Saturday, November 11, 2006


Jack Palance (and that's PAL-ance, bub!) died yesterday at his home in California at the age of 87. He won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for 'City Slickers' in the early nineties, but is remembered now more for the one-handed pushups he did onstage as he accepted the award.

Probably his most memorable role is that of the killer in "Shane", and the enduring image from that is of him gunning down Elisha Cook Jr. He received his second Oscar nomination for that movie and his first came as Joan Crawford's stalker/husband in "Sudden Fear".

Every obituary I've seen for Mr. Palance seems to only focus on his career in the movies. At best, they mention his hosting duties for 'Ripley's Believe It Or Not'.

But he played an important role in the early days of television when he starred as "Mountain McClintock in the TV version of Rod Serling's 'Requiem For A Heavyweight'. This was one of those TV productions, along with 'Marty', 'Patterns', and 'Twelve Angry Men' which proved that TV could stand right up there with the movies in creating great, instant classics. In fact, all of these productions went on to be adapted into movies.

Palance could arguably be said to have been the ultimate Count Dracula (Bram Stoker style) for Television. And his Edward Hyde, in another Dan Cutris production, was also memorable. (Although it definitely erased any memories on my part of his counterpart, Dr. Henry Jekyll.)

He also played one of the few variations of the Ebenezer Scrooge character that I've seen which actually worked. His Ebenezer lived in an Old West setting and followed the basic story but with the appropriate twists to fit the motif.

According to a poster at, Jerry Lewis asked Palance to appear in his Muscular Dystrophy telethon one year as the personification of the disease; to urge viewers to give, or else he would show up to visit them or somebody they love.

I can just imagine kids all over the country emptying their parents' wallets and rainy day money jars just to make sure they send in enough money to keep him away!

Jack Palance had a unique look, a memorably hoarse whisper of a voice, and an imposing presence that won't ever be forgotten.

Believe it.... or not.....

"Ripley's Believe It or Not!" (1982) TV Series .... Himself (Host) (1982-1986)
"Bronk" (1975) TV Series .... Lt. Alex Bronkov (1975-1976)
"The Greatest Show on Earth" (1963) TV Series .... Johnny Slate (1963-1964)

Twilight Zone: Rod Serling's Lost Classics (1994) (TV) .... Dr. Jeremy Wheaton (segment "Where the Dead Are")
Ripley's Believe It or Not! (1981) .... Himself - Host
Bronk (1975) (TV) .... Det. Lt. Alex 'Bronk' Bronkov

Back When We Were Grownups (2004) (TV) .... Paul 'Poppy' Davitch
Sarah, Plain and Tall: Winter's End (1999) (TV) .... John Witting
I'll Be Home for Christmas (1997) (TV) .... Bob
Ebenezer (1997) (TV) .... Ebenezer Scrooge
Keep the Change (1992) (TV) .... Overstreet
Evil Stalks This House (1981) (TV) .... Stokes
The Golden Moment: An Olympic Love Story (1980) (TV) .... Whitey Robinson
The Ivory Ape (1980) (TV) .... Marc Kazarian
The Godchild (1974) (TV) .... Rourke

Living with the Dead (2002) (TV) .... Allan Van Praagh
Dracula (1973/I) (TV) .... Count Dracula
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968) (TV) .... Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr. Edward Hyde

Buffalo Girls (1995) (TV) .... Bartle Bone
The Last Ride of the Dalton Gang (1979) (TV) .... Will Smith
The Hatfields and the McCoys (1975) (TV) .... Devil Anse Hatfield
"NET Playhouse"
- Trail of Tears (1971) TV Episode .... President Jackson

Alice Through the Looking Glass (1966) (TV) .... Jabberwock

"Night Visions"
- Bitter Harvest (2001) TV Episode .... Jake Jennings
"Buck Rogers in the 25th Century"
- Planet of the Slave Girls (1979) TV Episode .... Kaleel
"The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour"
- Episode dated 10 October 1973 (1973) TV Episode .... Svengarlic
"The Man from U.N.C.L.E."
- The Concrete Overcoat Affair: Part 2 (1966) TV Episode .... Louis Strago
- The Concrete Overcoat Affair: Part 1 (1966) TV Episode .... Louis Strago
"Run for Your Life"
- I Am the Late Diana Hays (1966) TV Episode .... Julian Hays
- The Many Colors of Courage (1965) TV Episode .... Harvey Bell
"Frontier Justice" .... Dan Morgan (2 episodes, 1958-1961)
- Lariat (1961) TV Episode .... Dan Morgan
- Lariat (1958) TV Episode .... Dan Morgan
"Playhouse 90"
- The Death of Manolete (1957) TV Episode .... Manolete
- The Last Tycoon (1957) TV Episode .... Monroe Stahr
- Requiem for a Heavyweight (1956) TV Episode .... Harlan 'Mountain' McClintock
"Zane Grey Theater" .... Dan Morgan (1 episode, 1956)
- The Lariat (1956) TV Episode .... Dan Morgan
[I'm not sure if this is just the first broadcast of the role later to be found in the show 'Frontier Justice'.]
"Suspense" (2 episodes, 1953)
- Cagliostro and the Chess Player (1953) TV Episode
- The Kiss-Off (1953) TV Episode
"The Motorola Television Hour"
- Brandenburg Gate (1953) TV Episode .... Scott Malone/Kurt Bauman
"The Web" (1 episode, 1953)
- The Last Chance (1953) TV Episode
"Danger" (1 episode, 1953)
- Said the Spider to the Fly (1953) TV Episode
"The Gulf Playhouse" (1 episode, 1952)
- Necktie Party (1952) TV Episode
"Studio One" (2 episodes, 1951-1952)
- Little Man, Big World (1952) TV Episode
- The King in Yellow (1951) TV Episode (as Walter Palance)
"Curtain Call" (1 episode, 1952)
- Azaya (1952) TV Episode
"Lights Out" (1 episode, 1950)
- The Man Who Couldn't Remember (1950) TV Episode

"Dame Edna's Hollywood" .... Himself (1 episode, 1991)
- Episode #1.1 (1991) TV Episode .... Himself
"Ripley's Believe It or Not!" (1982) TV Series .... Himself (Host) (1982-1986)
"The Porter Wagoner Show" (1 episode, 1970)
- Episode #1.312 (1970) TV Episode (performer: "The Green, Green Grass of Home", "Blackjack County Chains")

Why did I include that appearance? PALANCE SINGS!



Today is Veterans' Day. We remember and pay tribute to the men and women in the military who risk all to protect us and our freedoms back home, here in the United States.

Far too many make the ultimate sacrifice in defending us.

Last year we paid tribute to the memory of Virgil Peterson from 'The Bob Newhart Show'. "The Hostile Mouse" had been a Marine at Iwo Jima and had been portrayed by John Fielder, who passed away earlier in 2005.

This year, we honor two veterans who are still with us, on TV every week:

Leroy Jethro Gibbs
Mac Taylor
('CSI: NY')

Both of them had been in the Marines back in the early 1980s and served together in Beirut, Lebanon.

Of course, when I say they served together, that doesn't necessarily mean that they knew each other. There was a large contingent of Marines there in Beirut, hoping to maintain some semblance of peace in Lebanon.

Unfortunately, it all came crashing down on their heads, literally, as they slept.....

From Wikipedia:

The 1983 Beirut barracks bombing was a major incident during the Lebanese Civil War. Two truck bombs struck buildings in Beirut housing U.S. and French members of the Multinational Force in Lebanon, killing hundreds of soldiers, the majority being U.S. Marines. The October 23, 1983, blasts led to the withdrawal of the international peacekeeping force from Lebanon, where they had been stationed since the Israeli invasion in 1982.

The death toll was 241 American servicemen: 220 Marines, 18 Navy personnel and 3 Army soldiers. Sixty Americans were injured.

To read the full story, go here.

In their respective jobs, Mac and Gibbs try not to dwell on the past, but there are times when they are forced to confront that history in their lines of work - Mac as a forensics criminologist for the NYPD, and Gibbs as an investigator for the Navy's equivalent department.

Just last year, Mac had to track down a fellow survivor of the attack who was blowing up buildings to prove that America was not yet safe from more attacks. This dredged up memories he thought long buried.

