Saturday, April 11, 2009


Nothing is official yet, but 'Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles' may have joined the following shows last night:

'Now & Again'
'Coronet Blue'
and maybe 'Kyle XY'. (I'm still five episodes back on that show. Saving them for a rainy day... a rainier day.)

That is, in the face of cancellation, they finished on a cliff-hanger in the hopes the network would have to bring them back to see it resolved.* But in each of those cases, it was not to be; and 'T:TSCC' may be joining their club.

On the other hand, there's the American version of 'Life On Mars', which was given the chance to resolve its mysteries before cancellation. And was the audience in general thankful?

I have no faith in the general TV audience.

Just sayin', is all.....

Toby O'B

*Actually, in the case of 'Coronet Blue', by the time the network decided to bring back the summer hit, everyone involved had already signed contracts for new projects.


Later this year we'll be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the movie version for "The Wizard Of Oz". And advertisers have been taking advantage of that since the beginning of the year.

So far, we've seen blipverts from GE, Chips Ahoy!, and Orange with "Wizard Of Oz" themes. And now Somerset Mortgage Lenders has jumped on that bandwagon, playing up the qualities to be found in Dorothy's friends: BCnU!
Toby O'B


For the penultimate spotlight in the "As Seen On TV" salute to the 1977 mini-series 'Jesus Of Nazareth', Mary Magdalene is featured - a woman who has come under renewed scrutiny in recent years by Biblical revisionists and theorists. I have to give credit to director Franco Zeffirelli for not casting a young beauty in the role as has happened before. (Claudia Cox, Simone Bendix, Debra Messing) This Mary Magdalene is still attractive in middle-age, but you can see the wear of the years upon her.

Toby O'B


Every so often I come up with a theory for "Inner Toob" which I eventually have to discard. Usually this happens AFTER I post it and one of Toobworld's discerning disciples points out the errors of my ways.

And then there are those I have to toss aside before they even make it to post.

This is one of those, but even though I realize now that it cannot be, I still wanted to share it with you - especially if you were a fan of the US version of 'Life On Mars'.

Boiled down to a one sentence pitch: Detective Chris Skelton, played by Jonathan Murphy, was an android.

If 'Life On Mars' never jumped forward 27 years to 2035, I never would have entertained the idea, even though everything in Toobworld is connected and there are androids among us here in 2008. But once we found out that the entire series had been a dream for an astronaut in suspended animation, it became a true sci-fi series and that possibility could be considered.
Stepping outside the realm of Toobworld's inner "reality" for a moment, the producers brought actor Jonathan Murphy into the 'Life On Mars' fold after working with him on 'October Road'. I have to figure they could have promised him something to make the character worthwhile for him to play. And I think we got a glimpse of that when Sam got that phone call from the Aries Project. We saw the caller, but from the back of his head, and the call was coming from inside the 125th Precinct.

That caller looked a lot like Detective Chris Skelton.

With hindsight, we have to figure that Sam Tyler was working details of his real life in 2035 into his emergency dream world of 1973. So deep down, he knew Chris was connected to their Mars mission. But why single out Chris instead of Gene, Ray, or Annie? They were all on board the Hyde 1-2-5 spacecraft as well.

"Oh my God! You're a robot!"

If Chris turned out to be an android, it could be Sam singled him out because he was different from the rest of the crew.

What killed the idea for me was a second viewing of that last ten minutes of the show. Fixated as I was on the overall scenario, I had forgotten certain details - like seeing Annie, Ray, and Chris awaken from their slumber chambers as well. I only remembered Sam and his dad, Major Tom Tyler.

If Chris had been an android, why bother putting him into sleep stasis? He could have been overseeing the daily routine of ship maintenance and piloting during the mission which lasted 2 years, 3 months, and 22 days. During the week between viewings of the series' final scene, I thought we didn't see Chris in a sleep chamber. I was wrong about that, but we definitely didn't hear him say anything about what type of neural stim dream he requested as we did with Sam and Ray. (With Annie, there may have been some overlap between her dream and Sam's in some way. That's the inference I got from the looks they gave each other.)

