Saturday, October 27, 2018


Halloween is in a few days....  Who's up for a trip to 'The Twilight Zone'?  These Toobworld characters and musical guests were.

Submitted for your approval (not that I care....)

Perry Mason in the Twilight Zone

Kojak in the Twilight Zone

Outer Limits & Twilight Zone




Friday, October 26, 2018


We’re celebrating Halloween with our last two Friday Hall of Famers for the month.  Last week it was Barnabas Collins as a multi-dimensional and now we have perhaps one of the most prominent of TV characters connected to horror fiction, albeit in a twisted version.

Technically, Herman Munster is already a member of the Television Crossover Hall of Fame.  The Hall was “founded” in 1999, but before that I did write extensively about certain iconic characters who were certainly qualified to have already been in the Hall if it existed.

And among those were all of the Frankenstein creatures, including Herman Munster.  But unlike the others who were mostly one-shot appearances (and still growing!), Herman had quite the body of work. 

But before we get into that, let’s take a look at the “life” of Herman Munster in the main Toobworld:

From Wikipedia:
Herman Munster is a fictional character in the CBS sitcom ‘The Munsters’, originally played by Fred Gwynne. The patriarch of the Munster household, Herman is an entity much like Frankenstein's monster, comparable to Lurch on the show's competitor, ‘The Addams Family’.

 In the context of the series, Herman was created in 1815 at the University of Heidelberg by Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Work on him was finally completed around 1850 (neither Lily nor Grandpa is quite sure when) along with his twin brother Charlie. Leaving (Germany) for Great Britain at a young age, Herman was adopted by the Munsters of Munster Hall, a noble family living in the fictitious Shroudshire, England.

At some point Herman moved to Transylvania (a region in Hungary, from 1920 part of Romania), where he met Lily Dracula. In 1865 (technically at the age of 15, but physically older) Herman married Lily, and eventually the couple and Grandpa (Lily's father) moved to America, where Herman joined the U.S. Army, fighting in World War II.  In episode 34, Grandpa says that it was thanks to Herman that he was able to leave Transylvania and have a better life in America.

Here are the credits which cemented Herman’s claims to be in the TVXOHOF as a citizen of Earth Prime-Time:

‘The Munsters’ 
72 episodes

“Munster, Go Home!” 
The Munsters travel to England after Herman discovers he's the new Lord of the Munster Hall.  

“The Munsters' Revenge” 
When a wax museum owner attempts to frame the Munsters for pulling a jewelry heist, they must both prove their innocence and find out the true thieves.

Two of those qualifications were movies and only one of them, “The Munsters’ Revenge”, is a TV movie.  “Munsters Go Home!” was a theatrical release which, like several other movies, has been absorbed into the greater TV Universe out of the Cineverse.

With that hefty amount of credits, and still being so popular that he commands a two-hour block of programming on the COZI-TV retro network, Herman Munster does deserve to have a listing for himself, apart from his many “brothers” and “cousins” (those created by Frankenstein cousins.)
But as I said, he is already a member of the Hall; I just wanted to salute his contribution to the main Toobworld first.

Herman Munster is a multidimensional as well as a multiversal.  And so today we’re celebrating Herman Munster – but the one to be found in Skitlandia. 

Hopefully you know that Skitlandia is the sketch comedy TV dimension in which all of those comedy skits over the years share the same world – characters from ‘Saturday Night Live’, ‘Fridays’, ‘MadTV’, ‘The Carol Burnett Show’, ‘The Dean Martin Show’, ‘The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour’ and the many late-night talk shows; where Miss Swan could rub shoulders with the Coneheads, for example, or Norma Desmond could make a movie with Master Thespian.

So Herman Munster is one of those comedy sketch characters and luckily he covers the minimum requirements for membership in the Hall:

‘The Red Skelton Hour’ 
- Ta-Ra-Ra-Bum-Today

Fred Gwynne appears as Herman Munster in a 'Freddie the Freeloader' comedy sketch.

From Hal Erickson:
Fred Gwynne, then starring in the sitcom ‘The Munsters’, is Red Skelton's guest on this episode from April 27, 1965. In a "Freddie the Freeloader" comedy sketch, hobo Freddie (Red) camps out in the spooky domicile of Herman Munster (Fred, of course). 

