Saturday, June 24, 2006


In his blog "I Am A Child Of Television" (link to the left), Brent McKee said it best today:

In an industry where the phrase "industry giant" is used as commonly as balloons at political conventions, Aaron Spelling truly deserved that description.

In fact, considering how much of the Toobworld landscape was created and shaped by Aaron Spelling, I might be tempted to call him a god of the TV Universe... if I wasn't afraid of the consequences.

It's almost hard to believe that he never produced a science fiction series, although the TV movie "The Last Child" could be considered his contribution to the genre. ('The Kindred: The Embraced', "Crowhaven Farm" and "Satan's School For Girls" are his contributions to the sub-genre of horror.)

But primetime soaps, family dramas, medical shows, cop shows, Westerns, and even a sitcom ('At Ease') all bore the Spelling stamp over the years.

It's always easy and popular to throw the brickbats at the high and the mighty. With many of his productions, the targets became easier as the years passed and we saw how ridiculous and camp some of the plotlines and characters were in those shows. But there's no denying how popular they were in their time, giving pop culture some of its enduring touchstones.

Sure there have been people in real life who have been confined to "plastic bubbles" because they needed a sterile environment in which to survive. But would there have been the Jake Gyllenhaal movie and a popular guest character on 'Seinfeld' had there not been the TV movie with John Travolta to inspire them?

Use the phrase "Donna Martin Graduates!" and people will know what the reference is.

And then there's his invaluable contributions to "Jiggle TV", especially those fleeting few seconds from the 'Charlie's Angels' episode "Angels In Chains".

Thank you, sir..

I see Aaron Spelling as a combination of P.T. Barnum, for giving the people what they wanted, and Isaac Asimov, for his incredible output.

It's such a massive list of credits, that I've had to break it down into several posts. The others will follow tomorrow when I have more time.....


"All that remains is recognition of a man."
The President
"The Prisoner"

Friday, June 23, 2006


It could be that Richard Stahl was that kind of character actor whom many knew when they saw him, but never knew his name. I find that hard to believe as I know the first time I ever saw him in anything, I made sure I found out who he was. (I'm a great fan of character actors.)

That probably happened with an episode of 'The Odd Couple'; he appeared in about nine of them.

He had this dry delivery, almost a monotone, that always seemed to imply that he was disdainful of all around him. And many of his best characters held this attitude like a weapon, especially when found behind a position of power like a desk or a business counter.

Richard Stahl passed away last Sunday at the age of 74, after a ten year battle with Parkinson's disease. The news was released by his wife, Katherine Ish, an actress whom he married in 1959. The two of them joined the San Francisco improv group "The Committee" during the 1960s.

My personal favorite memory of his many roles in Toobworld would be that of Brother Ralph in an episode of 'The Odd Couple', when Felix and Oscar spent a weekend retreat in a monastery.

"It's a Living" (1985) TV Series .... Howard Miller
"Struck by Lightning" (1979) TV Series .... Walt Calvin
"Turnabout" (1979) TV Series .... Jack Overmeyer

"The Tom Show" - Vice Principal Koontz
- The Centerfold (1998) TV Episode
- Kenlon's New Clothes (1997) TV Episode
"Empty Nest" - Fred Dietz
- Love a la Mode (1994) TV Episode
- The Unimportance of Being Charley (1992) TV Episode
"Harry O" - Dr. Samuelson
- Death Certificate (1976) TV Episode
- The Mysterious Case of Lester and Dr. Fong (1976) TV Episode
- APB Harry Orwell (1975) TV Episode
- Tender Killing Care (1975) TV Episode

The President's Plane Is Missing (1973) (TV) .... Dentist

Hi Honey - I'm Dead (1991) (TV)
Cindy (1978) (TV) (uncredited) .... Recruiter
The Death of Richie (1977) (TV) .... Arthur Edmunds
Good Against Evil (1977) (TV) .... Brown
The Boys (1974) (TV) .... Dr. Ferguson
Honky Tonk (1974) (TV) .... Mr. Arnold
Nightmare at 43 Hillcrest (1974) .... Richard 'Dick' Estabrook
Lisa, Bright and Dark (1973) (TV)
Savage (1973) (TV) .... Photographer
Thief (1971) (TV) .... Bob Rifleman
Sheriff Who (1967) (TV) (as Dick Stahl) .... Whittler

Rosetti and Ryan: Men Who Love Women (1977) (TV) .... Medical Examiner
The Love Boat (1976) (TV) .... Danny DiMarco, the Lounge Performer

