Saturday, May 20, 2006
TOOBWORLD JIBBER JABBER
The Dictionary of American Slang from the HarperCollins Reference Library defines "jibber-jabber" as nonsensical talk. It came into Toobworld popularity in the 1980s with its frequent use by Mr. T as B.A. Baracus on 'The A-Team'.
But now the phrase is having a resurgence in the last few months.
On 'Boston Legal', it was the favorite phrase of Judge Robert Sanders (followed closely by "poopycock"). And in the finale of 'That 70s Show', it was uttered by Andrew, a somewhat upper-class Brit-like twit from the same isand (but the other side) where Fez grew up.
As for its use by the Master himself, sucka, Mr. T can be heard using it in "The New Adventures of Mr. T", a cartoon that makes up the "TV Funhouse" segment of 'Saturday Night Live'. And during a blipvert promo for his talk/"advice" show coming to TV Land in October.
There are a lot of blogs out there who've worked it into their names, so it's a good thing I didn't use it as well. Bad enough CBS is cranking up "innertube" for their online content. But at least I was using my version first.
They just have to deal with Richard Huff at the New York Daily News.
SPINOFF CITY: A NEW "RAVEN" HAVEN
Kyle Massey and Rondell Sheridan will reprise their roles as Cory and his father Victor. And the plotline will thrust not only 'Cory In The House' out of Earth Prime-Time, but 'That's So Raven as well for having spawned it.
In the series, Victor will be chosen to be the personal chef for the newly-elected President of the United States. (So that makes for a nice tie-in with the November launch of the show.) And the show will follow Cory's attempts to adjust to life in Foggy Bottom. This includes his attempts to fit in at an exclusive Washington school, as well as dealing with the president's 8 year old daughter.
(Having never seen 'That's So Raven', I have no clue as to how old the character of Cory is supposed to be.)
Right there you can see why both shows now have to be banished to another TV dimension - on Earth Prime-Time, the main Toobworld, the POTUS is George W. Bush, and he doesn't have an 8 year old daughter.
Just two daughters who sometimes act like 8 year olds.
Ba dum DUM.
The POTUS for this dimension has already been named - Richard Martinez, the first Hispanic President for his dimension; the second for all of Toobworld. (Luis Santiago, the President in 'Babylon 5' was the President for all of Earth.)
The role of President Richard Martinez has yet to be cast, but it's a shame he has to show up at all. First off, he could have been kept out of the program altogether, and just mentioned as being "The President". And that way we could assume Victor was the personal chef for W.
Of course, this would mean wiping out the character of the 8 year old as well. And this being a Disney Channel show, that would have been unlikely since it's all aimed at the kids. More than likely this concept has a built-in spinoff of its own for that daughter.
But had they never named the President, and we knew that he was of Hispanic background by virtue of his 8 year old daughter, we could have assumed we were once more back in the dimension of 'The West Wing'. And the daughter could be assumed to be the daughter of Matthew and Helen Santos. (The difference in her looks due to casting could have been splained away somehow. And the loss of her brother's presence? He was still going to the public school first chosen by their parents.)
It would not have been difficult to carry off the show without ever learning the 8 year old's last name, and thus the last name of the President. For a "decade" (the 70s) we never learned the true full name of Fez on 'That 70s Show', nor the country from which he came. And as with that sitcom, 'Cory In The House' could have utilized that idea as a running gag.
The timing would have been perfect to align both shows in the same dimension, as this November Matt Santos will also be elected to the Presidency.
But noooooooo, it's to be President Richard Martinez and so 'Cory In The House' must be assigned to its own dimension; or at least to one in which it doesn't matter who the President of the United States is. For the moment, I can't think of a dimension already occupied by other TV shows which needs a different President from that of George W. Bush. (There are other reasons for alternate TV dimensions besides a difference in the Commander in Chief.)
But as I said, 'Cory In The House' won't be lonely over in that new TV dimension. Because it's a spinoff from 'That's So Raven', Raven herself must be deemed an occupant of it as well. And that's even with the fact that the original series has wrapped production after 100 episodes.
I suppose the argument could be made that the original series remains in the main Toobworld, and that it's an alt. dimensional version of Raven whose friend heads off to a different Washington, DC, but it seems all too busy. Best to stick with the Occam's Razor splainin.
Friday, May 19, 2006
GUEST SPOT: BRIAN-EL ON "INVASION"
It's official: ABC has canceled 'Invasion'. There was some talk of the new CW Network picking it up, but apparently it's too expensive for them.
I haven't been so pissed-off about a show being canceled since probably 'Lou Grant'--and that had been on the air for several seasons and was arguably headed downhill.
'Invasion' had one season, a season which spent its time slowly building up the suspense and horror and developing its characters masterfully. Last week's episode literally gave me chills--and I can't recall any TV show doing that since I was a kid watching 'Twilight Zone'.
'Invasion' gets my vote for best show of the 2005-6 TV season, a season which included terrific shows like 'Lost', 'Arrested Development', 'Scrubs', '24', and 'Boston Legal'. It was, I think, better than any of the similar shows which preceded it, like "V" and even, yes, 'The X-Files' (although admittedly 'The X-Files' had some superb individual episodes).
And I thought Shaun Cassidy would never amount to anything...
I didn't agree. I gave it a few episodes, but time is short in Toobworld, even without commercial breaks, and I couldn't waste any more of mine to the show. Besides, after seeing any episode of 'Lost', I was always too jazzed to watch anything else. Even last year, I just wasn't in the mood to watch 'The West Wing' following 'Lost'. And I loved 'The West Wing'.
So I wrote to him and hoped that he would enjoy it, and that it would have the resolution he was seeking.
After seeing the final episode, Brian-El wrote back:
It had *some* resolution, but certainly not enough. Really there would have been no way to do it right given the story arc. There was a"cliffhanger", but it was low-key--I think (based on an article I read)that it was the one thing Cassidy was able to change in time--that is, making it a "muted" clffhanger instead of a more agonizing one, as you say.
Apparently ABC had given them the impression that the show would be renewed, and that didn't change until the final episodes were beingwrapped.
Actually, I'm glad I knew while watching it that it would be the end--that way, I could sit there and think up possible resolutions of my own. BTW,did I mention that I'm now an alien-human hybrid? So are you.
And I would still recommend watching 'Invasion' on DVD if it ever comes out.
Silly human hybrid. He has no clue who - what! - my people are......
WISH-CRAFT: 'BOSTON LEGAL'
If once, just once, there was a scene which had Denny Crane sharing the screen with senior partner Paul Lewiston and their L.A. client Courtney Reece.
Why? Because Denny Crane is played by William Shatner; Rene Auberjenois plays Paul; and the guest star was Jeri Ryan as Courtney.
And even though it may seem o'bvious to me to point this out, Shatner played Captain Kirk in the original 'Star Trek', Auberjenois was Chief Constable Odo on 'Deep Space Nine', and Jeri Ryan was the former Borg, Seven of Nine on 'Voyager'.
