Saturday, June 21, 2008


I still have at least two more posts to write up about Agatha Christie's episode of 'Doctor Who' for the daily Tiddlywinkydink, but it's also time to move on to the next episode to be shown in America. Although I saw it (and the second half) last week, "Silence In The Library" aired last night on the Sci-Fi Channel.

And there's one puzzle, stirred up outside of the episode, which I'm hoping someone can help me with.......
Several posters, at "Ain't It Cool News" and "TVSquad", mentioned several books to be found in the 'Doctor Who' episode "Silence In The Library" which served as references to past episodes of 'Doctor Who' or to the people who worked on the series.

Both lists were the same, so I'm thinking the TVSquad writer may have found it at AICN. (I apologize if I'm wrong.)

They claim these books were in the episode:

an operating manual for the TARDIS

"Origins Of The Universe" ("Destiny Of The Daleks")

"The French Revolution" ("An Unearthly Child")

"The Journal Of Impossible Things" ("Human Nature"/"The Family Of Blood")

"The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" (author Douglas Adams wrote for 'Doctor Who')

"Everest In The Easy Stages" ("The Creature From The Pit")

"Black Orchid" (a book seen in the same-titled Fifth Doctor serial)

However, I can't figure out where they would have appeared, or how the viewer saw them. I can only figure that they were in the set dressings, but no real attention was given them; that they were more for the cast members' benefit than the audience's. And if so, perhaps the commenters found out about their use from somebody leaking behind-the-scenes gossip. (Sometimes I think that's the only way some of the really trivial stuff from 'Lost' gets found. But then again, "Lostaways" are fanatics.)

Of course, as Dennis Miller used to say, I could be wrong.

If anybody knows out there, where can these titles be actually seen in the episode?

Toby OB


Occasionally during the 'Doctor Who' episode "The Unicorn & The Wasp", characters would invoke the eternal question, "WWPD?": "What would Poirot do?"

Yes, that's right. I'm STILL not done with this episode and its contributions to the Toobworld mythos!

Agatha Christie was complimented on her books about Hercule Poirot, and she referred to his signature phrase regarding his "little gray cells".
But no one, not even Mrs. Christie, actually stated that she created Hercule Poirot as a fictional character. Which is a good thing, because Hercule Poirot and Agatha Christie both exist in Toobworld!

Agatha Christie wrote stories about the little Belgian detective, but she was serving almost as his biographer in a way. She treated Poirot and his cases in much the same way as Truman Capote did with the killers of "In Cold Blood": she was writing factual stories about him.

Later, when Donna Noble accidentally suggested Miss Marple and her way of detection to Agatha Christie, the author thought it would make for a great story. But this doesn't mean that Mrs. Christie created Miss Jane Marple either. She would later find out that Miss Marple actually did exist, and so she decided to work out a contract arrangement between the two of them. Her books about the old lady of St. Mary's Mead would also turn out to be factual novels.
[We see pictured here two of the actresses who played Miss Marple on TV. Joan Hickson, on the left, is the Jane Marple of Earth Prime-Time. Geraldine McEwan on the right would live in the village of St. Mary's Mead as well, but in an alternate TV dimension, perhaps the one of TV series remakes.]

Agatha Christie then falls into the same Toobworld category as authors like Mark Twain, Jules Verne, Charles Dickens, and Stephen King (who appeared as a little boy in an episode of 'Quantum Leap'). That is, she shares the same universe as the characters she created. (And this would include Ariadne Oliver and Tommy and Tuppence as well.)
Toby OB

Friday, June 20, 2008


Based on a recommendation by my blogging buddy Ivan in "Thrilling Days Of Yesteryear" (find the link to the left), and since I've always been fascinated by the premise of the show, I picked up the two boxed sets for 'Checkmate'.

Best Of Season One
Best Of Season Two

The series starred Sebastian Cabot, Doug McClure, and Anthony George as the investigators at a San Francisco detective agency. Their original premise was to prevent crimes from even happening in the first place, but I think this was relaxed by the second season.

I've only seen one episode at the Paley Center, which starred James Whitmore, but I'm looking forward to seeing more....

Toby OB


The inhabitants of the planet Ultron could have been seeded by the Preservers with genetic stock from the planet Gallifrey. Like the Time Lords, they have unique powers, but physically they also have two hearts.

The Ultrons also have six toes on each foot and their knees are double-jointed. We don't know if the Time Lords are as well, but I don't think we've ever seen the feet of the Doctor closely, have we? (Maybe in "The Two Doctors" when the Sixth Doctor went fishing?)

And who knows if they're double-jointed at the knees?

Supposedly Ultrons have an extra male sex organ, something Jackie Tyler was quite curious about when she inquired after the state of the Doctor. And both races can regenerate, although I don't think it was actually mentioned as having happened to George Sunday aka Thermoman (although we did see the results once the role was recast).

'My Hero'
'Doctor Who'
'Star Trek'

Toby OB

Thursday, June 19, 2008


The Stage has announced that actor David Brierley has passed away. He was born in 1935 and appeared in 'Z Cars', 'Arthur Of The Britons', 'The Tripods', and 'Threads'. But it was his involvement in 'Doctor Who' that should guarantee him some level of immortality among viewing audience.

During the 17th season of 'Doctor Who', Brierley took over from John Leeson to be the voice of K-9, the tin dog companion of the Gallifreyan Time Lord, but who is now with Sarah Jane Smith, another former Companion to the Doctor.

This is a recastaway that needs a very simple splainin. David Brierley provided the K-9 voice in four stories:

"Creature from the Pit"
"Nightmare of Eden"
"The Horns on Nimon"

[Thanks to Michael for doing my legwork!]

But John Leeson has been the voice of K-9 before and since. The reasoning could probably be due to some tinkering on the mechanics that govern K-9's vocal chords. It would have been a process which we were not privy to as the audience, and when it was re-adjusted again, again we weren't given the chance to see it happen.

Brierley also provided the voice of K-9 for an episode of 'Blue Peter' in 1979, but that could be the dimension counterpart from Skitlandia.....

Rest in peace, Mr. Brierley......

Toby OB


In an episode of 'The Dead Zone' entitled "Unreasonable Doubts", Blu Mankuma played a juror who was the last hold-out against a verdict of "Not Guilty". He introduced himself as Ben Cartwright "and not the one from the Ponderosa either".

This doesn't even merit as a Zonk, since the name of the TV show 'Bonanza' was never invoked. But then again, perhaps when watching the scene one might envision quotation marks around the word 'Ponderosa' - and that would invoke the short-lived prequel which aired back in 2001 and starred Daniel Hugh Kelley as a younger Ben Cartwright.

The legends of the Old West weren't gods; they began life as ordinary men whose circumstances gained them the notoriety that would make their names remembered for over a hundred years. And the same holds true in the history of Toobworld. Not only would real-life men like Kit Carson, Buffalo Bill, Cochise, and Emperor Norton be remembered in our times, but so would the fictional Westerners like Hannibal Heyes, Kid Curry, Marshall Dillon, James West, and Ben Cartwright.

So it could be that the parents of Ben Cartwright thought that the name of such a hero from the wild, wild west might have some power to imbue their child.

It could also be that the Ben Cartwright who moved his family to Penobscot County, Maine, from New York City in order to escape the crime was descended from that original Ben Cartwright!

In the TV movie "Bonanza: Under Attack", Richard Roundtree played Jacob Briscoe who was helping to protect the Ponderosa ranch for the next generation of Cartwrights. It could be that one of his never-mentioned children (Just because they weren't mentioned doesn't mean they didn't exist!) would one day marry one of those Cartwrights. Or perhaps it happened a few generations later. Eventually someone in that new family tree would have moved back east to New York City.

I'd love to explore the possibility that if we went far enough back in the Briscoe Family Tree, we'd find the missing link between Jacob and Lennie Briscoe of 'Law & Order'. But this will do for today.......

So no bonanza of Zonks today!

Toby OB


Cyd Charisse was one of the last icons from the glory days of the movies, especially those of the movie musicals. She passed away the other day at the age of 86.

She was best known for the movies "Singin' In The Rain", "The Band Wagon", "Brigadoon", and "Silk Stockings", dancing with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. But she made her mark in Toobworld as well, in dramatic roles that for the most part never suggested her past as a dancer.
Here are the characters she created to inhabit the TV Universe:

Swimsuit (1989) (TV) .... Mrs. Allison
Sentimental Journey (1984) (TV)
[Ms. Charisse may have cameoed as herself in this inside-showbiz weeper....]