It's not like he wanted to forget; it's just that he was saddled with additional sorrows because his wife perished in the collapse of the Twin Towers.

All in all, I'm sure Mac and Gibbs would say that they were the lucky ones. They survived.

But for Toobworld, they remain the faces to stand in for their fallen comrades, the 241 Marines who didn't survive the attack.

And hopefully, with the presence of Mac and Gibbs on our TV screens each week, we won't be thinking of those other 241 Marines only on Veterans' Day and Memorial Day, but instead throughout the TV season......


Here are some other sites to visit on this topic:

The Beirut Memorial Online

Arlington Cemetery Remembrance

Beirut Veterans Info

Timothy McGee:
"Did I miss someone in his unit?"
Leroy Jethro Gibbs:
"No, all Marines are deceased."
Ernie Yost:
"They look alive."

Friday, November 10, 2006


So many episodes of 'Doctor Who' to catch up on!

I just finished watching 'Time-Flight", one of the adventures for the Fifth Incarnation of the Doctor. What surprised me about the episode was that I didn't recognize actor Richard Easton as Captain Stapley. I've only become familiar with his work in the last few years. It's hard to believe so many years have passed between that episode and now....

At any rate, I just had one minor note of interest about "Time-Flight" when it comes to Toobworld trivia....

During this adventure, the Doctor first met the Navigator, Roger Scobie. But it was not the first time he met a member of the Scobie family. In the first adventure for the Third Incarnation of the Doctor, "Spearhead From Space", the Time Lord dealt with Major General Scobie.

Major General Scobie didn't look to be the type to marry and raise a family; he was married to the military. So I don't think Roger Scobie was his son. Rather, I think Roger Scobie could call the Major General "Uncle".

That's my theory, at any rate. And there's nothing I can see that says "boo" to it. Especially since both men are still in the same dimension. (The adventures of the Doctor did not transfer to a different dimension for our viewing pleasures until some time between the Eighth Doctor and the Ninth.)



Check out this item by my crossover compadre, Thom Holbrook:

He mentions in the piece that when the name of Melville's restaurant was mentioned, little bells went off in his head, but he couldn't remember at first why it sounded important.

I had the opposite problem. I recognized its significance right away, but forgot all about it by the time the episode ended.

But that's the way it goes in this biz. Thom scoops me and I tip my non-Hat Squad hat to him.

But if David E. Kelley does someday put a "Poobala" reference in one of his shows, it sounds like I may have to tip my Hat Squad hat to Thom!



From Gail Shister's column in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Former 'West Wing' hottie Rob Lowe begins his six-episode arc on 'Brothers & Sisters' Nov. 19, ABC said yesterday. He'll play conservative Sen. Robert McCallister, an interviewee and potential boyfriend for Calista Flockhart's Kitty...

Exciting, yes? No? Well it should be to Toobworld's True Believers!

See, Robert McCallister was the character in 'Jack & Bobby' who grew up to become the President of the United States... in some other TV dimension.

As with the timeline for the TV show remakes in Earth Prime-Time/Delayed, the life of Robert/Bobby McCallister is not aligned between these two dimensions. Unlike with the remakes, however, that's all that is out of alignment; the rest of the timeline appears to be in synch for the time being. (Bush beat Kerry in 2004 in both dimensions, for example.)

At some point after 2009, however, the timelines do split off into different directions, especially because of the "War Of The Americas" which will occur in the 'Jack & Bobby' timeline.

But at least both Robert McCallisters remain true to their political beliefs: according to a website that details the 'Jack & Bobby' chronology, at some point after 2018:

Bobby comes out of the political closet to his a Republican. (Date is uncertain. It must have been sometime before he ran for Congress. 1x02 "Better Days")

The fact that he looks to be representing California, rather than Missouri, could be easily splained. Besides the difference in age, perhaps his family moved to California, or he moved on his own after growing up as he made his mark in the world after college.

The only way for this exciting tidbit of Toobworld linkage could go off the rails is if we meet any more members of Senator McCallister's family and find out that he doesn't have a brother named Jack and his mother's name isn't Grace.

And since the producers would clearly like to keep Rob Lowe on the show past his six episode arc commitment, that could very well happen.

But it'll be fun to consider while it lasts.



From Brent McKee:

For those of you who get Turner Classic Movies, they’ve been showing the Kirk Allyn Superman serial from 1948 on Saturday mornings just before their Cartoon Alley show (one of the only place on TV where you can see classic Warner Brothers and MGM animation on an actual TV without shelling out for DVDs). TCM will wind up the 1948 serial next Saturday (November 11) and then start Atom Man vs. Superman (featuring the only appearance of the Lex Luthor character in either the live action movies or TV until the 1978 movie) the week after.

Months ago I posted some ideas about who could have played classic Superman villains on the TV series. I'm sticking with my idea of RG Armstrong as Luthor.....

So this Saturday, at 10 am EST, TCM will wind up the current serial with Chapters 11 through 15:

"Superman's Dilemma"
"Blast In The Depths"
"Hurled To Destruction"
"Superman At Bay"
"The Payoff"

Then at 11:30, it's 'Cartoon Alley' with some early Bugs, 1940-41:

A Wild Hare (1940), Elmer's Pet Rabbit (1941) and Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt (1941).

Thanks for the head's up, Brent! (You can find the link to Brent's website there to the left: "I Am A Child Of Television".)


Thursday, November 9, 2006


Today CBS newsman Ed Bradley passed away in NYC of leukemia. He was 65.

For the last 26 years, he served as one of the correspondents on '60 Minutes'. My brother, who's an editor at the Waterbury Republican-American, remembers when Don Hewitt, the show's former executive producer, told an anecdote at Columbia's School of Journalism about the only story they could never wrestle into shape to be presentable on '60 Minutes', and that "it had to be one Ed Bradley's."

He can't remember what the piece was about, but I imagine that whatever difficulties they had with it was due to Bradley sticking to his guns about how it should be presented.

Along with his work on '60 Minutes' and 'Street Stories', Bradley also served as host for the reworked presentations of '60 Minutes' interviews which dealt with classic television when they were presented as 'TV Land Legends'.

While covering a story in Cambodia back in 1973, Bradley was shot and wounded. "In the instant that that round landed and blew me in the air, I had those separate and distinct thoughts. The guy who was standing right next to where I had been standing had a hole in his back I could put my fist into. I got some shrapnel in my back and it blew a hole through my arm. It just sliced through my arm, so I was lucky. I was lucky."

From his CBS News biography:

Bradley's 60 MINUTES interview with condemned Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (March 2000) was the only television interview ever given by the man guilty of one of the worst terrorist acts on American soil; it also earned Bradley an Emmy. His reporting on the worst school shooting in American history, "Columbine" (April 2001), revealed on 60 MINUTES II that authorities ignored telling evidence with which they might have prevented the massacre.

Other hourlong reports by Bradley have prompted praise and action: "Death by Denial" (June 2000) won a Peabody Award for focusing on the plight of Africans dying of AIDS and helped convince drug companies to donate and discount AIDS drugs; "Unsafe Haven" (April 1999) spurred federal investigations into the nation's largest chain of psychiatric hospitals; and "Town Under Siege" (December 1997), about a small town battling toxic waste, was named one of the Ten Best Television Programs of 1997 by Time magazine.

Bradley's significant contribution to electronic journalism was also recognized by the Radio/Television News Directors Association when it named him its Paul White Award winner for 2000. He joins other distinguished journalists, such as Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite and Peter Jennings, as a Paul White recipient.

Mike Wallace, a cohost on 60 Minutes, remarked that Bradley's approach is "instinctive—he has no idea how he does it." Bradley himself resists analyzing his style. He said in an interview, "I'd rather not think about it and just go out and do it, and it will come naturally."

Bradley has a long list of awards. In 1975 he won the Overseas Press Club of America Award for best radio news from abroad. He received an award from the Association of Black Journalists in 1977. His 1979 television documentary, “The Boat People,” earned him an Emmy Award, Edward R. Murrow Award from the Overseas Press Club of America, and Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award for Broadcast Journalism. Bradley’s television documentary, “Blacks in America: With All Deliberate Speed,” won him an Emmy Award, an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award in Broadcast Journalism, a George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Award from University of Georgia, and an Ohio State award. In 1995, Bradley won his eleventh Emmy, and was awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award grand prize and television first prize for his documentary “CBS Reports: In the Killing Fields of America.” In 2000, the Radio-Television News Directors Association honored Bradley with the Paul White Award. In 2002 he received a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award.