That would have provided a great frame grab to launch any number of fanfic stories.
But noooooooo! Paul had to stay behind in Boston to oversee the catfight between Marilyn Stanger and Denise Bauer.
In the end, he probably got the better deal......
AN "IDOL" THOUGHT
But even though I haven't been watching 'AI', I still know who was in the running. How could I avoid that? You can't open a paper or peruse any of the major TV-oriented websites without seeing something about "McFeever" or Chris Daughtry being robbed, only to join up with one of his favorite bands.
So I know the name of Elliott Yamin, but really never saw what he looked like. Until this morning, when I logged into AOL and saw his face grinning out at me from one of their news stories.
Is it just me.... or does Elliott look like Mr. Tumnus from "The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe"?
TELE-COGS: THE HALF-BAKED BOSTON BEAN
Later, while relaxing with his best friend on the patio of his office, Alan Shore assured Denny that they'd still be together next season.
"Same night?" asked Denny.
Alan could only hope.
If that exchange was happening at the exact moment it aired, then perhaps their version of ABC had not yet announced their fall schedule at their upfronts. However, in the Real World, they were announced that morning - of course, too late to do anything about it in production of the episode.
Denny Crane remains the most tele-cognizant of TV characters in Toobworld today. I sometimes refer to Tele-cognizance (a condition in which the "sufferer" knows he or she is living in a TV universe) as "Addison's Syndrome"; naming it for David Addison of 'Moonlighting' who was also afflicted with the ailment.
I'd name it after Denny, but he likes saying his name so much that I don't think he'd like to share it.
THE HAT SQUAD: LEW ANDERSON
- Howdy Doody
Lew Anderson, the last in a long line of actors to have played one of the most beloved TV characters from the early days of television, has passed away after a long illness. Lew Anderson died on May 14th having just reached his 84th birthday.
He was the leader, composer and arranger of the “Lew Anderson All American Big Band” and was famous for his portrayal of “Clarabell the Clown” on NBC – TV’s 'Howdy Doody Show'. (The role was originated by Bob Keeshan of 'Captain Kangaroo' immortality. On the episode of 'Happy Days' in which Clarabell appeared, Robert Brunner played the part.)
He was born on May 7th In Kirkman, Iowa, the son of Lloyd Anderson, a railroad telegrapher, and Nell Whisler, a stay at home mother.
In the late 1940’s Lew joined the popular singing group “The Honey Dreamers” as both vocalist and arranger. With this group he appeared on Dave Garroway’s 'Garroway at Large' TV show, The Kay Kyser TV and radio show, 'The Steve Allen Show' and 'The Ed Sullivan Show'.
Their hit records brought them to the attention of Bob Smith who asked them to be part of an NBC-TV musical show he produced. (Mr. Smith at the time was also hosting the children’s TV show “Howdy Doody”.)
When the fellow playing Clarabell decided to move on, the producers spotted Lew’s Midwest sense of humor and asked him to take over the part.
They inquired, “Do you juggle?”
Lew answered “No.”
“What can you do?”
“Perfect. You start tomorrow.”
(That sounds like the perfect TV job for me.....)
Lew became Clarabell the Clown and stayed in the role for many years. Clarabell never spoke except with his two bicycle horns – one for “yes”, the other “no”. He also became a master of the seltzer bottle spraying all targets – especially Mr. Smith during the broadcasts.
One of TV’s most memorable moments occurred when 'Howdy Doody' finally went off the air on September 24, 1960. At the end of the show, the camera came in tight to Lew’s face and with a tear in his eye finally spoke saying “Goodbye Kids”.
That scene has played over and over in TV highlight programs.
A memorial service will be held at the First Congregational Church of Ridgefield, CT on Monday, May 22 at 4:00 p.m.
"[People] tell me how important we were to their growing-up years," Anderson once said. "People tell me what an impact the show had on their lives, and that they wish they could have a show like that today. It is very gratifying, of course. I'm sure glad that something good came out of that thing."
[cobbled together from various online reports]
BEHIND THE SCENES: @ DANZA'S
Today, my mother and I planned to see your show. It was a particularly special day for mom, because, at 76, she doesn't come into New York any more, but she's a really big fan of yours -- partly because you grew up in her neighborhood -- so we took vacation days from work, happily anticipating the treat. I'd written for tickets back in January and was so pleased to get the letter and the phone call.
In the letter from your staff was a highlighted line that read, "NO earlier than 11:30, no later than 12:00 noon." When Monica called, she said the same thing -- stressed it, even.
And so we, and a number of other people who were going to your show, waited in Starbucks until 11:15. At 11:15, we thought we might be impolitely early, but we were hoping for good seats. At 11:20, there were already dozens of people on line. Our little Starbucks group was the very last before the rope went up. One is a dialysis nurse who'd just finished a 12-hour shift and brought her 80-year-old mother. Another is a couple who got up at 4:30 this morning and rode in from Allentown, Pennsylvania, on a bus.
Now I was just hoping this was a fairly large studio....
It isn't, though, and after standing around on a grate -- in heels -- for over an hour, watching what seemed like random distribution of little blue numbered tickets (it's probably easier to get into Bungalow 8) and members of your staff who were mainly talking to each other, and who, when they tried to speak to the crowd, were inaudible, we realized that something had gone amiss. After at least another 15 minutes of standing tippy-toed on the grate, I was told -- only when I asked -- that there were no more tickets. Our coffee klatch was turned away by a staff that, while polite, was entirely disinterested in discussing it.
My mom thinks you're wonderful. She watches your show every chance she gets. She and my aunts discuss it at length. They were actually a bit giddy over the whole idea of her getting to see your show. They even collect your clippings, which mom -- in a first (except, I think, for a teenage letter to Frank Sinatra) -- wrote you a little note, with a couple of your own clippings her sister had sent her. You're their good neighborhood Brooklyn boy. I think that's in the note. She gave it to one of your staff when we left. I hope you got it.
These other folks from Starbucks think the world of you, too. While talking to them, it struck me that your fans are really nice people. It's a great thing to be able to have such nice people as fans. They deserved better.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
RETURN ENGAGEMENTS II
Looks like I was too fast out of the gate with the earlier "Return Engagements" post today.
Tonight was the series finale of 'That 70's Show', ending right at the stroke of midnight on December 31st, 1979.
I already knew Kelso was going to return to ring out the old, but I was surprised to see Eric Foreman come back as well. He's certainly grown a lot since we first met him years ago. And here in the Real World, Topher Grace - the actor who played him - will probably have a great future ahead of him in whatever acting field he sets his sight on. (Don't burn your Toobworld bridges, Toph!)
And Kevin Bacon made a return visit to 'Will & Grace' tonight, if only in Grace's dreams.
Still at least a week to go for Sweeps..... Who's next?
Debra Messing's character is brutally murdered by the DNA-enhanced super-humans she was tracking.
What? She's playing Grace Adler, not Dr. Sloan Parker?
This isn't 'Prey'? Never mind.
'Will & Grace'? Laughed a few times, but never a fan.
WISH-CRAFT: "THE SIMPSONS"
At the chalkboard, Bart is writing out "Dustin Hoffman IS Sam Etic."
Hoffman had appeared in an episode which spoofed "The Graduate" but he didn't have his name appear in the credits. Neither did Michael Jackson when he appeared. I think at the time, making a gues vocal appearance on 'The Simpsons' was looked down upon.
After those appearances, if I remember correctly, Matt Groening put his foot (yellow-skinned and four-toed, no doubt) down and insisted that if celebrities wanted to appear on his show, they'd have to take the credit... and the heat, if any.
DEATH TAKES A STATION BREAK
In fact, had she been a resident of Seattle rather than Phoenix, she might have noticed his resemblance to a certain radio talk show host/psychiatrist.
Death has appeared on a lot of TV shows in a variety of forms. Had it been an appearance by Satan or one of the alt. dimensional aliens who passed themselves off as the Greek gods, or an appearance by God Almighty, the splainin for their change in appearance would be easy. Each of them have the power to alter their appearance whenever they see fit.
God once appeared as the very character He was visiting in his coma, explaining that Wayne Fiscus was made in His image after all. ('St. Elswhere')
But when it comes to Death, it's not that he's altering his image with each appearance in a TV show. If he could, don't you think he'd always look like a matinee idol? ('The Twilight Zone' - "Nothing In The Dark")
Each time he shows up, it's a different "Death", because it's not the man, it's the occupation. Death is nothing more than a job title. (Officially, it's "Angel of Death"). It's something for them to put down on their tax forms each year.
Although some of them are addressed as "Mr. Death" ('General Electric Theater' - "The Rider On The Pale Horse"), many of them have actual names. Andrew was often teamed up with the angels Monica and Tess for their missions on Earth ('Touched By An Angel'), while Michael was spotted down on 'Fantasy Island' working in cahoots with the Gallifreyan Time Lord known as Rourke ("The Angels' Triangle/Natchez Bound"). And that "matinee idol" who posed as a wounded policeman to gain access to Wanda Dunn's hovel used the name of Harold Beldon ('The Twilight Zone' - "Nothing In The Dark").
Over in the Tooniverse, however, Death is the same guy no matter what show he appears on, from 'Family Guy' to 'The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy'.
Death for the Tooniverse is also a traditionalist. He wears the standard issue hooded black robe and wields the regulation scythe, as he did in the Broadway production of 'Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol'. For most of the time while he's on the clock as the Grim Reaper, he wears that hood pulled forward so that his face can't be seen. But when he's kicking back with his young friends Billy and Mandy, Death has no trouble with allowing his grim visage to be seen.
As to the changes in his voice, that can be attributed to role-playing on his part. After a while, harvesting souls and snuffing out lives gets to be kind of a hum-drum civil service occupation; not unlike being a mailman I should think. So Death livens it up a bit by assuming different personalities.
Or it could be that he's just wacked. If you had a Mother like Death's, maybe you'd be driven crazy too. ('Family Guy' - "Death Lives")
Back on Earth Prime-Time, we have seen a lot of the employees in the Death Industry. Some of them obviously got hired because of who they know... or knew, considering the hazards of being acquainted with Death.
I'm not sure if they have any sort of SATs that they have to take in order to apply for the job of Death, but they should at least be given psychiatric evaluations before they take up the profession.
There was one Death who was suicidal, until he was talked out of doing his job by an idealistic doctor. Once that doctor realized the downside of a world in which Death no longer operated, it took all of his persuasive skills to convince Death to get back in the game... only to learn too late that his name had been next on Death's list. That's why he found Death "hanging" around the hospital where he worked. ('The Twilight Zone' - "One Night At Mercy")
Some of them may even have been actual Toobworld characters in other shows who had passed on to find something else to do in the afterlife.
This could have been the case with former photojournalist Dennis "Animal" Price, who used to work for the Los Angeles Tribune ('Lou Grant'). Perhaps after his career faltered at the newspaper, "Animal" explored his interest in the Dark Arts. Finally he attained the ranking of First Warlock and served in that capacity in the New England town of Harmony until his untimely death ('Passions'). But then, less than a year later, he returned to Harmony in his new guise as Death.
No sense in wasting good talent.
Some of these members of the Death Squad are able to cross over into other TV dimensions. One of the most imposing employees in the Death program - six foot five and with a rumbling voice that could have found a home in the Hammer films - used to work over in France ('Les Redoutables') at the dawn of the new Millennium. However, nearly a quarter of a century before, he was plying his trade in the alternate TV dimension dedicated to comedy sketches. There, he visited a young girl to comfort her after he came to claim her dog Tippy. And he promised to visit her again on her sixteenth birthday...... ('Saturday Night Live')
Another Death who was visiting from a universe created from Man's Imagination crossed over from the Operatic Universe. He was probably summoned to Toobworld by the daemonic powers and musical stylings of Mr. Sweet ('Buffy The Vampire Slayer' - "Once More With Feeling"). In fact, this Death visited "The Labyrinth" in the TV Universe twice in 1950 and in 1962, bringing his assistant along for the ride. That means that with the second visitation, this Operatic Death would have been shunted off to Earth Prime-Time Delay, the world of the remakes.
As noted above, Death does not always act alone. Obviously he oftentimes uses others to actually carry out the Deed - it can be so messy, after all, - but he sometimes also has assistants for the grunt work. Usually for the clerical stuff; lots of filing, that sort of thing.
Occasionally, Death recruits from the very ranks of those he was sent to ferry over to the Other Side. There was one woman who actively sought out Death and he was so taken by her enthusiasm, he allowed her to accompany him on his rounds ('The Twilight Zone' - "Rendezvous In A Dark Place").
And that brings up another point. I'm sorry if I sounded sexist in what I've already written, usually addressing Death as "he"; when in fact, there are several employees in the program who are females. (I'm not sure, considering they are only assuming the human form, if I can actually call them men and women.)
Female Deaths have been known to work the Chicago area ('Chicago Hope' - "Cold Hearts"), Llanview, Pennsylvania, ('One Life To Live'), and a remote plateau in South America where dinosaurs still roam ('The Lost World' - "End Game").
Death can be found anywhere, from the mundane to the fabulous. From the mean streets of New York City ('The Twilight Zone' - "One For The Angels") and the hills of San Francisco ('Charmed' - "Styx Feet Under" & "Apocalypse, Not" [Two different Deaths worked that beat.]) and in the City of Angels ('Six Feet Under' - "In The Game") to the fabled empire of China ('Shirley Temple's Storybook' - "The Nightingale") to the palaces of Atlantis ("The Emperor Of Atlantis") and the hallways of crypt-like "Gormenghast".