"Hudson Street"
- The Retreat (1996) TV Episode .... Mr. Spoon
"Platypus Man"
- 9 1/2 Days (1995) TV Episode .... Priest
"Diagnosis Murder"
- A Very Fatal Funeral (1994) TV Episode .... Preacher
"Married with Children"
- Shoeway to Heaven (1994) TV Episode .... Shoemaker
"Empty Nest"
- The Fracas in Vegas (1993) TV Episode .... Bellman
"Living Single"
- Full Court Press (1993) TV Episode .... Judge Richard Patterson
"The Golden Girls"
- That's for Me to Know (1991) TV Episode .... Don
"Good Grief"
- The Big Bang Theory (1991) TV Episode .... District Attorney
- Cub Scouts and Horses & Whiskers on Kittens (1990) TV Episode .... Chief Boom Boom
"Night Court"
- Attack of the Mac Snacks (1989) TV Episode .... Uncle Floyd
- Santa Goes Downtown (1984) TV Episode .... Doctor Peter Green
"Murder, She Wrote"
- If a Body Meet a Body (1986) TV Episode .... Rev. Matthews
"You Again?"
- Small Change (1986) TV Episode .... Mr. Wilson
- What Makes Dick Run (1985) TV Episode
- You're Nobody 'til Somebody Hires You (1985) TV Episode .... Len
- Kirk Pops the Question (1984) TV Episode .... Waiter
"Highway to Heaven"
- The Banker and the Bum (1985) TV Episode .... Mr. Fisk
"Who's the Boss?"
- Protecting the President (1985) TV Episode .... Mr. McKenna
"Family Ties"
- Auntie Up (1985) TV Episode .... Stu Devin
"The Facts of Life"
- Summer of '84 (1984) TV Episode .... Drunk
"Hill Street Blues"
- Nichols from Heaven (1984) TV Episode .... James Thaddeus
"Archie Bunker's Place"
- From the Waldorf to Astoria (1982) TV Episode .... Mr. Sanborn
"Laverne & Shirley"
- The Mummy's Bride (1982) TV Episode .... The Chaplain
- The Right to Light (1980) TV Episode .... Clerk
- Anniversary Show (1977) TV Episode .... Marshall Stewart in flashbacks
- The Society Party (1976) TV Episode .... Marshall Stewart
"Barney Miller"
- Obituary (1982) TV Episode .... Lund
- The Indian (1979) TV Episode .... Philip Owens
- Snow Job (1975) TV Episode
"Love, Sidney"
- Laurie's First Date, A.D. (1982) TV Episode
"House Calls"
- Bombing Out (1981) TV Episode
- Beast of Kensington (1980) TV Episode
- Bugging the Governor (1980) TV Episode .... Miles Gordon
"What's Happening!!"
- Food Poisoning (1979) TV Episode .... Doctor
- Episode #2.14 (1979) TV Episode .... Officer Hickey
"WKRP in Cincinnati"
- Pilot: Part 2 (1978) TV Episode .... Wayne R. Coe
"James at 15"
- Unrequited Love... Twice (1978) TV Episode .... Mr. Oberlander
"The Bob Newhart Show"
- A Day in the Life (1977) TV Episode .... Mel
- The Separation Story (1974) TV Episode .... Bellboy
"McMillan and Wife"
- All Bets Off (1976) TV Episode .... Desk Clerk
"Happy Days"
- Fonzie the Salesman (1975) TV Episode .... Berkeley 'Bronco' Van Alden
"The Rookies"
- A Time to Mourn (1975) TV Episode .... Quinlan
"On the Rocks"
- Pilot (1975) TV Episode .... Doctor
"That's My Mama"
- The Ambulance Chaser (1975) TV Episode .... Mr. Barr
- The Telethon (1975) TV Episode .... Ray Moser
"The Odd Couple"
I Do, I Don't (5 November 1970) - The Minister
Engrave Trouble (5 February 1971) - Flourist
Murray the Fink (29 October 1971) - Cop
Being Divorced Is Never Having to Say I Do (10 December 1971) - Minister
Odd Monks (13 October 1972) - Brother Ralph
That is the Army Mrs. Madison (26 October 1973) - Justice of the peace
Cleanliness Is Next to Impossible (11 January 1974) - Dr. Bates
The Frog (26 September 1974) - Buck
Oscar's in Love (12 December 1974) - Minister

"Good Times"
- The Gang: Part 2 (1974) TV Episode .... Judge Daniels
"All in the Family"
- Archie Eats and Runs (1974) TV Episode .... Doctor
- Archie's Aching Back (1971) TV Episode .... Clarence V. Marshall
Columbo: Double Exposure (1973) (TV) .... Ballistics man
- The Kidnapping (1973) TV Episode .... Father
"Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice"
- The Bare Truth Hurts (1973) TV Episode .... Wendell
Columbo: Lovely But Lethal (1973) (TV) (as Dick Stahl) .... Burton
Columbo: The Most Crucial Game (1972) (TV) .... Mr. Fremont
- The Murrow Disappearance (1972) TV Episode .... Dr. Behrens
- A Visit to Upright (1972) TV Episode .... Snedaker
- The Big Jackpot (1970) TV Episode .... Howard Fiber
"Love, American Style"
- Love and the Advice Column/Love and the Bathtub/Love and the Fullback/Love and the Guru/Love and the Physical (1972) TV Episode .... (segment "Love and the Bathtub")
"The Partridge Family"
- Fellini, Bergman, and Partridge (1972) TV Episode (as Dick Stahl) .... Fenster
"That Girl"
- Hearing Today, Gone Tomorrow (1969) TV Episode .... Director
"Hey, Landlord"
- The Daring Duo vs. the Incredible Captain Kill (1966) TV Episode .... Swacky


[Thanks to the]

Thursday, June 22, 2006


While picking up a b'day present for one of my good friends, here's what I got for myself to further strain the bounds of my bookcase.

Gotta get me a TARDIS to live in.....

Four episodes of the series with Dennis Hopper guesting in one as "The Beatnik". A nice sampler for four bucks.

Another disc to prepare for any possible rainy days while I'm on vacation at the Lake with my nephew who's a year and a half.

I was just getting into Stephen Sondheim at UConn when this showed up on PBS. It's only connection to him is that he appears in it as a piano player and has a funny little scene closer. That's about all I remember of it, although it stars a few fave ladies of Toobworld - Susan Sarandon, Lee Meredith, Estelle Parsons, as well as two absolute greats in my pantheon of actors: Kevin McCarthy and Jack Cassidy.

This is from 1981, an English thriller from the Thatcher era. A fifteen year old is recruited for a very exclusive academy where he finds himself working for the Icarus Foundation which is plotting to take over the world.

No, that's not a misprint. This sounds like a real oddity. In 1890, a nine year old girl wrote a book in twelve days and it hasn't been out of print since it first came out in 1919. Her naive look at the world (The main character is elderly at the age of 42!) is considered social satire by accident. The stars are Jim Broadbent and Hugh Laurie, so you can't beat that with a stick!

Still haven't picked up "Bad Twin", but I really should get that before I go on vacation, although I am also planning on Mary Norton's complete collection about "The Borrowers" to be my main lakeside reading material.