Here's Ed Bradley, from when he appeared on 'Larry King Live':

BRADLEY: Well, Lena Horn, was certainly -- I've always said when I die and if I do get to the pearly gates and St. Peter says, what have you done to deserve entry, I'd ask him if he saw my Lena Horn piece. It's always been a favorite of mine.

When Bradley interviewed singer Lena Horne (1917–) in December 1981, TV Guide described the journalist's work as "a textbook example of what a great television interview can be."

Bradley alternated Horne's performances with interview segments in which Horne discussed her personal and professional life. Bradley created an intimate (personal) portrait of the singer. Bradley said "it told a lot about the way women are treated, a lot of things about the way blacks are treated. It told a lot of things about interracial marriages, difficulties in the film and entertainment industries and how those things have changed and not changed."

"Lena" won Bradley his first Emmy as a member of the 60 Minutes team.

In closing, I just want to reprint this excerpt from the Congressional Record from thirteen years ago in tribute to the departed newsman:

in the House of Representatives

Mr. BLACKWELL: Mr. Speaker, I am extremely delighted to stand here today to pay tribute to Mr. Ed Bradley, an exceptional gentleman who is well respected for his extraordinary accomplishments and contributions in the field of media broadcasting.

Born in Philadelphia, as the only child of Edward and Gladys Bradley, Ed Bradley has long been known for his ability to boldly face any challenge that is set before him with professionalism and vigor.

In 1959, he entered Cheyney State College as an education major. In addition to his interest in the field of education, Bradley also exhibited a profound enthusiasm in the area of media broadcast. In the early 1960's he worked as an unpaid news reporter and disc jockey at WDAS-FM in Philadelphia whereby he made a remarkable contribution.

Upon graduation from Cheyney, Bradley began his teaching career in a Philadelphia elementary school. While teaching the sixth grade in the 1960's, he became increasingly interested in events that took place during the historic civil rights movement. As a result, he utilized his journalistic talents and spent 48 hours covering the race riots in Philadelphia.

Following that event, he divided his time between teaching, working as a disc jockey, and as a news reporter. In 1967, Bradley made the decision to become a news reporter on a full-time basis. He vigorously sought out to begin his career by applying for a job with WCBS radio in New York.

Many say that the secret to Ed Bradley's success has a lot to do with his honesty, innovative style, and commitment to quality productions.

In 1971 he joined CBS News as a stringer in the Paris Bureau. By September 1972, he was reassigned to Southeast Asia where he covered the Vietnam war as a television correspondent. Unfortunately, during that time he was wounded by mortar fire while on assignment in Cambodia. Nevertheless, his injury did not halt his commitment to his work. In 1974 he returned to Southeast Asia to cover the evacuation of the last Americans in Vietnam.

In 1976, Bradley was assigned to cover the Presidential campaign, covering Jimmy Carter. After Carter became President, he served as a CBS White House correspondent. In 1976 he left that position to become the principal correspondent for CBS Reports.

Bradley received much praise and notoriety for his reports, some of the most outstanding include:

`The Boat People,' written in January 1979; won: Emmy, Alfred I duPont Columbia University, and Oversees Press Club Awards;

`The Boston Goes to China,' written in April 1979; a report on the historic visit by the Boston Symphony Orchestra to China; won: Emmy, George Foster Peabody, and Ohio State Awards;

`Blacks in America: With All Deliberate Speed?' written in July 1979; won: Emmy and Alfred I duPont-Columbia University Awards.

This list of outstanding works, led Bradley to attain overwhelming success and respect as a leader in his field. As a result, in 1981, he joined the well-known `60 Minutes' as a co-editor.

During the time that he has been with `60 Minutes,' Ed Bradley has completed a number of phenomenal reports. His valuable work has been both insightful and inspiring. Much of Ed Bradley's work has exposed both the positive and negative things that occur in the world around us; but most of all, he has helped to educate millions of people through the broadcast media.

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely happy to congratulate Ed Bradley on his vast achievements. He is definitely a role model and a highly skilled professional. Most of all, he has gained his place as a significant part of African-American history, of which we can all be proud.

"60 Minutes" .... Himself - Correspondent / Himself (35 episodes, 1981-2006)
"TV Land Legends: The 60 Minutes Interviews" (2002) TV Series .... Host
"Street Stories" (1992) TV Series .... Himself - Host (1992-1993)

CBS at 75 (2003) (TV) .... Himself
Breaking the News (2001) (TV) .... Himself
CBS: The First 50 Years (1998) (TV) .... Himself
We Were There: CBS News at 50 (1998) (TV) .... Himself
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (1995) (TV) .... Himself
60 Minutes: The Entertainers (1991) (TV) .... Himself

"Murphy Brown" .... Himself (1 episode, 1993)
- All the Life That's Fit to Print (1993) TV Episode .... Himself

The Last Party (1993) (uncredited) .... Himself (at GOP convention)


"When it gets to the point where it's not fun anymore,
I've always hoped that I would have the courage to say goodbye and walk away from it. "
Ed Bradley


The guys over at "Tommy Westphall's Mind" (link to the left), and their faithful followers, have come up with plenty of new additions to the Westphallian version of the TV Universe, thanks to the Morley's brand of cigarettes.

Morley's first came to notice with many appearances on 'The X-Files' as the brand of choice for Cigarette Smoking Man. (But according to Wikipedia, they first appeared in an episode of 'Mission: Impossible'.)

It was thanks to my Toobworld ally Hugh that I learned they also made an appearance in an episode of 'The Power Rangers'. Then it turned out that Spike the vampire on 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' smoked the brand as well.

After that, the mentions and sightings of Morley's cigarettes kept piling up, like the butts at an all-night poker game.

Recently, the Westphallians found out from a visitor that Morley's made an appearance in an episode of 'CSI'. This was cause for excitement, as that automatically brings in the two spin-offs, 'CSI: Miami' and 'CSI: NY'.

And then it happened again just a few weeks ago with 'Criminal Minds':

"On tonight's episode, "North Mammon", 13 Morley 100s cigarette butts are an important piece of evidence. I don't watch the show, but I happened to flip past it just as this reference appeared."

As I watch 'Lost', there was no way I was going to find that out myself, which is why it's always good to hang out with the competition. LOL!

Wikipedia has a list of other sightings for the cancer sticks, to which can now be added 'CSI':

'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'
'Criminal Minds'

'Jake 2.0.'
'Killer Instinct'
'Malcolm in the Middle'
'Mission Impossible'
'Nash Bridges'
'The Outer Limits'
'Space Above And Beyond'
'The X-Files'



There are different ways to interpret the TV Universe. First off there's my Toobworld concept, in which everything is tossed into the mix and then sorted out when need be. There are also those who accept only those TV shows with legitimate connections, either by crossovers or mentions of and appearances by characters (or props or fictional locations). Then there's the Tommy Westphall group, who only accept established connections, but which have to ultimately lead back to 'St. Elsewhere', because the whole TV Universe takes place in an autistic boy's head. (He's a young man now, of course. But you get what I mean, right?)

Except for the bit about it only existing within Tommy's mind, Toobworld automatically has absorbed all of those versions within itself.

And then there are those who focus only one particular corner of the TV Universe, expanding it only so far as it may concern their interests.

Take for example a new member of the Tommy Westphall's Mind gang of commenters, "bttf4444". This person is a Marty McFly fan from "Back To The Future", a movie trilogy which has a somewhat tenuous connection to Toobworld. (We'd see Doc Brown's hand as he narrated some cartoons from underneath the DeLorean which he was repairing.)

"bttf4444" introduced herself (I'm guessing on the gender, but that's the take I get on the writing.) with this:

"My interest in the Tommy Westphall Universe has been brought on by my love for Michael J Fox - and the connection of his respective characters in 'Family Ties' and 'Spin City'. So here's something to ponder on. For of all, does MJF even exist Tommy Westphall's Universe? If so, did he marry Tracy Pollan? Also, how did MJF get his big break? Or did he just remain being a little known actor?

Here are my thoughts: yes, MJF does exist in the Tommy Wistful Universe. No, he didn't marry Tracy Pollan - because, in 'our' world, he met her on the set of 'Family Ties'. Because 'Family Ties' obviously doesn't exist as a series in the Tommy Westphall Universe, MJF ends up marrying someone else. However, Alex Keaton does end up marrying Ellen Reed. I initially said that MJF got his big break, when 'Class of 1984' became a sitcom. However, upon learning more about that movie, I decided that it doesn't really fit. Instead, I'll probably say that 'Leo and Me' had spawned a sitcom spin-off in the Tommy Westphall Universe - and the sitcom spin-off becomes very successful."

Okay, "bttf4444" kind of lost me by the end there with all the talk about "Class of 1984" and "Leo and Me", but I did enjoy the theory about Fox marrying Pollan - did it happen in the TV Universe?

Okay, here's the Toobworld take, and the generalities can be applied to just about anybody, even if they aren't celebrities.

Everybody in the Trueniverse has a doppelganger in Toobworld. Their lives are basically the same, altered only by the dynamics of "better living through Television".

Here's what I wrote about the subject in "The Tubeworld Dynamic", a prototype for this blog, the introductory page of which still exists on the web. (See the link to the left.)

"Fred Murphy visited the website and asked: "Who/what are the doppelgangers of non-watchers like me?"

Since Tubeworld is an alternate version of our own Earth, there would be TV versions of everybody here in the Real World, even if we never did show up on TV; even if ::shudder:: we don't even watch. We've coined the term "tele-version" to describe these characters. [With the widespread use of home videos in comedy shows, and crowd scenes at sports events, and background shots for news broadcasts, more of us ordinary folk are showing up on TV every day!]

Our counterparts on Tubeworld would probably be similar to us here, with only a few minor adjustments due to the influence of TV. There would be a lot more single-parent families with wisecracking kids; we would all have wacky neighbors and off-the-wall co-workers; and we'd suffer from amnesia a lot!

Let's say you're a cop here in the Real World. You'd probably be a cop in Tubeworld as well. But Tubeworld cops have one of the following differences:

1) a distinctive last name 2) a unique vehicle
3) a gimmick 4) a handicap

So take a look at your life and see what influence TV cliches might have on it if you were a TV character. Work in an office? Maybe you'd be stuck in a soul-numbing cubicle like Matt Peyser on 'Working'. Are you adopted and perhaps with unique features; somewhat different from those around you? Maybe your doppelganger's real father was an alien disguised as a human like on 'Starman'!

Or, thanks to 'America's Funniest Home Videos', maybe you just get hit in the crotch with a rake...."

The same would apply to Michael J. Fox. He exists in the TV Universe as do his characters of Mike Flaherty ('Spin City') and Alex Keaton ('Family Ties') and - up until two weeks ago, Daniel Post ('Boston Legal').

(However, in the TV Universe which is made up of many parallel dimensions, 'Spin City' is in an alternate dimension where Randall Winston was the mayor instead of Rudy Giuliani. That dimension does have its own Alex Keaton however, even though 'Family Ties' stays rooted in the main Toobworld. This is because Flaherty got to meet that dimension's Alex Keaton, now a congressman, in Fox's final episode as the star of 'Spin City'.)

When anybody - it never has to be a celebrity - appears on a TV show as themselves, they become automatic members of the League of Themselves. Here at Toobworld Central, we give favor to those appearances that take place in fictional settings like sitcoms and dramas. Two good examples from the worlds of sports and politics - Keith Hernandez on 'Seinfeld' and former President Gerald Ford on 'Dynasty'.

Because Toobworld is made up of EVERYTHING that is broadcast, appearances by people as themselves on talk shows, game shows, reality shows, infomercials, and news reports are also included. However, Toobworld Central tries (as best we can - the temptation is great!) to ignore these appearances in favor of the more interesting fictional ones. At best, we may use them in such things as our "Hat Squad" tributes if they provide some interesting flavor which informs the basic nature of the person's TV personality.

Tom Cruise's appearance on 'Oprah' last year, jumping on the couch, is a good example. It's a pop culture moment that has been referenced in other shows by now, I'm fairly certain, so we have to accept it as a true Toobworld moment.

And the same would go for the "tele-version" of Michael J. Fox. Most recently, his TV life would, like his real life, be under scrutiny for the campaign spots he did for Democratic candidate Claire McCaskill in Missouri, now the Senator-Elect.

Looking over his credits in the, I don't see any shows where he has made fictional appearances as himself. The closest thing would be the Saturday morning PSAs for 'One To Grow On', in which a fictional scene - one to which kids could relate - would be acted out and then a celebrity would step out and instruct the viewers on the best way to handle that particular situation.

(This appearance marks Michael J. Fox as a serlinguist, able to communicate through the fourth wall to the audience viewing at home in the Trueniverse.)

David Spade's portrayal of Michael J. Fox in an episode of 'Saturday Night Live' doesn't count toward Fox's televersion in the main Toobworld. Instead, that's part of his ever-changing genetic makeup in the sketch comedy dimension, Skitlandia.

But since his talk show appearances do count for background information and flavor, we have to accept that TV's Michael J. Fox is married to TV's Tracy Pollan. However, as is the case with his ability of serlinguism, there are some differences in his circumstances.

As "bttf4444" pointed out, it's likely he never met her on the set of 'Family Ties', as that show really exists in Toobworld. Michael J. Fox and Alex Keaton share the same world and could conceivably even meet each other someday. If 'Family Ties' has been mentioned in other TV shows as a pop culture reference, it could either be that it's the same title but a different show, or - the reference is really specific - a show was created about the Keaton family over there because some network executive thought they'd make the basis for a good TV series based on their lives. (That line of thinking avoids the headache of Zonks.)

In that second supposition, it could be that the TV version of Michael J. Fox also starred on the fictional 'Family Ties', because of his amazing resemblance to Alex Keaton. And if so, then Fox could still have met his future wife on that show because Tracy Pollan was also cast due to her amazing resemblance to the character she was playing, Ellen Reed. (By the way, in Toobworld theory, Ellen Reed is related to the Reed 'Sisters'.)

But suppose Fox is never mentioned when it comes to the pop culture references to 'Family Ties'? Then we work on the assumption that he had no connection to the show whatsoever. And in that case, he didn't meet Tracy Pollan on the set of the show.

However, since his talk show appearances would include mention of his marriage (especially now with the topic invariably turning more to his physical ailments than to his career), we just have to assume that somehow Fox finally did meet Pollan under different circumstances than he did in the Real World.

Some things are kismet and just can't be avoided.

(By the way, according to the, references about 'Family Ties' were made in 'Family Guy' and in 'South Park'. But as both of those shows exist in the Tooniverse, and not the main Toobworld, they don't count.

'Psych' also made a reference to 'Family Ties' in one episode. As kids, both Shawn and Gus had major crushes on Meredith Baxter Birney, who played Elyse Keaton on the show. But Shawn claimed that his infatuation was due to her being the mother of his hero, Alex Keaton. Since Fox isn't named, maybe some other actor played Alex to Baxter-Birney's Elyse?)

I'm hoping Michael J. Fox does get the chance to appear as himself in a fictional setting someday in either a drama (the upcoming '3 lbs.' on CBS, perhaps?) or in a sitcom. (Ideally, this would probably be either 'Entourage' or 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' on HBO. Or maybe '30 Rock' for his old home network, NBC!)

Well, I'm sure that was a long and confusing and meandering essay. But Toobworld is nothing if not a time-waster. And if you feel like you've just lost ten minutes of your life in reading this....

Sorry. No refunds.

Thanks for the inspiration, "bttf4444"!


"Hey, hold on. What are you guys doing?
You guys, you're better than this, alright?
I mean, you made people happy once, and you can do it again!
Come on, what do you say
"Michael J. Fox"
'Saturday Night Live'


Last night was the mini-season finale for 'Lost'; we'll not see it again until February 7th, 2007. Not a long time when compared to the break between seasons for 'The Sopranos', and it didn't exactly leave us on tenterhooks panting for its return with the cliffhanger they devised.

But it did bring back, in flashback, US Marshal Edward Mars, Kate's personal Jalvert as played by Frederick Lehne.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but Edward Mars is - in Toobworld theory - the cousin of Keith Mars who is a private investigator in Neptune, California.

