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Everyone Smokes Morleys and Drinks Heisler Gold (Unless They Were Just Part of Bob Hartley's Dream)
August 7, 2012 2:34 PM   Subscribe

AV Club points out 21 links between unexpectedly shared TV universes
including ubiquitous brands and crossover characters like the omnipresent Richard Belzer as Sgt. Munch (who was preceded in the 50s-'60s by Pat Harrington Jr. as Guido Panzini). Of course, it finishes with a reference to the Tommy Westphall Universe Hypothesis (previously here).

For a few hundred more connections among TV shows, there's the "Crossovers & Spin-Offs List" at Poobala.com (a 1998-styled site but with content added this year).
posted by oneswellfoop (48 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh my god you may have just ruined my writing week.

*click*
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:35 PM on August 7, 2012


I was just surprised there aren't any crossovers with "Chronicles of the Intrepid".
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:36 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just wait for the upcoming Archer/Bob's Burgers crossover episode (yes really).
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:45 PM on August 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


They mention Guido Panzini but they don't mention Father Guido Sarducci, who was on Square Pegs, Blossom, It's Garry Shandling's Show, and Married...With Children, among others. Also he was on Colbert, so uh...does that count as fiction?
posted by darksasami at 2:58 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I will never fly Oceanic Airlines
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:59 PM on August 7, 2012


Those are some impenetrable list item names. Content is good but don't expect to just browse the list.
posted by Taft at 3:01 PM on August 7, 2012


Father Guido Sarducci was a character created by and played by Don Novello who appeared on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and Saturday Night Live when Novello was a writer on both shows before being released into the greater TV universe. But he is definitely a major crossover character.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:09 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


And they said it would be a problem when Cracked bought the AV Club.
posted by shmegegge at 3:19 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was a little disappointed at this. The majority of these items were fake product names, which are largely reused just to keep from having to mock up a new not-quite-Marlboro-Cigarettes box -- see also the eternal newspaper, which apparently not only sets Angel, No Country for Old Men and Married With Children in the same universe, it puts them in the same metropolitan area on the same day.
posted by Etrigan at 3:28 PM on August 7, 2012 [11 favorites]


On this episode of Law and Order: Munch's past life in Baltimore begins to haunt him as he notices more and more empty Jameson Whiskey bottles mysteriously appearing around the SVU offices.
posted by hellojed at 3:30 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Etrigan: "not only sets Angel, No Country for Old Men and Married With Children in the same universe, it puts them in the same metropolitan area on the same day."

I say this all the time in pop culture threads, but I mean it this time:

I would totally pay a lot to see that film/TV show.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:40 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


This week I learned about another connection between Breaking Bad and Malcolm in the Middle: Gus Fring.
posted by mediated self at 3:41 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Remember, photocopies are not admissible as memories.
posted by ODiV at 3:41 PM on August 7, 2012


I was a little disappointed at this. The majority of these items were fake product names

This was my reaction too; most of the additions to the St. Elsewhereverse idea here are very flimsy indeed. It doesn't seem like standard filler prop brands by themselves should be sufficient evidence that two shows are set in the same fictional universe — unless, perhaps, Hollywood itself counts as a fictional universe.
posted by RogerB at 3:43 PM on August 7, 2012


This has interesting parallels with the Franklinverse: the idea that the entire Marvel Universe is controlled by Franklin Richards. Franklin even looks like Tommy.
posted by EnterTheStory at 3:53 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


It doesn't seem like standard filler prop brands by themselves should be sufficient evidence that two shows are set in the same fictional universe — unless, perhaps, Hollywood itself counts as a fictional universe.

The idea that fake brands connect television universes comes directly from the Tommy Westphal hypothesis. It's supposed to be playful and speculative, not an actual literal representation of what showrunners or producers were thinking when they wrote and bought props for an episode. The goal is to connect every TV show, not to define an actual, existing television universe that is separate from other universes.
posted by muddgirl at 3:58 PM on August 7, 2012


One of the flimsier but more intriguing connections: between Star Trek and Knight Rider.