Death is not Earth-bound, as any red-shirt on 'Star Trek' could tell you that. Death has found his way to the farthest reaches of outer space ('Red Dwarf' - "Only The Good....")
Where will he show up next? So long as there are TV shows like '24' and 'Lost' and 'ER', Death will always be around. But so far as a physical manifestation, who's to say? 'Supernatural' is a possibility for next season; even 'Smallville'.
Personally, I'd start watching 'American Idol' if Death could be involved in the elimination rounds.
"Seacrest Out" indeed!
"I really don't think I'd ever go back to television," she said, "and not just because I'm above it, but because I really don't think I could ever top that experience."
That might have been considered a save there at the end - after all, how could she possibly land a role better than that of Rachel Greene? Look how hard it was for Mary Tyler Moore to land a successsful series after her eponymous sitcom ended in 1977.
But she killed any goodwill with that "not JUST because I'm above it".
I'd call her a snob, but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt. Upturned noses could be the result of plastic surgery......
How often have we seen this happen in the past fifty years? And how often have we seen those same actors eventually come crawling back to the medium that spawned them?
Not everybody can count on Quentin Tarantino to come along and rescue their careers....
Right now on the cover of the latest "IN" magazine (a give-away you find in NYC hotels), one of the headlines promises why Julianna Margulies doesn't find it "a turn-on" to appear on TV anymore.
Of course, she's not about to turn up the chance to be on 'The Sopranos'.....
I'm surprised Aniston would make a crack like that. I would think her film career is currently on life support; that there's actually a death-watch for it now after such bombs as 'Rumor Has It', 'Friends With Money', and 'Derailed'. Those films which were hits at the box office - 'Bruce Almighty', 'Along Came Polly' (Or... was it?) - were due more to her male co-stars than for her participation.
She'd be better off sticking with those smaller films in which she made a decent impression - like 'Office Space', 'The Good Girl', and 'RockStar'.
Does she really think her new flick with Vince Vaughn is going to put her officially into the stratosphere as a movie star? She may not get a little man for her efforts at the next Academy Awards, but I hear she's getting a lotta little Vince, at least.......
You know what's going to happen? When her film career finally does crash and burn, she'll try to come back to TV and find that the public just doesn't care anymore. Matt LeBlanc couldn't do it and he never left in the first place as 'Joey'!
And then Jen will whine that the audience was showing resentment because she dared to take some time off to try her hand at movies.
"But we were on a break!"
Boo hoo hoo.
'General Hospital' has been racking up a few returnees this past year with not only Anna Devane, but also her husband Robert Scorpio, his ex-wife Holly Sutton Scorpio, and Dr. Noah Drake.
But 'GH' doesn't have a lock on the comeback market. 'Days Of Our Lives' alumni Patch and Kayla will be coming back to Salem this summer. (Patch on June 9th, and Kayla on June 12th.)
Primetime had a couple of notable returnees this past month. Although in the case of Sam Seaborn on 'The West Wing', Josh Lyman had to go out to "The OC" (the area, not the show) to drag him back to the Beltway.
But the big Comeback news so far this year, and probably with a lock on the Toobit award for Best Return come the end of the year - Sarah Jane Smith on 'Doctor Who'. I'll have more on that when I get around to making the crossover for the episode "School Reunion".
"LOST" IN MY DREAMS
This happens a lot to me. I find myself inserting myself in some way into a favorite show, usually though as just an o'bserver.
I like to watch.
In the dream, I was going in to the hatch (the ante-room of which looked like my subway station) and saw a woman with two teenage boys. All three of them were light-skinned blacks, waiting by the entrance and using a phone to call inside.
"I just want to see him," says the huge, heavy-set oldest teen. "He's my Dad."
And I begin to wonder: whose son could he be, and how does this fit into the story? They're black, so could they be Michael's kids? Or Eko's? Bernard married Rose; could he have fathered kids with another black woman years earlier?
Man, I'm obsessed with this show!
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
He certainly has the qualifications:
'Caroline In The City'
And two of those are series in which he starred, not just guest spot crossovers.
And if he had to guess which two, I'll bet he wouldn't get it right on his first try......
Robyn Sanseverino appears to be all-business, no-nonsense, in her professional approach to her duties. But she has expressed some empathy for those she's had to deal with, especially Adriana La Cerva. And it can't be easy to develop a bond with a turncoat only to learn that more than likely they've been "disappeared" as was the case with Adriana, or to see them just slump over dead while getting the goods from them, as happened with Ray Curto.
It's my belief that law enforcement is in Robyn Sanseverino's blood. And that this same drive to fight crime can be found in other members of her family. Specifically, a twin sister whom we met in Toobworld twenty years before in an episode of 'The Equalizer', Sandra Stahl.
Sandra was a "Lady Cop" in Manhattan who in 1985 had to seek out the services of Robert McCall when she discovered that her partner and at least two other patrolmen were crooked. These cops were willing to go to any lengths to insure their secret was safe, and that included the possibility of murder to keep Sandra quiet.
I'm not very familiar with the episode, but I think the life of her father, Marvin Stahl, was threatened by her partner. In fact, he may have even been killed to show how serious they were about her silence.
During this trying time in Sandra's life, Robyn was probably still in training with the Bureau. It's easy to imagine that learning of the travails of her father and sister only hardened her own determination to succeed as an agent.
Other family members might have been responsible for inspiring them both to pursue careers in law enforcement, for reasons either good or ill.
Perhaps their grandfather had been an FBI agent himself back in the forties, one who dealt with a consulting detective by the name of Nero Wolfe ('A Nero Wolfe Mystery - "Over My Dead Body: Parts 1 & 2).
Going even farther back, they could have been related to a Texas sheriff named Leland Stahl ('Walker, Texas Ranger' - "Way Of The Warrior").
Or maybe they had an uncle who was a police lieutenant in Los Angeles ('Police Story' -"The Other Side of the Badge").
Or it could be that they wanted to bring honor back to the family name after relatives by the names of Dan and John Stahl got in trouble with the Feds back in the mid 1960s. ('The F.B.I.' - "Desperate Journey")
Sanseverino, Stahl... the reason why they have different last names? I think that if they are identical twins, then Robyn is - or was - married to somebody named Sanseverino. It's my belief that she's probably divorced. It would certainly go a long way toward splaining her dour attitude.
And why is she now divorced? Well, I hate to play on ethnic stereotypes, but maybe Mr. Sanseverino was somehow involved in the very illegal activities that Robyn now fights. Not that he was a member of an organized crime family himself, but perhaps Sanseverino got in over his head dealing with Paulie Walnuts or "Christuphuh". And so Robyn might hold Tony Soprano responsible for the destruction of her marriage.
Or maybe I'm just blowing smoke.....
By the way, tonight Karen Young appeared on the season finale of 'Law & Order' as Ms. Milford, a defense attorney for a corrupt DEA officer. But I don't think she makes the trifecta for the Stahl family. Instead, she's just one of many characters out there played by Karen Young who just happen to look alike in Toobworld.