There have been two attempts to bring the concept of 'Topper' and his trio of ghosts (Mustn't forget Neil!) back to our TV screens. And both of them must be relegated to TV dimensions other than Earth Prime-Time, because there can only be one 'Topper' in the main Toobworld. And that would be the original TV series starring Leo G. Carroll, Anne Jeffreys, and Robert Sterling.

As usual in the case of remakes, the splainin lies in the casting. If you're not using the original actors in the roles, then this can't be considered the same people without massive amounts of splainin. (Exceptions to the rule would include 'The New Munsters', 'Mrs. Columbo', and 'Ponderosa' for splainins that would easily envelope the whole casts.)

The first remake of 'Topper' ('Topper Returns') tried to get around this problem of multiple Cosmoes in the TV Cosmos by having Roddy McDowall portray the nephew of Cosmo Topper. This would have been acceptable; in fact, I think it's a great idea, as McDowall was believable as a blood relative to Leo G. Carroll as his Uncle Cosmo.

But it all goes up in a puff of ectoplasmic smoke with the casting of John Fink and Sephanie Powers as George and Marian Kerby.

The Kerbys must always be seen in the main Toobworld as Robert Sterling and Anne Jeffreys, the actors who played them in the TV series.

There are a few rules about portraying a ghost in Toobworld that should always be followed. But the Kerbys broke quite a few of them, like being bound to one particular place.

According to the episode "Henrietta Sells The House", they were supposedly condemned to haunt the house they lived in, no matter who bought it. Yet they accompanied the Toppers on their "Trip To Las Vegas", and on their "Second Honeymoon".

Ghosts should always be dressed in the clothes they were wearing when they died (a la Thelma Bates on 'Hex'), or in the outfits chosen for their burial (as was the case in 'Randall And Hopkirk, [Deceased]').

But George and Marian Kerby have more wardrobe changes than Ginger and the Howells had for their three hour tour to 'Gilligan's Island'!

There is one rule that should never be broken - the physical appearance of a ghost should be a constant; frozen in Time as he or she looked in the moments just before Death.

(I suppose when they look as they did after or because of Death, that's more likely a style choice to aid in their hauntings.)

If there is to be some kind of alteration, it should be a massively traumatic ectoplasmic scale. This must be what happened to Slimer of 'The Real Ghostbusters' to cause him to look so inhuman. (However, I like to think that as far as his cartoon version is concerned, Slimer is the ghost of some 'Doctor Who' alien. Thanks to 'The Simpsons', the Gallifreyan Time Lord exists in the Tooniverse.

As for 'Ghostbusters', the movie, if there is some sort of unified Cineverse, I support that Slimer could be linked to Peter Cushing's portrayal of the Doctor.)

Where was I? Oh yeah.....

So anyway, George and Marian Kerby should always look like Robert and Anne (who were married in Real Life). Obviously, seventeen years on from the original series, this would have been a problem for them. Time marched on, marking its passage in their appearance.

This is why TV shows about ghosts have a built-in expiration date. The same holds true for shows featuring androids and vampires.

At least 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' was able to extend Data's shelf life in regards to his appearance by leaving Data's head buried under San Francisco for five hundred years.

David Boreanaz understood there was a limit to his portrayal of 'Angel'; and if Joss Whedon is going to make a TV movie about Spike, they better do so soon. I could see the signs of age in James Marters when he played Brainiac this past season on 'Smallville'.

But even if there had been some kind of ectoplasmic trauma to alter the ghostly appearance of the Kerbys, there's no way it could lead to the Kerbys looking like John Fink and Stephanie Powers.

(I have to admit at this point that quite frankly, I can't even picture who John Fink is!)

There's another reason to dismiss them as being the same ghosts from the original series. The reason for their untimely deaths was altered - from a landslide in Switzerland to a car accident. Not nearly as interesting, is it?

So it's off to another TV Universe for that version of 'Topper'. But it is nice to know that Cosmo and his wife Henrietta would have been seen as Leo G. Carroll and Lee Patrick in that other dimension. We don't even get that with the next incarnation of 'Topper' six years later.

This time out, we got Jack Warden and Rue McLanahan as a thoroughly American Cosmo Topper. And for George and Marian Kerby, we got Andrew Stevens and Kate Jackson, who were married in real life at that time.

I couldn't even believe in their real-life marriage, let alone accept them as the Kerbys.

Since the willing suspension of disbelief is already strained by the show's premise, trying to force a splainin on why even the human characters have altered their appearances isn't worth the effort. (Honestly, why would quantum leapers from the future want to willingly become Cosmo Topper?)

Better to just chuck this whole version straight into the dustbin which is the TV dimension of remakes.

As for the other version? Since there was nothing about it to discredit or contradict what happened in the seven years of 'The West Wing', then I don't see why it couldn't have taken place in the same TV dimension where Josiah Bartlet was the President of the United States.

There's an idea for a spin-off: retired President Jed Bartlet is saddled with two ghosts, who pester him during his attempts to set up his Library. "The POTUS & The Poltergeists".

At least with the ghost of Neil, one could accept some slack in casting a different St. Bernard to play the role.


[This entry was in memory of Robert Sterilng, who recently passed away.......]


Crossovers aren't the only aspect of the TV Universe that should be of interest. The trivial details of the inner reality of shows should bring scrutiny as well.

That's what I try to do here with my splainins. And that's why I enjoy finding a blog or web site that does the same thing, even if many of them focus on only one show, their author's personal realm of interest.

Rachel Thomas is a TV Guide writer is a blogger who, like me, looks at the twigs of the whole forest rather than just on one particular tree.

She shares her wonderment over the niggling little details that would keep us both awake at night trying to sort them out, in much the same way 'Columbo' wouldn't be able to sleep if he was puzzling over "just one more thing".

