Saturday, April 8, 2006


Last week's big Zonk! occurred in the soap opera 'As The World Turns' when a quartet of "teenagers" imagined life in Oakdale as a series of sitcoms: 'I Dream Of Jeannie', 'Happy Days', 'The Beverly Hillbillies', 'I Love Lucy', and 'The Munsters'.

This week we slide over to the Tooniverse, where 'South Park' went in for a little 'Guy'-bashing; 'Family Guy', that is. And the FOX show proved to be a mighty big target, as 'South Park' promised part two for next week on Comedy Central.

(But you never know. Claiming this to be a two-parter and then only presenting the first half might have been just a ploy on the part of Trey and Matt, as they have pulled similar stunts - like the live-action Mr. Hankey game commercial during their first Christmas episode.)

It's never been a secret that Stone and Parker loathe 'Family Guy'. It could be jealousy on their part because 'Family Guy' is on a big broadcast network while they toil in the hinterlands of cable.

Here's an entry from Wikipedia on the topic:

"'South Park' creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have expressed their discontent at being put at the same comedic level as 'Family Guy'.

When questioned about the meanest thing anyone ever said to them, Stone replied "When people say to me, 'God, you guys have one of the best shows on television. You and "Family Guy".' That fucking hurts so bad", to which Parker agreed: "Very well said. It's such a kick in the balls."

(The entry is listed as "Criticism Of Family Guy".)

'South Park' and 'Family Guy' should exist in the same cartoon TV dimension, the Tooniverse. It doesn't matter if there is no similarity intheir animation styles because all animation is just the stylized renderings of real life.

Or what passes for real life in the TV Universe.

But this episode ("Cartoon Wars") contained so many specific references to Peter Griffin and his family as being TV characters, that it's impossible to thunk up a splainin to get around the discrepancy.

Normally, I might have made the claim that 'Family Guy' is such a generic title that it could have been a totally different series, even if it did also air on FOX. Despite Cartman's constant harping on the complaint that it's "poorly-written, and accusing it of using interchangeable jokes, rather than jokes that actually have something to do with the plot", there might have been a way around the whole Zonk!in' matter.

But almost as if they anticipated me (Schyeah, right!), Parker and Stone actually showed several "clip" from 'Family Guy' (which they created specifically for the episode, of course).

The animation was crude, but leagues better than the usual 'South Park' cut-outs come to life. And the voices were mostly on the money, except for Lois. The one major difference was that Brian had black ears, which I think was a subtle riff on the claim that Seth MacFarlane steals everything for 'Family Guy'. (Brian is supposedly based on Snoopy from 'Peanuts' - even his collar is red!)

There's even a blog out there in cyberspace now that goes into detail about specific ideas and characters that MacFarlane has stolen from other sources. But had a nice rejoinder to that complaint:

"Many people will tell you that any creative endeavor is just a matter of filtering and arranging ideas which already exist, and this is especially true for comedy writers. If you find something funny, it's likely someone else found it funny as well and has done it before. It's not about who did what first, it's about how you frame the joke and give it your own personal signature. In that regard, I think both 'Family Guy' and 'South Park' do just fine."

For my own part, I like both shows; I just don't go out of my way to watch either of them unless I know in advance that something major will take place - like this episode of "Cartoon Wars", for example, or the episode two weeks back where Chef got offed.

Remember the "answer songs" of the early sixties; where groups would put out songs in response to songs by other groups?

I'm hoping 'Family Guy' will now come up with a "reply" to this 'South Park' attack; that they take aim at Cartman & Co. with both barrels blazing.

But then, I hope both of them finally come to terms and accept each other for what they are; make peace in the toon hood.

And then they can team up and go after that bizarro bit o' bleep on Adult Swim called '12 Oz. Mouse'.



Friday, April 7, 2006


"Wish-Craft" is a term that was coined for 'Bewitched'; it was Tabitha's attempt to say "witchcraft".

I use it to denote those "What If?" stories; things I'd like to see happen in Toobworld, but which I know will never be. But then I'll never grow out of the pleasure to be found in playing "Let's Pretend".

I've read that a third season for 'Slings & Arrows' is planned. For all I know, it's probably already being filmed. At the very least, Susan Coyne, Bob Martin, and Mark McKinney must have the scripts for the next six episodes already written.

Supposedly, the play around which the action will be centered will be "King Lear". (The first season revolved around "Hamlet"; and the second season was primarily about "MacBeth", but also used "Romeo And Juliet" in the secondary plotline.)

Based on the characters we've met in the New Burbage Shakespeare Festival, it's my belief that they don't have anybody with the age and gravitas to take on the role of Lear. Brian Cabot (as played by Leon Pownall) might come the closest, but I think he'd be better suited for playing Goucester.