Portrait of an Escort (1980) (TV) .... Sheilah Croft

"Crazy Like a Fox"
- Hyde-And-Seek (1986)

"Murder, She Wrote" - Myrna Montclair LeRoy
- Widow, Weep for Me (1985)

- In Tennis, Love Means Nothing (1984)

"The Fall Guy" .... Diana
- The Huntress (1984)

"Fantasy Island" .... Julie Mars /Queen Delphia
- The Butler's Affair/Roarke's Sacrifice (1983)
- The Island of Lost Women/The Flight of Great Yellow Bird (1978)

"The Love Boat" .... Eve Mills
- Super Mom/I'll See You Again/April's Return (1979)

"Hawaii Five-O" .... Alicia Warren
- Death Mask (1978)

"Medical Center" .... Valerie
- No Way Home (1975)

"Checkmate" .... Janine Caree
- Dance of Death (1961)

And that's the Inner Toob tip of the fedora to the legendary Cyd Charisse. Red Skelton as always said it best: "May God Bless......"

Toby OB

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Ken Levine, the writer, producer, and director who's done fantastic work on such shows as 'Cheers', 'Frasier', and 'M*A*S*H', has begun a weekly Q&A column each Friday in his blog. (You'll find the link to the left!)

Here's the first question he received a few weeks back:

How much attention do you pay to continuity on a long running show or character? For example, I believe that once on CHEERS Frasier's mother appeared being played by the woman who played Tony Soprano's mother and I think she threatened to kill Diane. In some cases continuity errors between CHEERS and FRASIER were kind of smoothed over, but was this a priority or just something done to shut up nit picky fans?

And here was his reply:

The problem with long running shows is that there is often turnover in the writing staff. After a few seasons it’s not uncommon for creators/show runners to flee to Hawaii or be admitted to Bellevue. And with new writers on board sometimes things fall between the cracks. Often times a background fact about a character is buried deep within an episode. Names of relatives, number of children, those sort of things are apt to change. But in fairness, who remembers their wife’s name or number of kids they have?

When we wrote the episode of FRASIER where Sam Malone visits we took a few minutes to cover a few inconsistencies (like Frasier saying he was an only child and his father was dead) and update what was going on at Cheers.

Some shows keep “Bibles” – detailed records of each episode. These are great for ensuring continuity. Unless you don’t want continuity.

There are times when writers will purposely just ignore something from years past that gets in the way of what they want to do now. Here’s their justification: Hell, no one’ll remember.

Unfortunately, there are reruns, DVDs, websites, chat rooms, and uber nerds who live in their parents’ basement and do remember. Anyone recall that in the second episode of CHEERS we establish that Sam’s divorced and we meet his ex-wife? She and the marriage are never brought up again. This policy of just pretending something never existed is now very popular in politics.

Casting changes also stretch the limits of creative license. Suddenly a different guy is playing Darrin Stevens on BEWITCHED without any explanation. (In that case it would have been so easy to have Sam just say “Mother, what have you done?!”) Harry Morgan first appeared on MASH as an insane general. He was brought back as Colonel Potter. On LAW & ORDER I see the same guest actors playing different characters every season. (Just once I’d love to hear a witness swear in and state his profession as doctor/guy at the deli counter/longshoreman.)

Bottom line, whenever possible we try to keep our facts straight. But it’s not like LOST where every miniscule of information is a clue and has great import. Someone in the room comes up with a great joke about Frasier’s sister. It gets a big laugh. It goes in the script.

And we get home before midnight.

I guess you could say that this has always been a bone of contention for televisiologists - why can't they just stick to their shows' bible? But speaking as one of those uber-nerds - but one who does NOT live in his parents' basement (at least not since I was 22) - I actually support Mr. Levine in his stance on the subject.

After all, if I didn't have these tele-discrepancies, these Zonks, to splain away, I would have no need to work on Inner Toob. And then how would I spend my free time?

Up to no good, I can guarantee that!

As things stand now, this O'Bsession keeps me from competing with The Brain for world domination.....

Toby OB

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Okay, this isn't about Toobworld; it's about the movies. But it involves a very good friend of mine, so I wanted to spread the good news, everybody! (Woops! Channeled Professor Farnsworth there.....)
Here's the word from Marie Mazziotti herself:

My cover version of David Bowie's "Modern Love" runs at the closing of the last scene through the end credits of "JCVD". It debuted at Cannes Film Festival in May, then opened in Paris on June 4th, coming to America on DVD soon. The beginning of success at last, a break through. Thanks to all, as always, for your support of coming to see me sing over the years. Off to the studio next week to record new music, stay tuned and thanks again to everyone.

Toby OB


At one point while talking with Harvey at the coffee house, 'Sabrina The Teenage Witch' says, "Turn the world on with my smile? Oh wait. That's Mary."

Of course we know that to be a lyric from the theme song for 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show', and that from our viewpoint, Sabrina is talking about Mary Richards.

But within the "reality" of Toobworld, it doesn't have to play out in the same way. Sabrina may have been referring to a girl named Mary that she and Harvey both know from school. As the audience viewing along at home, we're not always going to see every detail of these characters' lives - such as friends named Mary who can turn the world on with their smiles.

So, the Zonk is magically deleted!

Toby OB


Congratulations are in order for Mary Shannon, US Marshal assigned to "WitSec" in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As the main character of 'In Plain Sight', she's a newly arrived citizen of Toobworld; in broadcast terms, she's only three weeks old.

And yet she's already qualified for membership in the TV Crossover Hall of Fame!

I've already posted about her show's connection to 'Lost' via the 2004 issue of Playpen magazine she gave to a witness. But just before her third episode aired, she showed up in an episode of 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent'. She gave needed info on a contract killer who used to be in the program to Detectives Logan and Wheeler and their Captain.
Mike Logan is already in the Hall of Fame.

So with 'Lost', 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent', and her own series 'In Plain Sight', Mary Shannon can be inducted into the Hall at any time!

Toby OB

Monday, June 16, 2008


Because the 'Doctor Who' episode "The Unicorn And The Wasp" had one of my favorite actresses, Felicity Kendal, as well as introducing me to the wonderfully named Fenella Woolgar (who played Agatha Christie), I decided to whip up this quickie Deep Six list:


Felicity Kendal
I fell in love with that name years before I first saw her (in the sitcom 'Good Neighbours'/'Good Life'). I was reading the review for the movie "Shakespeare Wallah" in a collection of Pauline Kael's essays, and just thought it was the loveliest combination and so pleasing to say. Once I finally saw her, the infatuation was complete and holds to this day.

Moon Bloodgood - add to that name how she looks and she's like a Frazetta painting come to life and living among us!

Zena Bethune

Tamsin Outhwaite

Honeysuckle Weeks

I just like the sound of each of them, as if they belonged more in some other genre - fantasy, science fiction, 1920s mysteries.....

And finally,

Zasu Pitts - a funny name for a very funny actress whose style may not be seen again.

Just wanted to toss that off...

Toby OB


"The Unicorn And The Wasp" serves as a good example of the difference between Toobworld and the real world when it comes to the portrayal of historical figures. Aside from the actors portraying them, the historical figures are already rendered fictional just through interaction with a show's characters.

But with this 'Doctor Who' episode, they further fictionalized Agatha Christie by altering the facts of her life, facts that should have remained constant in both the TV Universe and in the Trueniverse.

The historical details behind Mrs. Christie's "disappearance" in 1926 are these:

On 3 December 1926, while living in Sunningdale in Berkshire, Agatha disappeared for eleven days, causing great interest in the press. Her car was found in a chalk pit in Newland's Corner, Surrey (Guildford?).

She was eventually found at the Harrogate Hydro hotel, staying under the name of Teresa Neele. [Her husband had recently admitted to having an affair with a Nancy Neele.] She had suffered the death of her mother and her husband's infidelity which may have caused a nervous breakdown. She could not recount any information as to her disappearance due to amnesia.

Opinions are still divided as to whether this was a publicity stunt. Others believe she was trying to make people believe her husband killed her in order to get him back for his infidelity. Public sentiment at the time was negative, with many feeling that an alleged publicity stunt had cost the taxpayers a substantial amount of money.
[from Wikipedia]

Of course, 'Doctor Who' filled in the blanks between the time when Agatha Christie left her home and when she checked into the spa with a fun little murder mystery (with a sci-fi twist). And it would be the alien, not her husband's infidelities, that would put her mind in an amnesia-like fugue state.

But other facts were altered to better suit the story, or because the actual details were too trivial to trifle with.
For instance, Agatha Christie disappeared on December 3rd of 1926. But the Doctor and his Companion Donna Noble arrived at the Eddison estate to find summery weather. I'd say it couldn't have been later than the middle of June - to be pleasant enough for an outdoor party and yet not be too hot (unless you were off in the bushes with Lady Eddison's son and his manservant boyfriend!)
Mrs. Christie's car was found abandoned in a chalk pit, not too far from Silent Pool, which is where many believed she had drowned herself. In the 'Doctor Who' revision of history, Christie drove the car directly to Silent Pool while being chased by the Vespiform. But this can be easily splained away - as is often the case with Toobworld, we in the viewing audience were not privy to everything that happened. After Donna figured out a way to rid themselves of the giant alien wasp, the Doctor and Donna moved the vehicle to Newland's Corner in Guildford (Surrey?) - perhaps to keep the authorities from dragging the lake in search of Christie's corpse and instead finding the body of the giant wasp.