Crossovers and shared universes in and of themselves are only mildly diverting; I enjoy the tangled knots wherein shows are mentioned or viewed in the continuity they share with other shows. Paul Buchman from Mad About You was revealed to be subletting his old apartment to Kramer from Seinfeld, but in Seinfeld, George was seen to watch Mad About You and in Mad About You, Paul once ran into Jerry Seinfeld the celebrity in the street, whom he apparently recognized from seeing him on Seinfeld. They share a continuity, yet each one is a TV show in the other's continuity.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:01 PM on August 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


I worked props on the soap operas for a while...most of their brands for things were just various actual products with the letters changed via gaff tape or sharpie.
posted by nevercalm at 4:03 PM on August 7, 2012


The idea that fake brands connect television universes comes directly from the Tommy Westphal hypothesis. It's supposed to be playful and speculative, not an actual literal representation of what showrunners or producers were thinking when they wrote and bought props for an episode. The goal is to connect every TV show, not to define an actual, existing television universe that is separate from other universes.

But then you might as well connect fictional universes by real brands as well. Which probably makes Apple laptops a bigger connector than the Simpsons. Too easy.
posted by figurant at 4:09 PM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Too easy.

Except we're looking for evidence of an alternate dimension from ours. Since we have Apple in this dimension, it's not proof of much.
posted by muddgirl at 4:24 PM on August 7, 2012


(Or really, not an alternate dimension, but a dream. We know that Show X is a dream because it's connected to this other dream. Apple products aren't unique to the dream - they exist in our waking world as well.)
posted by muddgirl at 4:26 PM on August 7, 2012


How weird; I smoke Morley’s.
posted by bongo_x at 4:38 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Except we're looking for evidence of an alternate dimension from ours. Since we have Apple in this dimension, it's not proof of much.

The marketshare that Apple has on screen far exceeds the one they have in our dimension.
posted by Egg Shen at 4:47 PM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Every industry has its in-jokes. I'm about to give one away from the profession of journalism: There is a secret society called The Order of the Occult Hand. In order to be a member, you just have to slip a reference to an occult hand into your writing and get it past the editor: "It was as if an occult hand had reached down from above and moved the players like pawns upon some giant chessboard."

I am a member. I slip the phrase in every so often to see if my editors have ever heard of this thing. They never have. And so I pass it on to you, fellow MeFites. One day you may have cause to do some journalism, and you may to join the order.

This comment goes no further than this thread, you understand. It stays here.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:47 PM on August 7, 2012 [24 favorites]


The majority of these items were fake product names

Way too many J.J. Abrams things too. Felt like half the list was from properties he had something to do with.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 5:17 PM on August 7, 2012


For TV, I prefer to pretend that each actor only plays one character, and come up with elaborate excuses for how/why they've moved to different shows. Booth's grandfather is Gibbs' father! Booth must be Gibbs' nephew! MIND BLOWN! Bonus points for the most creative explanations for recurring scifi/fantasy frenemy Mark Sheppard.

And in comics, what about these two guys?
posted by specialagentwebb at 5:28 PM on August 7, 2012


See, thing is: in the multiverse theory, there are an infinite number of universes, many of which are supposed to be almost identical except for one or two small differences--i.e. Dollhouse never happened because Firefly has broken Stargate SG-1's record for longest running North American sci-fi series. Doesn't that mean, then, that there will also be many universes which are separate but share a few things in common, like Morley cigarettes?

Course, all this is probably just different facets in Tommy Westphall's dream.
posted by insert.witticism.here at 5:30 PM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh, and Bunny Ultramod, I am now dedicating myself to the mission to reference the Occult Hand in a future journal article. Given that I research behavioral economics and international development, it might be feasible, if a little creepy. Heh.
posted by insert.witticism.here at 5:38 PM on August 7, 2012


it's sad what happened to Munch when you compare his Homicide version with his SUV version; it's like his character has been lobotomized
posted by Bwithh at 5:52 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


it's like his character has been lobotomized

What my novel presupposes is -- maybe he was?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:53 PM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


One of the flimsier but more intriguing connections: between Star Trek and Knight Rider.

I don't know what "Team Knight Rider" is, but it isn't Knight Rider. Also, if having the same name as someone counts as a connection, I refuse to even end this sentence.
posted by DU at 6:13 PM on August 7, 2012


Yeah, I think the expression they're looking for is "prop house".

In the days before rampant product placement, or in modern-day situations where you can't or don't want to use a product-placed brand, you use a fake version of the real thing.

Some things are notoriously hard to clear new brand names for, because a lot of the good airline names are taken. That's why Oceanic Airlines has been used so much. It also probably explains the use of Lariat Rental Cars across multiple shows. (Weren't Veronica Mars and The X-Files both on Fox, too? They might have used the same clearance people, which would have encouraged that sort of thing.)