More than likely this will be a great set-up for bringing in an established actor - played by a known actor - to play the role. This happened last season when Henry Breedlove (as played by Geraint Wyn Davies, best known below the border in 'Forever Knight') came on board to play the lead in the Scottish play.

(In the first season, movie star Jack Crewes was brought in play the Danish prince. He was played by Luke Kirby. TV blog compadre Brent McKee might be able to tell me if he's considered a big name up there in Canada, but I never heard of him before. His Ophelia, Kate McNab, was played by Rachel McAdams and she's gone on to become a star in Hollywood.)

It's not enough to bring in a guest star who can handle the dramatic passion in the role of Lear; that guest star must also be capable of handling the humor needed for the role of the actor for all of the disfunctional comedy to be found backstage. Add to that a basic requirement that the guest star himself should carry the weight of his own age and probably be considered a legend in show business by this point in his career.

Age, gravitas, a comedic light touch..... So I have a Real World suggestion for the role -

Dick Van Dyke.

Now this wouldn't be a Toobworld Wish-Craft if I didn't carry the suggestion to its extreme.

It's not enough for my purposes just to snare Mr. Van Dyke for the role of the actor to play "King Lear". I'd also like to see him appear as Dick Burgess, his character in the very short-lived 1988 sitcom, 'The Van Dyke Show'.

'The Van Dyke Show' centered around Burgess, a former Broadway star who spent the last several decades on the road, either in the road-show productions of Broadway hits, or on the straw-hat summer circuit.

But by the time the sitcom began, he decided to settle down near his son Matt (played by his real-life son, Barry Van Dyke) in the town of Arley, Pennsylvania, where Matt ran a small community theater. By this point in their lives, Father and Son were basically strangers to each other due to Dick's life on the road, and I suppose that was meant to provide the comedic grist for the sitcom's mill.

Well, it's been almost twenty years since that sitcom aired. I would bet that it didn't take too many years before the theatrical wanderlust got into Dick Burgess' blood again. He probably has been crossing the country touring in such shows as a revival of "Baby Fat". (That's the play by Pulitzer-winning playwright Harper Worthington Yates, as seen in an episode of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'. Strother Martin played Yates.)

So why not set his sights north of the border to take on the greatest acting challenge in his career, that of "King Lear" at the New Burbage Shakespeare Festival? It would provide a nice coda to his career so that he might finally return to Arley and his family.

Of course, 'Slings & Arrows' is the type of show that just might add the twist that the actor playing Lear actually does dies on stage in the role in just the right mixture of melancholic drama and wistful humor. And Dick Van Dyke could handle that as well.

Like I said at the beginning, this is just a fancy played out for my own benefit. I doubt they'd even consider bringing Mr. Van Dyke north to work on the show. They probably wouldn't even bother with any actor of note from America when they have so many great theatrical actors already in Canada who could assay the role of "King Lear".

Perhaps Kenneth Welsh......

But for Toobworld purposes, this little blog entry is the stuff that dreams are made of.


"Artists are always ready to sacrifice for Art,
If the price is right
Gomez Addams
'The Addams Family'

Thursday, April 6, 2006


Because of the sad events in my family toward the end of March, it totally slipped my mind that I needed to post the April inductee into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame.

For the last few years, there has been a general theme to the "ceremonies" each month, and for 2006, it's no different. We're celebrating the characters from the original 'Law & Order', sort of as a tip of the fedora to the late Jerry Orbach and to his character, the late Lennie Briscoe.

This month usually has a theme - that of the April Fool. So who better among the cops of the 2-7 to be considered a real card but Detective Mike Logan, as played by Chris Noth?

Logan is the character from 'Law & Order' who first kicked off the series' history of crossovers with his cameo appearance on 'Homicide: Life On The Street'. He was transporting a patently obvious "villain" (played by filmmaker John Waters) to Baltimore. There he was to hand off his prisoner to Detective Frank Pemberton.

But the two cops got into a territorial pissing match over whose city was better, until the collar himself grew sick of it.

After Logan was banished to Staten Island for punching a city councilman, it looked as though Noth's connection to the series was finished. Instead, the actor came up with the premise for a TV movie that centered on Logan's attempts to escape "Exile" on Staten Island and get back to serving on the mean streets of Manhattan.

A couple more years passed and then Mike Logan resurfaced again - this time on one of the spin-offs from the original warhorse in the franchise, 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent'. Even if the episode didn't have such a topical story as detainee abuses in Brooklyn's version of Abu Ghraib, the team-up between Noth as Mike Logan and Vincent D'Onofrio as Detective Robert Goren was fascinating to watch.

Logan's bull in the china shop demeanor and Goren's odd behavioral quirks like that tilting of his head played well off each other; so much so that when D'Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe as Detective Eames needed a break because too much of the show rested on their shoulders, it was Chris Noth as Mike Logan (with Annabeth Sciorra as his partner) who was brought in to take up half the load for the following season.

