Saturday, November 8, 2008


Channel 21 of New York shows the British "cold case" procedural 'New Tricks' each Friday. Last night's episode, "Buried Treasure", served up a classic Zonk from each member of the squad, save for Brian "Memory" Lane.

So let's run them down and then back up over them to make sure they're totally disabled!

When Gerry Standing couldn't believe what he was hearing as a criminal's widow confessed to a murder nearly a decade before, he exclaimed, "What is this? 'Candid Camera'?"

Back in the 1960s, when 'Candid Camera' was at the height of its popularity, questions like this were fairly common on many sitcoms. In fact, back in September I wrote about those other instances in my
daily Tiddlywinkydink.

Like reality shows, news programs, televised sporting events, and game shows, 'Candid Camera' is watched by the Toobworld audience as well as by the real world audience.

Jack Halford was exasperated by Brian's suggestion that his dog Scampi could probably locate a buried body in a large wooded site. "He's not bloody Lassie!" sputtered Jack.

For Toobworld's purposes, there are several incarnations of Lassie. There's the book version and the many film adaptations that derived from it; there's the dog we know from the first, long-running TV series, which was named after the famous movie canine; and then there's the sequel from the 1990s, in which that Lassie was descended from that first TV Lassie.

Any mention of 'Lassie' as a fictional character in other TV shows would be references to the movie versions of 'Lassie'. And in Toobworld, there could be plenty of fictional films about Lassie, just in case specific plot points from the TV series - like Lassie able to understand what a C clamp is! - are mentioned in other shows.

We go to the dogs for the last one as well......

I think of all the cartoon TV series out there, the 'Scooby-Doo' franchise has to be the most often mentioned, and therefore, the most often Zonked. Among the shows that mentioned it are 'Doctor Who', 'Bosom Buddies', 'Undeclared', 'Spaced', 'House', 'CSI', 'Veronica Mars', 'The Big Bang Theory', 'Welcome Back, Kotter', and 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'.

'New Tricks' joined their ranks when squad leader Sandra Pullman groused, "Scooby Bloody Doo!" But there's no need to worry about that being a Zonk. For the majority of the people in Toobworld, the residents of the Tooniverse are just cartoons, which is how we regard them in the real world. Only a handful of live-action characters know that they actually exist and sometimes even cross over into the main Toobworld.

So that should take care of de-Zonking this particular episode......

Toby O'B


November 8, 1965:
Dorothy Kilgallen, American newspaper columnist, dies. (b. 1913)

Courtesy of Wikipedia, the facts are these:

Dorothy Mae Kilgallen (July 3, 1913—November 8, 1965) was an American journalist and television game show panelist known nationally for her coverage of the Sam Sheppard trial, her syndicated newspaper column, "The Voice of Broadway", and her role as panelist on the television game show 'What's My Line?'.

On November 8, 1965, Kilgallen was found dead on the third floor of her five-story townhouse, just 12 hours after she appeared, live, on 'What's My Line?'. Her hairdresser, Marc Sinclaire, found her body when he arrived that morning to style her hair. She had apparently succumbed to a fatal combination of alcohol and Seconal, possibly concurrent with a heart attack. It is not known whether it was suicide or an accidental death, although the amount of barbiturate in her system "could well have been accidental," according to medical examiner James Luke.

Because of her open criticism of the Warren Commission and other US government entities, and her association with Jack Ruby and 1964 private interview with him, some speculate that she was murdered by members of the same alleged conspiracy against JFK. Her claims that she was under surveillance led to a theory that some people had a motive for killing her. This is partially based on the fact that throughout her career she consistently refused to identify any of her sources.

Her autopsy did not suggest evidence of homicide; however, her death certificate cites the cause of death as "undetermined".

After her death, [her husband] married designer Anne Fogarty, who had created the dress Kilgallen had worn on 'What's My Line?' the last night of her life.

On the 'What's My Line?' broadcast following Kilgallen's death, host John Charles Daly opened the show explaining that, after consulting with "her good husband Dick Kollmar", the show's tribute to her would be to go on as usual. The text of Daly's announcement, except for the names of those involved, was identical to the announcement he'd made at the beginning of the broadcast the night after regular panelist Fred Allen died. During their usual "goodnights," each panel member gave a short tribute to her. Bennett Cerf and Steve Allen reminded viewers that her "line" was a print reporter while Arlene Francis and Kitty Carlisle focused on the impact Kilgallen had on the television show.

Dorothy Kilgallen was portrayed twice on television. Linda Harcharic played her in the 1992 TV movie "The Kennedy Assassinations" and Marilyn McIntyre assayed the role in "To Prey In Darkness", an episode of 'Dark Skies' in 1996. (Ms. McIntyre is pictured below.)

In "To Prey In Darkness", Kilgallen's death was depicted, and it was neither an accident nor suicide, but murder. However, it had nothing to do with what she may have known about the assassination of President Kennedy. Instead, it was because she had in her possession incriminating film about the invasion by an alien species known as the Hive. (In the real world, Kilgallen did report on UFOs ten years earlier, using British government sources.)

Written by series creator Bryce Zabel (who has an excellent blog for which you can find the link over there to the left), here then is the scene in which Dorothy Kilgallen died:

Seen only in shadows, a man goes through the apartment contents, obviously looking for something. He stops, hears a key in the door.

Kilgallen enters, sees the mess, and starts to back out, only to be roughly pulled inside! It's Steele!

We've been watching you.

Yeah? Take a number...

Steele cocks his head, thinks a beat, then roughly back-hands Kilgallen, sending her to the floor.

Steele pours a full tumbler of vodka, hands it over to Kilgallen.

You look thirsty. Drink up.

I can hold my liquor better than you. I'm not telling you anything.

Steele nods, cocks the hammer on his gun. Kilgallen takes the tumbler to her mouth.

Bottom's up.

She takes it all down in a couple of quick gulps. Steele takes the tumbler from her and pours another full glass. He hands it back to her.

Oh, for cryin' out loud...(beat) I'll have a killer hangover in the morning but you're not gonna have... nothin'.

Kilgallen takes the second tumbler and drains it. Steele waits a beat.

Feeling all right now, Miss Kilgallen?

Go to ... hell ...

I don't actually believe in the concept. Do you?

Do now ...