Afterwards, the Doctor and Donna used the TARDIS to bring Agatha Christie to the spa, where she would spend the next ten days in seclusion. The reason for the fugue state of her mind could be attributed to the hold which the Vespiform had over her via the purloined Firestone necklace.
And that brings us to the last divergence from established fact. Mrs. Christie is shown arriving at the Harrogate Hotel; in actuality it was a hotel in Harrogate, the Swan Hydropathic which is now known as the Old Swan.
By the way, I'm no expert on cars. So if that vehicle seen above is not a Morris Crowley, then there's another difference between the two accounts!
Of the occurrence, all Mrs. Christie would say was, "For 24 hours I wandered in a dream, and then found myself in Harrogate as a well-contented and perfectly happy woman who believed she had just come from South Africa."

If only the backstory about Lady Eddison and the father of the Vespiform took place in South Africa rather than in India, this all would have tied up neatly!

For more information and further details about her actual disappearance, check out these sites:

All About Agatha Christie

The Guardian - Books News

Agatha Christie And The Eleven Missing Days

Toby OB

My thanks to Sonic Biro's 'Doctor Who' screencaps. Without their work, this essay would have been the poorer.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Back on January 1st, I dealt with how to reconcile the events which occurred during the run of 'Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea' with the Toobworld timeline. Since a fictional President showed up during the run of the series, normally I'd have no choice but to ship the series off to an alternate TV dimension.

But by invoking the show 'Journeyman' as a catalyst, we can change the history of Toobworld so that similar events now played out but with the established Presidents in the Oval Office. It's just that we'd only ever see the original events in reruns.

And as it turns out, there was more than one President serving "Tele-merica" in that original Timeline. Henry Talbot McNeil was the POTUS from 1969 into 1977, as established in about three episodes. But in "The Deadliest Game", a later episode of 'Voyage' once it began broadcasting in color, Robert F. Simon appeared as the President. We never learned his name, but just from the statutes of limitations imposed by Constitutional amendment, McNeil couldn't have been the President at that time. (As stated by Captain Crane near the beginning of the episode, it was July 14th, 1978.)

So the theory about some Time Traveler from 'Journeyman' going back in Time and altering History so that the Commander-in-Chiefs of 'Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea' aligned with those of the real world and Toobworld still holds. It's just that the old timeline played out far longer than I first suspected.

Toby OB

"I think I understood some of those words,
Enough to know that you're completely potty."
Agatha Christie
'Doctor Who'


Throughout the 'Doctor Who' episode "The Unicorn And The Wasp", actual titles of future Agatha Christie mysteries were incorporated into the dialogue of various characters; the inference being that even though most of her memory of that weekend was lost to amnesia, still Mrs. Christie remembered fragments that would find their way into her later work. (Of course, how she could have known about phrases like "dead man's folly", which were spoken in "downstairs" conversations, is a detail that was glossed over - much like how Lady Eddison planned on explaining three deaths at her estate, including her own son.)

In some cases, it was the situation which later turned up in one of her plots, like the use of a wasp's sting as a possible murder weapon.

And then there was Donna's mention of Miss Jane Marple, who had not yet appeared in a Christie mystery, and Donna's mention of "Murder On The Orient Express". Mrs. Christie was intrigued by both ideas, so that it could be said Donna Noble was her muse for both.

I'll be dealing with Agatha Christie sharing the TV Universe with her creations in a later post. But as for "Murder On The Orient Express", it has not been adapted for Earth Prime-Time yet, and may never be.* So it could be said that - for now - "Murder On The Orient Express" is a fictional story Christie wrote about a "real" detective.
So these are the titles that were referenced in "The Unicorn And The Wasp":

"Cards On The Table"
"Appointment With Death"
"Sparkling Cyanide"
"They Do It With Mirrors"
"Cat Among The Pigeons"
"Dead Man's Folly"
"Taken At The Flood"
"The Murder At The Vicarage"
"Death Comes As The End"

The following titles were actually named as being her stories:
"Murder On The Orient Express"
"Death In The Clouds"
"The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd"

These titles served as plot points:
"The Body In The Library"
"Endless Night"
"The Secret Adversary"
"The Man In The Brown Suit"

Wikipedia lists this last batch of titles as being cited for this episode, but I don't know where, how, or why:

"Why Didn't They Ask Evans"
"N Or M?"
"The Moving Finger"
"And Then There Were None"

Toby OB

*The modernized 2001 version of "Murder On The Orient Express" with Alfred Molina as the Belgian detective must be situated in an alternate TV dimension. Surely it must be accepted that as far as the main Toobworld is concerned, David Suchet IS Hercule Poirot.