I'm hearing that 'Criminal Intent' is "on the bubble", meaning that there is a chance it won't be renewed.

If so, then Mike Logan will once again fade into the broadcast ether. But he's such an epitome of the New York Cop, that I have no doubt the character will rise again in a guest appearance on some other procedural.

And it doesn't have to be one of the 'Law & Order' siblings either. Like Detective John Munch before him, Mike Logan could easily fit into any other cop show, even on shows dealing with spies and homeland security, private eye shows, lawyer/courtroom dramas, and maybe even shows with that 'X-Files' finesse.

Whatever may come for 'Criminal Intent', we have not seen the last of Mike Logan. But we have certainly seen enough of him to justify his entrance into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame.



Writer/producer Ken Levine has a great blog entry about the lapses in logic within the inner reality of 'The Adventures Of Superman' starring George Reeves. You can read "It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's A Logic Problem" here.

These may be unique to the Super-mythos, but similar problems crop up all the time in every show; not just the science fiction/fantasy category. And it's supposed to be the job here at Toobworld Central to find the splainins for these discrepancies.

Luckily, it seems Ken has had quite a few responses to the questions he raised, such as how could Superman fly a little girl around the world in three hours without burning her to a crisp?

But the one that always puzzles me was first brought to my attention in a Robert Wuhl monologue - Why is it that Superman has no problems when the bad guys shoot bullets at him, but he always ducks when they throw their guns at him?

Go read Ken Levine's entry, as well as its follow-up, "Superman II". Good stuff!


"One does not thank logic."
'Star Trek'

Wednesday, April 5, 2006


Gloria Monty, a groundbreaking producer who turned the ABC daytime drama "General Hospital" into a pop sensation in the late 1970s, died of cancer at the age of 84.

With more women joining the work force, the traditional audience for soap operas like "General Hospital" was waning when Monty took over the slumping show in 1978.

After directing successful shows such as The Secret Storm, she is best known for taking over the ailing General Hospital with thirteen weeks to turn the show around, or it would be cancelled.

It subsequently became the top-rated US soap for a decade.

She quickly set about reinventing the show to appeal to teens and young adults. Monty added action-adventure and science fiction to plot lines, cast younger actors, quickened the pacing, and had a Broadway designer modernize the set.

Among Monty's boldest -- and most controversial -- moves was a story line in which the characters Luke and Laura began a romance after he had raped her on the floor of a closed disco.

Critics accused Monty of glorifying violence against women, but she appeared unfazed.

Played by Anthony Geary (whom she knew from his stint on her previous series, Bright Promise) and Genie Francis, Luke and Laura became pop icons and their 1981 TV wedding drew a stunning 30 million viewers. A Newsweek magazine cover featuring the couple declared the soap "TV's Hottest Show.""General Hospital" went on to become the No. 1 show for five years and won two Emmy Awards.

One major result of the "Monty Revolution" was the increased pace of the show, effectively doubling the number of scenes in each installment.

Under Monty's watch the show rose to #1 in the ratings, with Luke and Laura's wedding being the highest rated daytime episode in history. Her era consisted of "supercouples" such as Luka/Laura, Frisco/Felicia, and Robert/Holly. She and various headwriters also created the Quartermaine family, Bobbie and Luke Spencer, Robert, Anna and Robin Scorpio, and many others who would dominate the show in the 80's and early 90's.

Monty left the show in 1987 but returned in 1991. Although she had always been known for a tough, dictatorial attitude, her ideas no longer seemed in step with the world of Port Charles. She lured Anthony Geary back to daytime but went along with his demand to play a brand new character, Bill Eckert.
An entire new family, the Eckerts, were ushered in, taking up four to five days a week of airtime while Monty attempted to phase out such stalwarts as the Quartermaines.

The ratings began to suffer serious erosion, and combined with the refusal of stars such as Tristan Rogers, who plays Robert Scorpio, to continue working with Monty, ABC had no choice but to fire her in 1992 and was replaced by Wendy Riche.

Monty produced several primetime thrillers after leaving the world of soaps.

Moonlight Becomes You (1998) (TV) (co-executive producer)
Let Me Call You Sweetheart (1997) (TV) (co-executive producer)
While My Pretty One Sleeps (1997) (TV) (co-executive producer)
Remember Me (1995) (TV) (co-executive producer)
Confessions of a Married Man (1983) (TV) (executive producer)
"The Hamptons" (1983) TV Series (executive producer)
"General Hospital" (1963) TV Series (executive producer) (1978-1987, 1991-1992)
Sorority Kill (1974) (TV)
Screaming Skull (1973) (TV)
"Bright Promise" (1969) TV Series
"The Secret Storm" (1954) TV Series
"The First Hundred Years" (1950) TV Series


Tuesday, April 4, 2006


It's time to defuse a few Zonk!s that have popped up recently in the TV Universe.