Her head is obviously starting to spin, her words slurring already.

Where did you put the film?

That's for me ... to know ... and you ... to find ... out ...

And I will.

Yeah, with 'bout ... thirty million... other people.

Really? Do tell.

Don't know ... why they call you ...'Majestic' 'cause you're just ...some cheap ... hood. And that's the way it is.

With that, Kilgallen suddenly falls to the table with a thud. Steele nods to himself, re-holsters his weapon.

In the original script, she earlier passed the film on to Dan Rather, but in the final production, I think it was to a reporter named Ed Hawkins instead. However, the last thing she said, "And that's the way it is" seems like a big give-away as to where the film would end up.....

Toby O'B

[Thanks to Bryce Zabel for 'Dark Skies', such a great addition to Toobworld!]


Don't know why the link for the Ninja Kittens blipvert didn't show up, but click here to see it on YouTube.....

(In case you've been wondering, I don't embed videos because I'm just too thick to figure out how to do it.....)

Toby O'B

Friday, November 7, 2008


NYPD Detective Sam Tyler in 'Life On Mars' (the US version) has a neighbor named Windy (whom I think is an hallucination within a hallucination, which may have already been established). While talking with Sam, Windy said, "I have the teeniest crush on Steve McGarrett. Do you know him?"

Sam said that he did. "Sure. Hawaii Five-O."

Windy: Book 'em Danno. Do you ever say that? Book 'em Danno.

Sam: I would if I worked with a guy named Danno.

Windy: You should hire one. How cool would that be?

Okay, time for some de-Zonking.

Like 'Columbo', Steve McGarrett gained a national reputation for his work with the Hawaii Five-O police department within the Toobworld reality. So Sam was referring to the actual man, and not to a TV character as he is considered in the real world.

When Windy mentioned "Book 'em, Danno", it'll be the contention of Toobworld Central that it was the name of McGarrett's autobiography after he retired from the force.

That would satisfy the requirements within the fantasy world of Toobworld.

Toby O'B


HG Wells' "The Island Of Dr. Moreau" has been filmed three times, but has yet to become a TV production. I think it would be a natural for a mini-series, perhaps one of those Robert Halmi productions.

One connection that could be made afterwards would be to 'The Addams Family', since the former business partner of Gomez Addams was a giraffe. You can see him, wearing a business suit, in a painting in the main room's background. (He had to be a silent partner, since giraffes have no voice boxes.)

It's possible that Vincent of 'Beauty And The Beast' was a descendant of the experiments by Dr. Moreau.
There's a new connection out there right now as well, to be found in a commercial for the Toyota Corolla called "Ninja Kittens". Humanoid cats in a "Kill Bill" scenario, the best part of which shows the kitties transfixed by the swinging light bulb.

Like Vincent, they could be sewer-dwelling creatures, which is why we don't see them in scenes from 'The Shield' or 'Law & Order'. (Not sure where the commercial takes place, but it seems to be in the underside of an urban metropolis.)

Toby O'B


In "The Mark Of The Berserker", the latest of 'The Sarah Jane Adventures', Rani Chandra was able to force her Dad to do whatever she wanted because of an alien pendant. Besides hopping on one foot and acting like a lion, she also commanded him to act like Bianca on 'EastEnders'.

In response, he began shouting "Ricky! Whitney!" is a screechy voice.

The use of 'EastEnders' in other shows is probably the most common Zonk I have to deal with from British TV. I most recently addressed the issue in September with its mention in an episode of 'Gavin & Stacey'.

And I'm sure this won't be the last time it happens, either......

Toby O'B


I mentioned in today's Tiddlywinkydink that Ealing is the location where both 'Rentaghost' and 'The Sarah Jane Adventures' are located. And although most TV shows are automatically in Toobworld anyway, I don't want to claim there's a connection between these two shows just because they take place in the same suburb of London.

But it is cool to think that the characters from one TV show could bump into those from another series just by turning the corner.

Here's a scene from an episode of 'Crime Traveller'. The two time-traveling detectives were at this block of flats in search of a suspect in a crime that hadn't been committed yet.
I saw this same location show up in a second season episode of 'Primeval' recently, and my buddies Michael and Mark pointed out that it was also in an episode of 'Prime Suspect'.

'Crime Traveller'
'Prime Suspect'

I wonder if shows with the letter combination of "rime" are required to film there?

Toby O'B


Former TARDIS Companion Sarah Jane Smith lives on Bannerman Road in Ealing, which is good enough reason to fire up the Toobworld version of Mapquest......

From Wikipedia:

Ealing is a town in the London Borough of Ealing. It is a suburban development situated 7.7 miles (12.4 km) west of Charing Cross. It is one of the major metropolitan centres identified in the London Plan and is often referred to as the "Queen of the Suburbs".

Ealing is best known for its film studios, which are the oldest in the world and are known especially for the Ealing comedies, including "Kind Hearts and Coronets", "Passport to Pimlico", "The Ladykillers" and "The Lavender Hill Mob". The studios were taken over by the BBC in 1955 so Ealing locations appeared in television programmes ranging from 'Doctor Who' to 'Monty Python's Flying Circus'. Most recently, these studios have again been used for making films, including "Notting Hill", "The Importance of Being Earnest" and "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones". Most recently, "St Trinian's", a remake of the classic film, was produced by Ealing Studios; some locations in Ealing can be observed in this film.
Here are some other TV shows that are centered in Ealing:

Ealing was the setting for children's comedy show Rentaghost.
The John Sanders department store (now a branch of Marks & Spencer) was the location for the scenes of the Autons breaking through the shop window and beginning their killing rampage in the 1970 'Doctor Who' story "Spearhead From Space".

The police station featured in the opening titles of "Dixon of Dock Green" was the previous Ealing police station, located at number 5 High Street, just north of Ealing Green.

I'd love to see a crossover between 'The Sarah Jane Adventures' and 'Rentaghost'. I think it would be a super natural!

Sorry about that, Chief.....

Toby O'B


I'm not sure if this will be a trend this season, but we've seen a few celebrities appear as themselves on TV shows - only to be revealed as hallucinations.
It started with Dennis Reynolds being locked up in a Philly sanitarium on 'It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia'. There was accosted by two other patients: Rob Thomas of the group Matchbox 20, and Sinbad. Later, it turned out that they were just two inmates who bore only a slight resemblance to the musician and the comedian.

