Monday, June 18, 2007

Centre of the Television Universe

Consider, for a moment, the phenomenon of crossovers and spin-offs of television series. Characters from a long running popular show may eventually get their own show, such as Angel from Buffy or Trapper John, MD from M*A*S*H. Sometimes two shows exist independently, but because they are both produced by the same company, they will crossover characters and storyline, often during sweeps weeks. For example, on "Blackout Thursday" (November 3, 1994) a mishap on Mad About You caused the power in much of Manhattan to go out, which entered the plots of that night's episodes of Friends and Madman of the People.

These crossovers often form a "universe" or general continuity. These are often given names such as the "Buffyverse" or "Whoniverse" for their respective collections. Given that, consider that if every crossover was mapped out, the whole connected group could be considered, in fan terms, to be in the same universe. A group of fans have created such a map, and here what such a map looks like:

The motivation for compiling such a list came from the ending of the 1980's doctor drama St. Elsewhere. In the final moments of the last episode, it was revealed that the entire run of the show was the dream of an autistic child named Tommy Westphall. The ending is a cop-out from an otherwise well-written series, but the implications were thus:
If "St Elsewhere" exists only within Tommy Westphall's mind, then so does every other series set within the same fictional sphere.
Once fans started tracking the numerous crossovers and spin-offs from St Elsewhere, they created a map of 282 shows, all connecting to the intersection of "St Elsewhere and Homicide," and dubbing this phenomenon the "Tommy Westphall Universe."

We are through the looking glass here people.


1 comment:

Chris the Geek said...

The spinoffs I can think of are normally horrible. Anyways, I think your blog is pretty awesome. I'd be glad to offer you one of my awesome, super soft shirts in exchange for a link. Go here for details or email me.


Chris Geek