Just to review, a "Zonk!" is a reference within a TV show to another TV show, when those TV shows should be considered part of the same universe. The term comes from a sound effect visual from 'Let's Make A Deal'.

On a recent episode of 'House, we got to see what Dr. Greg House had tucked away on his TiVo. One of the shows was 'Blackadder'. This was an in-joke, as the actor who played House, Hugh Laurie, also appeared in two of the four series for 'Blackadder', as well as guest-starring in a third.

But that in-joke (which TV columnist David Bianculli has dubbed "Extras") doesn't constitute a Zonk!. 'Blackadder' within the TV Universe would be an actual TV series just as it is in the Trueniverse.

However, it's a recreation of the actual events from Toobworld's History, whereas it was just a sitcom here in the Real World. What we saw on our screens became the facts upon which their series was based.

Verily, no Zonk!.....

Several of the Zonk!s came from pop culture references in dialogue. Here are three recent examples

"Well, aren't you a regular Veronica Mars?"
'The O.C.'

Marissa's snotty retort to Summer doesn't have to be seen as a Zonk!. Instead, it just means that she was aware of the high school girl from Neptune, California, who solved the murder of her best friend Lily Kane.

The fact that movie star Aaron Echolls was the murderer guaranteed that the case would be high-profile and be in all the news. And the fact that he was found out by a girl in high school was just the kind of hook to get the story plenty of play in the newspapers as well as on TV news programs.

And Neptune is probably in Orange County as well, so even if it didn't get national coverage, the exploits of 'Veronica Mars' would still be well-known to fellow high schoolers in other areas of 'The O.C.'.


On 'Supernatural', a film fanatic was trying to summon his inner valor by asking,

"What would Buffy do?"

Again, no Zonk! in this. Sam and Dean would definitely have known about Buffy Summers, what with all of their research - as well as that by their Dad - into the paranormal around the country.

But even average people would have known about Buffy from news reports. How could the destruction of the entire town of Sunnydale have possibly escaped notice from the Press? Despite the best attempts by the Watchers' Council, Buffy's actions would have been widely reported.

And so there's no Zonk! between 'Supernatural' and 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'.

But now, here's the rub....

When Fran wanted to know how Riley was doing since she broke up with him on a recent episode of 'Living With Fran', Danny told her:

"Watched a rerun of 'The Nanny' last night
And got all sad because she reminded him of you."

They got me there. I can't thunk up a splainin as to why the life of Fran Fine would have merited its own TV show adaptation in Toobworld. When it comes to shows like 'Gilligan's Island' or 'Murphy Brown', - yeah, I can buy that their "real lives" would be turned into TV shows within the TV Universe.

But someone who was a nanny to a snooty British Broadway producer? Can't see it as being interesting enough.

Maybe as a TV movie on Lifetime or Oxygen or WE, though.

There yuh go!

Nothing in that quote says that 'The Nanny' had to be a long-running sitcom starring Fran Drescher. It could have been a TV movie. And now that I think of it, nothing about it says that it had to be the same subject matter as the version we know here in the Real World.

All we know is that something about watching it reminded Riley of Fran. Nothing about that even suggests really that it starred Fran Drescher. Could have been a fictional actress that just happened to look like Fran Drescher. Or the character might have still been named "Fran", and that's probably all that was needed to trigger Riley's weepy works.

Zonk! averted. Team Toobworld stand down!



Singer Buck Owens, the flashy rhinestone cowboy who shaped the sound of country music with hits like "Act Naturally" and brought the genre to TV on the long-running "Hee Haw," died at the age of 76.

Owens died at his home in Bakersfield, said family spokesman Jim Shaw. The cause of death was not immediately known. Owens had undergone throat cancer surgery in 1993 and was hospitalized with pneumonia in 1997.

His career was one of the most phenomenal in country music, with a string of more than 20 No. 1 records, most released from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s.

In addition to music, Owens had a highly visible TV career as co-host of "Hee Haw" from 1969 to 1986. With guitarist Roy Clark, he led viewers through a potpourri of country music and hayseed humor.

"It's an honest show," Owens told The Associated Press in 1995. "There's no social message - no crusade. It's fun and simple."

He spent much of his time away concentrating on his business interests, which included a Bakersfield TV station and radio stations in Bakersfield and Phoenix.

"Hee Haw" (1969) TV Series .... Himself (Host) (1969-1986)
"Buck Owens' Ranch Show" (1966) TV Series .... Himself (host)

Murder Can Hurt You (1980) (TV) .... Sheriff Tim MacSkye

- Skrawl, The/Pie Day/Secret Passages (2002) TV Episode (voice) .... Chalk Dad

"The Dukes of Hazzard"
- Hughie Hogg Strikes Again (1981) TV Episode .... Himself



Former Coronation Street actress Lynne Perrie, who played Ivy Tilsley, has died at the age of 75. Perrie, who played the factory worker in the top-rated ITV1 soap from 1979 until 1994, died after suffering a stroke.

Born in Rotherham in 1931, Perrie was best known for the role of "Poison Ivy" Tilsley.

Her character was renowned for interfering, either in the factory politics of Mike Baldwin's business or in the personal lives of her son Brian Tilsley and his wife Gail.

Ivy Tilsley also had a sharp tongue and staunch Roman Catholic beliefs.

The strong-willed Ivy married taxi-driver Don Brennan in June 1988, before leaving the Street to live on a religious retreat.

Her character died off-screen a year after Perrie left the show in 1994.

Perrie later published a book on her time in the soap, entitled Secrets of the Street.

She also appeared as nosy residents association secretary Mrs Petty in the 1970s ITV Diana Dors sitcom Queenie's Castle.

A Granada Television spokeswoman said: "Lynne played one of the wonderful characters on the Street who will be remembered for years to come.

"Our sympathy goes to her family at this sad time."

Street co-star Liz Dawn, who plays Vera Duckworth, said Perrie was "always full of life and great fun to work with".

A statement released on behalf of Perrie's brother, actor Duggie Brown, said she died with her husband and son at her bedside.

The statement said: "Derek and Stephen were with her and she died peacefully."

"Coronation Street" (1960) TV Series .... Ivy Tilsley/Brennan (1971-1994)
"Queenie's Castle" (1970) TV Series .... Miss Petty

"Play for Today"
- Leeds United (1974) TV Episode .... Mollie
- Stryker's Good Deed (1971) TV Episode



Just because 'Everybody Loves Raymond' has left the airwaves, that doesn't mean we've seen the last of Ray Barone's extended family. We just have to extend the search for them a bit further out.

At the turning of the year, Alka Seltzer celebrated its 75th anniversary with a commercial starring Frank and Marie Barone (as portrayed by Peter Boyle and Doris Roberts).

And now we've another branch of the Barone family, perhaps first cousins, in the fourth episode of 'The Sopranos' ("The Fleshy Part Of The Thigh").

Richard Barone, owner of a waste management company, already appeared in 'The Sopranos' in several episodes. Tony Soprano held a phantom job in the company so that he had a W2 for tax purposes as well as for the medical coverage.

But with this new season of 'The Sopranos', Richard "Dick" Barone was dead. Luckily for Toobworld purposes, his character passed away off screen. That way we're spared looking for a splainin as to why Frank Barone was seen at the funeral.

Dick's son Jason was forced to step in - after being kept on the outside all of his life, - to take care of his father's affairs for the sake of his mother. It's possible that if his father (who was played by actor Joe Lisi) was a cousin to Frank Barone, that would mean Ray and Robert Barone were second cousins once removed from Jason Barone.

Or maybe not. I don't know what I'm talking about when it comes to the terminology of genealogy. But I do like looking at the family tree graphs you see in the back of "The Lord Of The Rings".

And there are other possible cousins to be found in the TV Universe. Slightly older than Robert and Raymond Barone would be Paulie Barone, the simpleton of the family, who made a living by driving a hearse. (Paulie was played by David Elliott back in the late 1970s on 'Joe & Valerie'.)

They may have had some kinfolk who took their own advice about California being the place they ought to be - Jon Barone (Richard Garlund), as seen in "Sing Something Simple", an episode of '77 Sunset Strip', and William Vaughn's "Barone" in the 'S.W.A.T.' episode "Omega One". (But that might have been just an alias.)

A couple of years ago, the entire Barone family traveled to Italy to get in touch with their roots. And so it's entirely possible that they could be related to TV characters named Barone, like Marcelo (played by Fulvio Stefanini in 'Suave Veneno') and Nino (from 'Ness Uno Escluso' with Tony Palazzo in the role).

Whether or not they were ever intended to be all related, I have to figure that by now it's too late to deny it within the framework of 'The Sopranos'. (Of course by stating that, I've probably thrown down the gauntlet for them to find a way to poke a hole in my theories.)

One final note: if you studied that list of potential family members carefully enough, you may have noticed something in there......

I'm a sexist pig.

I didn't bother looking up any female characters named "Barone". I figured at best they'd be using the surname as their married name. But as for any unmarried Barone women, well.... they wouldn't be carrying the name into the next generation.

Unless they were very, very naughty.



A woman stopped by the desk tonight and wanted to know the details about going to the 'Today' show.

I told her what time it starts, what time to leave the hotel, what route to take to get there. The usual.

"You're a walking TV Guide!" she beamed.

Wiht the worst possible impression of Jeremy Irons, I said, "You have no idea...."