For alls I know, there could be some significant difference in her appearance that sets her apart from Sandra and Robyn, but we just can't see it from our perspective in the Real World.
Ya never know with Young Women......
THE HAT SQUAD: SCOTT BRAZIL
Especially when I'm the same age......
Emmy-winning producer-director Scott Brazil, whose television shows included 'The Shield' and 'Hill Street Blues', has died at the age of 50.
Brazil died of respiratory failure due to Lou Gehrig's disease and lyme disease complications, FX Networks spokesman John Solberg said.
Brazil was executive producer of "The Shield," the first original drama series on FX Networks, and he directed 11 episodes. Brazil and "Shield" creator and executive producer Shawn Ryan won the 2002 Golden Globe for drama series.
Although his condition had worsened, Brazil used a motorized wheelchair to go about his duties as "The Shield" producer-director, Ryan said.
"He worked... to the very last day, talking to the writers, doing casting and prepping our next episode," Ryan said. "That's what made all this so stunning for us. We're kind of shocked."
"This was really one of the great guys of Hollywood," he added.
Brazil also directed episodes of "Nip/Tuck," "Grey's Anatomy," "CSI: Miami," "NCIS," "JAG," "Nash Bridges" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." He also directed the pilot of "Playmakers" for ESPN.
As a producer on NBC's "Hill Street Blues," Brazil won two Emmys for drama series in 1983 and 1984, and a Golden Globe in 1983 for TV drama series.
Director - filmography
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer"
"The Burning Zone"
The Commish: In the Shadow of the Gallows
"Harts of the West"
"Hill Street Blues"
Producer - filmography
"The Shield" (2002) TV Series (co-executive producer) (executive producer)
Like Mother Like Son: The Strange Story of Sante and Kenny Kimes (2001) (TV) (co-executive producer)
"Gideon's Crossing" (2000) TV Series (co-executive producer)
"L.A. Doctors" (1998) TV Series (co-executive producer)
"Cracker" (1997) TV Series (co-executive producer)
"Live Shot" (1995) TV Series (executive producer)
Lifepod (1993) (TV) (executive producer)
"Space Rangers" (1993/I) TV Series (executive producer)
"WIOU" (1990) TV Series (executive producer)
"TV 101" (1988) TV Series (executive producer)
"Hill Street Blues" (producer)
Thornwell (1981) (TV) (associate producer)
[from the IMDb.com]
FRAKKIN' ZONK! IN STARS HOLLOW!
He goes on to quote Grillo-Marxuach further in that it was "as decisive an acknowledgment of ('Battlestar) Galactica’s newfound hipness as you are likely to find. To have a character in a show that is as relentlessly incompatible with most of the conventions of genre as 'Gilmore Girls' acknowledge Ron Moore’s reimagining of Glenn Larson’s contribution to the vernacular is - to quote another sci-fi icon - 'fantastic.'"
(That other icon would be the Ninth Incarnation of the Time Lord in 'Doctor Who'.)
It's a nice mainstream tip o' the hat for 'Battlestar Galactica', true. But it does serve up a Zonk! that must be dealt with.
The Battlestar WIKI has this to say about this intergalactic expletive:
"Frak" is derived from the Original Series expletive, "frack", which was used in character dialogue far less than its counterpart in the Re-imagined Series.
The re-imagined series' production team said they felt that "frack" should be a four-letter word, hence "frak".
However, when we hear the term in the show, and in that particular episode of 'Gilmore Girls', we don't hear it as being spelled out. So in Earth Prime-Time, it has to be heard as "Fracking Celine Dion", because it is the original 'BG' series which shares the same dimension as 'GG'.
The Battlestar and the rest of its ragtag fleet finally arrived in Earth's solar system over 25 yarrens - sorry! - 25 years ago. In that time, they must have finally brought all of their people down to the planet's surface and integrated them into societies all over the world.
(And more than likely the Eugenics Wars of the late 1990s were instigated by members of the Twelve Colonies; who were either trying to shore up the planet's defenses before the anticipated arrival of the Cylons, or who were just lusting for power.)
Some of those "Galactican" refugees may have settled in Stars' Hollow, Connecticut, during the last quarter of a century. They would have found the small town to be the perfect place to hide away their unique natures.
The Gilmores take too much pride in their well-documented lineage to have just suddenly materialized in the area in 1980, so it's unlikely that Richard and his ancient mother were smuggled in from outer space.
(Although Marion Ross certainly did carry off that matriarchal high priestess vibe, just like that old pro T'Pau.)
But who knows about the other side of Rory's family? Could it be that Lorelai's love child by Christopher Hayden, Rory Gilmore herself, might be the half-blood princess of Earth and Caprica?
Maybe that's how Lorelai first learned of the pejorative term "fracking". She certainly would have had plenty of opportunity to use it when she was with Christopher.
But I'm sure there must be other candidates in Stars Hollow for suspicion as Galacticans......
What about Luke Danes? Running that coffee shop gives him a pretty low profile in which to avoid notice. And how about Sookie St. James; perhaps taking her alias from another Connecticut resident, Susan St. James? Maybe Michel Gerard assumes that foreign identity to mask how truly foreign he really is!
And then there's Kirk Gleason, who seems to be a pretty odd duck. Maybe "Kirk Gleason" is an alias chosen as a code to signify his true status among the Galacticans.
Let's avoid any possible Zonk!s which would crop up by pointing out the obvious 'Trek' connection..... "Kirk" means "church", and even in Toobworld, Jackie Gleason was considered "The Great One"........
There was a religious element on board the Galactican fleet.... Could they have been trying to signify that Kirk Gleason is a messianic mailman?
Sounds like a load of felgercarb to me........
At any rate, it's quite possible that Lorelai Gilmore grew up among Galactican refugee children and picked up a few choice words from their vocabulary, like "fracking".
And as such, a Zonk! has once again been averted.
Now what about a Celine/Cylon possibility.......?
I bet that'll keep you awake tonight!
THE HAT SQUAD: FRANKIE THOMAS, JR.
The Solar Guards website celebrates the science fiction programs of the 1950s. I checked them out this morning after watching a DVD of 'Rocky Jones, Space Ranger' and found the following notice:
May 12th, 2006:
Frankie Thomas, Jr., died this evening at the Sherman Oaks Hospital of respiratory failure while recovering from a stroke.
We've lost Tom Corbett...
Jan Merlin played Roger Manning on 'Tom Corbett, Space Cadet' and they were life-long friends.
If you visit the Solar Guards, you'll find that they have set up a memorial page for Frankie Thomas Jr. where you can add your thoughts and any pictures you might have.
An hour later, the New York Sun was delivered and the security chief pointed out a lengthy tribute/obituary which was published for Frankie Thomas, Jr.
