In Hindsight: Crossing the line

Line of the Week:
“Holy shit.” – Me, after winning $600 in one shoe of $15 blackjack.

Yep, did pretty well gambling-wise this week. I also won my brother’s monthly poker tournament, which was great because it just covered my wife’s shopping expenses after a weekend out with the girls. In Montreal. To make up for it, she brought back some Montreal Smoked Meat from Schwartz’. It was almost a fair trade, and I’m not being sarcastic about that. But I digress…

The crossover episode – an episode of a show where characters from a different show appear. Mostly used as a sweeps month stunt, the crossover is a way to “connect” two shows together into the same universe – and of course to provide fodder for Matt Basilo to dissect in his “Continuity Police” segment. But does it always work? The answer, of course, is the wishy-washy “sometimes”. Let’s look at some examples.

One of the more infamous examples of the crossover is ‘Friends’/’Mad About You’. This came about because Lisa Kudrow, who played loopy masseuse Phoebe on ‘Friends’, had a recurring role as a loopy waitress named Ursula. The writers of ‘Friends’ used this to their advantage by having Jamie and Fran from ‘Mad About You’ make a quick cameo in one episode. But this wasn’t a true crossover. No, the “real” crossover episode was a two-parter when Joey dated Ursula, which really cemented the two shows as being in one cohesive universe.

Of course, NBC wasn’t satisfied with just that, and they set about connecting all their “Must See TV” sitcoms together by having Matthew Perry (as Chandler, we were led to believe) appear on ‘Caroline in the City’ and by having David Schwimmer have a full guest spot as Ross on ‘The Single Guy’. You’ll just have to trust me when I say that this was probably the funniest episode of ‘The Single Guy’ over its two year run.

Currently, NBC is still tying shows together. There is, of course, the Law & Order franchise, which frequently has characters show up and take part in the various shows in the franchise (not to mention others like ‘X-Files’ and ‘Homicide’). But another interesting connection was made between ‘Crossing Jordan’ and ‘Las Vegas’. It’s interesting because the two shows really don’t have that much in common, and are set in different cities. Yet there is still a running subplot between Jordan’s Woody Hoyt and Vegas’ Sam Marquez, which led to a cameo by Woody in the ‘Las Vegas’ season finale.

Of course, crossovers don’t have to mean anything other than just being a crossover. A perfect example of this happens in Super Sentai over in Japan, something that was imported over to North America as the ‘Power Rangers’ franchise. Ever since ‘Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy’ (with one exception), there has been a team-up between the current team of Power Rangers and the previous season’s team. The plots for such crossovers have ranged from brilliant to the comic book cliché of teams fighting each other before teaming up to “look, just accept the facts we’re telling you”, and are compounded by the fact that the season finales often feature the Rangers losing their powers. Overall, it doesn’t really matter – it’s something that entertains you for 30 minutes and ties the current Rangers in with the rest of the Power Ranger “mythology”.

As my final example, we have a crossover which should probably never, EVER happen again – and it happened in the genre of sports entertainment, so it was in the “real world”. Except that it wasn’t. I think you know what I mean. If you are/were a wrestling fan, you’ll remember the debacle that was WCW vs. ‘Battle Dome’.

‘Battle Dome’, if you don’t remember (or have preferred to have forgotten), was a competition show along the lines of ‘American Gladiators’, except that the “Warriors” all had some sort of gimmick, and there were scripted storylines based around the Warriors general dislike for each other.

So it seems perfectly natural that WCW would decide to “invade” the Battle Dome arena, right? I don’t remember exactly how this started, but it essentially ended up with Diamond Dallas Page giving his Diamond Cutter finisher to a referee. I think this “feud” lasted maybe two episodes on ‘Battle Dome’… and was never mentioned on WCW television. Not exactly the best way to create interest in both shows, folks.

IP Linkage:
Mathan gets blown off by his cable company.

DeeDee returns and talks about Rock Star: Supernova.

Scott Keith gives his take on a variety of shows.

That’s it for this week.

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