Do androids dream of electric sheep and all of that.....
Two reasons the android theory came to me. There was an innocence about Chris Skelton, especially when he would consult with Sam about how to handle certain situations - like dating a woman. It reminded me of the ways Lt. Commander Data of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' and John Henry of 'Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles' would ask humans about the mysteries of simple human nature.
Then there was the fact that he got shot up pretty badly by Jimmy McManus and was touch-and-go on the operating table. True, Ray got shot as well, but he was up and about quickly - probably because his could have been just a flesh wound, or a neat in-and-out off to the side.

But Chris looked to be seriously wounded with a few direct hits. And yet miraculously, he too was up and out of the hospital within a day. Yeah, it was all a dream, but couldn't Sam's mind have been incorporating Chris' cybernetic innards into the equation?

Finally - and this is going out on a wild stretch of the imagination! - there was the focus put on Chris giving Sam a St. Christopher medal. We can look back on it now and see that it was Sam's brain factoring in the waking world reality of being on that trip to Mars. St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers, after all, and Sam's sub-conscious may have been grappling with doubts about their safety - especially after experiencing that meteor shower collision (which was interpreted by his neural stim dream as getting hit by a car).
But here's where I had the quantum leap of interpretation.... What if the St. Christopher medal was code for: "Say! Ain't Christopher metal?"

I know. It's a reach.
But if I'm not mistaken, "Metal" is a slang term for the androids/cyborgs from the Terminator mythos. And there's just something about that pose above that smacks of 'Holmes & Yoyo'.....

And like I said, 'Life On Mars' does take place in a TV dimension in which there are androids already in existence - Cameron and John Henry of 'The Sarah Connor Chronicles' currently; but also Hymie the Robot ('Get Smart'), Gregory Yoyonovich, ('Holmes & Yoyo'), Officer Haven ('Futurecop'), the Man ('Project: Tin Men'), and even Bigfoot ('The Six Million Dollar Man'). So it wouldn't be unlikely that one might show up in 'Life On Mars' - at least the American version.

Speaking of 'The Sarah Connor Chronicles', 'Life On Mars' - as well as 'Star Trek' and other future series - trumps the timeline for the TV version of 'Terminator'. But I haven't seen yet what happens Friday night in their season finale... which may be the series finale as well.

Anyhoo, this was the theory that got away from me (like this post!) and which I had to abandon. Still, I thought it might be of interest to Toobworldlies......

Toby O'B

Friday, April 10, 2009


It's Good Friday, one of the more somber days in the Church Calendar, marking the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. (It is believed this took place in the year 33 AD.)

One of the key figures in the events leading up to the Crucifixion was the apostle who betrayed him, Judas Iscariot - for thirty pieces of silver.

For the "As Seen On TV" feature on Good Friday, we have Judas Iscariot as depicted in the 1977 mini-series 'Jesus Of Nazareth':

The portrayal differs from tradition in that Judas is depicted as being of black hair. According to legend, Judas was red-haired. Ruth Mellinkoff wrote about the history of that legend and here's an excerpt:

There is nothing in the Christian Bible that indicates anything distinctive about the physical appearance of Judas. Yet at least as early as the ninth century, artists developed devices and motifs for pointing out the traitor.

That red hair or beard would be thought fitting for Judas is borne out by the ancient and continuous aversion to red hair and ruddy skin. The age-old dislike of red hair is testified to as early as ancient Egypt, associated with the evil god Seth, known to the Greeks as Typhon. A disdain for red hair in the Greco-Roman world is displayed in the red-headedness and red wigs designated for the figure of the slave in the comedies.