Here's the relevant segment from the L.A. Times obituary written by Dennis McLellan:
(Frankie) Thomas moved back to New York and worked frequently in radio and early television, including the soap opera "A Woman to Remember." In 1950, he was cast in the title role of Tom Corbett, a Space Academy cadet in training to become a member of the elite Solar Guard, 400 years in the future.
In landing the title role in the children's adventure show, Thomas beat out a number of young actors, including Jack Lemmon.
"Frankie looked like the all-American boy," said Jan Merlin, who played the wisecracking cadet Roger Manning ("So what happens now, space heroes?").
"There was a style of acting that kids in those days had, particularly Hollywood kids," Merlin told The Times. "If you were playing the all-American boy, you talked a certain way, you tensed your jaw in a certain way, and he fitted it.
"Everyone in the room knew immediately this was the guy we were going to get."
"Tom Corbett, Space Cadet" debuted in October 1950 as a 15-minute, three-nights-a-week series on CBS. The show later expanded to 30 minutes and aired variously on ABC, NBC and the DuMont networks. There also was a radio version.
In that pre-Sputnik era, the adventures of Tom Corbett and his fellow space travelers quickly caught on with viewers, who included a surprising number of adults.
"The disc jockeys all picked up our lingo: 'Blast your jets,' 'Don't fuse your tubes, 'Spaceman's luck,' " Thomas recalled in a 2005 interview with Starlog magazine. "We were hearing all of this and we said, 'Hey, if they're saying it, they're watching it.' "
Eventually, Thomas told the Asbury Park Press in 2000, "there were 135 different products bearing the name of 'Tom Corbett.' Kellogg's, which was a wonderful sponsor, renamed their second-biggest seller, Kellogg's Pep, the 'Solar Cereal.' They had my picture on the box."
Because the show aired live, it was prone to occasional flubs.
"Frank had a wonderful retentive memory, and frequently if an actor went up with his lines, Frankie would pop in and say the guy's lines for him," Merlin said.
On one occasion, Merlin recalled, "a fella was so nervous he began with Frank's line. So Frank answered with his line, and they did that through the entire scene. At the end of the scene, the director came out of the booth and said how wonderful they were and didn't realize they had changed lines.
"Frank was delighted with that; he had a marvelous sense of humor."
After the TV series ended in 1955, Thomas gave up acting and wrote for television and radio for a time. He then played on the bridge circuit with master players and taught recreational bridge for many years. He also was the longtime editor of the American Bridge Teachers' Assn. Quarterly Magazine and served as president of the organization.
Thomas also wrote a string of mystery novels, including "Sherlock Holmes and the Masquerade Murders," featuring Arthur Conan Doyle's famous character.
At his request, Thomas was buried Tuesday in his "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet" costume.
For Toobworld, Frankie Thomas Jr.'s most famous role figured prominently in one of my first attempts at cobbling together a theory of "relateeveety".
In it, Tom Corbett was descended from Eddie Corbett, whose father was also named Tom Corbett. That Tom Corbett was a magazine editor in the early 1970s and he instilled in his son Eddie the values that would be passed down through the generations until they helped mold the moral background of Space Cadet Tom Corbett 400 years later.
TV SERIES TIE-IN
The Mercurian Invasion (1998) (V) .... Cadet Tom Corbett
'First Love' (1954) TV Series... Chris'Tom Corbett, Space Cadet' (1950) TV Series .... Tom Corbett
'One Man's Family' (1949) TV Series (as Frank Thomas Jr.) .... Cliff Barbour #1 (1949)
'A Woman to Remember' (1949) TV Series .... Charley Anderson
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
MEETING YOUR MAKER
A recent episode of 'The Simpsons' had Homer Simpson encountering his "real-life" counterpart, Dan Castellaneta.
Was this a first? Where does this fit into the TV Universe as compared to, say, Castellaneta's appearance on 'L.A. Law' as a guy stuck in a Homer Simpson suit?
And when are characters from 'Lost' going to appear on 'The Simpsons', huh?
Well, when you realize it took over thirty years for 'The Prisoner' to appear in an episode of 'The Simpsons', you might be well advised not to hold your breath waiting to see Homer meet Hurley!
But as for a cartoon character meeting the actor who played him, I think this is new in the Tooniverse.
But in main Toobworld:
Mork met Robin Williams ('Mork & Mindy').
Lucille Carter met Lucille Ball on 'Here's Lucy'... and she came in second in a Lucy Lookalike contest!
'Moesha' met Brandy Norwood.
Ralph and Norton met Jackie Gleason and Art Carney during an episode of 'The Honeymooners'.
Dean Martin played his own stand-in, Ed Feldman. This was in Lucille Ball's favorite episode ever, "Lucy Dates Dean Martin", on 'The Lucy Show'.
During 'The Sammy Davis Jr. Kidnap Caper' on 'Charlie's Angels', an obnoxious guy named Herbert Brubaker III was kidnapped instead of the star. Sammy played both roles.
As far as cartoons go, it's more common for the toon characters to meet the animators, or at least the producer of their animated shorts.
This goes back over one hundred years with Winsor McKay meeting Gertie the Dinosaur.
One of the best examples had Daffy Duck talking Porky Pig into facing Leon Schlesinger at the Warner Brothers Studio and quitting his cushy gig as a Loony Tunes star. ('You Ought To Be In Pictures')
(Daffy got his comeuppance in a cartoon in which he lost a battle with an animator's pencil.)
Back in the Tooniverse, 'Futurama' had something of a close encounter in which we saw Matt Groening's head in one of those jars at the Head Museum.
Would any appearances on TV in which Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog appeared together count?
The creators of TV shows (or the writers who inspired those shows) have found themselves immersed in their own creations. And we had the latest example of that just this past Sunday - when Aaron Sorkin was spotted on the dais during the inauguration. I wonder how he felt to be there watching his creation "pass the torch"?
Felx Unger and Oscar Madison, 'The Odd Couple', got to glad-hand with Neil Simon in an episode of their show.
Except for the theatrically released cartoons, this seems to me to be a Toobworld-centric experience. At least, when it does happen in the movies, it doesn't seem to go over very well.
An example? How about Julia Roberts as Tess Ocean impersonating Julia Roberts in 'Ocean's Twelve'? I remember reading at the time how that spoiled the illusion of the movie.
At the same time, it seems to be the kind of gimmick you might find in some old movie shown on TCM; something starring Bob Hope perhaps.
Thanks for asking, Brian-El. You just gave me a blog post. Thanks!
(Anybody out there have any examples of this?)
IN THE THICK OF A ZONK!
When government spin-meister Malcolm Tucker heard about an un-authorised program by the Ministry of Social Affairs called the Benefit Fraud Investigation Squad, he dismissed this so-called "Snooper Force" as the "New Avengers".
Sorry, Corey. This is not a comic book reference.
The work of top professional John Steed with his talented amateur assistants (in the case of 'The New Avengers', Purdie and Gambit) wasn't always secretive. But their official affiliation with the government probably was.
