Saturday, June 16, 2007


Last week, I read a very interesting book review in the New York Sun for a new novel by Austin Grossman entitled, "Soon I Will Be invincible".

For those of you who are going through withdrawal pangs since 'Heroes' went off the air for the summer, perhaps you should check out this book. It's all about the nearly 1700 "meta-humans" who live on this Earth in the literary universe.

I visited the website for Austin Grossman and discovered that he had the first couple of paragraphs from the book right there to be sampled. In hopes that I'm spreading the news and perhaps getting more people to buy the book, I trust that he won't mind if I reprint them here:

"This morning on planet Earth, there are one thousand, six hundred, and eighty-six enhanced, gifted, or otherwise superpoweredpersons. Of these, one hundred and twenty-six are civilians leading normal lives. Thirty-eight are kept in research facilities funded by the Department of Defense, or foreign equivalents. Two hundredand twenty-six are aquatic, confined to the oceans. Twenty-nine are strictly localized—powerful trees and genii loci, the Great Sphinx,and the Pyramid of Giza. Twenty-five are microscopic (including the Infinitesimal Seven). Three are dogs; four are cats; one is a bird. Six are made of gas. One is a mobile electrical effect, more of a weather pattern than a person. Seventy-seven are alien visitors. Thirty-eight are missing. Forty-one are off-continuity, permanent émigrés to Earth’s alternate realities and branching time streams. Six hundred and seventy-eight use their powers to fight crimes, while 441 use their powers to commit them. Forty-four are currently confined in Special Containment Facilities for enhanced criminals. Of these last, it is interesting to note that an unusually high proportion have IQs of 300 or more—eighteen to be exact. Including me."

There's something about that style and sense of humor in the descriptions that reminds me a little of "The Face In The Frost" by John Bellairs, especially in his description of the home in which his wizard lives.

That narrator for "Soon I Will Be Invincible" is Doctor Impossible, a super-villain, who shares narrative duties with one of the heroes, a cyborg fem named Fatale. Here's what Benjamin Lytal, the reviewer for the Sun had to say about her:

"Fatale joins the Champions, a Silver Age force that also includes a few flying females, a golden boy, a Bruce Wayne with an attitude, a magician, and two non-humans: a fairy, and a cat, for good measure. This ensemble makes for a sitcom. They bicker constantly, and their generic attributes give the novel a bleached quality."

That may hardly sound like praise in that last line, but it sounds perfect for Toobworld beach reading.

There's also a website which treats the subject matter as real, which can be found by clicking here.

It looks to have a lot of interesting things to do while learning more about the threat of emerging meta-humans.

By the way, if you're interested in reading Benjamin Lytal's full review, you can find it here.

I can't personally recommend this book yet myself, as I've not yet ordered it. And even if I had it here, I would save it for my summer vacation reading at The Lake. I'm just saying that those who enjoy 'Heroes', or the DC/Marvel style comic book universe, or the shared-universe anthologies of "Wild Cards" stories edited by George R.R. Martin, then this may be the novel for you.

Finally, for those of you who really are jonesing for some 'Heroes'-styled action, you should be getting primed for the return of 'The 4400' this Sunday night on the USA Network. (Check your local listings.) They were doing this ordinary people with extra-ordinary powers thang three TV seasons before Hiro and the gang.

Toby OB


Today is the Sixteenth of June.

On this date in 1965, Sgt. Joe Friday and Detective Bill Gannon arrested a man who had trained all of his dogs to snatch purses.

Two years later, the "Summer Of Love" unofficially kicked off with the Monterey Pop Festival.

That same June 16 of 1967 also marked the birth of one Andrew Joseph O'Brien, my youngest brother.

Forty years old today and in my mind (what's left of it), he's still the 12 year old kid running around on Westhampton Beach with me afraid for him tangling with the Undertoad.....

Happy B'day, AJ!

