Saturday, November 11, 2017


A few days ago I celebrated the memory of my Dad on his birthday with the remembrance of how he had his three oldest kids (AJ & Leah weren't around yet) become involved in playing along with the panel of 'To Tell The Truth'.

Here's the link.

Today is Veterans' Day.  My Dad was a vet - he served as a sailor during the Korean Conflict on board the Leyte.  (Not the Leyte Gulf which is in service now.)  One of my prized possessions is a framed photo of Dad standing behind Pope Pius at the Vatican with all of his shipmates.  (Dad's two back on the Pope's right.  Dad's looking at him rather than the camera.  I think it's making Pius nervous.  LOL)

So usually I salute a fictional member of the Armed Forces o this day, but to tell the truth, I just don't feel like I'm done with my memories of my father.

See what I did there?

So having told you all about how Dad got me interested in the game show "To Tell The Truth", and since this is a Saturday, sometimes presented here as part of the Video Weekend category, I'm going a different route this year.  So with that in mind, here are some episodes of 'To Tell The Truth' from back in those glory days when my Dad and my brothers and I were audience playing along at home......

Thanks for the memories, Dad......

Friday, November 10, 2017


From the Associated Press:
John Hillerman, who played stuffed-shirt Higgins to Tom Selleck’s freewheeling detective Thomas Magnum in the 1980s TV series “Magnum, P.I.” has died, his nephew said Thursday. Hillerman was 84.

Hillerman, who had been in declining health, died of natural causes Thursday at his home in Houston, nephew Chris Tritico said.

Besides playing manager of the Hawaiian estate that Magnum used as home base, Hillerman was known for his 1970s roles as arrogant radio show detective Simon Brimmer on the “Ellery Queen” series and the difficult boss on the sitcom “One Day at a Time.”

As Jonathan Quayle Higgins, Mr. Hillerman has been eligible for membership in the Television Crossover Hall of Fame for years, ever since he completed his trifecta:

157 episodes

"Emeralds Are NOT A Girl's Best Friend"

"Magnum On Ice"
And within the 'Magnum, P.I.' roster, Higgins had connections to other characters who were also played by Hillerman.  They might not have been actually seen in other shows, but some of them might be able to fill in the blanks in other shows.  Take Father Paddy McGuinness, a priest from Northern Ireland who was Higgins' half-brother.  Let's say there's some show from Northern Ireland set during the 1980s in which a priest is mentioned, but not by name.  Why couldn't it be Father Paddy McGuinness?

At any rate, the way so many of the great classic TV stars are dying off these last few years, the TVXOHOF is becoming more of a memorial shrine.  So HIggins would have eventually been inducted but now he's on a fast track.  (If John Hillerman had been eligible as a member of the League of Themselves, he would have entered right away.)

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


"How do you convince a man like Mr. Morgan 
that you're a combination of the Scarlet Pimpernel, Humphrey Bogart, 
and Sherlock Holmes all rolled into one? "

"Elementary, my dear Fennyman - that's who I am. 
Only you left out the Green Hornet."

Here in the Trueniverse, only one out of those four names was a real person.  But as you probably already know if you follow the Toobworld Dynamic regularly, all four of them are real in Earth Prime-Time.

The great detective may be the most portrayed fictional character in TV and movies, but for the main Toobworld, there is only the one - sorry, Cumberbitches, it's Jeremy Brett who portrayed Holmes in adaptations of all but four stories from the original canon. Even excluding TV movies, there were still other actors playing Holmes in TV series before Brett came along - mainly Ronald Howard, Douglas Wilmer, and Peter Cushing.  But Jeremy Brett hued closest to the original stories with no extra fabricated adventures.

Newspaper publisher Britt Reid, related to the Lone Ranger, is the one true Green Hornet in the main Toobworld.  He had his own show in the 1960s and crossed over to the 'Batman' series, played by Van Williams.

Sir Percy Blakeney, who disguised himself as the Scarlet Pimpernel to do his work as a latter-day Robin Hood, was a multiversal - books, movie, television.  And even in TV, he was a multidimensional - besides appearing in the main Toobworld, he showed up in almost a dozen other TV dimensions, including the Tooniverse, Skitlandia, Video-Mundo, and Toobworld2, the land of remakes.  (Most of those other TV dimensions were based on TV movies.)  But for Earth Prime-Time, he was played by Marius Goring in 1955.


This is our one League of Themselves member in the quartet. Bogie has been portrayed by other actors in plenty of TV shows, most notably by Robert Sacchi (although most of those were Bogart impersonators.)  But he also appeared as himself in 'The Jack Benny Program', 'Person To Person', 'The Jackie Gleason Show', and 'The Ed Sullivan Show'.  Plus his existence in the main Toobworld was confirmed in references from the following shows:

  • 'Quantum Leap'
  • 'The Sweeney'
  • 'The Blacklist'
  • 'Remington Steele'
  • 'Frasier'
  • 'Will & Grace'
  • 'The Rockford Files'
  • 'BJ And The Bear'
  • 'Hunter'
among others....