Still, those who worked in the cogworks of the bureaucracy probably knew who the "new Avengers" were and most certainly which department they worked for.
And Marcus Tucker, more than anyone else in the government, would have known about them, as he was the Machiavellian puppet-master at the center of the web.
Based on the way he sneered the reference to the 'New Avengers', I think it's safe to say that Marcus did not hold John Steed's service to the Crown in high regard. (More than likely he probably caused their budget to be cut entirely and sent Steed off packing to the old spies home in Battersea.)
Monday, May 15, 2006
GRACE NOTE [revised]
Since then, I've seen it again and also had my Swiss cheese memory jogged by fellow Televisiologist Brent McKee. All during the night as I read my usual TV sites, I kept wondering why they were talking about a cocktail napkin when I was thinking of a sheet of legal paper.
Here's the scene that inspired the best moment in the finale for 'The West Wing':
What do you want to talk to me about?
I've been thinking about getting back into politics.
I think that's great, man. I think it's about time. You probably mean the House, but I think you should consider the Senate seat in Illinois in two years; I can help raise money.
No, I wasn't thinking about the Senate. I was thinking about the White House.
Hey, Leo, I swear to God there's no one I'd rather see in the Oval Office than you but if you run there's going to be a lot of discussion about Valium and Alcohol. I mean, it's going to come out; this is the world.
Yeah. See, I wasn't thinking about me.
I've been walking around in a kind of daze for two weeks and everywhere I go...planes, trains, restaurants, meetings...I find myself scribbling something down.
Leo takes a napkin out of his pocket, licks it, and sticks it on the posterboard easel.
It reads "Bartlet for America."
(from the episode "Bartlet For America")
So here's a revision of my original thoughts on the subject:
What better way to honor the memory of the late Leo McGarry during the finale of 'The West Wing' than with a prop which he created?
The series practically ended with President Bartlet unwrapping the framed cocktail napkin upon which Leo had scrawled "BARTLET FOR AMERICA", the springboard for his vision of Jed Bartlet as the POTUS.
I'm hoping it was the original copy and not some well-made forgery of John Spencer's signature, but that would be more in the nature of Television than that of Toobworld.
For in Toobworld, it was real. All of the show was real while at the same time an ideal for what could be in our own world. And I think we were lucky to have it on the air for the past seven seasons.
Someday that framed piece of paper should find a home at the Smithsonian, not only to represent the TV show but also to represent that ideal of what our country could be.
And with it should be the piece of paper upon which Leo scrawled:
Sorry about the earlier mix-up........
THE HAT SQUAD: "THE MOTHER OF TELEVISION"
Her death was reported by Mary Rippley of the Avalon Care Center, where Ms. Farnsworth lived.
The Farnsworths married in 1926, and Ms. Farnsworth worked by her husband's side, then fought for decades to assure his place in history after his death in 1971.
Other inventors developed precursors of television in the 1920's, including mechanical transmission of images, but it was Mr. Farnsworth's work that led to the electronic television we know today.
His first transmission was in his San Francisco laboratory on Sept. 7, 1927, when he was 21. He sent the image of a horizontal line to a receiver in the next room. He said he had realized seven years earlier, while plowing a field on his family's farm, that an image could be scanned onto a picture tube row by row.
In his book "Philo T. Farnsworth: The Father of Television," Donald G. Godfrey wrote that the first human images transmitted by Mr. Farnsworth were of Ms. Farnsworth and her brother, Cliff Gardner. A 3.5-inch-square image of his wife with her eyes closed was transmitted on Oct. 19, 1929, Mr. Gardner wrote. The book lists her as the "first woman on TV."
As Elma Farnsworth could be considered "the mother of Television", I should have posted this yesterday for Mother's Day......
CROSSOVER RUNNER-UP (5/15/06)
This was a spin-off from the reality series 'Blow Out' which centered on Jonathan Antin. But being a reality show, 'Salon Diaries' never really stood a chance against something like the 'Doctor Who'/'Red Dwarf' match-up.
'Salon Diaries' takes place at the Warren-Tricomi Salon in Los Angeles. If successful, the special could become a series.
"We are talking about a series," says salon co-owner Joel Warren, that won't be "just about whining and crying in one salon."
Sounds like... "fun". As Mel Cooley would say, "Yehckch!"
(Not that he had any reason to visit a salon......)
CROSSOVER OF THE WEEK (5/15/06)
I wish he was here to trumpet this week's big Crossover.....
For the first episode of the new season, and the second one for David Tennant as the Tenth incarnation of The Doctor (third if you count that online experience about the Graske), they traveled farther than they ever had gone before. And that meant going beyond 5 billion years and the end of Rose's home planet of Earth Prime-Time.
23 years beyond, in fact, and they ended up on the planet New Earth, which was almost an exact copy of the original. (It looked to have two moons though, but it could have been just my 'magination.)
Here they visited a hospital run by the Sisters of Plenitude, a religious order of sentient, humanoid felines. It could be said that their correct genus would be classified as Felis Erectus (officially recognized by the year 2,002,181).
We know who was responsible for their rise on the evolutionary ladder.....
No, not the revived man-thing of the Wollstonecraft legend (who was real in the TV Universe), but the cat smuggled aboard the "Red Dwarf" spaceship by Third Technician Lister during a stopover on Titan on February 21st, 2181. He did so in hopes that he would be caught with the cat and then thrown into stasis for the rest of the trip.
What he didn't count on was that Frankenstein was pregnant. By the time she died at the age of 14 in 2192, the cat population on board the ship was about 198,832.
By the year 502,181 , a plague hit the "Red Dwarf". We would know this plague by its more common name of "hunger".
Because of the "plague", less than thirty cat tribes survived. They roamed the cargo decks in search of food, but all the food was gone.
Here's how the 'Red Dwarf' Timeline site describes what happened next:
Weak and ailing, the cats prayed at the supply hold's silver mountain: huge towering acres of metals rocks which the Cats believed watched over them. One cat took down a silver rock, and placed the V-shaped metal icon on the rim of the rock, and turned the handle. And the rock opened. And inside it was Alphabetti spaghetti in tomato sauce. And in the other rocks were other delights. God had spoken.
Because of this "holy miracle", it could be said that Felis Sapiens was born.
The Timeline continues:
- A holy war flared up between two cat factions. One cat faction believed that their god was named Cloister, and he wanted the sausage diner hats to be red, and the other faction thought that their god was named Clister and he wanted the hats to be blue.
- A truce was called and both factions built 2 arks to go and search for Fucial. They left the sick and lame cats behind on Red Dwarf. The first ark, blue, flew into an asteroid. But, the red ark, flew onward, knowing they were truly righteous.
- Lister comes out of stasis, only to find out that the entire crew is dead and he is the only human left. His companions are the hologram of Rimmer, a lifeform who evolved from Frankenstein, and Holly, a tenth generation artificial intelligence computer with an IQ of 6000.