Last night, Liz Lemon took a pill in order to prepare for her flight back to New York from Chicago. And then she found out that she was sitting next to Oprah Winfrey.
It turns out that the pill, which could cause dizziness, sexual nightmares and sleep crime, delivered a bigger wallop than Liz expected..... "Oprah" was in fact a 12 year old girl named Pam.

The last one we have is a bit of a cheat. Just as in the UK version of 'Life On Mars', NYPD detective Sam Tyler was struck by a car and now finds himself back in 1973 New York.

While making his way through a nightclub's throng in order to confront the club's owner, Sam bumped into folk rock singer Jim Croce. Sam did his best to warn the doomed singer to stay away from small aircraft, just as the UK Sam tried to warn Marc Bolan of T-Rex to stay away from small sports cars.
Of course, since the real Jim Croce eventually did die in a plane crash, an actor portrayed him in this encounter with Sam. But he's still an hallucination like Rob Thomas, Sinbad, and Oprah.....

I wonder who will be next? Maybe Phyllis Diller will appear in Charlie Harper's bed on 'Two And A Half Men' after he's been on a bender.....?

Toby O'B

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Cleaning out my Augean stable of email, I found this post which I never put up after "Journey's End", the Season 4 finale of 'Doctor Who':

Near the end of the episode, the Doctor disabled Jack's wrist-band thingie again, telling him there would be no more teleporting.
Before, the Doctor didn't want him jumping around in Time, which is why he made sure it stayed burned out. But this time, he didn't want Jack teleporting either.

Now eventually, the transmat booths will be operational, so I don't think he's actually against the idea of teleportation. It's just that at this point in Time, Earth does not have teleportation - officially.

And in fact, per mention in an episode of 'Eureka' ("Sight Unseen"), the nations of the Earth signed an anti-teleportation treaty.

So the Doctor simply was trying to make sure that Jack obeyed the tenets of that treaty.

(Tennant and the tenets!)

I wrote more on this topic back in 2007.......

Toby O'B


During the last episode of the US version of 'Life On Mars' ("Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadows?"), Sam Tyler lied to Annie on the phone when she could hear Adrienne in the apartment. He told her he was watching Mary Tyler Moore:

"That Mary Tyler Moore, she really can turn the world on with her smile."

There was no mention of the actual 'Mary Tyler Moore Show', just that Mary was on the tube. And the use of the song's catch-phrase doesn't count, because theme song lyrics don't factor into the actual life of Toobworld. Lyrics are for the benefit of the viewers in the Trueniverse, serving usually as background information... information... information. For instance - the lyrics from 'Gilligan's Island' are a recap as to who the castaways are and how they ended up on the island. The 'My Mother The Car' theme song establishes reincarnation as a fact of life after death.

So when Sam says that Mary Tyler Moore is a girl "who can turn the world on with her smile", he's stating an opinion, not quoting the song.
Put that Zonk in your cap and toss it!

Toby O'B


November 6, 1861 - American Civil War: Jefferson Davis is elected president of the Confederate States of America.

Here's a thumbnail biography of Jefferson Davis, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Jefferson Finis Davis (June 3, 1808 – December 6, 1889) was an American politician who served as President of the Confederate States of America for its entire history, 1861 to 1865, during the American Civil War.

A West Point graduate, Davis fought in the Mexican-American War as a colonel of a volunteer regiment, and was the United States Secretary of War under Franklin Pierce. As a senator he argued against secession but believed each state was sovereign and had an unquestionable right to secede from the Union.

During his presidency, Davis was not able to find a strategy to defeat the larger, more industrially developed Union. Davis' insistence on independence, even in the face of crushing defeat, prolonged the war.

After Davis was captured in 1865, he was charged with treason, though not convicted, and stripped of his eligibility to run for public office. This limitation was removed in 1978, 89 years after his death. While not disgraced, he was displaced in Southern affection after the war by its leading general, Robert E. Lee.

Although he's usually a shadowy figure in the grand scale view of the Civil War on television, Davis has been portrayed several times in TV series, movies, and mini-series.

Tom Aldredge
. . . Special Friendship, A (1987)

John Baragrey
. . . "Hallmark Hall of Fame" (1951) {Soldier's Bride}

Bob Bosler
. . . April 1865 (2003)

Lloyd Bridges
. . . "North and South, Book II" (1986)

Ross Ford
. . . "Cavalcade of America" (1952) {What Might Have Been (#1.9)}

Richard Gaines
. . . "Rebel, The" (1959) {Mission--Varina (#2.35)}

Charles McArthur
. . . "Adventures of Jim Bowie, The" (1956) {The Brothers (#2.31)}

Michael Rennie
. . . "Great Adventure, The" (1963) {The Treasure Train of Jefferson Davis (#1.8)}

Joseph Vance
. . . "You Are There" (1953) {The Gettysburg Address (#2.14)}

And several Toobworld characters have been named after him:

Lewis Arquette (Jefferson Davis 'J.D.' Pickett)
. . . "Waltons, The"

Sorrell Booke (Jefferson Davis "Boss" Hogg)
. . . "Dukes of Hazzard, The"

Allen Brenner (Brig. Gen. Jefferson C. Davis)
. . . Sherman's March

Don Johnson (Jefferson 'Jeff' Davis Prewitt)
. . . "From Here to Eternity"

Toby O'B


For this month's edition of "Fanficcer's Friend", we're turning to a 1950's publicity photo for inspiration, rather than a still from a movie.

(You remember what "Fanficcer's Friend" is all about, don't you? We take a picture from a source outside of TV, usually a screen capture from a movie, and offer it up to any fanficcers out there who might want to base a story on it.

Geoff Boucher writes a blog connected to the L.A. Times and he offered up the following picture in one of his posts:
The actual subject matter was of 20 year old Leonard Nimoy looking over his new contract, which had to be approved by a judge since Nimoy was still technically a minor.

In the picture with him is an actress named Mona Knox, with whom Nimoy was making a movie called "Kid Monk Baroni". Miss Knox appeared in less than thirty movies, and only a few TV series - 'The Donna Reed Show', 'The Untouchables', and 'Space Patrol'.