I just wish either one of the shows had mentioned that as well.....



The Hughes Brothers are going to be directing the movie version of 'Kung Fu'. If they're smart, and based on movies they've made in the past I know that they must be, they'll hire David Carradine to play either Master Kan or Master Po. Or have him involved in some other small cameo role.

This would be a sign that the movie has received the blessings of the star of the TV show, which goes a long way toward fostering good will in the prospective audience.

Best example of all? Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson as 'Starsky & Hutch' who meet the original playuhs at the end of the film - Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul. It was a cute moment which topped off an already pleasurable experience of a buddy movie.

It doesn't guarantee that the movie will be any good, of course - consider the movie version of 'The Avengers'. Even with the participation of Patrick Macnee (in voice only) as Invisible Jones, having the original John Steed couldn't translate to the entire affair as being a good movie.

Roger Moore supplied his vocals at the very end of Val Kilmer's version of 'The Saint' in a radio broadcast. By that point, it didn't matter; the movie had to stand on its own merits. (And it wasn't bad, considering it had become basically a generic "blowed-up-real-gooder" that wasn't much different from movies made by various action stars over the previous decade.)

But at the very least, if you do make the offer for the original TV star to appear in the cinematic remake, for God's sake, make sure they accept. I think the refusal of Robert Conrad to take on a cameo role in the remake of 'The Wild, Wild West' helped begin the antagonistic feelings towards the movie which starred Will Smith in Conrad's role of James West. (I think Conrad was offered the role of Ulysses S. Grant, but I can't be sure of that.)

The fact that the movie just plain sucked because it had to bend over backwards to create a logic for Smith's West to be in his line of work did the rest.

But should the Hughes Brothers offer any role to David Carradine, it should at least not be as a villain. Although he plays one well (just check out "Kill Bill II" for proof.), the audience might see it as Carradine's statement against the movie in general.

Bad juju!


Wednesday, November 8, 2006


Adrienne Shelly was a 40 year old actress and director who was murdered on November 1st by an illegal immigrant working on construction in the apartment below her office. They had argued about the noise he was making and he followed her back to the office, where he struck her and then hanged her with sheets to make it look like a suicide.

She left behind her husband and their young baby.

Ms. Shelly had a movie soon to open called "Waitress", which she directed, and she had appeared in a movie called "Factotum" with Matt Dillon last year.

Adrienne Shelly was best known for her first two big independent movies directed by Hal Hartley: "The Unbelievable Truth" and "Trust". But she did make a small imprint on Toobworld with four guest appearances in TV series; three of which are closely related in the TV Universe, no matter which way you interpret its many connections.

"Law & Order" .... Wendy Alston (1 episode, 2000)
- High & Low
"Oz" .... Sarah (1 episode, 1998)
- Ancient Tribes
"Early Edition" .... Emma Shaw (1 episode, 1997)
- Phantom at the Opera
"Homicide: Life on the Street" .... Tanya Quinn (1 episode, 1994)
- A Many Splendored Thing



In the Real World, today is November 8th, 2006. It is the day after the "Midterm Midtacular" national elections. (Thank you, 'Daily Show'.) And the fallout from the swing to the Democrats' favor has already begun - Donald Bin Rumsfeld has resigned as Secretary of Defense. Now he can go back to doing what he's best at: chasing kids playing frisbee off of his lawn.

(If Aaron Sorkin was writing real life, Rumsfeld would hang on until the very end, only to have his resignation refused by the new President - who would instead fire his ass.)

But in the 'Heroes' perspective of the TV Universe, today is the day of the big atomic-like blast that is supposed to destroy New York City. However, only HIro Nakamura has reached that point yet, by traveling into the future. And he's gone back to be in chrono-synch with the rest of the cast. For them it is not yet November 8th, and they still have time to save the cheerleader; save the world.

It'll be some time before they reach that point in the narrative as the show is going to take a big step backwards, again thanks to Hiro.

So unless a show is set in the past or the future or in another dimension, the rest of the Toobworld is already living out November 8th, 2006... albeit offscreen for the most part.

('Lost', 'Kidnapped', and 'Everybody Loves Chris' are set in the past. 'Doctor Who', 'Battlestar Galactica', 'Smallville' and 'Jericho' are set in other dimensions. Currently, there are no shows set in the future of the main Toobworld, that I know of.)

Therefore, if we're looking at all of the TV shows being in the same universe, a lot of the wind is taken out of the sails for 'Heroes' plotline. We already know that they do indeed save the cheerleader and the world.

Not that it detracts from the journey when viewed on its own. This show kicks!

Today would also have been my Dad's 77th birthday.....


"Tomorrow you're all going to wake up in a brave new world -
A world where the Constitution gets trampled by an army of terrorist clones
Created in a stem-cell research lab run by homosexual doctors
Who sterilize their instruments over burning American flags.
"Where tax-and-spend Democrats take all your hard-earned money
And use it to buy electric cars for National Public Radio and teach evolution to illegal immigrants.
"Oh, and everybody's high!"
Stephen Colbert
"The Midterm Midtacular"


For those of you who don't know where that name of "Swarley" came from in the previous post, then o'bviously you're not watching one of the best sitcoms on the air today - 'How I Met Your Mother'.

In this week's episode, Barney's drink order was mistakenly attributed to "Swarley" (also the episode title) at a local 'Friends'-style coffee house. After that, his friends were merciless in finding ways to twist the new, detested nickname:

Swarles Barkley

were three of the best.

If I had the chance to torment Barney with my own variation, I would have called him

"Kid Swarlemagne".

"Swarley" has got to be the best made-up name to be found in a TV series, male division. As for the female category? There's no competition......

Mulva (from 'Seinfeld')

In fact, I'm thinking the two piglets I was going to feature in a future "Toobworld" story should get those names. Swarley & Mulva. These piglets would be kin to Arnold Ziffel. And all of them can trace their intelligence back to their ancestor, the demi-god Hercules, who had a liaison with a sow during the unseen portions of the "Porkules" episode in 'Hercules: The Legendary Journeys'.

As for Barney's predicament about being called "Swarley", it was never really resolved this week. The dreaded nickname may crop up again someday.

But here's the way to bring it to a cringing halt. Barney should bait them into calling him a variation of "Swarley" by showing up at MacLaren's Bar dressed in a white suit complete with porkpie hat, acting all calm and inscrutable. I don't know if it would be Marshall or Ted, but one of them wouldn't be able to resist the temptation to shout out for all to hear:

"Swarley Chan and the Chan Clan!"

And that's when Barney's secret weapon, a family of insulted Chinese, steps into view. The gang would never dare risk calling him "Swarley" again, for fear of what trap Barney might have set for them.

But that's if I ran Toobworld. I just maintain the place......



Now that 'Lost' is winding down to a close with tonight's episode (Fear not! They'll be back February, 2007.), can we PLEASE stop using the cutesy name of "Benry" when referring to Ben Linus? He was using "Henry Gale" as an alias last year, but it's not his name and now that he's dropped it, we should drop any reference to it.

I swear I think commenters in various other online sites and blogs do this sort of thing to "mark their territory". It's right there in the Bible from the time of Adam - you name something, you have power over it. That's why I think some of these people are doing when they continue to use that stupid combination.

(Then again, I also hate Brangelina, Vaughniston, JAM (for Jim and Pam), TomKat, Bennifer I & II.......)

When 'Lost' returns in February of 2007, maybe Hurley should be the one slinging the new nicknames.

So how about a new name for ex-druggie Charlie?

Might I suggest "Swarley"?

Best of all, by using it in 'Lost', then it would trump its use on 'How I Met Your Mother' by at least two years!

Abbysinia, "Benry".



US actress Adrienne Shelly, best known for her roles in the Hal Hartley films "The Unbelievable Truth" and "Trust", has been found dead in her New York office. The 40-year-old was discovered by her husband Andy Ostroy on Wednesday night, according to her agent Rachel Sheedy.

Ostroy found her hanging in the shower of her office, and everyone jumped to the conclusion that she hanged herself... even though she was a new mother, and had a movie which she directed soon to debut.

Maybe I had seen too many 'Murder, She Wrote' episodes - especially one with Buddy Hackett and Steve Lawrence, - but the first thought that came to me was that it was murder. Of course, I - like the police who grilled him for five hours - at first suspected the husband.