Toby OB

Rick Simon:
"This is my brother AJ."
"Same father?"
Rick Simon:
"Same father, different mood."
'Simon And Simon'

Friday, June 15, 2007


A few years ago, I had whittled down the shows I actually watched to about seven, basically about one a night. (Since Saturday is the telephant's graveyard, I guess there were two on the same night earlier in the week.) Even with my Toobworld O'Bsessions, I was beating that TV jones.

But then, three years ago, it flared up again as I found myself investing more time into taping and watching something from each hour of prime-time every night.

And I blame it all on summer TV options.

Three years ago, it really kicked into high gear for me with shows like 'The 4400', 'The Closer', and has only become a more populated season with each passing year. I'd check them out for the novelty's sake, and would get hooked easily enough by the stories and the characters. And after they ran their course, I returned to the main offerings of the Fall season hungry for something that could keep that interest from flagging. (Which led into 'Lost' and that's what I am today.)

I can't see how somebody can think that just because the main TV season ends in May, that the summer is just that vast wasteland Mr. Minnow harangued about.

Not when I have these shows to look forward to this summer:

'The 4400'
'Burn Notice'
'The Closer'

'The Dead Zone'
'Doctor Who'
(I'm already watching the new seaso
n, courtesy of bit torrent parties, but I'll gladly go through it again - what with episodes like "Blink"!)

'It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia'
'John From Cincinnatti'
'Kyle XY'
'Life On Mars'

'The Loop'
'Mad Men'

'My Boys'
'Rescue Me'

I know there's something being offered up this summer that I must be missing from this list. But for the most part, if it's not listed here, I'm not too keen on it anyway.....

What's coming up on your summer sked?

Toby OB

UPDATE: I knew I'd forget a few. The list has been updated to include them.


It looks like Sweet the Demon (from the musical episode of 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer') is working his musical magicks in Llanview, Pennsyvlania. Starting today, the big storyline on 'One Life To Live' is "Prom Night: The Musical" featuring all the "teen" characters of the show with eleven original songs. I'm not sure how long it will run, (perhaps it's just for today's episode only), but it does sound like fun.

I guess ABC, being part of the Disney empire, is still riding that "High School Musical" wave......

Toby OB

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Now that the fat lady has sung for 'The Sopranos', I'd like to take one last look back at some of the other TV shows that have theoretical links to the mobster drama in the TV Universe. I should highlight that word "theoretical", because none of the following examples were ever proven to be legit crossovers between the shows.

There are a couple of dramatic series in the list, but far more of the shows involved are sitcoms. Not sure if that should be seen as having any meaning.....

The main source of income, as far as legit paperwork goes for Tony, was Barone Waste Management. The trash-hauling business could have been owned by a cousin of Frank Barone from Queens, whose son Robert was a cop and son Raymond was a sportswriter.

Jimmy "The Rat" Altieri, a turncoat captain in the Soprano family, was played by Joe Badalucco, brother to Michael Badalucco, who played Jimmy "The Grunt" Berluti on 'The Practice'. The resemblance between the two was enough to make me think that the two of them could be cousins; both of them named after some other James in the family, a grandfather, perhaps.

Jimmy Berluti, growing up in Boston, entered the legal profession while his cousin Jimmy was raised in New Jersey and traveled down the opposite path in life.

Here's another example of a possible family connection, one that's an example of the "identical cousin" phenomenon to be found in Toobworld. GiGi Cestone, a captain who took over the construction concerns after the death of Jimmy Altieri, looked exactly like Detective Tony Profaci of the 27th Precinct in Manhattan. Yes, I know that's because the same actor (John Fiore) played them both in the real world - stay within the realm of the TV Universe, huh?

GiGi died of heart failure while trying to squeeze one out on the can in the back office of the Bada Bing strip club. His cousin Tony didn't fair much better - Profaci was arrested for murder in the TV movie "Exiled", which brought Detective Mike Logan back to the 'Law & Order' corner of the TV Universe.

In the last installment to be filmed in the 'Columbo' series, "Columbo Likes The Night-Life", the rumpled detective was visited by a reputed mobster from the East Coast. He had been sent to oversee Lt. Columbo's investigation into the murder of a high-level "Family" member's brother, and to make sure the killer would be brought to justice.

As this mobster was played by Steve Schirripa, it's my theory that he was in fact Bobby Baccalieri, using an assumed name, "Freddie". He was undertaking the job as a favor for that New York family so that they could keep their distance from the case publicly.

When Christopher Moltisanti and Paulie Gualtieri turned on each other in "Lord Of The Flies" fashion while stranded in "The Pine Barrens", Christophuh called Paulie Walnuts "Grandpa Munster". This was due to the wings of silver hair that adorned Paulie's temples, and at the time they were flayed out to resemble the hairstyle of the vampiric patriarch played by Al Lewis.

This might have been considered a Zonk, that Christophuh was referring to 'The Munsters' as a TV show; at least that was probably the original intent by the author of the script. But within the "reality" of Toobworld, The Soprano family and the Munster family both exist in the same dimension.

By the year 2000, at least, perhaps even far earlier, the general public had become aware of the existence of the bizarre family that lived at 1313 Mockingbird Lane. Too many people had come to call at their home - leaving with their hair on end, their eyes bugged out, and their hats in mid-air - to leave them a secret for very long. I would imagine that sooner or later the Munsters came under the scrutiny of the FBI's X-Files department; if they weren't investigated by Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, then by their predecessor, Arthur Dales.

When Larry expressed a desire to move the show back to New York, his producer Artie made it clear that he would not be going back with hiim, as he would not be welcome back there by certain parties. Although they were not named, it was definitely suggested that these parties probably had mob ties.

I think Arthur ran afoul of Carmine Lupertazzi who used to be head of the Brooklyn crime family. And whatever the slight he had caused, Artie couldn't go back even after Carmine passed away - memories run deep in those crime families, and Carmine's edict banishing Artie from ever returning was probably upheld by John Sacrimonte when he assumed leadership.

Whatever Artie had done, I guess the Brooklyn family knew not to confuse him with his identical twin brother Don Geis, one of the bigwigs at NBC as seen on '30 Rock'.....

"Don't you guys watch 'The Sopranos'?"
"What? Don't you watch 'The Sopranos'?"
'The Knights Of Prosperity'

'The Sopranos' has been mentioned as a TV show on several other TV shows - among them 'Huff', 'Weeds', 'Gilmore Girls', 'Family Guy' and 'The Simpsons'. (Christopher Moltisanti even has an animated presence in the Tooniverse thanks to the "Sibling Rivalry" episode of 'Family Guy'.)

Ignoring the Tooniverse to focus on Earth Prime-Time, there's an easy splainin as to why these other TV shows referred to 'The Sopranos' as a TV show itself: they were watching one of those so-called "reality" shows. I'm not sure what form the show takes, whether it's a personal look at people connected to the mob, like the real world's 'Growing Up Gotti', or an in-depth examination of organized crime which chose to focus on a smaller mob family (a "glorified crew", as Carmine Lupertazzi called the Sopranos). But it could have been sanctioned by those involved due to the involvement of Little Carmine Lupertazzi who may have produced the program as part of his movie production company.

(It's through Little Carmine and Christopher Moltisanti that we have the only legit crossover for 'The Sopranos' - an HBO featurette looking at the making of "Cleaver", the slasher flick they produced in the last two seasons of the show.)

Those are just a few of the examples of where 'The Sopranos' resides in Toobworld (aside from northern New Jersey). Over the last eight years, I'm sure there are other instances which could be cited. So if you can think of a good example of another TV show that could be hypothetically linked to 'The Sopranos', send them along. I can always use the help in piecing the tele-mosaic together!