‘The Danny Kaye Show’
- Episode #3.30

Spoofing Gwynne's role on ‘The Munsters’ and NBC newscasters Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, the cast performs a sketch with Danny as 'David Dracula' and Fred as 'Chet Munster' as the broadcast team behind "The Munster-Dracula Report" with Edie as Fred's neglected wife 'Lily'.   

“Salute to Stan Laurel” 
A program featuring original comedy skits written as a tribute to Stan Laurel.

O’Bservation: Fred Gwynne’s contribution as Herman Munster was that he burst through a door while playing a violin in a sketch about making a silent movie.  Nothing to do with Stan Laurel, and it’s pretty grim viewing.  (Others in the sketch include Cesar Romero, Tina Louise, Louis Nye, and Leonid Kinsky.) But nevertheless it counts towards Herman’s tally.

I doubt there’s anybody out there who writes Skitlandia fanfic, specifically, but there you go – Herman Munster is part of that TV dimension.  So you could have a teenaged Eddie Munster bringing home a classmate – Ed Grimley, which would freak the kid out, I must say.  Or any combination with other sketch comedy characters.  That's up to you.  But if you do write Herman of Skitlandia fan fiction, let me know where I can read it.

So now we have two Herman Munsters in the Hall.  When it comes to fictional TV characters, that may be a first.  (We already have Adam West, a member of the League of Themselves, included for both the main Toobworld and for the Tooniverse.)

Welcome to the Hall, Herman.  Again….

Thursday, October 25, 2018


Billy Jim Hawkins was one of the most famous lawyers known across the whole country by the 1970s.  Although he was based in his hometown of Beauville, West Virginia, Billy Jim represented clients in courts from Hollywood to Arizona and Florida.  (In one episode it is suggested that he once had a case in Rochester, New York.)

Billy Jim came from a large family - three brothers and ten sisters.  It's likely he was the oldest because he claims to have raised his sisters after their parents died,  (But it could be that he was the youngest of the boys and his three older brothers didn't want to take on that responsibility.  

Billy Jim with his cousin RJ

Billy Jim also had 58 nieces and nephews and 174 first cousins.  One of his sisters married a man named Coleman and had two children, Theresa Ruth and Earl.  Another sister married a man named Stocker and their son’s name was Jeremiah.  I'm sure both the Stockers and the Colemans had other children as well (Those are the only ones we met), in order to swell those numbers for the 58 nieces and nephews.  (Because the sister I'll be talking about was good for only one child.)

It's a good bet that if any other TV show has a Southern character named Hawkins, Stocker, or Coleman - or even any Southern character who might resemble a relative of Jimmy Stewart, (considering eight other sisters probably married and changed their names as well) – then a theory of relateeveety could be suggested to connect them to Billy Jim.

And I have one such suggestion now, but of course from this point on, everything is conjecture….

The youngest of Billy Jim’s ten sisters was born in 1930 and was named Esther.  (She has a twin sister nicknamed Willie Rae - short for Wilhelmina - who moved to Atlanta when she married Clay Johnson.  Clay and Willie Rae have a daughter named Brenda Leigh, who became a Deputy Police Chief for the LAPD.)

From an early age Esther had a desire to go to sea.  Once she was old enough (17 with the permission of her guardian – older brother Billy Jim), she enlisted in the US Navy, into their auxiliary unit known as WAVES (Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Service.) 

Esther was first stationed at the naval base in Norfolk, Virginia.  Within a year she was transferred to the Charlestown Navy Yards in Boston.  From there she was assigned to a tour of duty on board the pink-painted submarine, the USS Sea Tiger.

When her service aboard the Sea Tiger was over, she returned to the Charlestown Navy Yards to complete her tour of duty.  It was there in Boston where Esther Hawkins met a local man named Clavin and they fell in love.  They married and had a son they named Clifford. 

The marriage didn’t last long and the Clavins were divorced before Cliff got into high school.  Esther sought solace in smothering Cliff with attention to the point he could never bring himself to move out of her house when he got older.  That may have been a contributing factor to Cliff abandoning his dream of becoming a Marine and instead sticking close to home by becoming a Boston mailman.  (At least he still got to wear a uniform.)

