Friday, March 27, 2020


You can learn a lot
watching Johnny Carson
Mary Hartman
‘Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman’

Since March is the month in which the Television Crossover Hall of Fame celebrates the League of Themselves in which (mostly) famous people appeared in TV shows in which they portrayed their fictional televersions, and since the last week of each month this year we’re celebrating TV shows which have their own televersions, I could think of no other TV show which had so many members of the League of Themselves and which made appearances (or were at least mentioned) on so many other TV shows than:


One day I'll have to compile a list of all the TVXOHOF members who were inducted as part of the League of Themselves who appeared on 'The Tonight Show'. 

Here are two of them - Mister Warmth & Ol' Blue Eyes - with fellow member and the host, Johnny Carson. 

Johnny Carson himself was inducted as the January Classic showcase the year after he died.  As such, the shows which feature Johnny outside of ‘The Tonight Show’ milieu would not also be included in the tally for the show itself as they're being used for his own qualifications. 

Thus, ‘Cheers’ when Cliff wrote a joke for Carson and Cliff’s mother gave Johnny whatfor because he delivered it wrong would count for membership, but ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ in which Johnny showed up at a party which Mary hosted (disastrously) would not.

Dream sequences would count because a dream acknowledges that the show exists in Reality to serve as the basis for the dream.  So, the dream sequence in an episode of ‘The Joey Bishop Show’ qualifies ‘The Tonight Show’ for membership even though Johnny didn’t show up in it.  (Ed McMahon did however.)

In my personal opinion, the best use of ‘The Tonight Show’ within another show was in ‘Columbo’ – “Forgotten Lady”.  We saw plenty of scenes from one of the shows, enough so that I was able to pinpoint the night on which the murder took place in the Toobworld (and real time) timeline.


Here are just a few of the other TV shows which have acknowledged the presence of ‘The Tonight Show’ in Toobworld with references and/or showed clips from the show or recreated it within their own reality.  (i was surprised by how many references there have been to Carnak over the years.  Maybe a Skitlandian inductee someday?)

‘Cheers’, ‘Columbo’, ‘The Joey Bishop Show’, ‘St. Elsewhere’, ‘Get Smart’, ‘Rhoda’, ‘All In The Family’, ‘The Monkees’, ‘Sanford and Son’, ‘The Rockford Files’, ‘Seinfeld’, ‘Lou Grant’, ‘The White Shadow’, ‘Soap’, ‘Diff’rent Strokes’, ‘Wonder Woman’, ‘WKRP In Cincinnati’, ‘Sykes’, ‘Taxi’, ‘Quantum Leap’, ‘Sanford’, ‘Hill Street Blues’, ‘Fame’, ‘Gimme A Break!’, ‘The A-Team’, ‘The Jeffersons’, ‘Family Ties’, ‘Miami Vice’, ‘Growing Pains’, ‘The Golden Girls’, ‘Charles In Charge’, ‘The Greatest American Hero’, ‘Boy Meets World’, ‘The X-Files’, ‘Just Shoot Me!’, ‘Do Over’, ‘That 70s Show’, ‘Scrubs’, ‘Modern Family’, ‘Psych’, ‘The Mentalist’, ‘Mad Men’, ‘Justified’, ‘Veronica Mars’, ‘Fresh Off The Boat’, ‘Better Call Saul’, ’30 Rock’, ‘The Kids Are Alright’.

That’s just a “few” of them.  You get the idea.

So here’s to ‘The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson’.  Welcome to the Hall!

Because for over thirty years ‘The Tonight Show’ was so indelibly linked with Carson, I think it has to be considered as its own entity, differentiated from those other incarnations hosted by Steve Allen, Jack Parr, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, and Jimmy Fallon.  But their versions of the show would figure into their own tallies once they were inducted into the TVXOHOF (and Leno already is a member and Conan is on the verge… if he’s not already.  Hey, I’ve been doing this for over twenty years; my memory’s shot.)

Carson and the show were seen dramatized in a recent Showtime series, “I’m Dying Up Here”, but I’ve got two possible splainins for that, both of which are connected to two of the series mentioned above.

I think a blog post on that may rouse me from my lethargy…..