Rachel's musings are also published in the print edition of TV Guide, and this week she had a real pip:

"Movie star Vince Chase has basically put his whole crew on his payroll. His best friend Eric is his manager. His big brother Drama is his chef. And Turtle is his driver. Eric's job is the only one that seems W-2-form legit. But I wonder: Does Vince proved dental coverage for the others?"

And then she went on to Google what antifreeze would really taste like, in connection to the season finale of 'Big Love'.

My kind of woman!

The name of Rachel Thomas' blog is "Is It Just Me?"

No, it's not just you, and I'm glad for the company.

You can find Rachel's blog here.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006


When 'The L Word' returns in January of 2007, it will probably be guaranteed the position of Crossover of the Week as soon as Cybill Shepherd debuts on the series about lesbians......

Cybill Shepherd has joined the cast of the fourth season of "The L Word."

Shepherd will play a married mother who suddenly begins questioning her sexuality. Her character is the executive vice chancellor of the fictional California U. and boss of Jennifer Beals' character Bette Porter.

California University was also the setting for the sequel 'Saved by the Bell - The College Years'.


While checking for when the fourth season would premiere, I finally saw the master plan in the names of the episodes - except for the "Pilot", they all begin with the letter "L".



I got this note from my "Swede-heart" Carola in Stockholm:

Had John Forsythe on one of my tours today (Blake Carrington from "Dynasty"). He made a lot of jokes and tried to make me believe he got the Nobel prize - until he admitted a friend of his got it. Very cheerful person

Which reminded me of today's news item that Aaron Spelling has suffered a stroke on Sunday. Apparently he's already home from the hospital, so that's a good sign.

No word yet on whether or not this will affect the health and well-being of his televersion on 'So NoTORIous'.......



Arthur Franz was a character actor whose name was more recognizable to me than what he looked like. (I most associate him from the many episodes of 'Perry Mason' that he did; always catching the name in the end credits.)

If I'm not alone in that inability to recall what he looked like as the actor, perhaps that's a mark of how good he was at inhabiting the character. Unlike other character actors who can turn a performance into a star turn where you never forget you're watching Ed Begley, or Lee J. Cobb, Franz blended into the world he was helping to create, whether it was a small patch o' Toobworld or in the vast Cineverse.

Upon learning he had died, I visited Spooky Tom's gallery celebrating hundreds of genre actors; to see frame grabs of Arthur Franz in the many sci-fi and horror films (as well as a few TV series episodes) he did since the 1950s.

And despite the cosmopolitan quality to his name, Arthur Franz did have an Everyman quality to his look. And that explains, from a Real World perspective, why so many residents of Toobworld resembled him. His roster of characters puts those of Robert Urich to shame; and Urich is the inspiration for the Toobworld term "urichosis": the phenomenon in which so many people can look alike to the viewing audience and yet not cause recognition from those characters who have actually met other characters looking similar.

I know. It's a tough one to splain. But Arthur Franz was a leading example of the condition.

May he rest in peace.

"The Nurses" (1965) TV Series .... Hugh McLeod (1965-1967)
"World of Giants" (1959) TV Series .... Bill Winters

- The Island Caper (1972) TV Episode .... Steven Carr
- To Kill a Guinea Pig (1972) TV Episode .... Steven Carr

"The 20th Century-Fox Hour"
- Deadline Decision (1957) TV Episode .... Ben Macready
- The Late George Apley (1955) TV Episode .... Howard Boulder

Jennifer: A Woman's Story (1979) (TV) .... Dick Leonard
Murder or Mercy (1974) (TV) .... Dr. Raymond Eckworth

The Last Hurrah (1977) (TV) .... Hack Wiles

Bogie (1980) (TV) .... Dr. Bogart
The Amazing Howard Hughes (1977) (TV) .... Barnes
F. Scott Fitzgerald in Hollywood (1976) (TV) .... Man at party
The Missiles of October (1974) (TV) .... Congressman Halleck
"Profiles in Courage"
- George Mason (1965) TV Episode .... James Madison
"Hallmark Hall of Fame"
- A Story About Henry Ford (1955) TV Episode .... Henry Ford

