Saturday, December 1, 2012



'Further Tales Of The City'

Armistead Maupin

John Robinson

Earth Prime-Time

From Wikipedia:
Cage Tyler, the movie star with whom Michael has a brief fling, is based on Rock Hudson, who was a friend and lover of Maupin's. In the novel, the character was not named, but was represented by underscores (e.g. ____ ____) wherever his name would have appeared.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:
In a scene shot later in the day, Mary Ann sends Michael off to an all-male Hollywood party hosted by Cage Tyler, a famous closeted actor whom Michael has met through a mutual friend.

"If I'm not back in three days, send in the (Royal) Canadian Mounted Police," Michael shouts to her.

"Just what you need: more men," Mary Ann teases him.

Watching this exchange, Maupin, co-writer on the miniseries (with James Lecesne), admits to getting "an eerie deja vu feeling." In the '70s, he attended parties given by Rock Hudson, on whom Cage is affectionately based. His name reflects the studly monikers, such as Rock, Tab and Troy, that Hollywood used to give actors. Michael — who as followers of "Tales" know is Maupin's alter ego — is destined to have a fling with Cage, much as Maupin says he had with Hudson. "It was just sex. It was playtime."


His first time with Cage, Michael is a complete failure in bed. "This grew directly out of my own experience," Maupin says. "I was so thoroughly intimidated by being with Rock Hudson.

A gaffer (sic) rigged lights and diffusers for scenes to be shot on Macondray Lane, which author Armistead Maupin called Barbary Lane in "Tales of the City."

"Rock was so generous. He basically said, 'It's OK. It happens all the time.' Then he went downstairs, got a plate of lasagna for me and brought it back to bed." All of this makes it onto the show.

This character was chosen to mark World AIDS Day.....


Friday, November 30, 2012


I've made my position known before about the final scene in 'How I Met Your Mother': After the death of his wife, Ted Mosby works through his grief by telling this long convoluted story to his kids.

But somebody else has an idea how it should end:


This is only how I feel, but I believe that no matter how well-written a tale of fantasy and how well-realized its world, it could fall apart if the author has a bad facility for the coining of names. (This is a topic I've been passionate about since reading Lin Carter's take on the subject.)

The world of Earth Prime-Time is a fantasy realm in teh sam way that Lankhmar and Middle-Earth are. (My two favorites!) And it is home to a world of fantastical people - witches, genies, Martians, time travelers, ghosts, warriors, princesses, talking horses, and Jerry Mathers as the Beaver.

So as a fantasy realm, Earth Prime-Time should have names to match.

Unfortunately, a lot of character names are drab, mundane names - but then most of the people of Toobworld are ordinary folk.

Still, names like Tim Taylor, Mary Richards, Lou Grant, Michael Scott....?

But there are those that are graced with a touch of brilliance - Napoleon Solo, Illya Kuryakin, Miguelito Quixote Loveless, Horatio Caine, Artemus Gordon, James Tiberius Kirk and Woodrow Tiberius Boyd.

My all-time favorite coined name from television has long been Pinky Likewise from an episode of 'Burke's Law'. And although it doesn't come close to disturbing Ms. Likewise's chosen spot, I've found a new name in classic TV that swings for the fences when it comes to its fantasy pedigree:

Pontifex Tundifer!

(He was an old man in San Francisco whose nephew plotted to kill him.)

Doesn't "Pontifex Tundifer" sound like the name of a wizard? (Coincidentally, the actor who played Pontifex - Vaughn Taylor - played a wizard, a "witch-man" of the Orson Scott Card "Seventh Son" variety, in an episode of 'The Twilight Zone'.)

That episode of 'Thriller' had a lot of other distinctive names - Miles Tundifer, Queenie De Lyte, Mr. Passasstory - but it would be hard to top Pontifex Tundifer!