Although to be fair, at best I'm just the Cheers & Jeers section.


Monday, April 3, 2006


In a way, the TV Crossover crossed over into the 21st Century with this week's top crossover.

In the old days, crossovers were limited to shows which took place in the same location: 'Petticoat Junction' and 'Green Acres', both set in Hooterville; 'Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman' and 'Fernwood 2Night', both set in Fernwood, Ohio; Susan Harris' little corner of Miami with 'The Golden Girls', 'Empty Nest', and 'Nurses'; and the Big Apple mix-n-matches between NBC's 'Friends', 'Mad About You', 'Madman Of The People', 'Caroline In The City', and 'The Single Guy', or over on CBS, 'Cosby', 'Becker', 'Everybody Loves Raymond', and 'The King Of Queens'.

Radiating out from a centralized map, special circumstances needed to be invoked. ABC did just that with the tie-ins to promote the mini-series "The Storm Of The Century". Although that was set about ten years earlier, another snow storm plagued the characters of 'The Drew Carey Show' (Cleveland, Ohio), 'Two Guys, A Girl, And A Pizza Place' (Boston, Massachusetts), and even in the Southern California suburbs of 'The Hughleys'.

'Paper Chase' took place at Harvard up in Boston, while 'The Associates' worked out of Manhattan, but Professor Kingsfield traveled to New York to try a case against one of his former students (and that was also a crossover that leapt networks).

Danny Williams brought his family to Westport, Connecticut, for the chance to enjoy a vacation away from New York at the home he rented from the Ricardos. ('I Love Lucy'/'The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour' & 'Make Room For Daddy'/'The Danny Thomas Show')

It gets even harder when you're trying to lure the televersion of a celebrity to some sitcom location which is off the beaten path: Sammy Davis, Jr. to Queens ('All In The Family'); George Burns and Art Carney to Phoenix ('Alice'); Gore Vidal to Fernwood, Ohio ('Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman'); Bob Denver to 'Evening Shade', Arkansas, and Walter Cronkite to Minneapolis ('The Mary Tyler Moore Show').

Getting Jay Leno to Baltimore for 'Homicide: Life On The Street' probably wasn't too hard - I wouldn't be surprised if he toadies off to wherever his Peacock bosses tell him to show up for a promotional appearance.

'Crossing Jordan', which is set in Boston, has had two crossovers so far with 'Las Vegas', with a smaller one coming up with Woody returning to Sin City. However, the second one was pushing it - the Boston autopsy case had to involve the exact same Vegas casino?

But now there's a new common denominator that makes it easier to splain away getting characters from one side of the country into a crossover with characters from the other side; even with the dramatis personae to be found in other countries:

The Internet.

'George Lopez'

On Wednesday, March 22, these two shows - which previously had nothing more in common than that they followed each other on the ABC schedule just before 'Lost' - did a crossover that used the Internet to bring them into each other's world. 'George Lopez' and his family live in Los Angeles, while 'Freddie' resides in Chicago with his sisters and his grandmother.

But when George found out that his son had an online girlfriend named Zoey, he decided to impersonate Max in a chat room, in order to make sure this "Zoey" wasn't some kind of online predator. Meanwhile, (if I'm not mistaken - heavy events that day in my family prevented me from seeing more than just the tag to the 'Freddie' episode), I think Freddie did the same by pretending to be his younger sister.

George and Ernie accompanied Max to Chicago to finally meet Zoey, and somehow George found himself in the drunk tank with Freddie by the end of the episode. (And that experience added to my Zonk!ish nightmares by referring to a rather corpulent inebriate as "Otis". That might have been easy enough to splain away, but George had to make things worse by mentioning "Mayberry" as well.)

The use of the Internet modernizes the ability to cross over series through communication. 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' once crossed over with its spin-off 'Rhoda' by a simple phone call; and it even used a more primitive form of exchange, that of a letter, for a crossover with its other spin-off, 'Phyllis'.

This particular use of the Internet puts me in mind of a crossover that might have happened due to a wrong number. I'm fairly certain there was such a link made once, but bleeped if I know who was involved now.....

Since 'George Lopez' will have reached the Holy Grail goal of 100 episodes this season, it's no wonder that 'Freddie' decided to grab onto his coattails.

Now if only we can get them blended into the TV Universe at large....


Sunday, April 2, 2006


One last story to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary for 'As The World Turns'....

On November 22, 1963, the first televised report on the shooting of President John F. Kennedy happened at 1:40 pm EST during 'As The World Turns'. The voice of CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite broke into the soap opera with an announcement that could be heard over a bulletin slide visual.

"In Dallas, Texas, three shots were fired at President Kennedy's motorcade in downtown Dallas. The first reports say that President Kennedy has been seriously wounded by this shooting."