"The Waltons"
- The Seashore (1977) TV Episode .... Chief Moresdale
"The Quest"
- Portrait of a Gunfighter (1976) TV Episode .... Charles Minter
"Medical Story"
- The Quality of Mercy (1976) TV Episode
"The Rookies"
- The Old Neighborhood (1974) TV Episode .... Vic Phillips
"Police Story"
- The Wyatt Earp Syndrome (1974) TV Episode .... Professor
"The New Perry Mason"
- The Case of the Wistful Widower (1973) TV Episode .... Dave Wallant
"Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law"
- The Pool House (1973) TV Episode
"Mission: Impossible"
- Crack-Up (1972) TV Episode .... Dr. Adler
- The Choice (1970) TV Episode .... First Minister Andre Picard
- Give My Regrets to Broadway (1972) TV Episode .... Charlie Harrington
"The F.B.I."
- The Recruiter (1971) TV Episode
- The Architect (1970) TV Episode .... Stacy Merriman
- Scapegoat (1969) TV Episode .... Carl
- Region of Peril (1968) TV Episode .... Joseph Daly
- The Conspirators (1967) TV Episode .... John Caldwell
- To Save a Dead Man (1971) TV Episode .... Father Vale
"The Mod Squad"
- The Sands of Anger (1971) TV Episode
- The Hot, Hot Car (1971) TV Episode
- Lisa (1969) TV Episode .... Cliff Bates
- Love (1968) TV Episode .... Arthur Westphal
"Storefront Lawyers"
- Hostage (1971) TV Episode .... Henry Millett
"Hawaii Five-O"
- The One with the Gun (1970) TV Episode .... Del Enright
- Devil's Blessing (1969) TV Episode .... Sheriff Platt
"Land of the Giants"
- Target: Earth (1969) TV Episode .... Franzen
"The Virginian"
- Big Tiny (1968) TV Episode .... Sheriff Mike Miller
- No Tears for Savannah (1963) TV Episode .... Fitz Warren
"The Outcasts"
- My Name Is Jemal (1968) TV Episode .... Anse Farnum
"The Invaders"
- The Life Seekers (1968) TV Episode .... Jim Trent
- The Pit (1968) TV Episode .... Jim Trump
- Massacre (1967) TV Episode .... Grey Fox/Bledsoe
- Algie B for Brave (1967) TV Episode .... Dan Morrisey
"Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea"
- The Condemned (1965) TV Episode .... Archer
"Slattery's People"
- Question: What Did You Do All Day, Mr. Slattery? (1965) TV Episode .... Morris
"Mr. Novak"
- Little Girl Lost (1964) TV Episode .... Det. Sgt. Sol Moss
- With a Hammer in His Hand, Lord, Lord! (1964) TV Episode
"Perry Mason"
- The Case of the Fifty-Millionth Frenchman (1964) TV Episode .... Ray Ogilvie
- The Case of the Captain's Coins (1962) TV Episode .... Evans
- The Case of the Larcenous Lady (1960) TV Episode .... Mayor Henderson
- The Case of the Golden Fraud (1959) TV Episode .... Richard Vanaman
- The Case of the Married Moonlighter (1958) TV Episode .... Danny Harrison
"77 Sunset Strip"
- Reunion at Balboa (1963) TV Episode .... Lieutenant Rudy
- The Space Caper (1961) TV Episode .... Dr. Alex Conley
"Wagon Train"
- The Annie Duggan Story (1963) TV Episode .... Dan Highet
- The Jud Steele Story (1962) TV Episode .... Nathan Forge
"Saints and Sinners"
- Judith Was a Lady (1962) TV Episode .... Everett Harper
- Incident at Sugar Creek (1962) TV Episode
- Incident of the Wanted Painter (1960) TV Episode .... Charles Fredericks
- Hagen Charm (????) TV Episode .... Dr. Joe Hagen
- The Lawmaker (1962) TV Episode .... Asa Moran
"Tales of Wells Fargo"
- Portrait of Teresa (1962) TV Episode .... Mel Akins
"Death Valley Days"
- Justice at Jackson Creek (1962) TV Episode .... Payne Piprim
- The Young Gun (1960) TV Episode .... Matt Warner
"Ichabod and Me"
- The Phippsboro Story (1961) TV Episode .... Rick Norton
"Hawaiian Eye"
- Satan City (1961) TV Episode .... Paul Hoyt
- The Trouble with Murder (1961) TV Episode .... Harry Lytton
"The Deputy"
- Past and Present (1961) TV Episode .... Herb Caldwell
- Lady on the Brink (1960) TV Episode .... Robert Haskell
"Assignment Underwater"
- The Sea Cave (1960) TV Episode .... Andy Schramm
"The Chevy Mystery Show"
- Fear Is the Parent (1960) TV Episode .... Simon Dow
- Cherry Red (1960) TV Episode .... Red Larned
"The Alaskans"
- The Silent Land (1960) TV Episode .... Dr. Jim Manning
"Bourbon Street Beat"
- Deadly Persuasion (1960) TV Episode .... Dr. Joshua Hart
"Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond"
- Call from Tomorrow (1960) TV Episode .... Kevin Stacy
"Wanted: Dead or Alive"
- The Most Beautiful Woman (1960) TV Episode .... John Garth
"Men Into Space"
- Moonquake! (1959) TV Episode .... Captain Tom Farrow
"Frontier Justice"
- Man of Fear (1959) TV Episode .... Lee Brand
"The Millionaire"
- The Frank Harrigan Story (1958) TV Episode .... Frank Harrigan
- The Carl Nelson Story (1955) TV Episode .... Carl Nelson
- Once Too Often (1958) TV Episode
"Zane Grey Theater"
- Man of Fear (1958) TV Episode .... Lee Brand
- The Secret of the Red Room (1957) TV Episode
- Phone Call for Matthew Quade (1956) TV Episode .... Walt
- The Healer (1955) TV Episode .... Dr. Joyce
- The Thirteenth Chair (1954) TV Episode .... Dick Crosby
"The George Sanders Mystery Theater"
- The People vs. Anne Tobin (????) TV Episode
- Deadline (1957) TV Episode
- The Rabbi Davis Story (1956) TV Episode
- Cavalry in China (1956) TV Episode
"The Ford Television Theatre"
- Mrs. Wane Comes to Call (1957) TV Episode .... David Chandler
- Hanrahan (1955) TV Episode .... Joe Newbury
- The Last Thirty Minutes (1954) TV Episode
- Junior (1952) TV Episode
"Studio 57"
- No Sentiment (1957) TV Episode
"Science Fiction Theater"
- Facsimile (1956) TV Episode .... George Bascomb
- Brain Unlimited (1956) TV Episode .... Dr. Jeff Conover
- The Man Who Didn't Know (1956) TV Episode .... Mark Kendler
- The Strange People at Pecos (1955) TV Episode .... Jeff Jamison
- Marked 'Danger' (1955) TV Episode .... Fred Strand
"Cavalcade of America"
- Date with a Stranger (1956) TV Episode .... Casimir Pulaski
- No Greater Love (1952) TV Episode .... Dr. William Gorgas
"Schlitz Playhouse of Stars"
- The House that Jackson Built (1956) TV Episode
- Pattern for Pursuit (1956) TV Episode
- Too Late to Run (1955) TV Episode
- Spangal Island (1954) TV Episode
- By-Line (1954) TV Episode .... Chris Grine
"TV Reader's Digest"
- The Only Way Out (1956) TV Episode .... Horst Bock
- Emergency Case (1955) TV Episode
- France's Greatest Detective (1955) TV Episode .... Alphonse Bertillon
"Celebrity Playhouse"
- Shadow of a Thief (1956) TV Episode
"Four Star Playhouse"
- Once to Every Woman (1956) TV Episode .... David
- Looking Glass House (1955) TV Episode .... Richard
"Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre"
- Excuse Me for Living (1956) TV Episode
"Kraft Television Theatre"
- Spur of the Moment (1955) TV Episode
- The Picture Window (1954) TV Episode
"The Philco Television Playhouse"
- Total Recall (1955) TV Episode
"The Whistler"
- An Actor's Life (1955) TV Episode
"Fireside Theatre"
- The 99th Day (1955) TV Episode .... Alan
- Grey Gardens (1953) TV Episode
- Badge of Dishonor (1955) TV Episode
"Appointment with Adventure"
- Priceless Cargo (1955) TV Episode
"Robert Montgomery Presents"
- For These Services (1954) TV Episode .... Son
- The Steady Man (1954) TV Episode
"Circle Theatre"
- Evening Star (1954) TV Episode
"The Web"
- A Handful of Stars (1954) TV Episode
"Kraft Television Theatre"
- The Shining Palace (1954) TV Episode
"Studio One"
- Dry Run (1953) TV Episode
- Camille (1953) TV Episode
- Help Wanted (1953) TV Episode
"The Lone Ranger"
- Finders Keepers (1949) TV Episode .... Nat Parker