The red hair and red beard theme is scattered profusely through the literature of many periods and places. Many theories have been advanced to explain the dislike of red hair, or to promote that dislike:

1) Red hair was disliked because of its association with the color of foxes;

2) Red hair was disliked because of its connections with the red beard of the pagan god Thor whose attributes were transferred to the Christian devil;

3) Red hair was disliked by the English and Irish because it was attributed to the conquering Danes;

4) Red hair was disliked in non-Germanic places simply because it was less common;

5) Red hair has been disliked because it is a mutation or arrested development or degenerative characteristic.

I played Peter in a passion play once back in high school for the CYO. I probably should have been cast as Judas, since my hair was a deeper shade of red back in those days.....

Besides, the bad guy is always more fun to play!

Toby O'B

Thursday, April 9, 2009


On April 2nd, Joe Oesterle in the Mania website wrote about something that's been bothering me this season:

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Here’s something I know; Way back in Season Three I remember thinking, during the season’s finale, “Through the Looking Glass,” how strange it was that a good Catholic boy like Charlie would make the sign of the cross with his left hand. Being a former Catholic school kid myself, I noticed this right away. My bet is had Charlie ever made a faux pas like that in school he would have experienced the swift and stinging fury of Sister Mary Castigation’s well-worn wooden ruler upon his tender knuckles. I even posted my findings on a number of LOST related message boards, and felt certain, based on the mirror-image title of the episode itself someone else would also find it suspicious, but most of the comments were along the lines of, “they probably flipped the picture, just a continuity flub.” I wasn’t assuaged then, and the shooting of Ben Linus has further convinced me the left-handed blessing wasn’t a production error.

When last we left Lil Ben, Sayid, a world-class assassin, just took aim at his trusting teenage heart, pulled the trigger, ran through the woods, leaving his young victim for dead. This is even recapped, with bullet hole very clearly to my eyes just below juvenile Linus’ ticker. When Jin turns the boy’s body over however, the same wound appears to have switched sides. There’s no way this is a blunder on the part of the continuity crew, as it’s more than possible these scenes were all shot during the same day. For some reason we are seeing mirror images at times. Now all we have to do is figure out why.

I had forgotten about the sign of the cross made by Charlie, but did notice it at the time (being an old altar boy m'self). And in the confusion and darkness of those scenes out in the woods, I didn't pick up on the shifting bullet wound at all.

These pictures back up what Joe Oesterle claims:
Later, during "Whatever Happened, Happened", we get further proof that bullet entered Ben's chest on the right side as Juliet operates on him:
One would think that a trained assassin like Sayid would have made sure he popped a cap in the little creep's heart. (He should have also delivered a coup de grace to the back of the head as he ran by. Having not done so, I would have to say that Sayid was sloppy at that point.)
Here's one last frame grab that shows the bullet wound was now on Ben's right side:
I have been noticing another series of reversed imagery during this season - that of the mystical "Numbers". Here are two examples:
First, from "He's Our You", Sayid is seen exiting a Russian building, #23. But as seen from inside the building, the glass shows it as the reverse: a badly written "32".

And then in "Whatever Happened, Happened", Kate is searching the supermarket for Aaron, who's wandered away. The aisles are all numbered but apparently only for those coming from one direction:
If we saw them from Kate's angle, they'd be "2-3-4"... or "23" & "4" from "the Numbers".

I don't even know if this will eventually mean anything or not in the grand scale of things for the show. But I'm thinking that somehow, it's a sign that alternate timelines are being created and we're seeing what happens in these "mirror" universes.

And then again, I could be wrong. It wouldn't be the first time.....

Toby O'B


Since "As Seen On TV" is O'Bserving Holy Week, for Holy Thursday we present History's greatest "fence-sitter":
Pontius Pilate

"And I was around when Jesus Christ
had his moment of doubt and pain
made damn sure that Pilate
washed his hands, and sealed his fate
The Devil
"Mary's Incredible Dream"
(But O'Bviously from the Rolling Stones song originally.)

Toby O'B


On Tuesday night's episode of 'The Mentalist', Agents Cho and Rigsby tracked down the Hollywood drug dealer to a motel apartment - Number 23. "23" is one of "the Numbers" in the sequence made famous on 'Lost'.