Not long after, Cronkite appeared on screen from CBS's New York newsroom to anchor the coverage, which included live reports from Dallas and bulletins from Associated Press and CBS Radio.



Today marks the fiftieth anniversary for 'As The World Turns', a soap opera on CBS which looks at life in Oakdale. (I'm not sure where Oakdale is supposed to be located - the Midwest, perhaps, - but I'm fairly certain it's not the one in Connecticut.)

Helen Wagner, who portrays Nancy Hughes on the show, is now in the Guinness Book of World Records for having played the role for more than fifty years. (But not continuously, as you'll see.)

In fact, she spoke the first words uttered on the show: "Good morning, dear." Perhaps they should tape some kind of scene so that, even if she should have passed away, her character of Nancy Hughes could also recite the closing lines on 'As The World Turns'. (And that may be far in the future, given CBS' hold on the ratings when it comes to soap operas. But Ms. Wagner is 87.....)

The following is the Wikipedia entry on Ms. Wagner, offered in salute to her long-running stint in the role:

Helen Wagner (born
September 3, 1918) is an American actress. She was born in Lubbock, Texas.
She has played matriarch
Nancy Hughes McClosky on the soap opera As The World Turns, with only a few interruptions, since the show's debut in 1956. This has earned her a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. [1]

She has taken some breaks, both voluntary and involuntary. After six months in the role of Nancy, show creator
Irna Phillips fired her because she did not favor the way Wagner poured coffee. After an overwhelming consensus was reached to hire her back, Irna did so begrudgingly.

Wagner left the show again in the early
1980s. Then-producer Mary-Ellis Bunim wished to take the show in a different direction; the show fell out of the top slot in the daytime Nielsen ratings, and Bunim wished to gear the show toward the younger generation by showcasing the Hughes family less. Wagner and co-star Don MacLaughlin walked away from the show after vocal dissent in the press. She returned to the role in 1985.

After many years of little to no part in story, she returned to the screen with a pivotal role in a
2004 storyline, revolving around her grandson's marriage to naïve teenager Alison Stewart (Jessica Dunphy).

Although she has played the role for almost fifty years, she has never won a
Daytime Emmy Award for her work. She was finally awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for her role on the show in May 2004.

Hopefully, we here at Toobworld Central will have no need to salute her with a "Hat Squad" tribute anytime soon!



Bill Beutel, who helped bring about a sea change in the nature of local television news as the dapper and unruffled anchor of "Eyewitness News" at WABC-TV in New York for more than 30 years, died at his home in Pinehurst, N.C. He was 75.

The cause was complications from a progressive neurological disorder, his wife, Adair, said.

Though Mr. Beutel's tenure at "Eyewitness News" stretched from 1970 to 2001, his on-air personality was most strongly defined in the first 16 years, during which he was anchor opposite the wry and sometimes acerbic Roger Grimsby, who died in 1995.

Their innovative style of presenting the news, often called "happy talk" to Mr. Beutel's annoyance, led to imitations in local news broadcasts all over the country.

WABC-TV created the format in 1968 while Mr. Beutel was the London bureau chief for ABC News. Several anchors were tried opposite Mr. Grimsby, but all were consumed by his overpowering personality, said Albert T. Primo, who was then the director of news and public affairs for WABC-TV.

Mr. Beutel, who had been a local anchor before going to London, was brought to New York for a tryout. The two clicked immediately.

"I needed somebody who had confidence in himself and could keep his own style," Mr. Primo said yesterday in an interview. "Sure enough, his experience, his confidence, his presence and his humor came through."

"He was everyman and you could identify with him," Mr. Primo added.

Mr. Beutel's everyman quality was in line with the humanized, man-on-the-street approach of "Eyewitness News." The result was described in February 1972 by John J. O'Connor, the television critic for The New York Times, as "the freshest, brightest and liveliest example of local news coverage on commercial TV."

In keeping with the program's focus on covering stories from the perspective of everyday people, Mr. Beutel also traveled to Vietnam, Israel and Uganda, reporting the New York angle on international stories.

On January 6, 1975, Mr. Beutel joined Stephanie Edwards as host of a new morning show, "AM America," which was created by ABC to compete with the successful "Today" show on NBC and "The CBS Morning News."

The show struggled and on Nov. 3 of that year was replaced by "Good Morning America."

But Mr. Beutel never left "Eyewitness," staying on for another 15 years after Mr. Grimsby left in 1986.

In 1962, he joined ABC as a reporter for the national news broadcast and as an anchor on the local New York news program "The Big News." Up to then his name had been pronounced "BOY-tel," but at the beginning of his first live broadcast on WABC-TV, the narrator pronounced it, "Byoo-TEL." The new pronunciation stuck.

He became the London bureau chief for ABC News in 1968.