Because of the Toobworld timeline, we'd have to eliminate 'The Untouchables' and 'Space Patrol' from consideration. Unless..... her character of Lanya came back in Time from Sirius 4, perhaps via that odd necklace she's wearing. (Could it be a designer Omni?)

I'd go with her playing Jane Lawrence, the small-town girl she played in the episode "The Lucky Girl" from 'The Donna Reed Show'. Might as well keep it simple - after all, the real draw of the story is going to be Nimoy's character.

And let's face it, without the ears, the best option would be that Nimoy is appearing in this picture as the young magician who would one day be known as The Great Paris. We never learn much about the background to his character when Nimoy stepped in to 'Mission: Impossible' to replace Martin Landau's character of Rollin Hand. But like Rollin, Paris was a master of disguise.

But who was he, more than two decades before? I think it's O'Bvious that "Paris" is a stage name, so we could make the claim that this 1952 photograph was of some character he played on TV around the same time. Unfortunately (although it was good for Nimoy's resume and wallet), he played mostly villainous thugs during that period.

The best option would be a character he played twice in the anthology series 'The West Point Story': Tom Kennedy.

Here are the plot synopses for the two episodes of 'The West Point Story' in which Tom Kennedy appeared:

November 16, 1956 CBS Friday
written by
William Bruckner & Don Brinkley
Leonard Nimoy ........ Tom Kennedy
John Beradino ........ Rick Kennedy
Jeff Harris .......... Lon Milliken
Rodney Bell .......... Bud York
Michael Garth ........ Captain Rogers

After winning the national Golden Gloves middleweight championship, Tom Kennedy enters West Point, intent only on a career with the Army. But his brother, a successful boxer, determines Tom should follow in his footsteps, and tells the company commander Tom is a coward and should be expelled.

April 12, 1957 CBS Friday
written by
Don Brinkley
Leonard Nimoy ....... Kennedy
Larry Pennell ....... Marson

A cadet, wanting to visit his girl, takes an unauthorized leave and a dangerous walk across a frozen river.

[My thanks to Classic TV Archive, link to the left, for that information.]

So here's how it could play out: After that bad experience with his own brother, Tom Kennedy decided to give up boxing and turn his hands to a more dextrous pursuit - magic. I'm not certain if his girlfriend in that second episode appeared in the episode, but perhaps he was from Hilldale, and the girl-friend was Jane Lawrence - Mona Knox's character from 'The Donna Reed Show'.

Even after losing himself in his stage persona of The Great Paris, Tom Kennedy was still tracked down by the government (which probably kept tabs on all the cadets who passed through West Point), and asked to serve his country by working with the IMF.

Of course, that's up to the fanficcers to decide how they'd want to use that picture as their inspiration. Maybe Spock and Lanya did go back in Time, and Spock had his ears bobbed for the mission.

For all I know, it's just going to serve as an excuse for Spock slash-fic.....

Toby O'B

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


When Barack Obama takes the oath of office in January to become the 44th President of the United States, his televersion will become the POTUS as well in Toobworld. It's a long-standing tradition in the TV Universe that the President of the Trueniverse will be the Prez for Earth Prime-Time as well. Too many shows have always incorporated the actual president in their plotlines and/or punchlines to be otherwise. (Shows like '24', 'The West Wing', and 'Hail To The Chief' have all been relegated to alternate dimensions.)

But even so, there will be some differences between the real Barack and TV's Barack.......


On "L.A. Law," Blair Underwood's character, Jonathan Rollins, was the first first black editor of the Harvard Law Review. A few years later during a visit to Harvard, Underwood recalls, "a tall brother with big ears comes up to me and says, 'I am Barack Obama and I am the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. You play me."

Toby O'B


The people of the main Toobworld think of the cartoons that we watch in the real world as cartoons as well, even though some of those animated characters have crossed over into the live action TV universe on occasion.

And it works in reverse as well.

In the annual Halloween episode of 'The Simpsons' this past Sunday, Homer Simpson mentioned that he got the 'Seinfeld' boxed set for Season Seven. So to the citizenry of the Tooniverse, the people of Earth Prime-Time are just characters in a TV show.

Granted, the "Treehouse Of Horrors" specials are not officially part of the Simpsons' corner of the Tooniverse, but so what? Beat it kid, ya bother me!

Toby O'B


November 5th, 1956 - Nat King Cole becomes the second African-American (after jazz pianist/singer Hazel Scott in 1950) to host an American television program: "The Nat King Cole Show" on NBC.

How appropriate that we should pay tribute to this program on the day after Barack Obama is elected the President of the United States.

The following piece (by Mary Ann Watson) is direct from an excellent, encyclopediac source of TV information sreved up by the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago. (You'll find the link to their site over there to the left!)
The Nat "King" Cole Show, premiered on NBC as a fifteen-minute weekly musical variety show in November 1956. Cole, an international star as a jazz pianist and uniquely gifted vocalist, became the first major black performer to host a network variety series. It was a bruising experience for him, however, and an episode in television history that illuminates the state of race relations in the United States at the dawn of the modern civil rights movement.

Cole's first hit record, "Straighten Up and Fly Right," was recorded with his Nat "King" Cole Trio in 1944. By the mid-1950s he was a solo act--a top night-club performer with several million-selling records, including "Nature Boy," "Mona Lisa," and "Too Young." A frequent guest on variety programs such as those hosted by Perry Como, Milton Berle, Ed Sullivan, Dinah Shore, Jackie Gleason, and Red Skelton, Cole was in the mainstream of American show business. His performances delighted audiences and he seemed to be a natural for his own TV show, which he very much wanted.

Although he had experienced virulent racism in his life and career, Cole was reluctant to take on the role of a crusader. He was criticized by some for regularly performing in segregated-audience venues in the South, for instance. His bid for a TV show, however, brought with it a sense of mission. "It could be a turning point," he realized, "so that Negroes may be featured regularly on television." Yet, Cole understood, "If I try to make a big thing out of being the first and stir up a lot of talk, it might work adversely."
Cole originally signed a contract with CBS in 1956, but the promise of his own program never materialized on that network. Later in the year NBC reached an agreement with Cole's manager and agency, who packaged The Nat "King" Cole Show. The first broadcast, on 5 November 1956, aired without commercial sponsorship. NBC agreed to foot the bill for the program with the hope that advertisers would soon be attracted to the series. Cole felt confident a national sponsor would emerge, but his optimism was misplaced.