"This Is Your Life"
- Arthur Franz (1953) TV Episode .... Himself

At the time, what greater recognition could a character actor get than to be featured in an episode of 'This Is Your Life'?

'Mission: Impossible' - "The Choice"
First Minister Andre Picard could be an ancestor for Jean-Luc Picard. It's not a given that all members of a hero's family tree must reflect those heroic qualities.

'The Mod Squad' - "Love"
Arthur Westphal(l) might be related to Dr. Donald Westphall of 'St. Elsewhere'. That would be a great way to bring 'The Mod Squad' into that particular interpretation of the TV Universe.

'Hawaii Five-0' - "The One With The Gun"
Del Enright might have been a cousin or even a brother to Sgt. Charlie Enright of 'MacMillan & Wife'. Del obviously preferred life in the Hawaiian Islands over the City by the Bay.


[thanks to the]


Check out this "Lost" promo at

This is the odd blipvert that ran in the UK on Channel Four to announce the arrival of 'Lost' to their airwaves.

Despite its surreal elements, I think it can be easily squeezed into the makeup of Toobworld... as a dream.

Prophetic dreams would be nothing new to the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 - Charlie, Hurley, and Mr. Eko have probably had the most memorable dream sequences, but others have had them as well.

As to whose dream this one is? Hard to say. Everybody in the main cast is represented within it, and we hear voiceovers from most of them.

But I have two candidates - first up would be Claire Littleton. The commercial ends on an image of her, and I think the dreamer would conclude his/her own dream focused on themselves.

Otherwise, I'm guessing that it might be Hurley's dream. Hugo Reyes seems to be not really part of the swirling dancers; rather, he's in the background lugging a suitcase (dealing with his personal baggage?).

I think that if this dream is one of Hurley's, it may have occurred around the same time when he was reconciling the survivors to the names on the manifest. Since he was already clued in to the past histories of Kate (as a criminal), Sayid (as a member of the Republican Guard), and Jack (as a doctor), it makes sense that he was hearing those voices saying such things as "One of us is a sinner; one of us is a saint; one of us is a criminal; one of us is a cop," etc......

Yeah, that's my theory and I'm sticking with it. The Channel 4 blipvert is actually a dream of Hurley's.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006



Milo Janus was a highly successful promoter of physical fitness who controlled a chain of gyms bearing his name. But in 1974, he was arrested by Lt. Columbo for murdering one of the franchisees who was threatening to expose the way Janus was squeezing the franchise operators for padded expenses.

At that time, Milo Janus was in his mid-fifties, meaning that if he is still alive, he'd be nearly ninety now; certainly more than old enough to have had a family earlier in his life. (He was unmarried at the time of the 'Columbo' episode "An Exercise In Fatality".)

So it's my contention that it's entirely possible that Milo Janus fathered a son named Malcolm in the late 1950s.

Malcolm would then grow up to be a shadowy figure meddling behind the scenes in America's politics, who would begin pulling the strings in the career of Congressman Greg Stillson of Maine.

Malcolm Janus has so far proven to be so powerful and assured of his skills in manipulating people, that he was able to use psychic Johnny Smith's talents against him to further his own agenda. This was seen in the episode "Forbidden Fruit", which opened this possibly final season of 'The Dead Zone'.

Janus was the name of a two-faced god.

Like father, like son......


"I don't care what you think.
I don't care what you suspect
Milo Janus


Logo, one of the networks that cater to the gay and lesbian viewing audience, announced that they will be developing a sitcom about a gay ghost.

It would certainly bring a whole new meaning to the title of 'Topper'!

I can just see it now... or maybe I can't.

Picture a character getting oral satisfaction from another character nobody else can see; the gyrations and undulations the recipient will have to mime to achieve the illusion.

I might have said it would be the weirdest blowjob ever in Toobworld, but that dubious honor goes to the denouement of this week's episode of 'Doctor Who': "Love & Monsters".

Slab slobbers indeed!



A comedian renowned for his imitations of footballer Ronaldo and the Brazilian president has died while covering the World Cup for a TV channel.

Claudio Besserman Vianna - known as Bussunda in Brazil's satirical series 'Casseta and Planeta Urgente' - suffered a heart attack in Munich. He was 43.

He fell ill after playing football with friends and could not be revived.

Brazil's football association issued a statement expressing sympathy from all of its national team players and staff.

It added that star striker Ronaldo had a "feeling of sadness for the death of a person he admired".

Mr Vianna had been working at the football tournament for Globo TV and found fame as an impressionist and comedy writer.

'Casseta and Planeta Urgente' offered topical humour and parodies of newsworthy events and celebrities, including the country's President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Mr Vianna is survived by his wife and a daughter.

"Garotas do Programa" (2000) TV Series (writer)
"Casseta & Planeta Urgente" (1994) TV Series (writer)
"TV Pirata" (1988) TV Series (writer)

Casseta & Planeta: A Taça do Mundo É Nossa (2003) .... Frederico Eugênio 'Wladimir Ilich Stalin Tse Tung Guevara'/Gen. Costa
Zoando na TV (1999) .... Bolão
"Casseta & Planeta Urgente" (1994) TV Series .... Various
Casseta Popular & Planeta Diário - Em Conserto (1988) (V)

[thanks to the & the BBC Online]



AT&T's new commercial is a treasure trove for robot lovers everywhere. Aside from those who have a star turn during the blipvert, there were also appearances by the medical droid from "The Empire Strikes Back" and two small box-like bots whom I have yet been unable to identify.

The main blipvert bots include Robby the Robot, Rosie the Maid, WOPR, and KITT. All that was missing was the red "eye" and mellow voice of HAL from "2001: A Space Odyssey". (But from a Toobworld perspective, they needed Robot from 'Lost In Space' and - beeda beeda beeda! - Twiki from 'Buck Rogers'.

Each of these artificial intelligences provided links to the TV Universe. As to why they were all gathered in the same sealed-off room, I have insufficient data at this time. But it would appear that, within the "reality" of the scene, they are all telling some unseen presence (represented by the camera's POV, perhaps) about the history of AT&T and its involvement in the technological advances of artificial intelligence interface.

Oh yeah, baby! The first rule of TV advertising: sex sells. Giggety giggety giggety giggety!

(Had we heard more from these participants, they might have mentioned the work doen at the CIMS/AT&T Intelligent Mechatronics Lab.)

KITT must have been on loan from Knight Industries, as seen in 'Knight Rider'. It appears that the car is no longer allied with Michael Knight, however. At the time of this robot convention, Michael may have been last seen bawling like a girly man at the 'American Idol' finals last month.

Rosie the robo-maid was being transmitted back through Time not only from the future of 'The Jetsons', but also across the dimensional vortex which separates Earth Prime Time from the Tooniverse.

"Star Wars" characters have long been a part of the TV Universe, from Ewoks in TV movies and droids in cartoons and commercials to Chewbacca's family and friends in that holiday special which still fills the heart of George Lucas with dread.

Probably thousands of this particular medical droid were assembled for use in the Empire. So that model may have arrived on Toobworld through the same wormhole that deposited Luke Sykwalker at 'The Muppet Show'.

As for WOPR, the knee-jerk reaction would be that it belongs in only the movie universe, courtesy of "War Games", not among TV characters. But we have had plenty of movie characters cross over to be in the TV Universe.

Radar O'Reilly, for example. He exists in both the Cineverse as well as on Toobworld looking the same, while all the other characters around him were altered in the dimensional reflection. Detective Madigan and most of the Portokolas family led similar lives in both universes; big, fat and Greek or otherwise.

There are probably plenty of movie characters who lead parallel lives in Toobworld; we just haven't been introduced to them yet.

Besides, we don't have to wait for official recognition due to adaptations into dramas or sitcoms; TV commercials are legitimate components in the make-up of the TV Universe. So with its appearance in this AT&T ad, WOPR is an official resident of Toobworld.

The involvement by Robbie the Robot poses a more interesting challenge. Its Toobworld credentials are firmly established in many different TV shows over the last fifty years, but this classic robot must be thought of as an actor and not as one single character. Most of those appearances must be considered as different robots who all shared the same basic design.

Here's a list of Robby the Robot's appearances in Toobworld:

- Gavin's Pipe Dream (2005) TV Episode (uncredited) .... Nightmare NASA Robot
The Phantom Empire (1986) .... Himself
Likely Stories, Vol. 3 (1983) (TV) .... Maid
"Wonder Woman"
- Spaced Out (1979) TV Episode .... Himself
"Mork & Mindy"
- Dr. Morkenstein (1979) TV Episode .... Chuck the Robot
"Project U.F.O."
- Sighting 4010: The Waterford Incident (1978) TV Episode (uncredited) .... Robot
"Ark II"
- The Robot (1976) TV Episode
Columbo: Mind Over Mayhem (1974) (TV) (uncredited) .... MM7
"Lost in Space"
- Condemned of Space (1967) TV Episode .... Robot
- War of the Robots (1966) TV Episode .... Robotoid
"The Addams Family"
- Lurch's Little Helper (1966) TV Episode .... Smiley
"The Man from U.N.C.L.E."
- The Bridge of Lions Affair: Part 2 (1966) TV Episode .... Uncredited
- The Bridge of Lions Affair: Part 1 (1966) TV Episode .... Uncredited
"The Twilight Zone"
- The Brain Center at Whipple's (1964) TV Episode (uncredited) .... Robot
- Uncle Simon (1963) TV Episode (uncredited) .... The Robot
- Rosie's Contract (1962) TV Episode .... Robot
"The Gale Storm Show" (aka Oh! Susanna)

- Robot from Inner Space (1958) TV Episode .... Robot
"The Thin Man"
- Robot Client (1958) TV Episode .... Robot

Of those, we can eliminate its appearance on 'Stacked', since Robby only appeared in Gavin's dream. However, he had to have known of the robot from somewhere.....

Perhaps he knew about the robot designed by child prodigy Stevie Spelberg in 1974. But that basic design didn't originate with little Stevie; sixteen years earlier, it was trodding the deck of an ocean liner.

It will be my contention that most of the appearances by Robby the Robot are unconnected, but linked by this basic premise - the original design plans for the robot were brought to Earth by aliens; perhaps found among the "wreckage" at Roswell.

And who were these aliens? The same ones who created a similar "robotoid" which twice made contact with the Space Family Robinson after the Jupiter II left Earth in 1997.

