In side the mind of Tommy Westphall
October 3, 2004 1:40 AM   Subscribe

Homicide: Life on the Street Crossovers & A Multiverse Explored An amazing piece of tv research. Did you know that almost all US television happened in the mind of Tommy Westphall, the autistic child in 'St. Elsewhere'? Some 163 series from 'Friends' to 'The X-Files'. Don't you just love crossovers?
posted by feelinglistless (28 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This is really cool. I always suspected that a bunch of TV shows could turn out to be in the same multiverse...looks like I was right. Now if only someone would do the same thing with books/films.
posted by Orange Goblin at 2:33 AM on October 3, 2004

Wow. All things do serve The Beam after all.
posted by Uncle Ira at 2:59 AM on October 3, 2004

Dr. Westphall committed suicide in '95. sad.
posted by matteo at 3:40 AM on October 3, 2004

more on TV crossovers here
posted by matteo at 3:50 AM on October 3, 2004

New York Daily News |Arts and Lifestyle | Television |
Friday, June 29, 2001

Extra-Impressed Fontana Lauds Eagle-eyed Readers

In my most recent column relaying TV Extras, or in-jokes, caught by
Daily News readers, some of them noted sly references buried deep
within the shows of Tom Fontana β€” "St. Elsewhere" and "Oz" included.
One of the readers most surprised by the identification of those
Extras was ... Tom Fontana.

"I thought that was amazing," he says.

One Extra noted last time, by Kris Calabrese of Brooklyn, was that the
name of the HMO running (and ruining) "St. Elsewhere" in its final
season was changed from Ecumena to the Weigert Corporation β€” and that
Weigert, more than a decade later, also was the name of the
institution performing experiments on the inmates of "Oz."
Calabrese also noted in her e-mail that the children's show watched
avidly by the inmates of "Oz," featuring the buxom character known as
Ms. Sally, also was seen in the background on a TV in Fontana's UPN
series "The Beat."

posted by matteo at 3:54 AM on October 3, 2004

OMG this is so awesome. L & O spreadsheets.

/Law & Order nut
posted by bdave at 5:45 AM on October 3, 2004

BTW the rest of this guy's site is great. Check his Back To The Future section for refences made to the trilogy in film, TV, books, comics, games and others. And (presumably) an Aussie to boot! Noice.
posted by bdave at 5:56 AM on October 3, 2004

I thought the site was nutty but wow, that spreadsheet!

*Settles in to watch 17 hour L&O marathon with Bdave*
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:19 AM on October 3, 2004

That Tommy makes a mean website.
posted by mecran01 at 6:31 AM on October 3, 2004

Somehow, the idea that we're all the imaginings of an autistic child is a strangely comforting idea. It's so much more accessible and sensible than the notion that we're all the creation of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and yet somehow interested deity...

And actually, I noticed this a long time ago, when Coolidge showed up on St Elsewhere as an orderly, and actually talks about "the Coach" getting him a shot at a scholarship to some Boston-area school. I also thought about it when I saw the Cheers crossover in syndication. I didn't trace it farther than Frasier and The Tortellis at that point.

I spotted the Munch crossover right away. I remember having an argument about it with my XSO; she was convinced he was just "playing Munch", since they so seldom actually say people's names on LO:SUV. I thought he was missing a Lois and Clark connection, where Belzer appears as Much to take Lois's statement after a break-in. But I checked -- he's "Inspector Henderson", not "Detective Munch", even though the character was clearly intended to evoke Much.)

But I had no idea that the ramifications were this extensive. All the way back to the Danny Thomas Show?

What really amazes me is that there are no apparent links to Northern Exposure, another Brand/Falsey collaboration. (Aside: Does anyone know if Joshua Brand is related to Stuart Brand?)

On Preview: Personally, I think LO has gone radically downhill -- e.g., the "season premier" episode of LO:OS was so bad as to be bizarre. (Yes, I know, part of it is that it just feels so wrong without Orbach.) In general, I find the "all crime, all the time" approach to programming to be pretty disturbing -- especially the cavalier disregard for the spirit of legal procedure.
posted by lodurr at 6:32 AM on October 3, 2004

Of course this was all predicted 500 years ago by Milo Rambaldi.

And as a St. Elsewhere fan, I'm shocked to discover I didn't know Ed Flanders killed himself, and that nearly 10 years ago. I'm stunned, I really liked the character, and the actor. Sigh.
posted by WolfDaddy at 6:40 AM on October 3, 2004 [1 favorite]

Tom Fontana, of course, is a villain in the universe of Laurel Krahn,
which crosses over into the realm of Blue Morphan, and...Tom Fontana??
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:42 AM on October 3, 2004

I'm looking forward to Crisis on Infinite Fontanaverses wherein Munch and Superman from Earth-2 travel to Earth-1 to help Dr.Westphall and Fox Mulder from the machinations of the Anti-Fontana!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:17 AM on October 3, 2004 [1 favorite]

The Crossovers and Spin-Offs Master List takes this one step farther, identifying 36 distinct TV universes.
posted by jjg at 9:31 AM on October 3, 2004

Tommy Westphall=God?