A teenage construction worker has been charged with the murder of US actress Adrienne Shelly. A footprint found in her Manhattan home led police to 19-year-old Diego Pillco, originally from Ecuador.

You know that this will be the stuff from which quickie episodes of 'Law & Order' sprout. Of course, they'll put their own little twist to the tale; for alls I know, in their version, it will be the husband.

Or perhaps, the financial backer of the movie.....


Tuesday, November 7, 2006


In December, ABC will air a half-hour holiday special spun off from the "Shrek" movies - 'Shrek The Halls'. Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, Puss In Boots, and probably the second-tier of the cast (like Pinocchio, Gingerbread Man, and the Three Blind Mice) will star. And as far as those top four characters, all of the original actors will be involved. (That would mean Mike Meyers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, and Antonio Banderas, respectively.)

Donkey has already appeared in the Tooniverse, thanks to his appearance on 'Pride Of The Family', which aired on NBC. There are also a few appearances in commercials for various products from computers to fast food chains. So it's likely that of all the cast of characters, Donkey will be first to get inducted into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame.



"Shaun Daily" wrote this in (11/2/06) about 'Jericho':

"Gracie is turning into the Mrs Olson (of 'Little House' fame) of 'Jericho'. While she does care, it does not stop her from doing business."

Makes you wonder - well, me anyway...... What if Gracie IS the reincarnation of Mrs. Olson? She's of a similar look (Many TV reincarnations are exact resemblances, but not always.)and they share a similar occupation.

Her personality may not be as shrewish as that of Mrs. Olson, but since the nuclear attack, she has "all the time in the world"....

Just sayin', is all.....



"I bet nuns are awesome basketball players,
Especially the ones that can fly
Randy Hickey
'My Name Is Earl'

No mention is made of 'The Flying Nun', the ABC sitcom starring Sally Field. Therefore we can safely assume that Randy is talking about the "real" Sister Bertrille, who at 90 lbs. would become aireborne when the wind got hold of her cornet.

It's a long way between Camden County and San Tanco, so it's unlikely that Randy knew Sister Bertille personally. There are so many TV shows and magazines about human interest stories nowadays.

"Doonesbury" once did a story about some guy being profiled by People magazine because he was the only person left in L.A. who had not been profiled by them. Sooner or later one of those magazines would have done a story on Sister Bertrille, so that's how Randy must have known about her.

(And People magazine does indeed exist in Toobworld. It's part of the Glenn Howard publishing empire.)

Besides, even if there was a TV show, that's no problem either. Just like with the Singing Nun, the image and story of the Flying Nun would have been sold to TV, the movies, perhaps even to a cartoon network.

So Randy could have seen the "Flying Nun" on TV. And Sister Bertrille would have donated that money from selling her rights to help save the orphans raised by the Sisters of San Tanco.

As well as the many bastard offspring sired by Carlos Ramirez......

'My Name Is Earl'
'The Flying Nun'
'The Name Of The Game'


"I saw her kick a nun once...."
Charles Kuralt
'Murphy Brown'

"History is last month's 'People' magazine...."
Miles Drentell

Monday, November 6, 2006


Veteran actor William Franklyn has died at the age of 81. His 50-year career encompassed TV, radio, film and stage, appearing in episodes of 'The Avengers' and 'The Scarlet Pimpernel' among many others. He also appeared in television shows such as 'Top Secret' (in which he was secret agent Peter Dallas), 'Splitting Heirs' and 'Ooh, You Are Awful'. (I love that title!)

But for all of that, he is best known as the voice of the "Schhh... You Know Who" Schweppes commercials. Not that I'm saying there's anything wrong with that. Blipvert immortality worked out great for Jesse White, Dick Wilson, and Jane Withers. We should all be so lucky to live on in the memories of strangers in such a way.

It was during the 1960s that Franklyn landed the role in the adverts for Schweppes tonic. He appeared on screen in 10 of the commercials between 1965 and 1973, and voiced 40.

In 2004 he took over from the late Peter Jones as the voice of the Book on Radio 4's 'The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy'. The Radio Universe is the original home for the HHG2TG, and this casting change doesn't need to apply to the TV version. However, an easy splainin can be found - the Book has simply been updated since the edition featuring Peter Jones' voice.

"The Steam Video Company" (1983) TV Series .... Various
"Masterspy" (1978) TV Series .... Host
"Paradise Island" (1977) TV Series .... Cuthbert Fullworthy
"What's on Next?" (1976) TV Series .... Various (1976-1978)
"Whodunnit!" (1972) TV Series .... Voiceover
"No Cloak - No Dagger" (1963) TV Series .... Ian Lambart
"Top Secret" (1961) TV Series .... Peter Dallas
"No Wreath for the General" (1960) TV Series .... Dr. Roger Kenyon

"G.B.H." (1991) (mini) TV Series .... Distinguished gent
"Curtain of Fear" (1964) (mini) TV Series .... Hans Liebert

London Suite (1996) (TV) (uncredited) .... Widley
Diana: Her True Story (1993) (TV)
The Legend of Young Dick Turpin (1965) (TV) .... Tom King
Quatermass 2 (1957) .... Dr. Brand

"The Courtroom"
- Dead in the Water (2004) TV Episode .... Judge Matthew Johnson
- A Second Chance (2001) TV Episode .... Hugo Stephenson
"French and Saunders"
- Witless Silence (1999) TV Episode
- Guns and Roses (1994) TV Episode .... Burgess
"The New Avengers"
- Hostage (1977) TV Episode .... McKay
"Doctor in Charge"
- That's My Uncle! (1972) TV Episode .... Jeremy de Quincy
"The Champions"
- The Gun-Runners (1969) TV Episode .... Hartington
"The Avengers"
- Killer (1968) TV Episode .... Brinstead
- Silent Dust (1966) TV Episode .... Peter Omrod
"Thirty-Minute Theatre"
- Something to Hide: The First Floor (1968) TV Episode .... Roy Haines
"The Baron"
- The Edge of Fear (1967) TV Episode .... Kent Jordon

"The Troubleshooters"
- The Bigger They Are (1966) TV Episode .... Michael Rennane
"Public Eye"
- You're Not Cinderella, Are You? (1966) TV Episode .... Kurt Heller
- The Countess (1962) TV Episode
"International Detective"
- The Washington Case (1961) TV Episode .... Larry Sullivan
- The Bismarck Case (1960) TV Episode .... Conrad Schneider
"No Hiding Place"
- The Last Flight of the Eel (1960) TV Episode .... Paul Kendon
- Everybody Loves Jerry (1959) TV Episode
"Interpol Calling"
- Slow Boat to Amsterdam (1960) TV Episode .... Nevil
"The Flying Doctor"
- Time Bomb (1959) TV Episode .... Murphy
"Dick and the Duchess"
- The Club (1957) TV Episode .... Elegant Harry
"The Adventures of Sir Lancelot"
- The Mortaise Fair (1957) TV Episode .... Baron Mortaise
"Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Presents"
- The Ludlow Affair (1957) TV Episode .... Roger Benning
- The Way Home (1956) TV Episode .... Stanley
- A Likely Story (1956) TV Episode .... David Butler
"The New Adventures of Charlie Chan"
- Backfire (1957) TV Episode .... Richard Dawson
- The Death of a Don (1957) TV Episode .... Jack Pearson
"Lilli Palmer Theatre"
- Bride Wore an Opal Ring (1956) TV Episode .... Ted Harvey
"The Count of Monte Cristo"
- Burgundy (1956) TV Episode .... Phillipe
- The Carbonari (1956) TV Episode .... Du Broc
"The Scarlet Pimpernel"
- The Ambassador's Lady (1956) TV Episode .... Jacques Fleury
- Something Remembered (1956) TV Episode .... Jacques Fleury
"TV Playhouse"
- Mid Level (1955) TV Episode .... Bluey

"This Is Your Life"
- William Franklyn (1978) TV Episode .... Himself



During the ten years I've been writing about Toobworld in one online forum or another, I've come up with some pretty wild theories gleaned from thinking inside the box.

Why Superman couldn't save the World Trade Center

How Mr. Rourke and Mr. Peabody are aliens from the same planet, but different dimensions

Why Dr. Loveless is still alive

But I have to say that Harry Knowles of "Ain't It Cool News" has really come up with a whopper, what with his musings about 'Heroes'.