The Bogart who appeared throughout the 'Sinatra' mini-series would be from another TV dimension, most likely Toobworld-Toobworld which treated TV shows from our world as TV shows and not reality.  The only Bogart played by Sacchi that would need to be considered was from 'Fantasy Island'.  But as Mr. Roarke is a Gallifreyan Time Lord with mastery over Time and relative dimensions in Space, he probably summoned Bogie from another dimension as he once did with William Shakespeare (probably from the Evil Toobworld for the Bard.)

For Earth Prime-Time then, the true Bogart is the true Bogart, if you know what I mean.

Therefore when Fennyman and Banacek were discussing this quartet of heroes, these are the versions they had in mind.


Thursday, November 9, 2017


"There's a superb old Alastair Sim movie on the early afternoon show." 
Felix Mulholland

I'm a bit like Lt. Columbo with his obsession over the most trivial of clues.  It's little references like this that want me searching for more information... information... information.  What Alastair Sim movie did he want to see?

Even by 1973, most of Sim's movies might be considered old.  For a good part of the 1960s, Sim was not seen on TV or in the movies.  After "The Millionairess", which came out in 1960, he was next seen in the mini-series "Cold Comfort Farm" in 1968.  (I'm assuming he was tied up in theater productions during that time.)  So I think Felix was considering a movie from Sim's credits up to the mid-1950s.  

But he also described the movie as superb and I think that would narrow it down.  Of course, I'm looking at it from a general consensus of his movies; Mr. Mulholland's opinion of course might be different.  He was a persnickety and erudite scholar, instrumental for Banacek's investigations in doing the research needed.  

I consider four Sim movies in that time frame to be "superb" - "An Inspector Calls", "The Belles Of St. Trinian's", "Stage Fright", and "A Christmas Carol".

I think we can eliminate "A Christmas Carol" right off.  The 'Banacek' episode "The Two Million Clams of Cap'n Jack" appears to be seasonal - Banacek, Fennyman, and a couple of the other insurance investigators were playing football in the park; so it was in the Autumn.  Sim will forever be identified with Ebenezer Scrooge and I think his version of the Dickens' classic stands as the definitive adaptation.  So more than likely, even back in 1973, it was already being saved for only holiday screenings on TV.  And I think it probable that it would be seen in prime-time, "family hour" perhaps, in December.  And the Boston weather seen in that episode didn't suggest late Autumn.

I think we can eliminate "Stage Fright" as well.  As great as Sim is in that movie, I think if someone were to describe it, they would call it a Hitchcock movie since he directed it.  But it's pozz'ble, just pozz'ble.

As for "Belles of St. Trinian's", I think it's too much of a puff piece to interest Mr. Mulholland.  Then again he did have an eye for young ladies and the girls who attended St. Trinian's School might have caught his interest.

My candidate would be "An Inspector Calls", based on the play by J.B. Priestley.  It's a cerebral piece of theater translated to the screen and Sim as the Inspector proves to be more of a mystery than the family of the victim.  I think this is the movie that would have intrigured the "leetle grey cells" of Felix Mulholland's mind.

As Dennis Miller used to say, that's my opinion; I could be wrong.  What do you think?

Still.....  any Alastair Sim movie would be appointment viewing in those pre-VCR days.  I don't blame Felix in bowing out of whatever Banacek wanted him to do.

This quote also serves as proof that somewhere out there in Toobworld, there was a televersion of Alastair Sim.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017


When my parents married, their first home was a second floor apartment on South First Street in Meriden, Ct.  Our landlords lived in the small house in the backyard and her father lived on the first floor of our house.  As we grew up, our landlords became our Uncle Roy and Auntie Nee, and her father was Grampa Ganner.  I came along a year after my parents married, my brother Bill three years later, and Tim a year after that.  As for AJ and Leah?  They’re basically a second family who didn’t come along until eight and nine years later when we were now ensconced in our own home.

But back in those days when we were in the apartment, Dad was working three jobs but still was home in time to take over the household duties when Mom worked the second shift at the Meriden Hospital.  So that meant Dad had to cook dinner for us, four guys on our own.  Basically he kept it simple – French toast, hot dogs, grilled cheese, hamburgers, chicken pot pies, and of course on Fridays?  Fish sticks!

It was a great apartment.  Once you left the kitchen where most of our meals were served, with the pantry and the back stair entrance, you could go through the whole apartment in a circle – through the living room, to the den to my parents’ room, to the kids’ room and back to the living room (via a small square with the door to the attic on one side and access to an outside porch on the other.)  Oh yeah… the bathroom.  It was off the living room, behind the den, and it had one of those claw-footed bathtubs.

Dad & Tim in the back,
Bill in the cowboy hat,
Yours Truly facing the camera.
That's the bathroom behind Dad
And the den is beyond Tim.

