As you can imagine, with November chosen to be the monthly theme of “Newsmakers” with it being the time of year we go to the polls, it’s the month when we induct politicians into the Television Crossover Hall of Fame, both real and fictional.
And so for the latest Friday Hall of Famer, we’re welcoming one of the greatest politicians of Toobworld, who is also in my Top 20 favorite TV characters (Just barely.)
Here’s to Hizzoner…..
Mayor of Fernwood, Ohio
From the ‘Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman’ pages of the Mary Kay Place Place:
Merle entered Fernwood with an eight-year-old evangelist son and a scam called “Condos for Christ.” Neither made it very far. The Reverend Jimmy Joe Jeeter was electrocuted in his bathtub, and Merle’s plans for the condos dissolved.
Merle and the little reverend had attracted singer Loretta Haggers to their causes. Loretta was oblivious to Merle’s attraction to her...but not for long.
Merle tried to seduce Loretta in his motel room, but Loretta would have none of that. Just in time, Charlie Haggers arrived with his shotgun, which went off in the confusion. Unluckily for Charlie, the gun was aimed at his testicle. Ouch.
Merle was married to Wanda Rittenhouse Jeeter. Wanda was just about the only person who could outfox Merle. He sometimes treated her like dirt, but she often ended up on top.
Merle was Fernwood’s mayor and lived up to the negative stereotype of the crooked politician. Scandal after scandal kept viewers loving to hate him.
Merle was played by Dabney Coleman
Jimmy Joe warned Charlie Haggers that Merle had designs on Loretta when she was just about to fall into Merle’s lecherous clutches. Charlie showed up at Merle’s motel room with a shotgun and accidentally shot off his own testicle.
Soon after, Jimmy Joe was hoping to find one uplifting story on the evening news, but unfortunately the news schedule conflicted with his own bath schedule. Merle rigged a tenuously roped TV over Jimmy Joe’s bath and it was not long before Jimmy Joe gave his life for the 6:30 news.
CBS in their all-knowing and wise beneficence (I
know how to kiss network ass with the best of them) has been airing the first
season of ‘The Good Fight’ over “regular CBS” this summer. It’s a great marketing “strategery” to get more
viewers to sign up for CBS All-Access. (However, while I do love this series as
I did ‘The Good Wife’, I’m adhering to my pledge of three premium platforms and
no more. But that trailer for ‘Star
Trek: Picard’ is awfully damned tempting.)
‘THE GOOD WIFE’
“SOCIAL MEDIA AND ITS DISCONTENTS”
In a recent episode about drafting new terms of service for a major client who
is basically the Toobworld version of Google, the following dialogue came up:
They're working to get around your racist N-word ban.
DIANE LOCKHART: How?
MARISSA: Whenever they mean N-word they instead type ‘Neil Gross’.
MARISSA: I can print up the posts, but there are a lot.
All racist jokes with Neil Gross as the punchline…. That's not gonna go over well.
Later, Diane meets with the client, one Neil Gross…..
NEIL GROSS: They're using my name?
NEIL: I-I don't understand. How?
DIANE: As a replacement for the N-word.
NEIL: What, seriously?
DIANE: - Yes.
NEIL: - Why?
DIANE: - They know you can't censor it.
NEIL: - Oh, my God.
That idea of substituting a person’s name for what could be an obscene word was
very familiar to me. And while I didn’t read
it at the time, I remember the reviews for “Myron”, Gore Vidal’s prequel to “Myra
“Myron” is a novel by American author Gore
Vidal, published in 1974. It was written as a sequel to his 1968 bestseller “Myra
Breckinridge”. The novel was published shortly after an anti-pornography ruling
by the Supreme Court; Vidal responded by replacing the profanity in his novel
with the names of the Justices involved (e.g., "He thrust his enormous
Rehnquist deep within her Whizzer White", etc.)
In his introduction to the novel, Vidal mentions the Supreme
Court decision Miller v. California, which in his words "leaves to each
community the right to decide what is pornography." Saying that the
decision has "alarmed and confused peddlers of smut" by eliminating
guidelines, Vidal says he has decided to substitute the names of the five
Justices who voted for the decision, plus the names of anti-pornography
crusaders Charles Keating of Citizens for Decent Literature and Father Morton
A. Hill, S.J. of Morality in Media (whom Vidal had debated on ‘The David
Susskind Show’ in 1968), for the "dirty words". He has done this to
conform to the Supreme Court's imposition of the "community
standards" test, as he wants "to conform with the letter and spirit
of the Court's decision."
These are the words and their substitutions:
blackmun: ass burger: fuck father hills: tits keating: shit powells: balls rehnquist: cock whizzer white: cunt
Later editions of the novel do not use these substitutions.
The young gay, racist, neo-Nazi in this episode who was spearheading this
online attack against the search engine ChumHum was no dummy. He was intelligent and more than likely had
come up with this campaign inspired by the same source I was thinking of – he knew
about Vidal’s literary technique of name substitution to get around a
problem. He may have even read the
televersion of the book “Myron”.
And of course there would be a televersion of “Myron”. It was written by Gore Vidal, after all, and there is a
televersion of the author in the main Toobworld as well as in the Tooniverse.
In Toobworld, Vidal’s fictional televersion is best known for his visit to a
little town called Fernwood, Ohio in 1976….
These three appearances make Gore Vidal eligible for the TV Crossover Hall of Fame
as a multi-dimensional, even without a definitive link to ‘The Good Fight’.
And as November is the month in which newsmakers like the late Gore Vidal are
inducted, we’ve chosen the author to join the ranks.
Welcome to the Hall, Mr. Vidal…..
O'BSERVATION: When I began the research on this post and learned that only the first edition of the novel had the substitute words, I decided to get a copy for myself, if only for the crass reasoning that it would be worth money - more money than I paid for it anyway.
I got a nice copy of the first edition - and signed by the late Gore Vidal to boot! - for a very reasonable price. Ha! And now by publishing this post in November (just over four months from now), I must be trying to increase its value by posting about it here.
As the Trickster once said, "Reality is boring, that's why I change it whenever I can."
I'm just "The Man Who Viewed Too Much", and "Inner Toob" is a blog exploring and celebrating the 'reality' of an alternate universe in which everything that ever happened on TV actually takes place.
Most of my theories about the TV Universe come from thinking inside the box and thus can't be proven. But I've never been one to shy away from a tall tale.....
Remember: "The more you watch, the more you've seen!"