  • 'Home Improvement'
  • 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'
  • 'Leave It To Beaver'
  • 'Lou Grant'
  • 'The Office'
  • 'CSI: Miami'
  • 'Cheers'
  • 'Star Trek'
  • 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.'
  • 'The Wild Wild West'
  • 'Thriller' - "Cousin Tundifer"
  • 'The Twilight Zone' - "Still Valley"
  • 'Burke's Law' - "Who Killed Merlin The Great"



'The Twilight Zone'
"Still Valley"

Manly Wade Wellman
("The Valley Was Still" - short story)

Vaughn Taylor

Earth Prime-Time

From Wikipedia:
"Still Valley" is an episode of the American television anthology series 'The Twilight Zone'.

Set during the American Civil War, the episode opens with two Confederate soldiers. They have been assigned to scout on the Union army that is marching into the valley below. Sergeant Joseph Paradine hears the army approaching, but suddenly the sound stops. He decides to descend into the valley to see the cause for himself. His companion refuses to come.

When Paradine gets into town, he finds the army there, but all of them are motionless, as if frozen in time. He tries unsuccessfully to wake them. Finally he comes across an old man named Teague, who is unaffected by the strange phenomenon. Teague claims to be a "witchman" and says he used a magic spell to freeze the soldiers. Paradine does not believe him, so Teague casts the spell on Paradine, freezing him.

When Teague lifts the spell on Paradine, he brags that he could stop the entire army in this manner, ensuring the success of the Confederacy. Paradine asks why he doesn't, and Teague replies that he is dying. He gives his book of spells (entitled Witchcraft) to Paradine, encouraging him to use it, but when Paradine looks in it, he realizes that using this magic requires one to align himself with Satan.

Teague dies, and Paradine returns to camp to tell his superior about what happened. The superior doesn't believe him and encourages him to get some rest. When another scout returns with the same story, the superior realizes Paradine is telling the truth. Paradine relates the story about the old man, the spell book, and making a deal with the devil. The superior officer decides that the devil is the only one who can help them and encourages Paradine to read from the book.

In the original story the spell is broken when the book is burned.

This is a great example for the argument that Earth Prime-Time is a fantasy realm.  Wellman may have been the leading scribe in Americana fantasy....


Thursday, November 29, 2012


All this year, the "As Seen On TV" showcase has featured TV characters who originated in BookWorld. But there are certain characters who appear in those book-sourced TV shows who never appeared in the books. So they don't have the basic literary origin that their comrades share.

Here's a Super Six List of my favorites:


When Maclean Stevenson wanted to leave 'M*A*S*H' again to try his luck at headlining his own show, the producers decided to kill off his character Colonel Henry Blake. Instead of recasting the role or bringing in a clone of Henry's, they decided to go in a different direction. They came up with a crusty, ornery Army career doctor who had been serving since the first World War.

From Wikipedia:
Paul Drake, Jr. is Paul Drake's son (also a private investigator), played by William Katt in nine of the 'Perry Mason' TV Movies.

Paul Drake, Jr. is the fictional son of Paul Drake, Erle Stanley Gardner's detective extraordinaire. With the death of William Hopper who played Paul Drake in the original television series, the producers of the new 'Perry Mason' movies decided to continue the name even though there is no evidence that Paul ever married, let alone had a son. William Katt was Raymond Burr's choice to play Paul Junior. and of course Barbara Hale agreed since he is her son.

From the 'True Blood' wikia:
Jessica Hamby is a major character in the second, third, fourth, and fifth seasons of 'True Blood'. She initially appeared as a recurring character in the first season. She is played by starring cast member Deborah Ann Woll. Jessica (born 1991, turned 2008) is a young vampire and the progeny of Bill Compton. She was turned as decreed by the Magister, in reparation for Bill's murder of Longshadow, a fellow vampire.

Jessica does not appear in any of the books by Charlaine Harris which are the basis for the 'True Blood' TV series. Jessica is an entirely new character created by Alan Ball. She was used to showcase in detail what a newborn vampire is like. She seems to be the replacement for Bubba since his character is not allowed due to legal issues with the Presley estate.

Jessica is one of six original main characters who did not appear in any form in Charlaine Harris' books. The other five main characters not present in the books are Tommy Mickens, Jesus Velasquez, Salome Agrippa, Roman Zimojic and Nora Gainesborough.

From Wikipedia:
The character of Dr Polidori, who did not appear in the original novel, was based on the character of Dr. Pretorius from Universal Pictures' "Bride of Frankenstein", but named after the real-life John Polidori, an acquaintance of author Mary Shelley who was part of the competition that produced her novel. Polidori's own contribution was the first modern vampire story "The Vampyre" (1819).

5] ROS
From the 'Game Of Thrones' wikia:
Ros does not appear in the books and is the first character created specifically for the show. However, some fans have speculated that her role is based on the "red-headed whore" who appears very briefly in the first novel. This is strengthened by the fact that the actress was originally announced as playing "red-headed whore" and that the character was given a name at George R.R. Martin's suggestion.

Loosely speaking, Ros does stand in for, or act as a condensation of, several different prostitute characters that existed in the books. For example, in the books Cersei does imprison a prostitute that she thinks is Tyrion's lover (although his actual lover is Shae), but it is a different character named Alayaya, the daughter of Chataya, the woman who owns the whorehouse. The entire subplot involving these prostitute characters was cut from the TV series, and Ros functionally assumes this role in the story.

Martin has stated that he intends to work the character into later books in the series, probably as a throwaway cameo just to tie her presence into both the series and books.

With my Super Six Lists, I usually throw a joker into the hand, so who better than the greatest gambler ever in Toobworld?

From Wikipedia:
The first broadcast episode of 'Maverick', "War of the Silver Kings", was based on C. B. Glasscock's "The War of the Copper Kings", which relates the real-life adventures of copper mine speculator F. Augustus Heinze, a copper king who ultimately went to Wall Street. Huggins recalls in his Archive of American Television interview that this Warners-owned property was selected by the studio as the first episode in order to cheat him out of creator residuals.



Eventually I'll get around to putting the spotlight on 'Perry Mason' before the year is over. But in the meantime, here's a different Burr during this winter "brrr!" time......



James Michener

Raymond Burr

Earth Prime-Time

Pasquinel managed to return to St. Louis, then part of the Spanish Empire, with an arrowhead in his spine and without money. An American doctor named Richard Butler introduced him to a wealthy Bavarian-born silversmith named Herman Bockweiss and the latter’s daughter, Lise.

Pasquinel formed a partnership with Bockweiss, who provided him with guns and silver trinkets to trade with the Native Americans and fell in love with Lise. Pasquinel later married Bockweiss's daughter Lise (Sally Kellerman), who was attracted to him even though he kept leaving for long periods in order to trade furs in unknown territory. While Pasquinel loved Lise, his main reason for marrying her was merely to gain the goodwill of her merchant father.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012


When I wonder about the lives of TV characters after their shows have ended, the ones who fascinate me the most are the children. So much potential never to be realized on screen. (I would think the Weeping Angels would feast their way through orphanages and day care centers!)

There's Little Ricky ('I Love Lucy'), Will Robinson ('Lost In Space'), Corey Baker ('Julia'), and David & Mary Lou Baxter ('The Mary Tyler Moore Show'). Whatever became of them in Toobworld once they grew up? (I know my blogging buddy Ivan Shreve would love to find out if "Idiot Boy Mike" Jones from 'Mayberry R.F.D.' was a Darwin Award winner!)

With the slow aging process of Martians, would Andromeda, the nephew of 'My Favorite Martian' still be looking like a teenager?

Sometimes we get the chance to see how they turned out - 'The Brady Bunch' keeps coming back, and there have been updates on Mark McCain, Ritchie Petrie, Opie Taylor, Beaver Cleaver, and Anthony Fremont ('The Twilight Zone' - "It's A Good Life").

It's the one-shot performances by child actors as guest stars in TV series that interest me the most, mainly because there's so much potential there for supposition. And with a recent repeat of 'Perry Mason' on Me-TV, I found a great candidate!

"The Case Of The Missing Button" concerned the tug of war between the divorced parents of little Button Blake, who was the heir to a $4 million dollar inheritance from her grandfather. If I recall it correctly, she would gain control of the family pharmaceutical empire when she came of age. Eventually a blackmailer was found murdered and Button's father was arrested for the crime.

The main reason I found Button Blake to be an interesting candidate for such "wish-craft" about her life as a grown-up was her name. "Button" must be a nickname, so her first name could be anything. And if she married once she got older, then she wouldn't have to be known by the last name of "Blake", either. That left a wide-open field of candidates to consider from other TV shows to be Button Blake as a grown-up.

That 'Perry Mason' episode was broadcast in 1964, but that doesn't necessarily mean that's when it took place. Each one hour episode of 'Perry Mason' contained long time spans from the actual murder to the preliminary hearings, so several episodes could conceivably overlap each other.

But if the "Missing Button" episode did take place in 1964, then Button was born in 1960. (She was mentioned as being four years old in the episode.) However, the actress playing the role, Claire Wilcox, was older by five years - making her the same age as I am now. Nevertheless, if I was to consider someone to play Button as a grown-up recastaway, I'd stick with those actresses who were also born in 1960.

I found a lot of candidates - characters played by Jane Lynch, Tracy Pollan, Leslie Hendryx, even Tilda Swinton. But I decided to go with Mary Mara, and not just because she looks as though she could be Button Blake grown up. She has one TV character in her resume who made only two appearances on screen, but who guarantees Ms. Mara a long sideline as a pop culture convention guest.

From Lostpedia, the wikia about 'Lost':

Jill was a butcher who worked in Simon's Butcher Shop in Los Angeles and apparently worked for Ben. She watched Locke's body for Ben while he was out collecting the rest of the Oceanic Six together to return to the Island.

Jill knew about Ben's plan to bring the Oceanic Six back to the Island and confirmed that other elements of the plan were progressing as planned. Ben asked her if Gabriel and Jeffrey had "checked in yet," which Jill confirmed. She made a snide remark about Jack's addiction to pills, and Ben defended Jack, telling her to "cut the man some slack." ("The Lie")

Later, Ben sent Jack to the butcher shop to pick up Locke's body. She addressed him as "Dr. Shephard" and said that she knew who he was. She took him to the shop's cold storage room where the coffin was being kept, then left to get the van for Jack.

Just to have a connection between 'Perry Mason' and 'Lost' makes this suggestion about Jill being Button Blake irresistible. And there's not a lot there in backstory which would create too many Zonks to make this unworkable.

But the main stumbling block is right there in the first sentence - Jill was a butcher. How could the heir to a pharmaceutical fortune of 4 million dollars (in 1964 currency) be "reduced" to being a butcher? (I mean no respect to those in the profession - you put the meat on my table!)

The reason I came up with - someone was needed to take that cover identity among the Others and Jill volunteered. She probably had a more advanced education, perhaps in connection with her family's pharmaceutical background, but Ben's grand design needed someone in Los Angeles with access to a large cold storage area so a cover story as a butcher was necessary.

The four things that made this character appealing as a candidate to be Button Blake grown up were:

1]  Jill was based in Los Angeles, which is where Button Blake was raised.

2]  We never learned in her two episodes what Jill's last name was.

3]  There is a similarity in appearance between Claire Wilcox and Mary Mara.

4]  Her family fortune was based in pharmaceuticals. The Widmore pharmaceutical empire played a key role throughout the events of 'Lost'. In fact, there were theories that Jill might have been also working as a double agent for Charles Widmore. Having that pharmaceutical background gives such a theory a boost.

But in the end, it's the lack of info on Jill's backstory that makes me accept her as Button Blake as an adult.

If you're a fanficcer out there who likes this idea, you're free to run with it.




"The Secret Of Crickley Hall"

James Herbert

Suranne Jones

Earth Prime-Time

From Wikipedia:
"The Secret of Crickley Hall" is a 2006 supernatural, thriller novel by the British author James Herbert.

Eve, Gabe and their children Loren, Cam and Cally, live in London until Cam goes missing. Eve falls asleep for a few seconds at a playground and he disappears. Nearly a year later, Gabe suggests relocating the family to the North, hoping a change of scenery will give Eve some comfort, as they all still cling to the hope that Cam may be alive. When they first arrive at Crickley Hall, they meet Percy Judd who worked there during the war; he seems concerned for their children. 

They start to settle in but before long, strange things start to happen at the house. They hear people; Cally claims to have been hit by a man with a cane; and their dog runs away in terror. In the house Eve hears her missing son’s voice for the first time in a year. He says he is alive and the children can tell her where he is. After Loren suffers a terrifyingly real nightmare where she gets whipped by the man with the cane, Gabe wants them all to leave, but Eve can’t bear to abandon her son.

"The Secret of Crickley Hall" is a BBC television adaptation by Joe Ahearne of the 2006, supernatural, thriller novel of the same name written by the British author James Herbert.

The series presents two parallel dramas. The main storyline, set in 2006, follows the events of the Caleigh family who rent Crickley Hall because Gabe Caleigh (Tom Ellis (actor)) gets a short contract in the area; the other is a series of flashbacks following events in 1943 when orphans – who have been evacuated from London during World War II – are living at Crickley Hall.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012


"The First Men In The Moon" is the original source for the term "cavorite" which was an alloy created by Professor Cavor which could negate the effects of gravity. However, as sometimes happens in the Toobworld Dynamic, its use in the 2010 TV movie based on that novel was not its first mention in the TV Universe.

By the 24th Century, it is listed in the Table of Elements as a chemical element in the Transonic series. It had the symbol of "CO" - both letters capitalized to distinguish it from cobalt ("Co").

The madwoman of Warehouses 12 & 13 named Helena G. Wells believed herself to be THE H.G. Wells the author. Since H.G. Wells - as a man! - has played a strong role in Toobworld in various series, her claim to that identity must be discounted. At best, I believe she could be one of Herbert's sisters.

At any rate, she claimed to have either created it or discovered the alloy, and then used it to trap Warehouse agents Bering and Lattimer against the ceiling.

This is a good example of how the TV Universe is always in a state of flux, constantly being re-written. Until the TV movie based on Wells' novel was broadcast a few months later, this claim stood as being true. But once "The First Men In The Moon" aired, then Professor Cavor had to be credited with being its creator.

Cavorite has a greater presence in the comic book world (including a 'Doctor Who' story!), but that is of no use to Toobworld......

  • "The First Men In The Moon"
  • 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' - "Rascals"
  • 'Warehouse 13' - "Time Will Tell"


There be spoilers ahead!


Here's a fan-produced musical tribute to the 2010 version of "The First Men In The Moon".....


It's "Two For Tuesday"!


"The First Men In The Moon"

H.G. Wells




Earth Prime-Time

From Wikipedia:
"The First Men in the Moon" is a scientific romance published in 1901 by the English author H. G. Wells, who called it one of his "fantastic stories." The novel tells the story of a journey to the moon undertaken by the two protagonists, a businessman narrator, Mr. Bedford, and an eccentric scientist, Mr. Cavor. Bedford and Cavor discover that the moon is inhabited by a sophisticated extraterrestrial civilization of insect-like creatures they call "Selenites."

The narrator is a London businessman who withdraws to the countryside to write a play, by which he hopes to alleviate his financial problems. Bedford rents a small countryside house in Lympne, in Kent, where he wants to work in peace. He is bothered every afternoon, however, at precisely the same time, by a passer-by making odd noises. After two weeks Bedford accosts the man, who proves to be a reclusive physicist named Mr. Cavor. Bedford befriends Cavor when he learns he is developing a new material, cavorite, that can negate the force of gravity.

