'I'm Dying Up Here'
There will be SPOILERS if you haven't seen the first episode of this new Showtime series.
First off, let me just say how much I enjoyed this first episode (except for it being entitled "Pilot" - yawn!) Back in the early 70s I was so into the whole entertainment scene especially seeing the celebrities talking with Johnny. And although I didn't live in either LA or New York at that time, I know who the comics are suggesting with their performances.
But there was one jarring note in the evocation of the LA scene - Dylan Baker as Johnny Carson.
Johnny was such a singular presence on TV as the King of Late Night, with his tics and his distinctive laugh and signature catch-phrases. And this was helped along by so many comics and actors and even the guy at the end of the bar with their impersonations of Johnny.
But Baker didn't even attempt that. I've seen this type of televersion before, when the actor doesn't try to mimic the original; they just want to suggest the original - Anthony Hopkins as "Nixon", William Shatner as Mark Twain in 'The Murdoch Mysteries'.
And I just can't say this was the point of view for Clay Appuzzo alone, because everybody who watched it on TV saw the same thing. And everybody kept referring to him as being Johnny. That's a shame because I had a rather complicated splainin in that he was a substitute host for Johnny that night. The joke back then was that substitute hosts were more the norm than Johnny actually hosting.
I want to keep this show in the main Toobworld, but I may not have any choice in the matter. Johnny Carson is a member of the Televsion Crossover Hall of Fame - and rightfully so! - for all the times he showed up in fictional settings playing himself, or as was the case with a 'Columbo' episode, when he was seen on the TVs of TV characters as he hosted the 'Tonight Show'.
So I may have to employ one of those out of this world splainins as to how this could have been Johnny Carson. And I do mean out of this world.
Because that wasn't Johnny. It was one of 'The Invaders', one of those bent-pinkie aliens who bedeviled David Vincent. And if you couldn't see any bent pinkie, that's because in the handful of years since they had first arrived on Earth Prime-Time, they had found a way around that problem.
And this alien had no need to worry about a perfect impersonation of the original Johnny Carson. The people he would be dealing with in the studio, and all the people who would be watching him on TV later that night, would not see the impostor. All they would see Johnny Carson.
He was probably an alien who had specially modulated vocal skills to get people to believe anything he told them. And he would be in league with the Hive, who would be in control of the control booth so that the equipment wouldn't distort the power of his voice.
And this is where my splainin changes the intent of the Clay Appuzzo storyline. Clay had reached his personal Everest. He not only made it on the 'Tonight Show', but on his first time there he got invited to sit next to Johnny to chat. Clay apparently felt that having reached that pinnacle, there was nothing left to live for.
"See Naples and die."
So on the greatest night of his career (if not his life), Clay Appuzzo walked in front of a bus and died. It looked like an accident to his parents and most of the world, but to his girlfriend? The postcard he left behind with the first part of that Naples saying - in Italian - spoke volumes (coupled with the discussion they had about Sir Edmund Hillary before he broke it off with her.)
And they'll go through the whole season of the series believing he took his own life.
But what if he was coerced into doing it by a suggestion from that alien?
As always this is just conjecture. But what if Clay bumped into this "Johnny Carson" backstage when the alien thought it was alone and let its guard down? Clay would have seen the Truth and the alien might have realized that such a shock would be an inhibitor to maintaining the illusion with Clay. So it may have put a quick fix on the situation and then embedded the command that Clay should take his own life after the show and far from the studio so that no suspicion would fall on him.
Maybe Agent John Loengard suspected something and when he shared his concerns with Agent Arthur Dales, he found a fellow believer. (In the past, both of them had to deal with David Vincent and his crackpot alien invasion accusations.)
But however that scenario played out off-screen, the storyline of 'I'm Dying Up Here' will continue as though that really was Johnny Carson hosting the 'Tonight Show' that fateful night. Whatever happened behind the scenes, the real Johnny Carson eventually did return to the desk.
(I'm thinking that the plan devised by the Invaders and the Hive was ultimately foiled... and probably with help from the Doctor.
This theory works for me but even if there are holes in it, it still gives a good splainin as to why that had to be the worst Johnny Carson impression ever seen.
Sorry, Dylan Baker.
O'BSERVATION: I KNOW that's not really the TARDIS. But it IS Los Angeles.
Just roll with it.