I haven't read a pop culture theory as wild as this since Larry Niven's "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex"!

I'm not even going to hint at the gist of what he came up with, because I don't want to spoil it.

And I have this fear my fourth-grade nun, Sister Theresa Gertrude, will come back from the dead and rap me on the knuckles with a ruler for saying such things!


Sunday, November 5, 2006


In the last week, Neil Patrick Harris and TR Knight both came out and proclaimed they were gay. (Not happy with that verb; sounds like they were boasting. "admitted" doesn't work either - that would sound like they were copping to a crime.)

Both actors play straight characters on their respective shows - Harris as Barney on 'How I Met Your Mother', Knight as George on 'Grey's Anatomy'.

Meanwhile, over at 'Brothers & Sisters', Matthew Rhys is straight, but he's playing the gay Kevin Walker. And then there's Eric McCormack who played Will on 'Will & Grace'.

However, Nathan Lane playing straight on 'Encore Encore' just didn't register. I guess we knew too much about him as a person by that point......

This is all how it should be in Toobworld. For the most part, nothing about the actor should really define the character. First off, the actor and the character are two separate identities in the TV Universe, and usually never encounter each other (unless of course we're talking about Sammy Davis, Jr.) It's when their personal life is incorporated into the storyline, then it tends to send the plot careening off the tracks.

The sitcom 'Ellen' comes to mind......

Although eventually we were able to overlook it, Christopher Eccleston's dialect was a bit disconcerting at first, coming as it did from the Doctor in 'Doctor Who'. Not even the dialogue to splain it away helped much, although it did make for a keeper:

Rose Tyler: "How come you sound like you come from the North?"
The Doctor: "Lots of planets have a North."

Eccleston's regenerated replacement's request to use his native Scottish accent was vetoed, but David Tennant did get to use it as part of his alias in the episode "Tooth & Claw".

One of the smart decisions on the part of RTD to veto the request. Bad enough when decades earlier, the Third Incarnation of the Doctor was regenerated with a tattoo.....

Not even an actor's age is apparently a factor when it comes to their character. Otis Young was 43 when he played Lawrence Melville in the 'Columbo' episode of "Identity Crisis". But Melville was supposed to be 28.

Young looked the 43.

When he played two roles in 'The Second Hundred Years', Monte Markham was supposed to be 33 as Ken Carpenter (which he was in real life), but he was 101 as Luke Carpenter, Ken's recently unfrozen grandfather. It's now 2006 - Markham/Ken Carpenter are both 71, while Grandpa Luke would be about 140.

Some things you just have to figure into the equation. Daryl Mitchell broke his spine in 2000, so he has to play most of his roles now in a wheelchair as he did in 'Ed'. (Not sure if his role in last year's "Inside Man" was just always seated, though.)

James Stacey lost an arm and a leg decades ago in an accident. So when he appeared as a guest star in a 'Wiseguy' arc, this was added into his character's back-story. And in fact, it played a major factor at a crucial point in the plot when the character of Mark Volchek's ultimate goal was revealed.

Michael Dunn's dwarfism was a major factor in the conception of Dr. Miguelito Loveless, and he played it to the hilt. As his nine episodes in the series progressed, it was only Loveless' own obsession with his stunted height that held him back from the true greatness he could have achieved.

But if one is a little person, that doesn't mean it has to be considered central to the character they play. Peter Dinklage's role in 'Threshold' really didn't have anything to do with the fact that he's a little person; it was the size of his scientific genius that mattered. However, the same can't be said for his role as Marlowe on 'nip/tuck'. It didn't have to come up in his position as the family's nanny, but now that he's obsessed with Julia McMahon, he's considering the option of having his legs lengthened.

I guess as it's a show with cosmetic surgeries as it's hook, that was to be expected.

Meredith Eaton as Rebecca Horowitz on 'Boston Legal' could have dealt with the fact that she's a little person being second to the fact that she's a lawyer, if it had not been for the blundering bluntness of Denny Crane.

And even then he was able to get past that for some "cheap, chubby sex".

Getting over the fact she may be his daughter is a little trickier.....

Still, I think that when she appeared on 'Family Law' as Emily Resnick, the fact that she was a little person was probably addressed and then put aside. I just wish she could have appeared on 'Boston Legal' as Emily rather than Rebecca, if only for the crossover!

Michael Dunn really paved the way for little people as actors so that eventually they will be cast as regulars on TV series and their height never becomes an issue (or splained away as them being aliens or non-human beings, as was the case with Danny Woodburn's Carl the Gnome on 'Special Unit 2'.)

If it does ever come up again, the offender can be shouted down with accusations of "heightism", like Jerry was on 'Seinfeld' in regards to Woodburn's Mickey.

Race doesn't even play a role anymore, really. It was played up for laughs when Rob Petrie thought his baby had been switched with that of Mr. and Mrs. Peters on 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'. And Chris Stephens had a black brother on 'Northern Exposure', but that was chalked up to their Dad bleepin' around with two different families.

Wayne Brady is about to show up as Barney's brother on 'How I Met Your Mother', but no splainin yet on how that came about. Personally, I think it would be cool if it never comes up at all, or at the very least, Barney never offers up an answer. That's how it played out in "Jurassic Park 2" when we met the daughter of Jeff Goldblum's character. We were left to fill in the blanks, if it was necessary.

Up in Elmo, Alaska, it appears that "ebony and ivory combine to make" Patrick, as it's been recently revealed that Buzz is his father. Nothing about the genetic makeup of the actor playing the role of Patrick would suggest that it was possible, but that's cool. (Of course it's cool! They're in Alaska! Ba dum bum! Try the veal!)

But getting back to Neil Patrick Harris and TR Knight announcing (ah! That's a better verb!) that they're gay, I hope the writers resist the temptation to ever play with that idea. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.

It's just that Barney is too deeply seated in the audience's minds as the irreparable reprobate of a womanizer to be seen even questioning his sexuality.

But I wouldn't put it past Shonda Rhimes when it comes to 'Grey's Anatomy'. That show is so far over the top when it comes to soapy complications in the characters' lives, and they burn through so many plotlines in a single season, that I would be surprised if they didn't have George do a bit of experimentation.

Just sayin', is all.....

Shows cited for this O'Bservation:
'How I Met Your Mother'
'Grey's Anatomy'
'Brothers & Sisters'
'The Wild, Wild West'
'The Second Hundred Years'
'Family Law'
'Special Unit 2'
'Men In Trees'
'Northern Exposure'
'Encore Encore'
'Doctor Who'
'The Dick Van Dyke Show'
'Will & Grace'



This week, Sam and Dean Winchester of 'Supernatural' took on a demonic spirit straight out of American History. In life, H.H. Holmes was the American version of Jack the Ripper in the late 1800s.

But in Toobworld, the man who was Jack the Ripper wasn't really responsible for his actions. Sebastian was possessed by the Redjack Entity and forced to commit those crimes until he was caught by the Vorlons.

Yeah, the British had to have aliens take care of their serial killer. We got rid of Holmes with good old fashioned American know-how.

Here's an introduction to H.H. Holmes, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Herman Webster Mudgett (May 16, 1861 – May 7, 1896), better known under the alias of "Dr. H. H. Holmes," was an American serial killer.

Holmes trapped, tortured, and murdered possibly hundreds of guests at his Chicago hotel, which he opened for the 1893 World's Fair. He confessed to 27 murders, though only nine have been confirmed.

The case was notorious in its time, and received wide publicity via a series of articles in William Randolph Hearst's newspapers. Interest in Holmes' crimes was revived in 2003 by "The Devil in the White City", a best-selling non-fiction book that juxtaposed an account of the planning and staging of the World's Fair with Holmes' story. In addition, Harold Schechter has written a biography of his life entitled "Depraved".

Although Holmes is sometimes referred to as America's first serial killer, his crimes occurred after those of others such as Thomas Neill Cream, the Austin Axe Murderer and the Bloody Benders.

If you want to read more about Holmes, you can check out his Wikipedia biography.

However, even though Holmes was hanged for his crimes in Pennsylvania*, his spirit came back to terrorize the building which was erected on the land where he was hanged.

What brought him back to the land of the living? I think there's more to the story, and I think the answer lies in another TV series. (Of course!)