- Lister discovers that he is a god to the cat people, and meets a dying priest who has lost his faith.
Based upon this, we can assume that the Sisters of Plenitude were descended from those "truly righteous" cat people. But the sick and lame cats that they left behind must have lived on in their legends and they probably never forgave themselves for abandoning them. And so they turned their attentions to the healing of the sick.
But after several billion years, once again these religious cats lost their way, which led to the events of the 'Doctor Who' episode.....
The Doctor must have had a previous experience with Cat, the lone survivor of his race left behind on the "Red Dwarf". For when trying to describe the properties of the 18th Century fireplace found on board a 51st Century spaceship, he called it a "spatio-temporal hyperlink" - a term he coined to avoid using the phrase "Magic Door".
This was the phrase used by Lister and Rimmer when they tried to explain a time portal to Cat in the episode "Stasis Leak". They finally gave up and just called it a "magic door".
(They should have called it a chrono-synclastic infundibulum, just like Stony Stephenson in 'Between Time And Timbuktu'.)
So, ta-DA! That's the Crossover of the Week for this first of the new episodes of 'Doctor Who'. If you're interested in checking out more of the 'Red Dwarf' timeline, click on the link to the left for "Things That Never Were" and looked under the Televsion Category.
Next week? The crossover for "Tooth & Claw"!
MUNCHING ON A SIMPSONS RAP
Champion class Extra hunter Toby O'Brien of New York City scores another one, thanks to the finale of "Arrested Development" on Fox, which featured a guest appearance by Richard Belzer as undercover officer John Munch.
"This marked Munch's ninth appearance in the TV Universe," O'Brien wrote, which, as he notes correctly, makes Belzer the easy record-holder of Actor Appearing in the Most Series as the Same Character.
O'Brien's impressively chronological tally includes "Homicide: Life on the Street," "Law & Order," "The X-Files," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "The Beat," "Law & Order: Trial by Jury" and "Arrested Development." He reaches nine by including "Homicide: The Movie," but that's a bit of a cheat. The No. 9 is reached, though, if you add in Munch's cartoon appearance, with Belzer providing the voice, in a guest spot on "The Simpsons."
Okay, so I hope everybody read that right. I did not say that he appeared on an episode of 'The Simpsons'. If he did, that's great for me; gives me a future blog entry about Munch and the Tooniverse. But if he didn't - and I can't find anything saying that he did appear on 'The Simpsons', - I don't want to take the rap for that statement.
I'm thinking that maybe Mr. Bianculli might have made the same error that my intrepid bellman did this morning. Richie went to Wikipedia's entry on Richard Belzer and pointed out the mention of 'The Simpsons'. But had he read the line correctly, it was a reference to the appearance on 'The Simpsons' made by George Wendt and John Ratzenberger as their 'Cheers' characters. Norm Peterson and Cliff Clavin are the two TV characters who come closest to Munch's record number of appearances.
But Richie is also convinced that he has seen Munch ("black suit and yellow face") on the long-running animated hit.
I'm thinking he got hit in the back of the head by an American Tourister bag tossed around by one of the other Magilla-like bellmen.
If anybody knows for certain, please contact me and let me know. Thanks!
Can't wait to see what kind of fallout comes of the statement. He's had two in-joke references in the past get shot down by the faithful readers. So if it happens again, I'll be doing a bit o' the ol' duck and cover!
But I do really appreciate the "Champion class" designation.
The series practically ended with President Bartlet unwrapping the framed sheet of legal paper upon which Leo had scrawled "LET BARTLET BE BARTLET" as they approached the mid-term elections of the Administration's first term in office.
I'm hoping it was the original copy and not some well-made forgery of John Spencer's signature, but that would be more in the nature of Television than that of Toobworld.
For in Toobworld, it was real. All of the show was real while at the same time an ideal for what could be. And I think we were lucky to have it on the air for the past seven seasons.
Someday that framed piece of paper should find a home at the Smithsonian, not only to represent the TV show but also to represent that ideal of what our country could be.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
A BLIGHT FROM THE PIAZZA
Still, it was part of my weekly "Must-See" appointment TV and there'll be a big hole in my Sunday night sked come next fall.
And as the finale approaches, my sense of tele-synchronicity kicked in while I was working on the Hat Squad tribute to Susan Browning. While confirming the identity of Ben Piazza's character on 'Forever Fernwood', I discovered that he appeared in a 1987 episode of 'St. Elsewhere' as Josiah Bartlet(t).
Up until that point, I was under the impression that "Dr. Josiah Bartlet" of Boston General was mentioned, but never seen. Honestly, I never remembered him from that episode ("You Again?") and I can't even claim that was due to the time that's lapsed since it aired.
That's because one of the other sub-plots dealt with Dr. Kiem's attempts to concentrate on her work, even though her son had disappeared while hitch-hiking to Boston.
Why would that matter to me? According to reports, her son was last seen in Meriden, Connecticut, after ditching classes at Choate in Wallingford. And Meriden is my hometown.
With a face now attached to that of Josiah Bartlet in the main Toobworld, I can no longer claim that the character who became the President of the United States in an alternate dimension has a counterpart in Earth Prime-Time who became a Boston physician.
I can't even fudge the matter with claims about facial structural damage as the cause for the difference in their looks. I mean, can you picture the late Ben Piazza?
Summon an image of Martin Sheen in your mind. Then click here to see what Ben Piazza looked like in "The Blues Brothers".
If plastic surgery was involved to alter his appearance from Sheen to Piazza, then Dr. Josiah Bartlet better consult somebody at Crane, Poole, & Schmidt!
There is only one way that I can rescue some kind of connection from all of this......
Jed Bartlet has a brother whom we've never met on the show by the name of John. (We learned the brother's name when President Bartlet dressed down that smug bitch of a Dr. Laura Schlessinger radio host in a classic scene from 'The West Wing'. If you want to read that scene, check out Brent McKee's running theme of great moments from the show.)
What if in the main Toobworld, the Bartlets' parents decided to switch their sons' names from the way we know them in the 'West Wing' universe? So that Josiah was now John, and vice versa?
There may be power in names, but it can only go so far in molding a person's future. Being named Josiah Bartlet didn't automatically seal his destiny to go into politics; instead he found his calling in medicine.
Okay, I just read that back. The only downside really is that I think that President Josiah Bartlet is supposed to be considered the older brother. If Martin Sheen and Ben Piazza were supposed to be playing brothers, Piazza was by far the older of the two actors by at least a decade.
And let's face it - they don't look like they could be brothers (not that that's ever been a deterrent for casting in TV shows past).
I've always wanted to see John Dye of 'Touched By An Angel' play the role. (He played Andrew, an Angel of Death.) He at least had a physiognomy that seemed connected to the same genetic lottery from which Martin Sheen might have sprung.
As it turns out, it was so much easier to find Leo McGarry's doppelganger in the main Toobworld when John Spencer played a detective named Leo, speaking of 'Touched By An Angel'.....