Mr. Beutel retired as anchor of "Eyewitness News" in 2001 but continued to work as a correspondent until 2003, including a stint reporting on the civil war in Sierra Leone.

For me, even though I was raised in a CBS family in Connecticut, the team of Roger Grimsby and Bill Beutel on the local ABC affiliate in New York made me feel like I was finally in that New York state of mind when it came to watching TV news. (Followed closely by Bill Jorgenson on the old WNEW and the CBS2 team of Dave Marash and Rolland Smith.)


[Thanks to the New York Times for the obit.]


Dan Curtis, a prolific television producer and director who was best known for shepherding two of the most ambitious mini-series ever made, "The Winds of War," and "War and Remembrance," onto ABC in the 1980's, died in Los Angeles. He was 78.

The cause was brain cancer, his family said. His wife passed away from heart disease little more than a week before him.

Mr. Curtis worked in television for more than four decades on a variety of projects, including westerns, horror movies and golf coverage. He also produced or directed an unusual number of cult television classics, ranging from the memorable, like the original "Dark Shadows" soap opera in the 1960's and the film "The Night Stalker," to the forgettable, like one of the most infamous flops of all time, the 1979 NBC series "Supertrain."

Mr. Curtis's most recent work came just last year, when he produced and directed two movies: "Saving Milly," based on the columnist Morton Kondracke's memoir about his wife's battle with Parkinson's disease, and "Our Fathers," which examined the sexual abuse scandal among priests in the Boston Archdiocese.

He began his career in television in 1950 as a salesman for syndicated shows. A golf lover, he created "Challenge Golf" with Arnold Palmer and Gary Player in the early 1960's, and later "The CBS Match Play Golf Classic," which ran for a decade. He moved into the creative side of television in 1966, when he came up with the idea for "Dark Shadows," a daytime soap opera on ABC featuring vampires and other gothic characters.

The show became an enormous hit, and in the early 1970's Mr. Curtis directed two feature films based on the characters. He continued working in the horror genre by often teaming up with the "Twilight Zone" writer Richard Matheson. The two men collaborated on the original "Night Stalker" movie with Darren McGavin.

Mr. Curtis and Mr. Matheson also worked together on a project for ABC called "Trilogy of Terror," which was remembered by a generation of fans for the Zuni Fetish doll that left viewers limp with fright.

Barry Diller, then running the Paramount Studio, brought him in to direct and produce an 18-hour adaptation of the Herman Wouk bestseller "The Winds of War," starring Robert Mitchum and Ali McGraw. The film, which traced the origins of World War II, set ratings records for ABC. "He was full-throated, full-bodied, sure of himself, commanding — a great general," Mr. Diller said.

Mr. Curtis followed that success with an even bigger mini-series, an adaptation of Mr. Wouk's sequel, "War and Remembrance." Lasting 30 hours, it remains the longest mini-series ever made for network television. Mr. Curtis won an Emmy Award for the production.

[Thanks to the New York Times for that obit.]

Here is a list of Dan Curtis' work as a director and/or producer in TV:

Our Fathers (2005) (TV)
Saving Milly (2005) (TV)
The Love Letter (1998) (TV)
Trilogy of Terror II (1996) (TV)
Me and the Kid (1993)
Intruders (1992) (TV)
"Dark Shadows" (1991) TV Series
Dark Shadows (1990) (TV)
"War and Remembrance" (1988) (mini) TV Series
"The Winds of War" (1983) (mini) TV Series
The Long Days of Summer (1980) (TV)
The Last Ride of the Dalton Gang (1979) (TV)
Mrs. R's Daughter (1979) (TV)
"Supertrain" (1979) TV Series
Express to Terror (1979) (TV)
When Every Day Was the Fourth of July (1978) (TV)
Curse of the Black Widow (1977) (TV)
The Great Ice Rip-Off (1976) (TV)
The Kansas City Massacre (1975) (TV)
Trilogy of Terror (1975) (TV)
The Turn of the Screw (1974/I) (TV)
Melvin Purvis G-MAN (1974) (TV)
Scream of the Wolf (1974) (TV)
The Norliss Tapes (1973) (TV)
The Night Strangler (1973) (TV)
Dracula (1973/I) (TV)
The Invasion of Carol Enders (1973) (TV) (uncredited)
Dead of Night: A Darkness at Blaisedon (1969) (TV)
"Dark Shadows" (1966) TV Series

Night of Dark Shadows (1971)
House of Dark Shadows (1970)

[Thanks to the]



It seems the readers of Maureen Ryan's column, "The Watcher", are a little too into the whole TV Universe concept.

And here I thought such a thing was impossible!




A day late, but what're ya gonna do?


[Thanks to TV Barn - see the link on the left - for pointing this out!]



Hands down, the best reason to finally get a TiVo, or to at least sign up for my cable company's DVR service: