Saturday, June 3, 2017


Ellery Queen
- The Adventure of the 12th Floor Express
Miss Harriet Manners
A newspaper publisher gets onto the express elevator on the way to his 12th-floor office. But when the elevator, a new model with push buttons for each floor (the operator pushed the top-floor button) gets to the top floor, the publisher is nowhere to be found. The elevator closes and goes down. To the horror of staffers on two lower floors, the elevator opens at each floor to reveal the publisher, who's dead from a gunshot wound. 

Henry and Harriet Manners, whose family owned the New York Examiner, are part of that expansive family tree for the Merrillians, with Harriet being the embodiment of the telegenetic echo for the women in the family.  I'm going to say she and her brother were first cousins with Patricia Blake, the professor of meteorology who volunteered for the military in order to use her skills in analyzing the weather for the war effort.  After nearly four hundred years, the family had grown quite vast, but even so I find it more interesting to think that Patricia and Harriet were closer in degrees of separation since they were only seen by the Trueniverse audience during the same time period - Captain Blake around 1943 and Harriet about four years later.  

Harriet was at least a decade older than Patricia though, meaning that she was probably born in the early 1890s (her brother even earlier in the 1880s.)  

Just one final O'Bservation - The New York Examiner exists in three dimensions of the Toobworld Dynamic:

  • EARTH PRIME-TIME ('The Adventures Of Ellery Queen')
  • COMIX TOOBWORLD MARVEL1 ("Captain America: The First Avenger")

Harriet Manners wasn't married when we met her.  But that doesn't mean that she was a spinster.  She could have been married before.  And she could have had children that we didn't know anything about, as it didn't come up during the investigation into the death of Henry Manners.

We'll be revisiting the Merrillians again in August, the traditional month in which we showcase TV Westerns.  But for now, our week-long salute to the characters played by the late Dina Merrill.


Friday, June 2, 2017


When I was a kid, the basic set-up for the TV schedule was the same as today - when the regular season ended, the shows would go into reruns.  But there was a sub-set of television which didn't really go into that repetition phase - the variety show.  Instead, a new variety show format was created for the span of the summer.  Sometimes the name of the star usually seen in that time-slot would be tacked on as the presenter, to keep the audience in the mood for their eventual return, I'm guessing.  'Dean Martin Presents The Golddiggers' - that sort of thing.

For me, the best of these was 'The Dean Martin Comedy World' in the summer of 1974.  It was presented as sort of a comedy news magazine show, with Jackie Cooper as the anchorman, featuring reports filed by Barbara Feldon and Nipsey Russell.  A lot of comedians were showcased doing their stand-up routines presented as news reports, with big names like Rodney Dangerfield and Rich Little, plus stalwarts on the circuit like Jackie Gayle, Elayne Boosler, Mark Russell, and David Brenner.  The show grabbed the chance to spotlight the hottest names just breaking like Freddie Prinze,  Jimmie Walker and Andy Kaufman, as well as gave the audience the chance to see some lesser-known talents like Irwin C. Watson and TV writer Mary Batten.  The show even fulfilled that variety show mandate for music with the country music/comedy of Jud Strunk.

But for me, the biggest contribution made by 'Comedy World' was my introduction to Marty Feldman and Monty Python's Flying Circus.  I just have these great memories of watching their filmed bits with my Dad and marveling at the novel ideas they had.

Basically the variety show format is dead now, killed by some puerile attempts to make it appeal to a new generation - like that 'Brady Bunch' program or the one with Donny and Marie... or that monstrosity known as 'Pink Lady And Jeff'.  It sort of still lives on though, disguised as the late night talk show.  Plus I think the fake news programs like 'The Daily Show' and 'Full Frontal' fit that category as well.  And of course, speaking of late night, there is the enduring war-horse 'Saturday Night Live'.

And that's why I'm foregoing my usual format for Inner Toob to do this opinion piece.

I can't help but think that NBC must be bleeping themselves that Lorne Michael's juggernaut has gone on summer hiatus, this year especially.  In their 42 years, SNL has missed a lot of stories that broke over the summers - especially every four years during the campaign seasons capping off with the conventions.  

But now we've got the Orange One in the Oval Office.  Every day we wake up with some new twist on breaking news - this Russian investigation has proven to be a comedy goldmine so far, with Beck Bennett a solid as the bare-chested Putin.  And of course, Alec Baldwin has been scoring as Drumpf (even though I thought Darrell Hammond was already fantastic in the part, but I guess ratings must be sought.)  And then there's been Melissa McCarthy skewering Sean Spicer - why that man isn't just a quivering lump of jelly in the corner by now just from those daily press briefings, I couldn't fathom.  Must be the spinach-flavored gum.

And here's the thing which prompted this opinion piece - those bizarre, unforeseen moments usually spewing forth from either the Donald's own mouth or from his Twitterfeed.  So you can probably figure out where I'm going with this - "Covfefe".  By the time SNL comes back from the summer break, that will not just be old news, it'll be a relic.  And nobody's going to want to see what SNL could do with it by that point; they're sick of it already after just one day of incessant Twitter responses and Facebook memes.  (But I'm sure 'The President Show' will run with it and mine it for all its worth in their next episode!)

With Twitler's Cheeto finger on the nuclear button, we should at least get some late-night weekend laughs out of our impending doom.  That's why I think NBC should look into doing a summer  replacement series for 'Saturday Night Live' so that their berth in the schedule is kept warm.  It doesn't have to be produced by Lorne Michaels (although he would probably insist on it) nor star the regular cast who could probably use the summer vacation to either decompress or capitalize with movie projects.  It doesn't even have to have the same format.  You'd probably want something fresh anyway to make it worthwhile for the audience to call an early Saturday summer night so they could watch.

But the Peacock is letting a lot of comedy gold escape by not having something to fill the SNL void during the summer.  The late night hosts from Stephen Colbert to Trevor Noah aren't going to let that opportunity slip by, but they're only on the weeknights and at best can only offer about half an hour to such coverage.  The only ones who have any semblance of a beachhead on the weekends are 'Real Time with Bill Maher' and 'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver'....  And those are a panel format and a news report/editorial show respectively.  

What the summer should have is that variety show format so that Trump's piggy toes are kept to the flame.  (Arrrrgh!  I was trying to avoid typing that name!)

Okay, I'm going to get off my soap box now......

Thursday, June 1, 2017


From the Boston Globe:

Van Williams, who played crime fighters on television during the 1960s, most notably the 'Green Hornet' on a short-lived ABC show that later attained a cult following and that introduced American audiences to the martial arts master Bruce Lee, died last month in a care facility near his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 82.

The cause was renal failure, said his wife, Vicki Williams. She said that Mr. Williams probably died on the night of Nov. 28, but that he was not officially declared dead until the next day.

A tall, athletic Texan, Mr. Williams looked the part of a superhero and grew up an actual cowboy — although, curiously, he was not cast in many westerns. He played the same character, a detective named Kenny Madison, on two ABC series: 'Bourbon Street Beat,' with Richard Long and Andrew Duggan, in the 1959-60 season, and then 'Surfside 6,' with Lee Patterson and Troy Donahue, until 1962.

June is the month of Gemini, "The Twins", in the Zodiac.  I originally used this month, as it is also my birth month, as the month in which I would induct puppet and cartoon TV characters who qualified for the TV Crossover Hall of Fame.  And then I eventually switched it over to duos, ore befitting the Twins theme.  

In a way, this memorial tribute year has the best combination to get closer to the Twins theme for June - as mentioned in that obituary excerpt above, Van Williams was best known for playing Britt Reid (aka the Green Hornet) and Kenny Madison.  If they were unofficial "identical twins" (meaning that one of their fathers played around), that's not for me to say... at least today.  Instead I'm here to induct both of these look-alike heroes of Toobworld into the Television Crossover Hall of Fame.

We'll start with the more "mundane" of the two....



From Wikipedia:
[Van Williams'] big break came as co star of the ABC television series 'Bourbon Street Beat', set in New Orleans. The program aired during the 1959-1960 season; his co stars were Andrew Duggan, Richard Long, and Arlene Howell. His 'Bourbon Street Beat' character, Kenny Madison, was recycled into the Surfside 6 television series in the same time slot, with new colleagues played by Troy Donahue, Lee Patterson, Diane McBain, and Margarita Sierra.

"Bourbon Street Beat" (1959 - 1960)
37 episodes

"Surfside 6" (1960 - 1962)
69 episodes

"77 Sunset Strip"
    - Hot Tamale Caper: Part I (1961) 

Another member of the TVXOHOF, Wm. T. Orr, was a producer for Warner Brothers who can take some credit for making Kenny's inclusion into the Hall.  He was known at ABC for the crossovers he facilitated for the network's detective shows and its Westerns.  Thanks to Orr, I'll have plenty of candidates for the traditional Western showcase in July for the next few years and the same could be said for the private eyes.


From Wikipedia:
In 1966, ABC-TV revived George W. Trendle's famous radio character in a new series, 'The Green Hornet'. Van Williams signed with 20th Century-Fox to portray the mysterious masked hero and his alter ego, newspaper editor Britt Reid. (He was described as being the son of Dan Reid, Jr. who was the nephew of John Reid, aka 'The Lone Ranger', although the Lone Ranger was not given that as his official true identity name.)

Williams played the role straight, unlike the lampoon comedy approach of the same producer's 'Batman' show. He and co-star Bruce Lee also made three guest appearances, in character, on 'Batman', first in a "batclimb" cameo, ("The Spell of Tut," 9/28/1966), and later in a two-part episode ("A Piece of the Action," 3/1/1967 and "Batman's Satisfaction," 3/2/1967.
So that's only two different TV series for the character, but the long-standing legend that he was related to the Lone Ranger is one of those embellishments of a character from outside the "Box" which Toobworld Central accepts.


And like I said, it's pozz'ble, just pozz'ble, that Reid and Madison were half-brothers without knowing it.

Welcome to the Hall, Gentlemen.  Whether you are both still alive in Toobworld, despite the death of the actor who portrayed both of you, can be tabled for a later day.  82 years of age, for two such heroes who probably kept themselves in peak physical condition, are not a death knell in itself.  



But I am tempted to claim that Britt Reid is dead in Earth Prime-Time since the Green Hornet is more liable to be a TV recastaway someday.  (Seth Rogen's movie portrayal doesn't count.)

And as for Van Williams, good night and may God bless.  Thank you for the entertainment you brought into our living rooms.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017


In this continuation of the Inner Toob salute to the Merrillians, those characters played by the late Dina Merrill, I should warn you that there will be spoilers, even though you've had fifty years to see these shows.....

Daniel Boone
- The Tamarack Massacre Affair
Madeline Lorne
Mingo finds a woman, who claims she is the sole survivor of an Indian massacre, wandering alone in the wilderness. Daniel, Mingo, and a Capt. Ives agree to escort her back to safety but they soon discover she has a hidden agenda.

Madeline Lorne was a spy for the British, working with her brother, Captain John Lorne.  While working her scheme, she claimed to be married and that her husband had been murdered during an Indian massacre.  But that, like most of her cover story, was a lie.

I don't know if Madeline Lorne ever married after she was captured.  But I do think she got pregnant and gave birth to a son who was given her maiden name as his surname.  Many generations later, his family tree bore fruit with a telegenetic echo of Madeline Lorne......

- Trail of the Cheetah
Janet Lorne
While a friend, Janet Lorne, is visiting, an escaped murderer is reported in the area of the Wameru reserve.

The sins of her ancestress should not have to be visited upon Janet.  I'm hoping she survived this episode.  Pretty sure she did, after all it was a family-friendly series.  

O'BSERVATION: I'm afraid the small film clip I found from this episode was washed out from being many generations old.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Because this is Tuesday, we're continuing our tributes to the late Dina Merrill with another blog post today.  Two For Tuesday, you know?

And with this episode in which Ms. Merrill appeared, there is a thematic connection to the previous entry.....

Murder, She Wrote
- Always a Thief
Monica Douglas
Jessica narrates a case her dashing British friend Dennis Stanton, former jewel thief turned insurance agent, solved. Langston 'Lanny' Douglas got his inherited business empire in financial trouble. When millionaire Oriental carpets merchant Mahmoud Amini offers Lanny $200,000 commission, to convince his ma to sell him the rare 'Stuart Dollar', he accepts. She refuses, so Lanny stages a break-in to steal it, is surprised by the gardener Pedro and kills him. Dennis, well-known to less ingenious police lieutenant Catalano, soon realizes the safe was opened with the combination and works his way to a trap for both crimes after Amini is murdered.

So what we had here was not an actual episode of 'Murder, She Wrote'.  Instead, Jessica Fletcher called upon her serlinguistic* skills to tell the Trueniverse audience about an investigation in which she was not involved.  

As with the previous post in which Roseanne visualized a woman she was writing about as looking like a different TV character, Jessica was calling on her own memories to supply the visual representation of the various characters.  At least with former thief turned insurance company investigator Denis Stanton, Mrs. Fletcher knew him and actually created a character based on him for her books (which Stanton did not appreciate.)  

As for Stanton's police contact and foil Lieutenant Catalano of the San Francisco police force, Jessica never met him (at least not that we saw, which means nothing under the Khan-Chekov Principle.)  But his physical appearance in Jessica's narrative could have been inspired by several rough and tumble men whom she met during other murder investigations:
  • Sid Sharkey ("Steal Me A Story")
  • Alan Forsythe ("A Christmas Secret")
  • Sheriff Tugman ("Truck Stop")
  • Grover Barth ("Corned Beef And Carnage")
  • Leo Kowalski ("Joshua Peabody Died Here... Possibly")
Although she met the construction foreman Kowalski in Cabot Cove, it's my opinion that she based Lt. Catalano on Sheriff Tugman, another lawman who wasn't exactly smooth in style or look.

But this is a post about another character, Monica Douglas.  I think that when envisioning her, Jessica Fletcher summoned up her memories of her dear friend Annie Floret, whom she had not seen in ten years.  In fact, in relating this case to the Trueniverse audience, I think it inspired Jessica to fly to to Monte Carlo and visit with Annie two years later......


Serlinguism is the ability of TV characters to communicate across the dimensional veil to the audience watching in the Trueniverse, from Earth Prime-Time back to Earth Prime.  Although it is named after practitioner Rod Serling, it was George Burns who first popularized the concept.


Last week we remembered the late Dina Merrill by suggesting that many of the characters she played who were her contemporaries in the Toobworld timeline were all related in an extensive family tree which could trace its roots back to the Mayflower.  But several other characters she played in lengthy career couldn't fit into that scenario.  Reasons vary from being born in the wrong time period to not even being real in the first place.

And that's the one we'll focus on today in our continuation of the salute to Dina Merrill.....

Roseanne- Hoi Polloi Meets Hoiti Toiti (1996)
The Conners get a taste of upper crust living when they visit the wealthy Wentworth family at their home on Martha's Vineyard. The experience proves eye-opening when the Conner family discovers the pill-popping, alcohol-sipping, and irresponsibility of Astrid's dysfunctional family. As the weekend drags on, the Conners give the Wentworths a lesson in real life.
(From the IMDb)

Socialite Astrid Wentworth (Mo Gaffney) invites the Conners to visit her snobby family at Martha's Vineyard. Kiki Wentworth (Hillary Tuck) tries to come on to D.J., while Roseanne teaches Doris Wentworth (Dina Merrill) other ways to get her frustrations out rather than prescription medication.
(From the 'Roseanne' Wiki)

The thing is....  By the end of that last season in which this episode appeared, we learned that after the heart attack suffered by Dan Conner - from which he did die - Roseanne retreated into a fantasy of her life which she put down on paper.  And that's what we saw enacted on our TV screens.  Dramatizations passed off as being real life in Toobworld has been used in other shows like 'Jack Of All Trades' (the ramblings of a syphilitic old man), 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' (excerpts from a book), and the John Hart episodes of 'The Lone Ranger' (a TV show within a TV show).  Perhaps the most famous would be 'Newhart' which had been nothing more than - SPOILER ALERT!!! (as if!) - a dream of Dr. Bob Hartley from 'The Bob Newhart Show'.

And the episode with Dina Merrill was a good example that it wasn't reality we were watching.

This episode has references to a couple of plays by Tennessee Williams.
  • In the last scene, Doris has a short monologue where she refers to a unicorn with a broken horn which is from The Glass Menagerie." 
  • The last scene, where Lily rolls into the kitchen in her wheelchair and yells "Stella" is from the play A Streetcar Named Desire." 

So what we were seeing is the depiction of Roseanne's fantasy version of her life and everybody who appeared in it was based on somebody from her life (or whom she knew about) whom she used as inspiration.  O'Bviously, the members of her immediate family and her friends appeared in this fantasy as themselves.  But everybody else had to come from somewhere else.

If this was a post about the episode itself, I'd come up with the inspiration for all of those characters.  But we're focusing on Doris Wentworth as played by Dina Merrill.

I don't think there was an actual character played by Ms. Merrill who could have crossed paths with Roseanne in Llanwood, not even if she had just stopped in to the diner for a quick cup of coffee on her way to anywhere else.

But Roseanne Conner could have read about one of those aristocratic women from that family tree in the newspapers or magazines, or maybe saw one of them on TV.  Sure, there could have been a 'Nova' episode in which she saw Dr. Barbara Dalton who once had to deal with a deadly toxin in Hawaii.  Or it could have been about her twin sister Dr. Carol Brooks, a marine biologist.  Maybe she saw an old movie which featured Thelma March in the cast.

But I think the main inspiration for Doris Wentworth was a woman -#  Well, like Warner Wolf never said, "Let's go to the episode guide!"

- Murder by the Numbers
Doris Hawthorne
A wealthy middle-aged woman's fiancé disappears shortly before their scheduled wedding, and she hires Cannon to find him.

I'm sure that case garnered some attention in the press back in '73, but it's doubtful that it was publicized beyond the borders of California.  Maybe today with 24 hour cable news networks in need of fodder, but not back then.

However, as with many characters living in Toobworld, a TV show was made about the heavyset private eye in the early 1970s, not only in Earth Prime but in Earth Prime-Time as well.  We know this because it was mentioned (or seen) at least once by other Toobworld characters in the following shows:
  • 'Cheers'
  • 'Sanford And Son'
  • 'Home Improvement'
  • 'The Sopranos'
  • 'Life On Mars'
So Roseanne could have seen the show's dramatization of the case.  And so Doris Hawthorne could have been the inspiration for Doris Wentworth because at the time Roseanne was writing that chapter, she was watching a rerun of 'Cannon'.  And the fact that both women shared the same first name is a good indication of the source for that character. 

'Hawaii Five-O'
'Marcus Welby, M.D.'
'Nancy Drew Mysteries'


Monday, May 29, 2017


I'm giving the name "Merrillians" to those women of Toobworld who were played by Dina Merrill and whom I claim all looked alike because they were part of a massive family tree that could trace its lineage to the Mayflower.  And even as the family expanded over the centuries, it could be said that they inspired the future of eugenics with their determination to maintain the highest standards in their selective breeding.  This cabal of aristocratic blue bloods kept a tight control on who could join the greater family to the point that by the early 1920s, there were at least twenty baby girls born who would grow up to look almost exactly alike.

But not all of those "Stepford women" were of the same generation.  Tele-genealogy research has uncovered other "Merrillians" in earlier eras.  There were several back in the late 1800s and even one in the country's colonial period (although she was definitely on the side of the British).

Today we're focusing on a member of what Tom Brokaw dubbed "The Greatest Generation - Patricia Bates.

12 O'Clock High
- Which Way the Wind Blows

Capt. Patricia Bates
Weather plays havoc with the 918th in their attempts to disrupt German naval operations based in Hamburg, forcing multiple aborts and reducing accuracy even when they can glimpse the target through overcast skies. Badly needed help arrives in the form of a meteorologist from the States with the expertise to more accurately predict weather conditions at the target. As it turns out, the meteorologist turns out to be a rather attractive woman. The combination of Gallagher's views of the weather as an enemy, his sexist condescension to her despite her abilities, and his overactive libido, threaten to undermine her efforts. Her panicked reaction to air combat doesn't help matters much either.

Captain Bates looked younger than she really was, but she had the years behind her expertise.  Patricia Bates was born around the turn of the 20th Century and she had risen in her profession to become a professor of meteorological studies at UIT.  When the war broke out, she volunteered her expertise as the patriotic thing to do.  After all, a mastery of weather prognostication was vital for plotting out the aerial attacks from Archbury and then over the Channel and into Germany.

But in her first combat experience, Captain Bates panicked when her assistant was shot and the plane had to make a belly landing when the wheels failed to lower.  And even though her assistant was expected to survive, Patricia Bates made a half-hearted attempt at going AWOL.  However, once she learned that Colonel Gallagher had tried to keep her from going up again on another weather reconnoitering mission, she screwed up her courage and told him off because she knew the lives of the men depended on her.

So she went up on the mission using a plane that wasn't equipped for her experiments.  Even so, she asked her pilot to fly right into the storm cloud that they were studying.  The turmoil within that cloud was so turbulent it almost caused them to crash but they came out unharmed on the other side.  However, they had to put down in the ocean and escape on two life rafts because they had gone far beyond the point of no return.

Once they were rescued, Captain Bates transferred to a desk job in London where she could continue her research in order to help the war effort.  And it is assumed that she carried out a torrid relationship with Joe Gallagher through the end of the war.  (One of the biggest complaints I've seen about the episode has been the Colonel's inappropriate behavior with regards to a junior officer, even if they were reciprocated.

As she was in her forties, Patricia Bates was old enough to have been the mother of any of those other "Merrillians" but it is unknown from that episode if she had ever been married before (not that it would have been necessary of course) or if she had ever given birth.  Who knows?  Maybe her affair with Gallagher might have led to an unexpected "troop deployment".

At any rate, we salute the memory of Patricia Bates, university professor and captain in the Air Force.  I can't say with certainty that she survived the war nor what happened to her afterwards, but I think she must have passed away by the mid-1990s.

Because of her service to her country, I hope her life in Toobworld was happy......

My televersion would have thanked her for her service.  And here in the real world, I'm thankful for all the men and women who served in their own ways to protect our way of life.

Sunday, May 28, 2017


We kind of enjoy a day of rest on Sundays here at Toobworld Central by running some videos.  To kick off our nearly week-long tribute to the late Dina Merrill we have a slew of shows to watch.

And we'll begin with her acting debut on television.......







This was one of those infamous movies of the week about the blind survivors of a plane crash.  It runs for about an hour and a half, just to warn you.


And we'll end our video tribute with something out of the ordinary.  This is an episode of 'Cannon' but it's dubbed in German.  For Toobworld Central, this now puts the episode into the alternate TV dimension of German Toobworld.  Earth Prime-Time Deustche spoke German all over the world, at least far enough back so that it also happened in the wild, wild West.  But for the most part otherwise, History ran its course as it did in the main Toobworld.  So here we see the same events play out exactly as they did during their original broadcast, only everybody speaks German.


Good night and may God bless......