When it was announced that the USS Sea Tiger was finally going to be decommissioned, former WAVE Esther Hawkins Clavin was allowed to go on one of its final ceremonial voyages along the New England coastline.  On her trip, the submarine surfaced in the harbor of Cabot Cove, Maine, to the delight of the town's residents.  (And it also served as the inspiration for a mystery novel by Cabot Cove's own J.B. Fletcher.)  The story made the news back home in Boston on WYN-TV and some of her far-flung Hawkins relatives were able to see the news report on WPIXL.

Every few years Esther Clavin would travel down to Beauville, Virginia, to visit her extended Hawkins family.  In 1997, she made the trip one last time to attend the funeral for the brother who raised her, Billy Jim Hawkins.  (In 2012 she traveled to Atlanta for the memorial service of her twin sister.  Willie Rae had died in Los Angeles earlier that year.)

At least that’s how it all played out in Toobworld….

  • 'Cheers'
  • 'Hawkins'
  • 'Operation Petticoat'
  • 'Murder, She Wrote'
  • 'Goodnight, Beantown'
  • 'Green Acres'
  • 'Petticoat Junction'
  • 'The Closer'

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


I love when I can claim TV is a teaching tool.  Before I saw this episode yesterday, I had never heard of this….

Jeremiah Stocker:
Know what a ramp is

Karen Guilfoyle:
An inclined slope

Jeremiah Stocker:
Nope.  It’s kind of a bulb;
not quite onion, not quite garlic. 

From Wikipedia:
Allium tricoccum (commonly known as ramp, ramps, spring onion, ramson, wild leek, wood leek, and wild garlic) is a North American species of wild onion widespread across eastern Canada and the eastern  United States. Many of the English names are also used for other Allium species, particularly the similar Allium ursinum which is native to Europe and Asia.

According to West Virginia University botanist Earl L. Core, the widespread use in southern Appalachia of the term "ramps" (as opposed to "wild leek" which is used in some other parts of the United States) derives from Old English:

The name ramps (usually plural) is one of the many dialectical variants of the English word ramson, a common name of the European bear leek (Allium ursinum), a broad-leaved species of garlic much cultivated and eaten in salads, a plant related to our American species. The Anglo-Saxon ancestor of ramson was hramsa, and ramson was the Old English plural, the –n being retained as in oxen, children, etc. The word is cognate with rams, in German, Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian, and with the Greek kromuon, garlic [...]. Wright’s English Dialect Dictionary (1904) lists as variants rame, ramp, ramps, rams, ramsden, ramsey, ramsh, ramsies, ramsy, rommy, and roms, mostly from northern England and Scotland.

Chicago received its name from a dense growth of ramps near Lake Michigan in Illinois Country observed in the 17th century. The Chicago River was referred to by the plant's indigenous name, according to explorer Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle, and by his comrade, the naturalist and diarist Henri Joutel.  The plant, called shikaakwa (chicagou) in the language of local native tribes, was once thought to be Allium cernuum, the nodding wild onion, but research in the early 1990s showed the correct plant was the ramp.

The ramp has strong associations with the folklore of the central Appalachian Mountains. Fascination and humor have fixated on the plant's extreme pungency. Jim Comstock, editor and co-owner of the Richwood News Leader, introduced ramp juice into the printer's ink of one issue as a practical joke, invoking the ire of the U.S. Postmaster General.

The inhabitants of Appalachia have long celebrated spring with the arrival of the ramp, believing it to be a tonic capable of warding off many winter ailments. Indeed, ramp's vitamin and mineral content did bolster the health of people who went without many green vegetables during the winter.

According to Jeremiah Stocker (Billy Jim Hawkins’ journalist nephew), if you eat 10 or 12 ramps at a ramp-fest, you’re not going to get along with anybody else unless they also ate 10 or 12 ramps. 

Being a long-time fan of Tolkien's Middle-Earth and his use of philology, I like to think Hransa could be cribbed as an old Hobbit name which would eventually become the plant-based name Ramson (either as a first name or surname.)

Now I’m curious to try them!


Tuesday, October 23, 2018



Nick and Nora Charles were visiting the Vandrey Modern Art Museum when they learned that a collection of valuable coins had been stolen from the museum’s safe.  Businessman August Vandrey, who financed the museum, described one of the stolen coins as a "Prince John Tuppence" (two pence), supposedly "a commemorative struck off in the year 1215 for the signing of the Magna Carta".