Another number in that sequence comes into play in the new series to follow 'Lost' on Wednesday nights. Detective Leo Banks of the 2nd Precinct squad known as 'The Unusuals' has a connection to the number "42": his grandfather got killed at the age of 42; his father succumbed to cancer by the age of 42; and now that he's turned 42 himself, Banks is seeing the number manifest itself no where he goes.
And it looks like a psychic who got hauled into "the Box" for interrogation has picked up on this....

Toby O'B

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


All this week, we're looking at the various historical figures portrayed in the 1977 mini-series 'Jesus Of Nazareth', directed by Franco Zeffirelli and written by Anthony Burgess. It's all in commemoration of Holy Week. Today, the spotlight is on Nicodemus. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about him:

Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, who, according to the Gospel of John, showed favour to Jesus. He appears three times in the Gospel: the first is when he visits Jesus one night to listen to his teachings (John 3:1-21); the second is when he states the law concerning the arrest of Jesus during the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:45-51); and the last follows the Crucifixion, when he assists Joseph of Arimathea in preparing the corpse of Jesus for burial (John 19:39-42).

Though there is no clear source of information about this Nicodemus outside the Gospel of John, the Jewish Encyclopedia and many Biblical historians have theorized that he is identical to Nicodemus ben Gurion, mentioned in the Talmud as a wealthy and popular holy man reputed to have had miraculous powers. Christian tradition asserts that Nicodemus was martyred sometime in the first century. BCnU!
Toby O'B


"radiomd", one of the commenters at Alan Sepinwall's blog "What's Alan Watching" (link to the left, my bots!), made this observation about the end of 'Life On Mars' (and by extension, the episode before last of 'The Sarah Connor Chronicles'):

it was a tough week for characters played by Dean Winters. You see Dean Winters go near a dock, as Ken Harrelson would say, he gone.

That could become some kind of TV trope subset - "Dean Winters character on a dock will die".....

Toby O'B


During the 10th anniversary for the TV Crossover Hall of Fame, we're inducting somebody each week, with a theme for each of the four weeks in the month.

The League of Themselves

As Seen On TV

The Tooniverse

On Location

So, this being the second week of April, I thought it apt to choose a historical figure who was depicted as being quite foolish by the end of his career: J. Edgar Hoover, Grand Poobah of the FBI from its inception until his death.

Here's a list of actors who've portrayed Hoover on television:

Ned Beatty

. . . "Robert Kennedy & His Times" (1985)
Ernest Borgnine
. . . Blood Feud (1983)
Jordan Charney
. . . Revenge of Al Capone, The (1989)
Broderick Crawford
. . . 'Saturday Night Live' (1977)
[Crawford also played the role in a movie that had been released by the time he hosted SNL The transcript for that sketch can be found here.]
Richard Dysart
. . . Marilyn & Bobby: Her Final Affair (1993)
Vincent Gardenia
. . . "Kennedy" (1983)
Pat Hingle
. . . Citizen Cohn (1992)
Ken James
. . . "Man Called Intrepid, A" (1979)
Tom McBeath
. . . Sins of the Father (2002)
Logan Ramsey
. . . "Blind Ambition" (1979)
Raymond Serra
. . . Concealed Enemies (1984)
Dolph Sweet
. . . "King" (1978) {(#1.1)}
. . . "King" (1978) {(#1.2)}
. . . "King" (1978) {(#1.3)}
Aron Tager
. . . Mr. Rock 'n' Roll: The Alan Freed Story (1999)
Wayne Tippit
. . . "Dark Skies" (1996) {The Warren Omission (#1.12)}
. . . "Dark Skies" (1996) {We Shall Overcome (#1.9)}
Jack Warden
. . . Hoover vs. the Kennedys: The Second Civil War (1987)
Treat Williams
. . . J. Edgar Hoover (1987)
Harris Yulin
. . . F.B.I. Story: The FBI Versus Alvin Karpis, Public Enemy Number One, The (1974)

But for a really foolish portrait of J. Edgar Hoover as seen on TV, you have to travel into the Tooniverse, for some newsreel footage culled from 'The Critic':
Toby O'B

J. Edgar Hoover:
"Blackmailing me is like trying to bribe Howard Hughes!"
'Saturday Night Live'

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Due to a rain delay, today will be Opening Day for the Boston Red Sox. Woohoo!