Advertising agencies were unable to convince national clients to buy time on The Nat "King Cole" Show. Advertisers were fearful that white Southern audiences would boycott their products. A representative of Max Factor cosmetics, a logical sponsor for the program, claimed that a "negro" couldn't sell lipstick for them. Cole was angered by the comment. "What do they think we use?" he asked. "Chalk? Congo paint?" "And what about a corporation like the telephone company?" Cole wondered. "A man sees a Negro on a television show. What's he going to do--call up the telephone company and tell them to take out the phone?" Occasionally, the show was purchased by Arrid deodorant and Rise shaving cream, but was most often sustained by NBC without sponsorship.
Despite the musical excellence of the program, which featured orchestra leader Nelson Riddle when the show was broadcast from Hollywood and Gordon Jenkins on weeks it originated from New York, The Nat "King" Cole Show suffered from anemic Nielsen ratings. Nonetheless, NBC decided to experiment. The network revamped the show in the summer of 1957 by expanding it to thirty minutes and increasing the production budget. Cole's many friends and admirers in the music industry joined him in a determined effort to keep the series alive. Performers who could command enormous fees, including Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Mel Torme, Pearl Bailey, Mahailia Jackson, Sammy Davis, Jr., Tony Bennett, and Harry Belafonte, appeared on The Nat "King" Cole Show for the minimum wage allowed by the union.

Ratings improved, but still no sponsors were interested in a permanent relationship with the series. Some advertisers purchased airtime in particular markets. For instance, in San Francisco, Italian Swiss Colony wine was an underwriter. In New York, it was Rheingold beer; in Los Angeles, Gallo wine and Colgate toothpaste; and Coca-Cola in Houston.

This arrangement, though, was not as lucrative to the network as single national sponsorship. So, when the Singer Sewing Machine Company wanted to underwrite an adult western called The Californians, NBC turned over the time slot held by The Nat "King" Cole Show. The network offered to move Cole's program to a less expensive and less desirable place in the schedule--Saturdays at 7:00 P.M., but Cole declined the downgrade.

In the inevitable postmortem on the show, Cole praised NBC for its efforts. "The network supported this show from the beginning," he said. "From Mr. Sarnoff on down, they tried to sell it to agencies. They could have dropped it after the first thirteen weeks." The star placed the blame squarely on the advertising industry. "Madison Avenue," Cole said, "is afraid of the dark."

In an Ebony magazine article entitled "Why I Quit My TV Show," Cole expressed his frustration: "For 13 months I was the Jackie Robinson of television. I was the pioneer, the test case, the Negro first....On my show rode the hopes and tears and dreams of millions of people....Once a week for 64 consecutive weeks I went to bat for these people. I sacrificed and drove myself. I plowed part of my salary back into the show. I turned down $500,000 in dates in order to be on the scene. I did everything I could to make the show a success. And what happened? After a trailblazing year that shattered all the old bugaboos about Negroes on TV, I found myself standing there with the bat on my shoulder. The men who dictate what Americans see and hear didn't want to play ball."

Singer and actress Eartha Kitt, one of the program's guest stars, reflected many years later on the puzzling lack of success of The Nat "King" Cole Show. "At that time I think it was dangerous," she said referring to Cole's sophisticated image in an era when the only blacks appearing on television regularly were those on the Amos 'n' Andy show, the Beulah show, and Jack Benny's manservant, Rochester. Nat King Cole's elegance and interaction with white performers as equals stood in stark contrast. "I think it was too early," Kitt said, "to show ourselves off as intelligent people."

My thanks to Mary Ann Watson for her essay.
I'm dedicating this post to the memory of my Mom. Nat King Cole was her favorite singer.

Toby O'B

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


The Toobworld concept is ever evolving; positions I've held in the past, I've since changed my opinion. For instance, I used to think Toobworld was just the one world, cartoons and live action characters all living together. Since then I've embraced the 'Sliders' concept so that there are hundreds, perhaps even thousands of dimensions similar to the main Toobworld.

Another position I no longer maintain is that Toobworld can only exist of anything that was broadcast on television. But the technology is expanding and now people can watch TV on computers, PDAs, even their cell phones.

It's the content, not how you get it delivered that matters.

But one thing still holds true - once broadcast, it's a part of Toobworld forever. And no amount of later editing and censorship can change that.

And that goes for trying to suppress the content altogether!
The Disney Channel pulled an episode of 'Hannah Montana'. The plotline was about diabetes which was supposed to air Sunday. But comments from parents who saw it in an on-demand version gave Disney pause.

In the episode, Hannah's pal Oliver is diagnosed with diabetes. The show delivers a feel-good message to viewers that the disease can be dealt with successfully.

Here's what a Disney spokesman had to say:
"During the script-writing stage of the 'Hannah Montana' episode in question (entitled 'No Sugar, Sugar'), the matter of depicting a character with diabetes was reviewed by our Standards and Practices executives who consulted with medical experts to inform the story and ensure that it was told responsibly.

"Notwithstanding the measures we took, and based on the episode's preview and early feedback from parents (who saw it on SVOD and/or mobile platforms), we removed the episode from Sunday's schedule and are now reevaluating it."

Too late!

No matter how drastically they change it, it's still already been viewed. It's locked in as far as Toobworld is concerned. If it turns out there's been nothing but editing, then we'll just ignore it, just like we ignore episodes from old TV shows which have been eviscerated by the ever-increasing supply of commercials.

But if it turns that the episode has to be totally reworked with either new scenes or an alternate ending, then that will have to be considered as a separate entity from the original episode. That will be the same situation but from an alternate TV dimension.

Toby O'B


I can't think of a greater combination than Walter Cronkite celebrating his 92nd birthday on Election Day!

Once dubbed "the most trusted man in America", Cronkite was inducted into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame back in November of 2001, when he turned 85. His qualifications at that time? Appearances on 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show', 'Murphy Brown', 'Captain Kangaroo', and 'You Are There'. (Let's face it, with CBS newsmen going back in Time to interview historical figures, it was more of a science fiction program than it was a news show.)