I think that by the 1960s, the Vandrey Modern Art Museum expanded their scope and exhibited the old classics as well in limited exhibitions.  Including Degas pastels….


Dale Kingston:
I'm an art critic. You're the detective. 
Lt. Columbo:  
You're the art critic. 
Dale Kingston:  
That's right. 
Lt. Columbo:  
And I'm gonna need a lot of your help. I suppose you noticed that already. 
Uh, like in there, there's two little frames and they're empty, 
and there doesn't seem to be anything around that fits inside. 

Dale Kingston:  
Oh, no. 
Lt. Columbo:  
Now, Mr. Evans wasn't quite sure either. 
He thought that one of 'em had some dancing girls. 
But I don't think he knows much about art either. 
He also said that a lot of these things had just been rehung. 
That they'd just come back from some kind of a traveling exhibit? 

Dale Kingston:  
Yes, that's what those crates are out in the hall there.

So it was a traveling exhibit….  Why couldn’t it have gone to the Vandrey Modern Art Museum for a limited exhibition?

I can’t see anything which might invalidate such a supposition….


Monday, October 22, 2018


Spoilers, sweetie....


Lt. Frank Columbo:
"I had the tires removed from car number eight and run through our lab.  In the tread of one of those tires was some grains of impacted tobacco.  Give me that tobacco.

"This is the same tobacco that Professor Nicholson imported from England.  This is the same tobacco that he used in his pipe, the same pipe that was crushed in his driveway by the car that killed him.  The same car that you signed out for, the car that you were driving."

I asked my friends at the Facebook page "Columbo-TV" for any information on fictional brands of tobacco that might have appeared in Toobworld.  Among the replies, Nancy Thompson came through with this:

"'In Murder Must Advertise', Lord Peter Wimsey (in disguise as Death Bredon) works on a print campaign for Whifflets."

Wimsey, using his middle names as an alias, went undercover at the Pym advertising company to investigate the possibility of a murder.  But he ended up getting pulled into the work itself, especially with the campaign he devised for Whifflets cigarettes.

The mini-series doesn't go into the amount of detail as the book did, but at least Whifflets did get a shout-out.

I found the mini-series on YouTube, starring Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter Wimsey.  And near the end of his investigation, Lord Wimsey said to his brother-in-law, CI Charlie Parker:

"If I can't be of anymore help to you tonight, I'll toddle off home to bed.  I have my Whifflets scheme to get out early tomorrow morning."  

And earlier in the mini-series we saw Wimsey offer his guest a cigarette from his case.  I can only assume that those were Whifflets which he had to offer.

Now, those mentions of Whifflets were of cigarettes.  Professor Nicholson smoked a pipe.  But it's not a barrier to my claim that the tobacco connects those television adaptations of Lord Wimsey mysteries to the 'Columbo' series.

A major corporation which doesn't diversify in its product is going to be out of business eventually.  And there are tobacco companies that offer more than one brand of cigarettes.  And they would also be selling tobacco prepared for use in the pipe.

I don't know what the brand of pipe tobacco was named; perhaps the company wanted to establish a brand and so hewed closely to "Whifflets".  Whiffler's, perhaps?  (Maybe the family name for the founders of that tobacco company was Whiffley.)

So it's a trivial connection for linking 'Columbo' to 'Murder Must Advertise', but 'twill serve....

As to how Howard Nicholson came by it, I think he must have discovered it while he was in England during World War !!.  Nicholson was in his mid-thirties when the United States entered the conflict, but he may not have been over there as a soldier.  (I know Lew Ayres, who portrayed Nicholson, would have vetoed that idea,)

He could have already been working on his research into chemistry.  And perhaps his research was utilized for the war effort.

Or he could have been teaching at a good English college or university - one only to be found in Toobworld, of course.  Perhaps at St. Cedd's ('Doctor Who') or at Gresham College, where he sat in with the "Invisible College" members of the time. ('Inspector Lewis')

Even with the fact that he preferred that English tobacco and he enjoyed a good English breakfast of kippers, I don't think Nicholson was English himself.  Like Mr. Ayers, I believe Nicholson was an American as well.

Thanks for the help, Nancy, and welcome to Team Toobworld!


Sunday, October 21, 2018


Halloween's a-coming!