By the way, I think Robby the Robot will still be eligible for induction into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame someday; and as a character, not as an "actor". Unless I learn otherwise, I don't see why its appearances on 'The Addams Family', 'Oh Susanna', 'Hazel', and 'The Thin Man' can't all be considered the same clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous junk in each episode, for example.

If you want the chance to see this bot blipvert, visit this link:


"I'm the robotic Prince of Darkness,
And you're some sort of moron
Robot Devil

Monday, June 19, 2006


So I'm a narcissist.

So I like to hear my name mentioned in TV shows.

So sue me.

Who doesn't like a little shout-out, especially when your name is included in a great - and very appropriate - TV quote?

"I make it a point never to disagree with Toby when he's right."
Josh Lyman
'The West Wing'

My favorite shout-out came on 'The Late Show with David Letterman' as they were coming out of a commercial break. Dave leaned into the microphone and said, "Thank you, Toby."

I have no idea what the inside joke reference could have meant, but it didn't matter.

Look, Ma! David Letterman was talking to ME!

Best use of my name? Taylor Lacher playing a cop named Toby O'Brien on an episode of 'Police Story' back in the early 70s.

Yeah.... good times.......

"Fuck you, Tobey!"

Woof! Glad that one was meant for Maguire!


And nertz to you, the Tele-Toby who grabbed that name first at YouTube!

Sunday, June 18, 2006



Best Life (?) magazine has named Dr. Cliff Huxtable of 'The Cosby Show' as the winner of their poll for the best TV Dad. Richard Keller, over at (link at left), has compiled not only a list of the five best TV Dads in honor of this day, but also the five worst. I wrote in for the Best Dads and mentioned two more for consideration - Jim Anderson of 'Father Knows Best' and Herman Munster of 'The Munsters'.

In that same comment, I mentioned my concerns that Robert Petrie of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' should never be considered one of the greatest of TV Dads, and Keller listed him among the runners-up in his follow-up of the worst TV Dads.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Rob Petrie is a terrible father; he's probably no better than average. We know he loves his son Richie. It's just that he so botched his role of male parental unit over the years.

Let's take a look at some of the evidence.

Even before Richie was born, Rob put his impending arrival in jeopardy. When Laura went into labor, Rob's growing pile of mishaps caused his wife to be brought to the hospital in the back of a laundry truck.

And then once Richie was born, the baby wasn't home a day before Rob was trying to palm him off to another couple in exchange for their own. And he caused Richie's foot to be inked purple to boot.

It may have been a tactic to restore peace in the family, but saddling Richie with a middle name of "Rosebud" could only lead to trouble for the lad in the schoolyard. Even if the name was an acronym for "Robert Oscar Sam Edward Benjamin Ulysses David" (and had Richie been born a girl, that last combo would have been "Ulyssea Davida"), it still is quite an onus for Richie to bear. Kids are going to be ruthless in taunting him for it and it would have taken too long for his explanation - not that it would have helped prevent the teasing.

If there is such a thing as power in names, it might be no wonder that in the TV dimension based on sketch comedy (Earth Not Ready For Prime Time AKA Skitlandia) Richie grew up to be gay ('Dick Van Dyke And That Other Woman', 1969).

Rob showed a distinct lack of consideration for his son's health when he forced Laura to go to a party instead of letting her stay home to care for their sick son.

When Richie was going to make his big debut in the school play as a bunny rabbit, Rob initially couldn't be bothered to show his pride in his son, preferring instead to make a business trip to Washington, D.C.

Although he ultimately averted disaster, Rob's screw-up in securing 44 tickets to 'The Alan Brady Show' for the local PTA could have seriously affected Richie's standing in the school system.

In what could have been a particularly heartless move, Rob forced his son to part with his pet duck. Can you imagine Jeff Miller being forced to surrender ownership of 'Lassie'? Oh, wait a minute. He was. And look what happened - when talking about Lassie, we always think of Timmy, never Jeff.

And whether or not such a trauma even affected the well-being of the actor who portrayed Jeff, there's no denying Tommy Rettig is now dead.

I'm just sayin', is all.

When Richie complained of being attacked by a woodpecker, Rob showed a lack of compassion and faith in his son by preferring to believe that the claim was the result of an overactive imagination. His son could have had his eyes pecked out before Rob finally bothered to look into the veracity of Richie's charge.

When the quality of one's birthday party could affect a child's standing among his peers, Rob screwed up Richie's birthday party so badly when it came to the talent booked that he had to step in and play the clown for the pint-sized audience. Luckily the kids loved his schtick, but after the memories faded, what did they think of Rob once the next kid's party brought in flashier entertainment? Whatever happened, it would have reflected poorly on Richie.

Laura was right to be concerned that her husband was an inveterate check-grabber. After all, that was money that would have been better saved for Richie's future college plans.

Apparently, Richie might have been starved for any sort of attention from his father, to the point where he would be ecstatic to be given a rock or a paper clip as a "gift" when his Dad came home from work. And could it have been some kind of submerged childhood rage that prompted Richie to take a magic marker to Rob's back and connect the freckles to form the Liberty Bell?

Ohhhhhh, Rob!

As I noted earlier, Rob wasn't a bad father, just not one to be considered among the greatest in Toobworld. In all of the cases mentioned above, Rob was lucky that they eventually all had happy endings. Even so, it's probably just as well that Richie never had any siblings who would have diverted what little attention he was already receiving from his father.

We've seen from the reunion special of two years ago that Richie grew up to have a daughter of his own. One can only hope that he learned from his own life lessons to better his own skills as a father figure.

But it could have been worse. Rob's middle name is Simpson. Can you imagine him being more like Homer, with his hands gripped tightly around Richie's neck?

You can almost hear the voice of Herbert T. Gillis from 'The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis' as Rob strangled the life out of his son:

"I gotta kill that boy! I just gotta!"