But it's for his work in the anchor chair at CBS, his coverage of the Vietnam War, the space program, but especially the assassination of President Kennedy, which will forever be burned into our cathode memories. That moment when Cronkite took off his glasses and checked the clock, holding it together as he announced that Kennedy had been killed in his Dallas motorcade..... As tragic a moment as it was, it was Television in its purest form.

Happy Birthday, "Uncle Walt"!

Toby O'B


It's Election Day! And as we ALL (hopefully!) head to the polling stations, some televisiologists out there are trying to analyze the possible outcome of the election in TV terms.

Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez thinks that 'The Cosby Show', with its depiction of the positive values of a black family in the 1980s, may have paved the way for acceptance of Barack Obama's candidacy to be the President. As she put it, "The impact of Cosby's weekly presence in America's family rooms, as the fair-minded, fun, quirky Dr. Huxtable, cannot be underestimated in its affect upon the consciousness of Americans who were children and young adults at the time."

(Others have pointed to Dennis Haysbert's portrayal of the President in '24' as another factor that got people ready to accept a black man as the POTUS.)

And then there's Joel Stein of Time magazine who has a bleaker outlook as to TV's preparation of the American voter for a black Commander-In-Chief: "I am deeply worried about 'The Urkel Effect', which holds that voters leaning toward Obama will walk into the voting booth and suddenly think, I cannot take four years of listening to that giant-eared nerd. Because people are starting to realize that Obama is not all that cool."

When it comes to black TV characters having any kind of effect on the presidential race, I'm more worried about it happening to John McCain instead, ironically enough. I'm scared that "The Sad Grandpa" (as he dubbed himself on this past week's 'Saturday Night Live') is going to pull a Fred G. Sanford. He'll suddenly clutch his chest, scream out "Here I come, Elizabeth! (Whoever she may be to him?) This is it! The big one!"

And then for the remainder of his term in office, we're stuck with the Alaskan LaWanda Page as President.......

Toby O'B

(Thanks to for pointing out those two articles.)


(Toobworld note - I realize this post is very late in arriving, but I am an inherently lazy person. Probably the only reason I finally got around to posting it is because the Augean stable that is my email folder is running out of topics.)

There are a lot of fans of 'Doctor Who' and 'Star Trek' who would like to integrate the tie-in novels into the show's universe at large. Toobworld can't do that; there are far too many variables to reckon with. The same goes for the graphic novels of 'The Middleman' upon which this summer's TV series was based. One good example of the difference between the show and its source material is in the depiction of the character Manservant Neville. Really, that's his name. (And "Manservant" is pronounced "man-sur-VANT".)

In the original graphic novels, Manservant Neville was the sidekick/henchman to Kanimang Kang. Kang was the leader of 'F.A.T.B.O.Y. (The Federated Agents Of Tyranny, Betrayal, and Oppression's Yoke). But within Toobworld, Manservant Neville is the man in charge as the CEO of Fatboy Industries. (In the Middleblog, they're described as being like Steve Jobs in charge of ACME from the Warner Bros. cartoons.)

What's interesting, however, is that Manservant Neville's appearance in the graphic novels was based on the actor Mark Sheppard, who was then later cast in the role of Manservant Neville for the TV series.

But other than that, the two Manservant Nevilles are totally different people and thus the graphic novels and the TV show cannot share the same creative dimension.

Toby O'B

Monday, November 3, 2008


I've mentioned this in the past, I love episode titles. I hate it when a show doesn't have any titles at all for their episodes. (I'm looking at you, 'Primeval' and the UK version of 'Life On Mars'. Thank Jack Lord that 'New Tricks' finally wised up!)

I especially love when a show develops a theme for their titles. 'Remington Steele' tried to use the word 'Steele' in most of theirs; the classic would be 'The Wild, Wild West' in which all of their episodes began with "The Night Of". Currently, it's "Chuck vs." whatever each week on 'Chuck'.

'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' and 'The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.' each used "Affairs"; 'Dundee And The Culhane' used "Briefs"; 'Perry Mason' had "Cases". 'Commander-In-Chief' tried to have every episode be a "First", but finally gave up the notion.

I think the American version of 'Life On Mars' is going for a rock lyric as their titles, although I'm not sure about that "My Maharishi Is Bigger Than Your Maharishi" from two weeks ago.

So I'm looking at the episode guide for 'The Mentalist' and saw that they're going for a color scheme:

23 Sep 08 Pilot (Bleep! I hate when they just use "Pilot" for the first episode!)

30 Sep 08 Red Hair and Silver Tape

14 Oct 08 Red Tide

21 Oct 08 Ladies in Red

28 Oct 08 Redwood

11 Nov 08 Red-Handed

18 Nov 08 The Thin Red Line

25 Nov 08 Red Brick and Ivy

TBA Flame Red

Will they be able to maintain this for the rest of the year? Will they go through a blue period for the sophomore season?

There's probably a reason for this that was brought up in the pilot, which I missed. Color me red-faced if I'm missing the obvious.

Sorry about that, Chief.....

Toby O'B


I saw that today is the feast day for St. Winifred, but I already wrote about her while I was deep into watching the 'Cadfael' series. So instead, we're getting a special guest appearance:

Dan Vergano wrote this article for USA Today last week:

Star Trek fans, take heart — Mr. Spock's fabled home star, the nearby Epsilon Eridani, could harbor an Earth-like planet.
NASA astronomers today report that the triple-ringed star has an asteroid belt and a Jupiter-like giant planet in roughly the same orbits as in our own solar system. Only 850 million years old, a fifth the age of Earth's sun, Epsilon Eridani resembles a younger twin to our solar system. About 62 trillion miles away, it is the closest known solar system.

It was borrowed by the creators of the TV series 'Star Trek' as the location of Vulcan, the planet that gave us the super-logical science officer Mr. Spock.

"We certainly haven't seen it yet, but if its solar system is anything like ours, then there should be planets like ours," say astronomer Massimo Marengo of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass.

The NASA Spitzer space telescope results, which measure the infrared heat given off by dust and ice rings circling the star, suggest Epsilon Eridani possesses three jumbo worlds, revealed by dust-free circular lanes in its asteroid belt and more distant comet belts.The circular asteroid belt that, like ours, orbits within 300 million miles of the star is particularly surprising, Marengo says, because earlier studies had suggested the star's Jupiter-like planet followed a looping path that would have destroyed the narrow belt. Instead, it must follow a nearly circular orbit.

Because Epsilon Eridani is smaller, dimmer and younger than the sun, the "habitable zone" for Earth-like planets there is closer to the star, says planetary theorist Sean Raymond of the University of Colorado-Boulder. "An Earth-like planet could actually form in the (star's) habitable zone," he says, if the report of a well-behaved Jupiter-sized planet bears out.

Another planetary theorist, Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institute of Washington (D.C.), is doubtful, suggesting such a planet is "likely to be too massive and too close to allow Earth-like planets to form in the habitable zone."

Jokes Marengo: "Of course there is disagreement among Star Trek fans about whether the planet of Mr. Spock could be at Epsilon Eridani, because it is such a young star and Vulcans are supposed to be an advanced civilization."

Well, maybe their ancestors moved there!

From Wikipedia:

Epsilon Eridani (e Eri / e Eridani) is a main-sequence K2 class star. It is the closest star in the constellation Eridanus, as well as the third closest star visible to the naked eye. This star has an estimated age of less than a billion years. Because of its relative youth, this star has a higher level of magnetic activity than the Sun and its stellar wind is an estimated 30 times as strong.
The rotation period is a relatively rapid 11.1 days, although this varies by latitude. Epsilon Eridani is both smaller and less massive than the Sun, with a lower level of metallicity, or elements with a higher atomic number than helium.

In 2006, a planet was suspected in orbit around this star, although the discovery is not yet secure enough to convince all planet hunters due to noise in the data. If the planet exists, it completes an orbit every 2502 days at a mean distance of 3.4 Astronomical Units (505 million kilometers) from the star. As of 2008, Epsilon Eridani is the nearest star to the Sun that is known to have a planet. The star also has two orbiting asteroid belts, one at approximately 3 AU, the second at around 20 AU, and perturbations in this material may be caused by an unconfirmed second planet. It also appears to have a Kuiper belt. The density of orbiting material, which is considerably more than that around the Sun, corroborates the star's suspected youth.

Due to it being a relatively close and Sun-like star, Epsilon Eridani regularly appears in science fiction. In the television series Babylon 5, the space station itself orbits the third planet (Epsilon 3) in this system. Gerry Anderson's television show Space Precinct is set on a planet in the "Epsilon Erandi" system, which may be an error for Epsilon Eridani.

Or as one Welsh blogger said about the star:
Mae Epsilon Eridani b yn blaned sy'n cylchio'r seren Epsilon Eridani (neu 'Al-Sadirah') yng nghytser Eridanws.Mae Al-Sadirah yn perthyn i'r un dosbarth o sêr fel yr Haul, er ei bod yn seren oren sydd ychydig yn fwy. Mae hi 10.5 o flynyddoedd goleuni i ffwrddd, sydd yn neud y blaned y mwyaf agos at y Ddaear o ran pellter.

Mae ei chrynswth 1.5 gwaith yn fwy na Iau. Mae hi'n cymryd dros 2000 o ddyddiau i gylchio Al-Sadirah, ac mae gwyddonwyr yn gobeithio y bydd hi'n cyrraedd pwynt ym mis Rhagfyr pan fydd yn bosib i'w gweld yn fwy manwl.

Gellir gweld sut mae'r nefoedd yn edrych oddi ar y blaned ei hun YMA.

But then, everybody knows the Welsh are aliens anyway.

Uh oh.....

Keep watching the skies while I go duck and cover!

Toby O'B


I'm not sure if any of the TV sitcoms or dramas were able to work the election into their plotlines this year, but I wouldn't be surprised if 'Boston Legal' did; they've always been pretty timely with their references to current events. And now it looks like David E. Kelley's legal dramedy will be the first to incorporate the election results into Toobworld.
ABC's November sweeps overview revealed that the November 17th episode of 'Boston Legal' will be about a woman (played by Cheri Oteri, pictured here with series stars James Spader and Candice Bergen) who lost her job because she voted for John McCain.

This coming Wednesday, the show will film a scene for that episode which will refer to the actual outcome of the election the day before. (I doubt there's going to be any trouble that lasts for days, as happened in 2000.)

As the show heads for its final episode in December, they're certainly keeping things interesting right to the very end!

Toby O'B


Sometimes a TV in-joke comes from the fact that the expected in-joke never materializes.

In that aforementioned episode of 'Entourage', "First Class Jerk", agent Josh Weinstein was trying to convince Vince to do a TV series produced by real world producer Frank Darabont.

"It's not TV," says Josh, to which Vince asks, "What is it then?"

The audience, knowing this show airs on HBO, is expecting the advertising tagline, "It's HBO."

But instead, Josh says, "It's TV with Frank Darabont."

It's a gotcha!

Toby O'B


Considering 'Entourage' is a show about the inside world of show business, TV Zonks should be expected in every episode. With the episode "First Class Jerk", there were two that cancel each other out when it comes to their ability to ruin the integrity of the TV Universe. (Actually there was a third Zonk as well, but for the life of - well, somebody other than me! - I can't remember it. was no help, and I'm too lazy to do HBO On Demand to watch the episode again.)

The first one is easy enough to dismiss. Turtle was described as a character from 'South Park'. Even though both shows are on TV, they don't share the same TV Universe. 'Entourage' is in Earth Prime-Time while 'South Park' is part of Earth Prime-Time/Toon, more commonly known as the Tooniverse. For the most part, residents of the main Toobworld only know animated shows as cartoons; they have no concept of them being "real" in their own TV dimension, even though several of them have crossed over into the main Toobworld. (Bart and Lisa Simpson, Brian and Stewie Griffin, Superman, Daffy Duck, Beavis and Butthead, among others.)

So there's no Zonk in Turtle being described as a cartoon character from 'South Park'.

However, it's apparently impossible to dance around the fact that 'Entourage' provided a 'Sopranos' Zonk because of the appearance of Jamie Lynn Sigler in that episode. It was bad enough that her former show was mentioned and that she had been a part of the cast, but at least that could have been handled. 'The Sopranos' is the type of title that could have a different meaning in Toobworld, so long as specifics about the show are never mentioned. For instance, it could have been a reality show about singers!

But at one point, Jamie Lynn was actually referred to as her character on 'The Sopranos', as "Meadow Soprano". No escaping that!