Back in 1998, 113 souls escaped eternal damnation in Hell and resumed their mortal lives. The Devil called upon another of his infernal clientele, a former NYC cop named Zeke Stone, to hunt down these escapees and dispatch them back to Hell in exchange for his own freedom.

(Thanks to my friend and fellow Iddiot, Listener Mara, that Zeke Stone must still be on the case, because he has yet to bring back Angelus. Buffy Summers sent his soul to Hell, but Angel was able to escape and return to the land of the living, where he still exists to this day.)

As one of the 113 escaped damnees, Holmes apparently played it cool. He didn't resume full mortality, preferring a corporeal form only when he took his new victims. But that still proved his undoing as Sam and Dean trapped him in a circle of salt and then cemented all access to his prison so that he would be there - as Sam put it, - until Hell froze over.

If Zeke Stone still wants him, he'll have to dig the bastard out.

TV series cited for this post:
'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'
'Babylon 5'
'Star Trek'


*This would make H.H. Holmes a Yanked Damnee.

Sorry about that, Chief......


That isn't actually a mis-spelling. I coined a new word to identify those people who have expanded the TV Universe through their writing, direction, artwork, etc. They are the Powers That Be.

"Creataur" has a mythic feel to it. And I just didn't want to use "Creator" with a Capital C, of course.

Being the oldest in my family, I didn't want to risk the curse of the firstborn.....

These three men represent all of those artistic traits - a writer, an artist, and a producer. May each of them rest in peace....

(from the New York Times)

Ed Benedict, a legendary animator who put life, love and laughter in TV cartoon characters like Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble and Yogi Bear, has died at the age of 94.

Benedict died in his sleep on Aug. 28 in Auburn in Northern California, his longtime friend and fellow animator David K. Sheldon confirmed Tuesday.

"He was quite an interesting fellow, that's for sure," Sheldon said. "He was the main character designer for all the early Hanna-Barbera cartoons, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw."

Benedict, who worked at MGM, Universal and other studios on short, theatrical cartoons, joined Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera soon after the pair launched their groundbreaking Hanna-Barbera TV animation studio in the late 1950s. Among his many designs for them were the characters for their first series, 1957's "The Ruff & Reddy Show."

For "The Flintstones," the story of a "modern Stone Age family," Benedict not only designed the hapless cavemen Fred and Barney, but also their long-suffering wives, Wilma and Betty, and the show's clever array of Stone Age houses and gadgets, including the characters' foot-powered cars.

"The Flintstones," one of the first cartoon series created for adults as well as children, debuted in 1960 and was an immediate hit. Forty-six years later, Fred and Barney remain squarely in the public consciousness as pitchmen for various products, including Flintstones' vitamins.

"It would not be an exaggeration to say that a large part of H-B's success in TV animation is owed to Benedict's incredibly appealing and fun character designs," cartoon historian Jerry Beck wrote in a tribute posted on the Web site

And you gotta figure.... he must have been taunted as a kid as "Eggs Benedict".....

(from the New York Times)

Herbert B. Leonard, a film and television producer who left an indelible mark on American popular culture with television series including “Route 66” and “Naked City,” died at his daughter’s home in Hollywood. He was 84.

One of his early television producing projects was “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin,” which ran from 1954 to 1959. A hit with children, it made a western star and a pet of a German shepherd character originally featured in movies after World War I.

“Naked City,” adapted from the 1948 movie “The Naked City,” was shown from 1958 to 1963 and marked a sharp departure from his children’s western. The episodes, which followed two fictional New York City detectives, were shot on location throughout New York City, something that was rarely done for television in the 1960’s, and its stark urban realism sometimes approached that of cinéma vérité.

“Route 66,” which began in 1960, followed two men in a Chevrolet Corvette along what might have been America’s most famous highway. Each week, until the series ended in 1964, they encountered a different town and a different story. It was also shot on location, in about 25 states. A romance of the road that emphasized a sense of rootlessness, it stood out from many of the dramas and situation comedies that were its contemporaries.

Ron Simon, a curator at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York City, said Mr. Leonard was one of the first to show that television did not have to be live and in the studio or shot on a Hollywood back lot.

“He was shooting America as it looked, especially ‘Route 66,’ ” he said. “It became a great symbol of America on the move.”

(from the London Times)

In 1953 the BBC television drama department was faced with an unexpected gap in the schedule and at short notice commissioned Nigel Kneale, a young staff writer, to fill the gap. He came up with The Quatermass Experiment, a science-fiction thriller of power and originality that kept a large proportion of the viewing population gripped for six weeks.

Kneale had been with the BBC for a year or so, mainly working on adaptations of plays and novels. But The Quatermass Experiment was his own creation, and television had not shown anything like it before. In contrast to American science fiction, which then rarely rose above the level of children’s comics, Kneale was writing for an adult audience.

As in much of his subsequent work in science fiction and the supernatural, Kneale drew on contemporary anxieties to fashion bold, compelling and often prescient stories. Underlying The Quatermass Experiment were fears about the nuclear bomb and the Soviet-American space race, as the rocket scientist Professor Bernard Quatermass, confronts the survivor of an aborted space mission who returns to Earth and changes into a vegetable monster.

From The Quatermass Experiment [he] moved to another nightmare vision of the future, which drew on contemporary angst about totalitarianism, George Orwell’s 1984. Sombre and chilling, most memorably in the sequence where Peter Cushing as the hero, Winston Smith, is terrorised by rats, it was the BBC’s most controversial drama production to that date.

[Kneale] worked on two more Quatermass serials. Prefaced by a warning that it was “not for children or those of a nervous disposition”, Quatermass II (1955) again reflected Cold War paranoia, as a secret government chemical research station turns out to be an acclimatisation centre for an alien race that is trying to infiltrate the minds of the population. The challenge for Quatermass is to destroy the asteroid where the aliens are based.

In Quatermass and the Pit (1959) Kneale married science fiction with the supernatural. An ancient alien spaceship discovered beneath the streets of London is followed by Quatermass’s discovery that ghosts, demons and other phenomena can be traced back to a Martian invasion of Earth millions of years before.

It was probably the most satisfying of the Quatermass stories. Kneale’s script suggested that behind the apparently irrational there were real dangers, and the technology, too, had become more polished.

[H]is main outlet was television, which he continued to serve with intelligence and imagination.

By the end of the 1950s he, as much as any writer, had demonstrated the creative possibilities of television drama and he continued to produce challenging work, much of which, thanks to BBC regulations of the time to wipe and reuse tapes, has not survived. One of the lost plays was The Road (1963), which began as a ghost story set in an 18th-century village but ended in the future with people taking flight from a nuclear war.

His next important work was The Year of the Sex Olympics (1968), transmitted in the BBC’s Wednesday Play strand, which again combined contemporary concerns with a nightmare vision of the future by imagining a world in which appetites for sex and food are dulled by television. The screen experience becomes a substitute for the real thing. Saturated by pornography, people lose their urge to procreate and the population declines. The world food shortage is solved by showing non-stop images of gluttony which dull the appetite. The play contained scenes of violence and love-making which were explicit for the time and sparked a deluge of complaints.

In 1975, Kneale decided to move to ITV. There he wrote Beasts, a series of six dramas with the common theme of a fear of animals, and had a play about the slave trade dropped, before reviving the aborted Quatermass. With John Mills as the now elderly scientist, and the Stonehenge ban overcome with a stone circle built in polystyrene, Kneale portrayed a dystopian future where society had broken down, urban guerrillas were on the rampage and crowds of hippies, called Planet People, were being harvested by an alien force.

In 1981 Kneale combined science fiction with situation comedy in Kinvig, in which an electrical repairman is transported to the planet Mercury. He later adapted Susan Hill’s ghost story A Woman in Black and, in a return to the BBC, Kingsley Amis’s comic novel Stanley and the Women in which John Thaw departed from type to play the eponymous hero.

During the 1990s, by now well into his seventies, Kneale contributed episodes to Sharpe, the adventures of an English soldier fighting Napoleon, and Thaw’s legal series, Kavanagh QC. Kneale was much admired by American practitioners of horror and the supernatural, including Stephen King and the film director John Carpenter. He was asked, but declined, to write for the American television series The X-Files, which addressed themes of paranoia similar to those which he had explored 40 years earlier.