Like I said, most of our meals were served in the kitchen.  But when Dad was in charge on the weekdays, we ate in that den, sitting on the floor in front of the television.  And along with our grilled cheese sandwiches, Dad made sure we each had a piece of paper and that we were armed with pencils.

Because it was time for ‘TO TELL THE TRUTH’!

From Wikipedia:
‘To Tell the Truth’ is an American television panel game show, created by Bob Stewart and originally produced by Mark Goodson–Bill Todman Productions, that has aired in various forms since 1956 both on networks and in syndication. As of June 14, 2016, the show is one of two game shows in the United States to have aired at least one new episode in at least seven consecutive decades, the other game show being both incarnations of ‘The Price Is Right’. As of the 2016 version, a total of 26 seasons of the various versions of To Tell the Truth have been produced, surpassing the 25 of ‘What's My Line?’ and the 20 of ‘I've Got a Secret’.

The show features a panel of four celebrities whose object is the correct identification of a described contestant (or pair of contestants) who has an unusual occupation or has undergone an unusual experience, whose affidavit the show's moderator/host reads beforehand. This "central character" is accompanied by two impostors who pretend to be the central character (or characters); together, the three persons (or pairs) are said to belong to a "team of challengers." The celebrity panelists question the three contestants (or pairs); the impostors are allowed to lie, but the central character is sworn "to tell the truth." After questioning, the panel attempts to identify which of the three challengers is telling the truth and is thus the central character.

With those pencils and our slips of paper, Dad was giving us a very primitive version of interactive TV.  The show began in 1956, but I don’t think we started playing along until 1963.  (That’s the earliest for Timmy to be aware of what he had to do in order to play along.)  And that year stands out for another reason as to why the show made an impression on me – that’s when Orson Bean became part of the basic recurring panel, along with Peggy Cass, Tom Poston, and Kitty Carlisle.  (Poston was an added bonus - many times I have watched him onscreen and seen a resemblance to my Dad.  Npt an identical twin, but as though he could have been a sibling.)

I idolized Orson Bean on that show.  Besides being so witty (and in a humor stratosphere it was tough for an 8 year old to follow along), Bean would often doodle on his answer card a quick little picture which somehow tied back in to the answer he was giving.  I thought that was so cool and I found myself creating my own doodles in the margins, also similar to the work of Sergio Aragones in MAD magazine.

And that was all thanks to my Dad, who helped nurture my interest in that world of the Toob. 

My Dad has been gone nearly a quarter century now.  And I think to the end he was puzzled by my fixation on this fantasy realm I could see in the great mosaic of the TV schedule.  But I know where I’m going with it and I like to think he is watching over my cathode odyssey.  At the very least I know it wouldn’t have had the same spark had it not been for his use of his own imagination as our quizzzzmaster.

I love you, Dad…..

(Today he would have been 88 years old....)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017



Tommy and Verna Cusack were married folksingers working out of a restaurant that could have been called the Red Lion, based on the design outside the front door.  Tommy got into trouble with a high-powered loan shark named Roy Faber who had been able to silence witnesses in the past through intimidation.

Faber owned the club where the Cusacks played and when Tommy crossed him, he made sure that not only wouldn’t he work there again, but at no other club in the Bay area.  Out of desperation, Tommy returned to his old club and despite the objections of Harris the manager, he grabbed a guitar and started playing.

The song he chose to sing is of interest to us here at Toobworld Central.  In fact we wrote about “Even When You Cry” at the beginning of October.  The song was written by Samantha Dain* and it was her one big hit before she murdered in a way to make people think she had committed suicide.

Tommy and Verna must have been friends with Samantha and it could be that they covered “Even When You Cry” in their act to keep her memory alive.  So there could be a deeper emotional reason as to why Tommy turned to that song in his lowest moments emotionally.

This episode serves, theoretically of course, as an inter-series crossover with the previous episode which used that song, “The Man Who Remembered.”


* For the purely conjectural biography of Samantha Dain, click here.


We'll see Roy Faber again during the 'Doctor Who' blogathon.  The loan shark played a pivotal moment in the life of the Third Incarnation of the Doctor.  No, really!


Monday, November 6, 2017



Here I thought I would run into a couple of junkies
and I run into the Snoop Sisters.” 
Lt. Theo Kojak

Ernesta Snoop and her sister Gwendolyn Nicholson worked in tandem as authors of mystery novels and got involved in solving mysteries themselves.  I like to think that the Snoop Sisters knew Abigail Mitchell, Dame Margo Woodhouse, Dame Abigail Austin, Glynis Granville, and Eudora McVeigh Shipton, crossing paths with them at conventions and book fairs.  (Jessica Fletcher was still a schoolteacher in Cabot Cover, Maine, and would not be published until the 1980s.)

And apparently it looks likely that if Theo Kojak had not read any of their books, he at least was cognizant of their existence and what they did in Life.  


Sunday, November 5, 2017



For those fans of the writing team of Levinson & Link, who created 'Columbo' and 'Murder, She Wrote', these next two weeks will see our Video Sunday presentations offering TV movies they wrote.....