(i still miss St. Elsewhere--i really loved that show)
posted by amberglow at 9:46 AM on October 3, 2004

My head just exploded. But it was worth it. This is freakin' awesome.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:14 AM on October 3, 2004

I haven't been this confused since Lost Highway.
posted by mcsweetie at 11:08 AM on October 3, 2004

Uncle Ira, you took the words out of my mouth.
posted by karmaville at 11:21 AM on October 3, 2004

Great link, feelinglistless, and yours too, jjg. I never would have known that Knight Rider is part of the Star Trek universe. I may just die laughing.
posted by Zonker at 12:41 PM on October 3, 2004

God I love the internet.
posted by John Shaft at 1:04 PM on October 3, 2004

This reminds of the Wold Newton Universe, only more obsessive.
posted by MrBadExample at 6:40 PM on October 3, 2004

1. In the center: St Elsewhere's Dr Turner was investigated for murder by Homicide's Pembleton and Bayliss. And St Elsewhere's entire run was just a dream inside autistic Timmy Westphal's head. This means every show listed below is a figment. And Newhart (and the shows that crossed over with it) are a figment twice over. (See: Bottom right quadrant)

2. Top left: St Elsewhere's Westphall, Craig and Auschlander visited Cheers' bar

Ah. At last, the Dukakis candidacy is explained.
posted by dhartung at 10:02 PM on October 3, 2004

hmmm. Zonker, theres a problem with the logic in that link, 'cos....

In Knightrider 2000, Michael Knight bumps (litterally) into James Doohan (played by James Doohan), knocking him out cold. Waking up from the slight concussion, he starts to think he's Scotty, leading to 'hillarious' Star Trek babbling about dilithium crystals and beaming up.

I find it really sad that I remember that.
posted by couch at 4:20 AM on October 4, 2004

So, Couch, let me see if I understand you correctly: [Fictional] Michael Knight bumps into [real] actor James Doohan, who as a result thinks that he's [fictional] Commander James Montgomery Scott in the [fictional in both reality and series] television series "Star Trek". Somewhat later, [fictional] Team Knight Rider member "Trek" interacts with [fictional] Jackson Roykirk [aside: Wasn't it actually "Jackson Roy Kirk"?], who is a character alluded to in the [fictional, but real in series] logs of the United Federation Startship "Enterprise".

So the Trek universe is both fictional and real in the Knight Rider universe.




Sorry, where was I? So, what's the problem, here? You're bothered by the idea that something can be both fictional and real at the same time? [insert obligatory George Bush allusion] Dude, you are just way too attached to this "reality" thing. Or something.
posted by lodurr at 4:48 AM on October 4, 2004

See this post at Crooked Timber for an insightful analysis of the problems with the Westphall hypothesis. Consider especially this: if the Westphall hypothesis is true, then the crossover between L&O and the real world--i.e., Mayor Bloomberg--would mean that we are all living in Tommy Westphall's dream.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:56 AM on October 4, 2004 [1 favorite]

posted by lodurr at 10:24 AM on October 4, 2004

Transcript of the final scene of "St. Elsewhere"

Dr. Auschlander (Norman Lloyd) and Tommy (Chad Allen) in Westphall's Apartment. Westphall (Ed Flanders) arrives home.
Westphall: How you doing, Pop?
Auschlander: Good. And your day up on the building?
Westphall: Finally topped off the 22nd story. I'm beat... Tommy give you any trouble?
Auschlander:: Been sitting that way since you left this morning. Just like every day. In a world of his own.
Westphall crosses, crouches beside TOMMY, who gazes at object in his hand.
Westphall: Remember son, be careful with that... (stares at Tommy; beat; to Auschlander, without looking). I don't understand this autism. I talk to my boy, but...I'm not even sure if he ever hears me...Tommy's locked inside his own world. Staring at that toy all day long. What does he think about?

Tommy shakes the object in hand, then stares at it. REVEAL GLASS SNOWBALL with snow eddying inside.
Westphall:: Come on, son, let's wash our hands.

Tommy shakes snowball again. Westphall takes snowball from Tommy, places it on mantelpiece. All three exit.
On C.U. of SNOWBALL, model of St. Eligius inside, snow swirling about,

Transcript excerpt courtesy of George Abbott from the "St. Elsewhere" archives at the Syracuse University Library, Syracuse, NY 13244

posted by matteo at 10:25 AM on October 6, 2004

St. Elsewhere Collection

This is a rare and complete set of scripts and videotapes of all six seasons of the popular NBC television series β€œSt. Elsewhere.” The collection was donated by Mark Tinker who was a writer, director and producer for the show.
posted by matteo at 10:28 AM on October 6, 2004

« Older Hello Little Consumer   |   Topobo Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments