeys', and they were never mentioned in the episode "Mirror, Mirror" of 'Star Trek'. So why not assume that Santa Claus has a counterpart over there as well.

I'm not saying that Santa would also be evil over there. It's true that powerful figures of myth are transformed over there - Ares is the God of Love, for instance, in the evil mirror dimension. But I think Santa Claus is too powerful a figure for good to be corrupted by his surroundings, no matter how pervasive that evil atmosphere may be.

And I think the portrayal of Santa that best suits this dark dimension would be that by Art Carney in three different TV productions:

"The Twilight Zone" .... Henry Corwin (1 episode, 1960)
- The Night of the Meek (1960) TV Episode .... Henry Corwin
Art Carney (Santa Claus/Cosmo the Wizard, King of Evil)
. . . Great Santa Claus Switch, The (1970) (TV)
Art Carney (Santa Claus)
. . . Night They Saved Christmas, The (1984) (TV)

[thanks to the]

In 'The Twilight Zone' episode, he is seen as a down-on-his-luck bum being recruited for the job magically. It wasn't an easy transition, as Corwin was brought in for questioning and accused of stealing by his former employer.

Like most Christmas stories, it all worked out by the end of the episode. Henry Corwin was not just assuming the role of old St. Nick, he became the new Santa. And even though Art Carney passed away several years ago, I think he would still be alive as Henry Corwin, aka Santa Claus.

The Muppets have doppelgangers in that dimension as well. Yes, there would be evil Muppets and Lothar would be one of those. He was seen in a Christmas special called "The Great Sanat Switch" in which it was revealed that Santa Claus had an evil twin brother who became the King of Evil. (I think it's safe to assume that his name was originally Cosmo Corwin.)

And then there's that last TV movie in which an evil conglomerate tried to drill for oil at the North Pole.

All three featured situations in which Santa was assailed by the evil that men (and Muppets) do, but he was able to conquer each time, thanks to that inexhaustible Christmas spirit.

And not even the Evil Mirror Universe can stop that!


We're happy little Christmas elves.
We never are forlorn.
We fill up all of Cosmo's shelves
With the money Christmas morn.
"The Great Santa Claus Switch"

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


It's taking longer than I thought to wrestle the Toobworld novel into shape with a new ending, so I figured I'd better put it to the side for a bit just so I can begin my 12 days of Christmas... in Toobworld.

First up - Santa Claus!

For the purpose of the TV Crossover Hall of Fame, the official portrait of Santa Claus would have to be that of Charles Durning, who has played the jolly old elf in four different productions on TV:

Charles Durning (Santa Claus)
. . . Boyfriend for Christmas, A (2004) (TV)
Charles Durning (Santa Claus)
. . . Elmo Saves Christmas (1996) (V)
Charles Durning (King Nicholas XX (Santa Claus))
. . . Mr. St. Nick (2002) (TV)
Charles Durning (Santa Claus)
. . . Mrs. Santa Claus (1996) (TV)
[thanks to the]

Two of those productions deal directly with the legend and one incorporates the fact that in Toobworld, puppets are alive. And as a block they make a powerful argument for Charles Durning to be the official look for Santa.

With the many TV movies that portray Santa Claus - and I think we've gained three new ones this year alone! - it's easy to say that they should all be assigned to alternate dimensions of the TV Universe. With the countless cartoon versions, we can assume that they are all one and the same since the differences in artistic style do not separate one cartoon from another. The inhabitants of the Tooniverse can't tell the difference.

(I can't remember if 'Jimmy Neutron' and 'The Fairly Oddparents' made any reference to the fact that both shows had different artistic designs when they did their crossover, but that would only prove that those characters are tele-cognizant.)

Still, Santa Claus has appeared in many different TV shows that exist in the main Toobworld, and yet they all look different (which of course is due to casting here in the Real World). So how do we splain that away and yet keep them all in Earth Prime Time.

Santa Claus is a mythic figure of a power level equal to, if not greater than, the legen - wait for it! - dary "gods" of Greek mythology. And as we saw with Zeus in just one series ('Hercules: The Legendary Journeys'), he was able to change his appearance several times over.

So it is with Santa Claus. He appeared at least twice on 'Bewitched' and yet both times he looked different. (Once he was played by Cecil Kellaway; the other time by Ronald Long.) And yet Samantha Stevens recognized him as THE Santa Claus both times.

It just shows to go ya that Santa's powers to mask his own looks are more powerful than Sam's ability. (She masked the looks of her husband so that he looked like an actor named Dick York one spring, only to have him look like an actor named Dick Sargent the following fall.... and yet nobody in Toobworld ever noticed!)

Santa probably employs this technique to keep the spirit of faith in his existence alive. If he was to be proven as a reality, then all the magic of the Christmas spirit would be gone. And where's the sport in that?

By the way, regarding the Santa Claus that looked like Cecil Kellaway - there is no truth to the rumor that he was actually an android named Wickwire helping out the real Santa Claus. That android, seen in an episode of 'The Twilight Zone', just happens to bear an uncanny resemblance to Santa and it exists in the future anyway.



They're not always that good, but I love the TV show reunion specials. It's a chance for one last visit with the characters you came to know and love.

But if you can't have everybody involved from the original production, it will always feel as though the heart has been divvied up. This held true with the 'Gilligan's Island' movies (with no Tina Louise) and the reunion special for 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' (minus Morey Amsterdam and Richard Deacon).

How could you ever have a reunion special for 'Everybody Loves Raymond' without the one man who always nailed the funniest lines.....?

Peter Boyle Dead At 71
NEW YORK, Dec. 13, 2006
(CBS/AP) Peter Boyle, the tall, prematurely bald actor who was the tap-dancing monster in "Young Frankenstein" and the curmudgeonly father in the long-running sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond," has died. He was 71.

The veteran character actor died Tuesday evening in New York after a long battle with multiple myeloma and heart disease, his publicist, Jennifer Plante, told The ShowBuzz Wednesday.

A Christian Brothers monk who turned to acting, Boyle gained notice playing an angry working man in the Vietnam-era hit "Joe." But he overcame typecasting when he took on the role of the hulking, lab-created monster in Mel Brooks' 1974 send-up of horror films.

The movie's defining moment came when Gene Wilder, as scientist Frederick Frankenstein, introduced his creation to an upscale audience. Boyle, decked out in tails, performed a song-and-dance routine to the Irving Berlin classic "Puttin' On the Ritz."

It showed another side of the Emmy-winning actor, one that would be exploited in countless other films and perhaps best in "Everybody Loves Raymond," in which he played incorrigible paterfamilias Frank Barone for 10 years. He received five Emmy nominations for that role.

"He's just obnoxious in a nice way, just for laughs," he said of the character in a 2001 interview. "It's a very sweet experience having this happen at a time when you basically go back over your life and see every mistake you ever made."

When Boyle tried out for the role opposite series star Ray Romano's Ray Barone, however, he was kept waiting for his audition — and he was not happy.

"He came in all hot and angry," recalled the show's creator, Phil Rosenthal, "and I hired him because I was afraid of him."

But Rosenthal also noted: "I knew right away that he had a comic presence."

Boyle first came to the public's attention more than a quarter century before. "Joe" was a sleeper hit in which he portrayed the title role, an angry, murderous bigot at odds with the era's emerging hippie youth culture.
Although critically acclaimed, he faced being categorized as someone who played tough, angry types. He broke free of that to some degree as Robert Redford's campaign manager in "The Candidate," and shed it entirely in "Young Frankenstein."

The latter film also led to the actor meeting his wife, Loraine Alterman, who visited the set as a reporter for Rolling Stone magazine. Boyle, still in his monster makeup, quickly asked her for a date. [Note from Toobworld: John Lennon would be his best man.]

He went on to appear in dozens of films and to star in "Joe Bash," an acclaimed but short-lived 1986 "dramedy" in which he played a lonely beat cop. He won an Emmy in 1996 for his guest-starring role in an episode of "The X Files," and for the 1977 TV film "Tail Gunner Joe," in which he played Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

In the 1976 film "Taxi Driver," he was the cabbie-philosopher Wizard, who counseled Robert De Niro's violent Travis Bickle.

Other notable films included "T.R. Baskin," "F.I.S.T.," "Johnny Dangerously," "Conspiracy: Trial of the Chicago 8" (as activist David Dellinger), "The Dream Team," "The Santa Claus," "The Santa Claus 2," "While You Were Sleeping" (in a charming turn as Sandra Bullock's future father-in-law) and "Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed."

Educated in Roman Catholic schools in Philadelphia, Boyle would spend three years in a monastery before abandoning his studies there. He later described the experience as similar to "living in the Middle Ages."

He explained his decision to leave in 1991: "I felt the call for a while; then I felt the normal pull of the world and the flesh."

In Toobworld, I'll always remember him for his portrayal of Senator McCarthy as well as for that lost, lonely soul for which he won the Emmy in 'The X-Files'. The part was written for Bob Newhart, but Peter Boyle made it inconceivable that anybody else could have been Clyde Bruckman.

He's a man who made Toobworld richer... and a hell of a fun place.


Sunday, December 3, 2006


Here I am, interrupting my hiatus once again. But I figured this was a news item my fellow televisiologists would be interested in....

Starting tomorrow (Monday, December 4th), American Life Network will be saluting the television work of the late Robert Altman, with five episodes of 'Combat!' which he directed.

They will air at 7 pm EST over the next five nights. Check your local times and listings and maybe even the American Life Network's website for more info!


Friday, December 1, 2006


In the past, the first seasons of some great shows have been released on DVD, only to see future season releases scuttled because of poor sales on those initial releases.

I don't want to see that happen to 'St. Elsewhere', a show that truly reached the heights with each succeeding season instead of losing its quality as the years passed - which has been the fate of too many other great shows.

To that end, I'm breaking my sojourn in Hiatusport long enough to trumpet the release of 'St. Elsewhere' on DVD, in hopes that you'll all go out and grab a copy to insure that we'll see rest of the series released as well.

'St. Elsewhere' is key to the whole Toobworld experience as it is the hub for most of the links between TV series in the Television Universe. (If you don't believe me, check out the info to be found at "Crossovers Via Tommy Westphall, the third link down to the left!)

So in hopes that I might spur some sales spike for 'St. Elsewhere', allow me to offer up this press release about the first season DVD boxed set which was released on November 28th:

Press Release

CENTURY CITY , Calif. – Before ER and Chicago Hope , audiences were mesmerized by the dramatic triumphs and humorous failings of Doctors Craig, Westphall and Ehrlich of Boston's St. Eligius Hospital – an understaffed, underfunded and always chaotic teaching facility – better known as “St. Elsewhere.”

Now, the first season of this critically-acclaimed, one-of-a-kind series arrives on DVD November 28, 2006 from Fox Home Entertainment. Setting the standard for the socially relevant ensemble medical dramas of the future, “St. Elsewhere” offered viewers a gritty and realistic portrayal of the health care industry and the lives of those who work in it. While “St. Elsewhere” dealt with life and death issues on a daily basis, the doctors and staff were able to maintain balance – and viewer affection – with a healthy dose of quirky humor.

The first season of this compelling series introduced many notable actors including Academy Award®-winner Denzel Washington* ( Training Day, Man on Fire ), Howie Mandel (“Deal Or No Deal,” “The Outer Limits”), Ed Begley Jr . (“Arrested Development,” “Six Feet Under”), Ed Flanders ( Bye Bye Love ), David Morse ( The Green Mile , “Hack”) and Tim Robbins ( War of the Worlds, Mystic River ). Over its six seasons, the series was nominated for 63 Emmy Awards and won 13 .

The four-disc DVD collection includes all 22 first-season episodes, as well commentary on select episodes and multiple featurettes including “St. Elsewhere: The Place To Be.” The “ St. Elsewhere ” Season One DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $39 .98 U.S./$54.98 Canada .

Synopsis :
With its unique blend of intense medical drama, off-beat humor and imaginative storytelling, “St. Elsewhere” paved the way for later TV classics, while introducing America to future superstars Mark Harmon, Howie Mandel and Denzel Washington. Over its six-season run, the ground-breaking, critically acclaimed “St. Elsewhere ” won 13 Emmy Awards and was nominated for over 60. Eccentric, insightful, and intelligent, “St. Elsewhere” is considered to be one of the best dramas ever to air on broadcast television.

DVD Episodes and Special Features:
The “St. Elsewhere” Season One DVD set includes all 22 episodes of the first season and three unique featurettes including “ St. Elsewhere: The Place To Be,” a Tim Robbins featurette and a David Morse featurette. Additionally, commentary is available on selected episodes including “Cora & Arnie: An Outstanding Episode.”

Presented in full screen 1:33:1 aspect ratio, the set also features English Stereo and Spanish Mono and select episode commentary. Individual disc content is as follows:

Disc 1 – Side A
• Pilot
• Bypass
• Down's Syndrome
• Cora & Arnie
• “Cora & Arnie: An Outstanding Episode”

Disc 1 – Side B
• Samuels & The Kid
• Legionnaires (Part 1)

Disc 2 – Side A
• Legionnaires (Part 2)
• Tweety & Ralph
• Rain
• Hearts

Disc 2 – Side B
• Graveyard
• Release

Disc 3 – Side A
• Family History
• Remission
• Monday, Tuesday, Sven's Day
• The Count

Disc 3 – Side B
• Brothers
• Dog Day Hospital

Disc 4 – Side A
• Working
• Craig In Love

Disc 4 – Side B
• Baron Von Munchausen
• Addition
• “ St. Elsewhere: The Place To Be”
• Tim Robbins Featurette
• David Morse Featurette

# # #
Street Date: November 28, 2006
Pre-Book Date: November 1, 2006
DVD Price: $39.98 U.S. / $54.98 Canada
Total Running Time: 1078 minutes
DVD Catalog Number: 2236076
U.S. Rating: NR
Canadian Rating: NR
Closed Captioned: Yes

Take it from Toobworld - go out and buy it NOW!