Toby OB

Monday, June 11, 2007


Back in March of 2000, there was a commercial for Sierra fabric softener. Suddenly, as the pastoral scenes played out, a roach crawled across the TV screen.

Turns out it was really a commercial for Orkin pest control. But people thought the cockroach was really on their TV screens and there were several reports of them freaking out about it. One lady even threw a motorcycle helmet at the screen and broke her TV.

Well, that's how I felt when 'The Sopranos' ended last night. I was all dressed and ready to bolt at 10:05 to get to work in time, but suddenly the screen went black. "No, no, no!" I cried out. I thought my cable went out! And if you had Time Warner in this neighborhood, you would think the same thing!

I'm sure there are fanatics for the show who read my post from Sunday and considered it treason. I said it's one of the best shows ever on TV, but certainly not THE GREATEST show ever. Those people will accept nothing less but the best declaration for it.

And yet, - this is where you cue up Alanis Morrisette - those are the people who will probably disagree with me when I say that ending was fantastic!

What else could David Chase have done? There was no way of pleasing everybody if any other ending had been used. You have Tony blown away, you'll get angry fans who wanted him to survive. Put him in the witness protection program, and you'll bleep off those who only watched the show for the whackings.

But this way, the show could go any number of ways. Was the guy going into the bathroom getting a gun in there, a la "The Godfather"? Was the redneck in the cap an undercover fed? Were those two young thugs there to rob the ice cream parlor and might shoot Tony by coincidence?

Or was he looking up to see Meadow enter and he and the family would have a nice meal.....

(Personally, that's what I think happened, and who knows what would happen further down the road? I think indictments were likely. Besides, do you think Holsten's would really want to be connected to the image of a mob hit, even if it was just suggested?)

That sudden ending - more of a stopping than an ending - appealed to me because it summed up my concept of Toobworld: just because a show is no longer on the air, that doesn't mean the lives of its characters end. They continue to exist, living out their allotted times on Earth Prime-Time.

I think if anything was going to kill Tony, it's going to be more of those onion rings!

I don't think it can be ranked up there as one of the greatest finales ever - that belongs to 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show', 'Newhart', and 'St. Elsewhere' (although my interpretation of that differs from others). But it was perfectly in keeping with the Toobworld Dynamic and what more can I ask for?

And you can't beat the dispatching of Phil. Combined with the abortive attempt by AJ to get it on with Rhiannon, I've learned a very important lesson about the TV Universe.

SUVs want to kill us.

Along with the suspense throughout the episode - loved that summit with Butchie and the Brooklyn Consigliore brokered by Little Carmine - I found the use of the scene from 'The Twilight Zone' to be an interesting take on the writer's place in TV. Even if it was a Zonk.

So it's over, but this being Toobworld, the lives of the Soprano family continue. We just won't be able to see it unfold.

Oh - one last thought - give Paulie and the Cat their own children's show!

Toby OB

Sunday, June 10, 2007


"Being in jail is by far the hardest thing I have ever done," Paris Hilton, 26, said in a written statement issued by her attorney, Richard Hutton.

I believe that before this, the hardest thing she ever did was to count to eleven, during which she broke a nail.

Like the man said, always kick somebody when they're down. That way you don't have to lift your leg too high........


Well, tonight's the night - the series finale for 'The Sopranos' on HBO. I'll admit that for me it's just something I'll watch to see how it ends, but any excitement over it evaporated for me after the fourth season. For me, the first season was pure genius and understandably so, since it had been marinating in David Chase's brain pan for probably about 17 years. He had it all down to a "T" (appropriately).

But then he had to keep the machine rolling and the show went off on tangents that led nowhere, and most of the character studies became boring after a while. Don't misunderstand me - I'm not one of those people who was just in it for the "whacking"; in fact, I enjoyed it more when it took a skewed look at the conventions of mob life we've come to expect in other movies and TV shows. It just seemed that without an endgame in sight, most of the time 'The Sopranos' was just spinning its wheels.

I also don't think the show ever really recovered from the loss of Nancy Marchand as Livia Soprano. For me, the dynamic between her and her son Tony was what the show was all about. And when she died in real life, the show began to devolve into a standard mobster drama. I'm just sorry that it turns out that the safe house to which Tony retreated last week is not Livia's old house after all. Maybe that would have been overplaying it too much in typical Toob fashion, but I think it would have been great to have it all come back to Mother in the end....

(The freak show final scene for Livia had to be a low point. It was an amalgamation of different head shots blended together in CGI to make it look like she was actually in a scene with Tony. They would have been better off making that scene a phone conversation so that we wouldn't have had to see that crude attempt to give the late actress one last shot at screen time.)

The fact that Chase cannibalized at least one of his plots from another source just to keep the show going didn't help keep me in the ardent fan base either. (The one about the two underlings who thought that by shooting Christophuh they would get in good with Tony was straight out of an episode of 'The Rockford Files'!) And it seemed like there was one season there when all of these other big-name actors were brought in just to satisfy the fans with mob hits without having to sacrifice any of the regulars.

And there should have been a better way to switch horses in mid-stream when it came to recasting the FBI agent working undercover on Adriana's case. Chase decided to just reshoot her intro scenes over again with the new actress and never let the old footage with Fairuza Balk ever see the light of day again, not even as a DVD extra. I would have found some way to use both actresses, having one agent have to drop out of the undercover plan so that the other would have to step in. But maybe I'm being too Toob with that.....

Still, as I said, that first year was brilliant. (My favorite bit of business? When Tony pulled a gun out of the fish mouth to kill a rival - very off-beat.) Had it ended with Tony suffocating his ma at the nursing home and remained a single-season mini-series, I would have declared it the greatest drama ever made for TV. As it stands, it is still one of the best shows ever done, but I'm not so wrapped up in its final moments as some people have been.

For me, a great show has to have me eager to see the next episode as soon as the last episode has completed broadcasting. Back in 2005, I had three shows like that: 'Lost', 'Doctor Who', and 'Slings & Arrows'. With 'The Sopranos', it's just been a chore to get home on Monday morning in avoiding co-workers' spoilers before I've had the chance to watch the tape.

(Which reminds me - I won't even be able to read the paper on Monday morning to keep me awake on the subway ride home! The day after they killed off Big Pussy, the review was on page five or so of the Daily News, rather than in the TV section at the back which could have been easy to avoid.)

As with everybody else concerned, I have my theory as to how it will end, and it pretty much jibes with one of the top contenders among the fans. I think Tony, in order to save himself and his family, will make a deal with the feds to get them into the witness relocation program after ratting out what he knows about the Muslims. This way they get to start new lives somewhere else, free of any retaliation from the Brooklyn family run by Phil Leotardo.

I also like the theory that Paulie Walnuts ratted him out to Phil, causing the death of Bobby Baccala and leaving Silvio Dante in a coma from which he'll never awaken. The clues seem to be there that he did, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was somebody else who's still close to him - the driver or that little weaselly crew member who used to be on 'Doogie Howser, MD'. And I think that in the end, it'll be Patsy Parisi left standing to deal with Brooklyn as the new head of the glorified Jersey crew.

But I also like the theory floated by my co-worker Maurizio. He thinks Tony could go out in Capone fashion: that he gets brought up on charges unrelated to all of the crimes he actually did commit. With Al Capone, it was tax evasion; for Tony, it would be for having that abestos dumped into the wetlands.

However it turns out, I'll be there to see the swan song in the morning. I might have been tempted to get up half an hour earlier tonight to be ready to leave for work and watch it as it unfolds. But it's going to run a full 61 minutes apparently and I'll be late for work if I delay that long.

I just hope I can avoid Big Mouth Boomer the Bellman in the morning!

Toby OB