And so to tip my rally cap to them, we have a special "As Seen On TV" post to mark the occasion.

Here's the actor who played Wade Boggs, third baseman for the Sox (and later for the Yankees), in the TV movie "Joe Torre: Curveballs Along The Way":

(The actor's name is Aiden Devine.)

Toby O'B


"As Seen On TV" is observing Holy Week with daily showcases for historical figures portrayed in the 1977 mini-series 'Jesus Of Nazareth'.

Today the spotlight is on Caiaphas: From Wikipedia:

Yosef Bar Kayafa (which translates as Joseph, son of Caiaphas), also known simply asCaiaphas in the New Testament, was the Roman-appointed Jewish high priest between AD 18 and 37.

According to some parts of the New Testament, Caiaphas is involved in the trial of Jesus after his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.The Gospels of Matthew and John (though not those of Mark and Luke) mention Caiaphas in connection with the trial of Jesus. Because he was the high priest, Caiaphas was also chairman of the high court.

According to the Gospels, Jesus was arrested by the Temple guard and a hearing was organized by Caiaphas and others in which Jesus was accused of blasphemy. Finding him guilty, the Sanhedrin took him to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, where they further accused him of sedition against Rome.

Even though I went to Catholic school through eighth grade, my first exposure to any mention of Caiaphas came when I saw "Jesus Christ Superstar" during a school trip to NYC back in the early 1970's.

Toby O'B


Actor Lou Perryman was murdered in his home down in Texas the other day. He's best known for appearances in movies like "Boys Don't Cry", "Poltergeist", and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2", but he did appear in some TV productions.

Apparently, a 26 year old Austin man, who had stopped taking his medications for bipolar disorder with psychotic symptoms, beat his mother's roommate with a garden tool last Wednesday. Then he walked three miles to the home of Lou Perryman, whom he didn't know, and killed him before taking Perryman's car. The next day he drove to the courthouse in Travis County and turned himself in.

Here are the TV credits for Lou Perryman which were listed at the

Two Mothers for Zachary (1996) (TV) .... Assistant Manager

The Unspoken Truth (1995) (TV) (as Lou Perry) .... Heatherington

The Substitute Wife (1994) (TV) .... Saloon Keeper

"Walker, Texas Ranger" .... Bartender
- Thunderhawk (2000)

Putting a Toobworld spin on a couple of those entries, the soul of the Nebraska frontier saloon keeper ("The Substitute Wife") may have been born to rerun as the Texas bartender in that episode of 'Walker, Texas Ranger'.

It all just goes to show you how random Life - and death - can be......

As Red Skelton would say, Good night and may God bless......

Toby O'B

Monday, April 6, 2009


After reading my post about Chinese TV, Richard wrote back with some more info:

The cable system in our room where we were staying in the Peking University (locally referred to as "BeiDa") ShaoYuan ("SpoonGarden" - go figure...) Guest House, had ~90 channels.

About 1/3 of the channels were "CCTV" Channels (CCTV is "Central China Television" - "China's BBC") and were "national". Others appeared to be local to Beijing. Most of the channels looked remarkably like what you'd see on any cable system in the US, though the programming was all produced in China. Several news, business, public affairs, documentary, history, nature & sport channels. Also several shopping channels (as you already know...)

Lots of channels w/drama, comedy & music programming. The drama stuff included all the usual suspects - crime, medical, family situation, etc. Didn't see any sci-fi, though. The comedy stuff all had awful laff tracks - strange, given that all the other production values of the Chinese programming seemed quite high. In fact, from a production standpoint, it all was virtually indidtingushable from US TV - for example all the news broadcasts, including all the local news broadcasts, looked and sounded EXACTLY like news broadcasts in the states, right down to the teasers before the commercial breaks, the on-screen graphics, the music/electronic sound bites & beds, etc.- except, of course, for the fact that that everything is in Chinese.

Things that they have which we don't are several channels of serious "traditional" Chinese programming... Peking Opera, traditional/historical Chinese drama (we'd probably call 'em "costumers"), etc. Also there were lots of "musical variety" programs, consisting of mixes of current "Chinese pop", big musical "production number" programs (think Busby Berkley/Olympic opening Ceremony type production numbers - many filmed live in stadium/arena concert settings) and traditional Chinese music & dance mixed with classical orchestra.

Two channels seemed to have mostly "classic US TV" dramas & comedies, one channel mostly dubbed in Chinese, the other channel mostly in the original English w/Chinese subtitles.

And of course, there was "CCTV9" - CCTV's 24 hour English lanuage news, weather, public affairs, business and documentary channel. It's available as part of the standard digital cable package on Comcast cable here in Seattle and I suspect on most other major US cable systems as well.

Toby O'B
[Image is of the CCTV building in Beijing.]


Continuing the Holy Week theme of "Jesus Of Nazareth" for our "As Seen On TV" feature, today we have the prophet John the Baptist.....

Toby O'B

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Richard Gordon is one of my Iddiot friends. That is, he's also a member of the Idiot's Delight Digest (the IDD), a Yahoo! group dedicated to Vin Scelsa and his radio programs. (Hence, members of the IDD are "Iddiots".)

He's just back from a trip to Beijing, and he sent me some great souvenirs - images from Chinese television!
Now it makes me wonder.... What passes for dramatic TV over there? Are there cop shows, medical dramas, steamy soap operas, sitcoms?

Will they ever do a remake of 'The Office'? '辦公室'?

Thanks, Richard!

Toby O'B


Yesterday I talked about how both versions of 'Life On Mars' can remain on Earth Prime-Time; that the American remake didn't have to be shipped off to the dimension of remakes where you'd find 'The New Addams Family', the remake of '87th Precinct', and probably the new 'Cupid'. (I haven't had time yet to investigate that one.) As for 'Battlestar Galactica', which recently wrapped up, I figured the dimension of 'The West Wing' would better suit that series.

But remakes sharing the same dimension with the original shows is not uncommon, especially when they hail from different countries. This is especially true with the sitcom interchange between Great Britain and the United States:

'Til Death Us Do Part' - 'All In The Family'
'Steptoe And Son' - 'Sanford And Son'
'Man About The House' - 'Three's Company'
'Fawlty Towers' - 'Amanda's' (There were at least two other attempts to remake that as well.)

Of course, significant changes were made in each case for the American audience.

Currently there are two series that are spreading across the globe with new versions. Central and South America had several versions of 'Ugly Betty' before the US version finally aired. There's even a cartoon about Betty as a little girl!

And then there's 'The Office' created by Ricky Gervais. The original was referenced in 'Lost', and has doppelgangers in Russian, Chile, Canada, France, and Germany, I believe. And of course, there's the American version as well.

Now Israel is getting into the act with their own version!

I wonder if the Jell-O mold with the stapler in it would still be considered kosher.....?

Toby O'B

[Regarding the image: gonna miss ya, Len Berman! Your "Spanning The World" sports segments were my favorite kind of "reali-TV".]


Today is Palm Sunday and I'll be celebrating this Holy Week each day with an "As Seen On TV" showcase for various characters from the mini-series 'Jesus Of Nazareth', directed by Franco Zeffirelli.

To launch this theme, I can't think of anyone better to begin with than Holy Mary, Mother of God, as she is named in the prayer: BCnU!
Toby O'B