Here in the Trueniverse, there have been TV movies about real-life gangsters, mobsters, er, alleged criminals. Perhaps a TV movie was recently filmed in the last year (since 'The Sopranos' went off the air) which detailed the life of one of that crime family's members.

My guess would be Christopher Moltisanti. After his death, his affiliations with organized crime may have come out, and perhaps he's been linked to the murder of the screenwriter played by Tim Daly. And as he was beginning to make a name for himself in Hollywood as a low-budget movie producer, that would certainly have been a hook for the subject of a TV movie. And the televersion of Jamie Lynn Sigler, since she bears such an uncanny resemblance to Meadow Soprano, was cast in that role.

For the time being, I'm going to stick with that splainin, which means that particular Zonk now sleeps with the fishes.

Toby O'B

Sunday, November 2, 2008

TVXOHOF, 11/2008: W

With the November induction into the TV Crossover Hall Of Fame, it's been the tradition to celebrate the portrayal of a politician, usually a President, or some other newsmaker or even a newscaster. In the past the TVXOHOF has seen such luminaries as Walter Cronkite, JFK and Jackie Kennedy, John Kennedy Jr., Sarek, Murphy Brown, George Washington and Gerald and Betty Ford joining the Hall.

This year is no different. And this being an election year with a change in regime guaranteed since neither candidate is an incumbent, Toobworld Central is marking the occasion by inducting the outgoing POTUS, George W. Bush.

Actually, "marking the occasion" is too tepid; we're CELEBRATING his departure!

Let's leave it at that.

So here are W's qualifications for induction into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame:

In Earth Prime-Time:

'DC 9/11: Time Of Crisis'




'12 Miles Of Bad Road' (provisional)


In Earth Prime-Time Doof:

'That's My Bush!'

In Skitlandia:

'Chappelle's Show'

'Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson'


'Saturday Night Live'

'Frank TV'

'Rove Live'

'Tonight with Jay Leno'

'Late Night with Conan O'Brien'

In the Tooniverse:

'Family Guy'

'American Dad!'


'Li'l Bush'

among others.....

I came into this thinking that Timothy Bush might be the official portrayer of George W. Bush in the Hall, but it looks like Steve Bridges (second row, middle) will be getting that honor because he played the Commander-in-Chief on three of the shows from the main Toobworld.

That's my strategery, and I'm sticking to it.

Toby O'B


Here's the episode summary for "Kush", the latest episode of 'Sanctuary':

While returning from a trip in Himalaya meant to capture an abnormal, Dr. Magnus and Will's plane crashes in a remote mountain range. But it soon appears that struggling to stay alive and wait for rescue is not the only thing they need to worry about, as the surviving passengers fall one by one to an unknown assailant...

From the show's official site:

Episode #105: "Kush"
Written By: Damian Kindler
Directed By: Martin Wood

Returning with an abnormal captured in the Himalayas, Magnus (AMANDA TAPPING) and Will (ROBIN DUNNE) are stranded from civilization and aid after their plane goes down in a desolate mountain range. While anxiously waiting for a rescue team, the surviving passengers begin to fall victim to vicious and deadly attacks throughout the night. It becomes chillingly apparent that surviving the cold is the least of their worries and no one, not even Magnus and Will, is above suspicion.

And here are some excerpts from the Wikipedia entry about the Hindu Kush mountain range:

The Hindu Kush is a mountain range located between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The name Hindu Kush derives from the Arabic word meaning "Mountains of India." It is the westernmost extension of the Pamir Mountains, the Karakoram Range, and is a sub-range of the Himalayas. It is also calculated to be the geographic center of population of the world.

The name Hindu Kush is usually applied to the whole of the range separating the basins of the Kabul, and Helmand rivers from that of the Amu Darya (or ancient Oxus), or more specifically, to that part of the range to the northwest of Kabul.

In some of the Iranian languages that are still spoken in the region many peaks, mountains, and related places in the region have "Kosh" or "Kush" in their names. In the Persian language of the Sassanian period, Hindu referred to the inhabitants of the area around and beyond the Indus River, or Hind - the people who were followers of Hinduism. The name is also said to be a corruption of Hindu Koh, from the (modern) Persian word Kuh, meaning mountain. James Rennell, writing in 1793, referred to the range as the "Hindoo-Kho or Hindoo-Kush".

The mountains of the Hindu Kush system diminish in height as they stretch westward: toward the middle, near Kabul, they extend from 4,500 to 6,000 meters; in the west, they attain heights of 3,500 to 4,000 meters. The average altitude of the Hindu Kush is 4,500 meters. The Hindu Kush system stretches about 966 kilometres laterally, and its median north-south measurement is about 240 kilometres. Only about 600 kilometres of the Hindu Kush system is called the Hindu Kush mountains. The rest of the system consists of numerous smaller mountain ranges.

The Eastern Hindu Kush range, also known as the High Hindu Kush range, is mostly located in northern Pakistan and the Nuristan and Badakhshan provinces of Afghanistan. The Chitral District of Pakistan is home to Tirich Mir, Noshaq, and Istoro Nal, the highest peaks in the Hindu Kush. The range also extends into Ghizar, Yasin Valley, and Ishkoman in Pakistan's Northern Areas.

Toby O'B


Even before it first aired, 'The Mentalist' on CBS was being compared to 'Psych' from the USA Network. Both shows were about men who falsely claimed to be psychic and who were now working with the police in California. But that would be like saying 'Columbo' was like 'The Shield' since both were about detectives working in the Los Angeles area.

With the latest episode of 'The Mentalist', the producers decided to have a little fun with this comparison. Near the end, a key clue was provided through a little bit of hypnotic prodding by Patrick Jane, the so-called psychic - the killer had a smell of pineapple.
When Teresa Lisbon, Jane's superior officer from the CBI heard that, she realized that the sheriff's deputy who was accompanying her was the killer - he had a pineapple-shaped air freshener hanging from his truck's rear view mirror.

The in-joke is that pineapple serves as the "Hitchcock" in 'Psych'. Every episode either shows a pineapple in some form - as a lamp shape, an Hawaiian shirt design, or as a pizza topping, for example - or the word is used in some way.
This use in 'The Mentatlist' doesn't serve as a link, just to be clear; it's just a fun way for the producers to tip their hat to Shawn Spencer and company.

Toby O'B