When a sheet of cavorite is prematurely produced, it makes the air above it weightless and shoots off into space. Bedford sees in the commercial production of cavorite a possible source of "wealth enough to work any sort of social revolution we fancied; we might own and order the whole world." Cavor hits upon the idea of a spherical spaceship made of "steel, lined with glass," and with sliding "windows or blinds" made of cavorite by which it can be steered, and persuades a reluctant Bedford to undertake a voyage to the moon; Cavor is certain there is no life there.

"The First Men in the Moon", also promoted as "H.G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon" is a 2010 made for TV drama written by Mark Gatiss and directed by Damon Thomas. It is an adaptation of H. G. Wells's science fiction novel The First Men in the Moon. The film stars Gatiss as Cavor and Rory Kinnear as Bedford, with Alex Riddell, Peter Forbes, Katherine Jakeways, Lee Ingleby and Julia Deakin. 

This is the third collaboration between Thomas and Gatiss (after "The Worst Journey In The World" and "Crooked House"), and the first film to be produced by their production company Can Do Productions. On adapting the novel Gatiss said "I'm completely delighted to have the chance to bring this wonderful, funny, charming and scary story to BBC Four. It's very rare to be able to adapt a genius like HG Wells for the small screen and we hope to do full justice to his extraordinary vision." 

"The First Men on the Moon" was first broadcast on 19 October 2010 on BBC Four.
The film's setting begins in July 1969 as 90-year-old Julius Bedford (Rory Kinnear) tells young Jim (Alex Riddell) the story of how two men made the first journey to the Moon back in 1909. He relates that when he was a young man, he met Professor Cavor (Mark Gatiss) at Apuldram and learned that Cavor had invented 'Cavorite', a substance that blocked the force of gravity. He tells how he encouraged Cavor to think toward the profits his invention might bring, and how the two worked together to build a cast iron sphere that would fly them to the moon.

As the Moon has a breathable atmosphere no spacesuits are used. Upon being captured by the Moon's inhabitants (whom Cavor names Selenites) who throw nets over them and knock them out with sticks, both Cavor and Bedford find themselves in a perilous state after Bedford kills some Selenites with his greater strength when they try to force him over a narrow bridge. In an attempt to escape back to Earth, Cavor decides to remain behind to give Bedford time to reach the spacecraft. Bedford almost crashes the spacecraft into the Sun, but escapes and lands close to home at West Wittering.

However, his hopes of returning to the Moon to rescue Cavor are dashed when the passer-by Chessocks (Lee Ingleby) accidentally takes off in the craft—Bedford does not know how to produce Cavorite and so cannot produce another craft. Cavor remains in captivity and teaches the Selenites the English language as well as some of mankind's history and the recipe for Cavorite. The Selenites determine that mankind is a threat to the Moon and decide to use Cavorite to make a pre-emptive strike. Communicating his intentions beforehand to Bedford by wireless, in an act of desperation Cavor releases the Cavorite the Selenites are producing and thus evacuates all air from the Moon's surface. This renders it a truly barren world ready to be rediscovered by the Apollo program, though the final shot reveals a Selenite observing the Apollo 11 landing.

The film ends with a tribute to Lionel Jeffries, who played Cavor in the 1964 film and who died in 2010.

Some alterations to the BookWorld version - Bedford is given a first name. Wold Newton scholars have accepted "Selwyn" as the first name for Cavor, but I believe that to be an invention on the part of Alan Moore in his "League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen" comic book series.

And it was originally a boy named Tommy Simmons who took off in the sphere, not the man Chessocks. (It was probably decided such a grim fate for a boy might be too much for the audience?)

I wonder if anyone has ever attempted to tell the story of what happened to Tommy Simmons? A quick check at the Wold Newton website (Link to the left, Team Toobworld!) doesn't yield any results.......


Monday, November 26, 2012


When I heard the news about Larry Hagman Friday night, I posted to Facebook that I was glad J.R. Ewing was inducted into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame back in August. Better to do that while Hagman was alive - I think it means more than a memorial tribute.

This past summer, Hagman's character from "The Rheinmann Exchange" was featured in the "As Seen On TV" showcase. And that BookWorld transfer, Colonel Ed Pace, has made it through the selection process to be included in my "Tele-Folks Directory" - 108 TV characters who have special meaning for the Toobworld Dynamic. (For his theory of "relateeveety", Ed Pace was the biological father to J.R. Ewing, Judge Luther Charbonnet, and Major Anthony Nelson.)

When people speak of Mr. Hagman as being an iconic figure in Television, I think it will be in regards to J.R. Ewing; Tony "Master" Nelson of 'I Dream Of Jeannie' will be an after-thought. He did amazing comic work on that show, very facile with the double-takes (and there were plenty of opportunities for those in every episode). But he had two other comic masters to work with as well as the loverly blonde in the diaphanously veiled "pants suit". Against those odds, he was still able to shine.

However, when 'I Dream Of Jeannie' returned for two TV movies, the role was recast - first with Wayne Rogers and then by Ken Kercheval - which diluted the memory of Hagman's work in the part. And let's face it - Barbara Eden with her hidden belly button was the only true icon from that show.

After that sitcom ended, Hagman created a new persona for the many characters he played in a host of other TV shows - that of a weasel. Sometimes his weaselly characters were the bad guys, other times it was just a personality trait of survival. But it was a solid career of supporting guest star roles and fluffy TV movies of the week and it all would have been enough for him to be fondly remembered upon his passing.

(I'd also like to mention a few memorable roles Larry Hagman had in the Cineverse - in "The Eagle Has Landed", "Superman", and "Harry & Tonto". Those were all post-IDOJ, but the crowning achievement in the movies happened before he became Major Nelson, when he played the President's translator in "Fail Safe". It must have been a heady experience to know that for long sequences in that movie he would be the only one sharing the screen with Henry Fonda!)

And then along came 'Dallas'......

I've heard it said that the secret in successfully portraying a villain is to never consider the character to be evil. From their perspective, they are doing the right thing. But I think J.R. Ewing is that rare exception - he not only knew he was a bad, bad boy, but he actually reveled in it! Audiences responded to that delight J.R. took in his actions, which is why he became a Colossus who changed the TV landscape from that point in May of 1980 onwards.

I've often joked that the title of my autobiography would be "Living On The Periphery" - all about my place on the far distant outer rim in the great socio-political and cultural events of history. And one example would be about me and the phenomena that surrounded the 'Dallas' cliff-hanger "Who Shot J.R.?".

Marvin Kitman, the TV critic for Long Island's paper "Newsday" asked his readers for their suggestions as to who shot J.R. Ewing. I wrote in and pointed the finger at my Grammy O'Brien, saying that she was down in Texas at the time visiting her daughter and her grand-daughters, so she had the opportunity. Kitman took the time to write back and said that he loved the idea of me pinning the blame on me own grandmother. J.R. would have been so proud!

Appropriately enough for a modern-day cowboy, Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing basically died with his boots on - he had completed six of the fifteen episodes for a second season of the 'Dallas' revival. And however the producers decide to deal with this "Giant" loss, one thing is clear - even if they kill off the character within the show (and thus within the Toobworld Dynamic), the memory of J.R. Ewing will live forever.

Good night and may God bless.....



As the month draws to a close, it's time to induct the November member of the TV Crossover Hall of Fame......

Because it's the month in which the nation holds its elections, November is traditionally when the inductee is a newsmaker, a newscaster, or a politician - either fictional televersion or League of Themselves.

And for 2012, we've reached into the Past to celebrate Ben Franklin!

From Wikipedia:
Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1705]– April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass 'armonica'. He facilitated many civic organizations, including a fire department and a university.

Franklin earned the title of "The First American" for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity; as an author and spokesman in London for several colonies, then as the first United States Ambassador to France, he exemplified the emerging American nation. Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment. 

In the words of historian Henry Steele Commager, "In a Franklin could be merged the virtues of Puritanism without its defects, the illumination of the Enlightenment without its heat." To Walter Isaacson, this makes Franklin "the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become."