Other things are a lot easier to order from a prop house that will fabricate the item for you, rather than wasting time trying to print new logos on cans of beer or fold your own cigarette boxes. That's where Morley and Heisler Gold Ale come in (though I notice they mention ISS Props in the Heisler bit -- oddly, I have a couple of ISS boxes lingering around the house from my last move).

I did love the inclusion of Yoyodyne, though. I love the idea of endless references to Pynchon throughout pop culture.

Also, JJ Abrams needs to leave the in-joke product names alone. Not only is it obnoxiously self-referential, but as someone who used to have to fabricate that stuff, ugh nobody cares leave me alone I have fake newspapers to lay out jeez...

As an alumna of Hudson University, I'm sad it didn't rate a mention.
posted by Sara C. at 6:23 PM on August 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Everybody who uses the law firm of Dewey, Cheatam & Howe are presumably in the same universe as well. So, the Marx Brothers, Leisure Suit Larry, and Gilmore Girls.

When I write dramatically, I am always looking for the opportunity to use Dewey, Cheatam, Howe, and Shapiro. Because I figure they would have another partner by now.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:31 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Oceanic” sounds like it should be the name of an actual airline, yet it magically isn’t,

Does the writer mean "Trans-Oceanic"?

"Oceanic" sounds great compared to what?

"Buckle-Up! Airlines"

"Death-Upon-Impact Airlines"

"Hope-You-Know-How-To-Swim Airlines"
posted by eustatic at 6:42 PM on August 7, 2012


I think they're partnered with Aerial Cruiselines.
posted by ODiV at 6:53 PM on August 7, 2012


And the Sub-Orbital Submarine Service
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:07 PM on August 7, 2012


there are an infinite number of universes, many of which are supposed to be almost identical except for one or two small differences--i.e. Dollhouse never happened ...

Truly, the best of all possible universes.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:15 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Everybody who uses the law firm of Dewey, Cheatam & Howe are presumably in the same universe as well. So, the Marx Brothers, Leisure Suit Larry, and Gilmore Girls.

The fakeverse bleeds into the realiverse by way of Car Talk.
posted by adamg at 7:42 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Came for a TvTropes link, and....was disappointed?
posted by schmod at 7:43 PM on August 7, 2012


Nobody wants to be responsible for the spiral of internet that would ensue.
posted by mippy at 2:21 AM on August 8, 2012


The Critic/Simpsons crossover had to be explained to me when I saw the episode as The Critic never aired here - sadly I never got into it but I loved that episode. However, I got a buzz out of seeing WNYX mugs used on the set of Just Shoot Me!. Although that show had guest spots from half the cast, so it wasn't really surprising.
posted by mippy at 2:23 AM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Star Trek and Knight Rider.

I'm having trouble reconciling that with the "KITT was reverse engineered from Cylon technology left behind on Earth in that one episode of Galactica 1980" theory.
posted by radwolf76 at 4:52 AM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


... go on.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:26 AM on August 8, 2012


For TV, I prefer to pretend that each actor only plays one character

It's even more fun when you combine this with the same character being played by multiple actors. Then you get things like Sylar (Heroes) = Dr. William Bell (Fringe).
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:36 AM on August 8, 2012


Came for a TvTropes link, and....was disappointed?

Fine, fine, here's the Crossover Index.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:58 AM on August 8, 2012


Sylar (Heroes) = Dr. William Bell (Fringe).

But it tends to fall apart when you realize you're using Spock from Star Trek as the link between. Come on, SPOCK? Do the ears mean nothing to you?

And then it bleeds into the Real World (or our version of it) when you remember the conjecture here that Zachary Quinto was Matt Haughey's doppelganger. The ramifications of that...
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I still think MeFi's Own Scalzi really missed an opportunity when he didn't seed any crossovers in Redshirts. Or maybe he saved it for the sequel...


One more 'crossover' possibility (or should I say THREAT): Bryan Singer claims his Battlestar Galactica movie can connect both BSG TV series
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:00 PM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Bryan Singer claims his Battlestar Galactica movie can connect both BSG TV series

With the "same actor" criterion they're already connected: Tom Zarek = Apollo.

Come on, SPOCK? Do the ears mean nothing to you?

Sylar acquires shapeshifting powers during Heroes, so Sylar/Spock/Bell can appear human or half-Vulcan as he pleases. No problem there.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:15 PM on August 8, 2012


X-Files was on its way out of the pop-culture consciousness by the time the episode aired in 2005

Wait, what? Since when is X-Files no longer a part of pop-culture consciousness?
posted by rhiannonstone at 4:09 PM on August 8, 2012


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