Franklin has been portrayed many times over the years on TV, and each of them adds to Ben's qualifications for membership. But some of them are from alternate Toobworlds, or based on the memories of some other character (as is the case with Philip Kent in 'The Bastard'). Or in the case of 'Jack Of All Trades', his presence is an outright fabrication from a book written by a syphilitic old patriot.  (There was no way in which Franklin could have shown up on the Pacific island of Palau Palau in 1801 - he had been dead for 11 years!)

But there is one portrayal of Ben Franklin who serves as the official televersion. He can be found in an historical drama, a fantasy sitcom, a sci-fi time travel show, and even in a mystery series. He's Benjamin Franklin... as portrayed by Fredd Wayne.

Just consider this line-up of his TV credits as Franklin:
  • "A More Perfect Union: America Becomes a Nation
  • 'Simon & Simon'
    "The Apple Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree
  • 'Voyagers!'
    "Bully and Billy"
  • 'Daniel Boone'
    "The Printing Press"
  • 'Bewitched'
    "Samantha for the Defense"
    "My Friend Ben"

It's the perfect Toobworld line-up of links - you have a docudrama to set the base, a Hall of Fame worthy encounter with another official portrayal (Mr. Boone), and then interactions with fictional tele-folks in their own series.

A few notes:
  • The Ben Franklin whom Daniel Boone met a few years earlier (played by Laurie Main) had to be an impostor. Perhaps a Quantum Leaper from the Future.....
  • Franklin's presence in Westport, Connecticut, of the 1960s means he was drawn forward in Time. However, the same cannot be said for when George and Martha Washington were summoned to the Stephens' home. They were manifestations from one of Tabitha's picture books. (This way we can keep Will Geer's portrayal in Earth Prime-Time along with the official version of the Father Of Our Country - whoever that might be.)
So we're tipping our tri-corner hat to Ben Franklin and his official portrayer, Fredd Wayne!

Welcome to the Hall of Fame!



n memory of Larry Hagman......

'Ellery Queen'
"The Adventure Of The Mad Tea Party"


'Adventure Of The Mad Tea Party'
"The Adventures Of Ellery Queen"
(1934 short story collection)


Frederic Dannay & Manfred Lee


Larry Hagman

Paul Gardner was the architect who remodeled the sprawling mansion owned by theatrical producer Spencer Lockridge.


Ellery and his agent, Howard Biggers, travel to the estate of the wealthy and eccentric Spencer Lockridge. It seems as though Biggers wants to turn one of Ellery's books into a play and is trying to get Lockridge to provide the financial backing. All goes for naught when Lockridge disappears while wearing a Mad Hatter's costume from the Alice in Wonderland theme party he was throwing.

When the two men arrive at the estate, the butler, Doyle greets them and explains that one of the guests, Paul Gardner, can't find his ears. Ellery soon realizes that Paul and the other guests are playing the part of characters from Alice in Wonderland. Paul is an architect and helped build Spencer's new home. Spencer's wife Laura is the Dormouse and Broadway actress Emmy Reinhart is playing Alice. Emmy claims to be a big fan of Ellery's work and runs over to him. Also present are Paul's wife Diana and Spencer's mother-in-law, Letitia.

From Nathaniel Booth:
"The Adventure of the Mad Tea Party" is, shockingly enough, the only regular episode from the entire series to be based on an actual short story by Ellery Queen. It's also one of the best episodes of the series. Connection? Perhaps. It certainly packs more plot into its runtime than do most of the episodes (compare the twists in this one to, say, those in "Colonel Niven's Memoirs," and you'll see my point). It's also stronger in terms of atmosphere; from the first scene it's almost difficult to believe that this is the same series that gave us the genial-yet-anonymous "12th Floor Express." And--best of all!--this episode represents Jim Hutton's best performance yet as Ellery.

From The Ellery Queen website:
The only series entry based on an actual Queen story, it is the finest of the episodes, and is regarded by many as the best filming of Queen ever. The script is faithful to the original story, and even surpasses it in clearing up a few logical loopholes. A classic plot makes for a classic episode.