Tony Television Special # 1

No self-respecting television network would be without the occasional TV movie, and nobody has more self-respect than the Tony Television Network! Thus, we present the first in a series of special two-hour features that we’ll schedule whenever we feel our viewers deserve a wonderful gift! Can you spell star-studded major TV event?


Greg Grunberg stars as Gene Roddenberry in this humorous bio-pic detailing his dauntless efforts to launch the Star Trek television series in the mid-1960s. Aided and abetted by his ambitious personal assistant Dorothy Fontana (Moira Kelly) and the eager young intern Morris Chapnick (Adam Brody), Roddenberry must navigate the byzantine world of Hollywood production companies and major TV networks, relying on the expertise of two industry insiders, Herb Solow (Peter MacNicol) and Bob Justman (Jeffrey Nordling).

With the help of sympathetic studio executive Oscar Katz (Saul Rubinek), Roddenberry gets the go-ahead to produce a pilot. He quickly assembles a zany design staff, including Pato Guzman (John Leguizamo), Matt Jefferies (Tom Verica), and William Ware Theiss (Patrick Dempsey), whose irrepressible personalities keep Roddenberry on his toes.

Things only get crazier as Roddenberry hires actors and must deal with their eccentricities, including Leonard Nimoy (Wes Bentley), Susan Oliver (Elisha Cuthbert), and his difficult star Jeffrey Hunter (special appearance by Ray Liotta). To top it off, Roddenberry falls in love with one of his leading ladies, Majel Barrett (Juliet Landau).

When the troubled pilot is rejected by the network for being “too cerebral,” Roddenberry and his team scramble to get a second chance, reworking their approach to the material and hiring new actors, teaming Nimoy with Gary Lockwood (Ashton Kutcher), Sally Kellerman (Mischa Barton) and new star Bill Shatner (Shane West).

All involved then sweat out the final decision of the network, to see if they will get their chance to make television history.

TTN – Where No Television Network Has Gone Before!!!

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The Passion of Stan Lee

It has been in the news the last few days that Stan Lee won a judgment in a legal battle with Marvel Enterprises, Inc. over money. According to the terms of his contract, he was to receive ten percent of any profits Marvel made by licensing the characters he co-created for movies, merchandise, and the like. Marvel had tried to get away with just not paying, and even now plans to appeal the verdict.

Ever since Marvel became a big company, starting around the time they went public in the late 1980s, they have been lambasted for their often shameful business practices. But whatever the company has become, nothing can change what it once was—a small, dedicated staff cranking out the best product they could manage under the circumstances. And in the mid-1960s they were riding the crest of a wave of popularity that they earned by working hard at something they enjoyed and believing in what they were doing.

In the June 1966 issues, Stan Lee ran an editorial on their “Bullpen Bulletins” page that, despite his normally bombastic style, was unusually passionate in both its attack on low-rent comics publishers and in its statement of his company’s philosophy. Some excerpts:

“In a nutshell, the situation is this: As you know, Marvel has spent years trying to upgrade the art of comic magazines—for an art it truly is, every bit as much as the cinema, the legitimate stage, or any other form of creative expression. We don’t resent competition—indeed, we welcome it. But we DO resent shabby, carelessly-produced, badly-written and –drawn, conscienceless IMITATIONS of our Marvel mags—imitations which are callously lacking in quality, and which are produced for the sole purpose of making a fast profit in the very field which they themselves are helping to keep at the bottom of the artistic totem pole!”

After further complaints about the competition, he concludes:

“And this is our promise to you—no matter what befalls, no matter how rocky the road ahead may be, your staff here at the Marvel bullpen will never compromise with quality! Our stories, our art, our lettering, and our coloring will always be the best that money can obtain—the finest that dedicated craftsmen can produce! Though the newsstands grow ever more cluttered with inferior imitations, the mighty Marvel magazines will still stand out like shining beacons, guiding you to the finest in reading entertainment! That is our promise, our pledge, our credo! You’ve made us what we are today—you deserve nothing less! ‘Nuff said!”

Stan was a master of hucksterism, but the tone of the editorial convinces one that this time he really meant it. Unfortunately, by the 1990s, Marvel was guilty of all the things Stan had once railed against, and to this day the company seems dedicated to “the sole purpose of making a fast profit” at the expense of the fans. Quality is a subjective evaluation, but the slick comics of today fail to inspire the same passion and loyalty—not to mention circulation figures—that the somewhat more crude “Silver Age” product engendered during Stan Lee’s heyday.

In those days, Marvel was a company, not a corporation. And that’s the Marvel Comics I’m a fan of.


Tony Television Scores Big

Monday night has long been considered a lost cause for any TV network unable to slake America’s relentless thirst for football. That is about to change, however, as the Tony Television Network at last unveils its Monday masterpieces! In the ratings war, we play to win, and nothing that lives, breathes, or moves can resist the sexiest, most scintillating, unforgettably sensational shows that TTN has to offer! Prepare for a night of life-changing television entertainment!

8:00 – THERE’S ONE IN EVERY FAMILY. RuPaul Charles stars as Sasha, a flamboyant Black homosexual transvestite who moves in with his button-down half-brother Sam (Martin Donovan) and his lilywhite suburban family. Will Sam’s prim churchgoing wife Margot (Jessica Steen) be tempted by Sasha’s fabulous wardrobe? Will Sam’s mother Gwen (Barbara Barrie) come out of the closet and admit she’s a liberal? Will cable-news-junkie Uncle Ralph (Steve Landesberg) ever feel comfortable again? Will high-school-age daughter Nan (Rachel Skarsten) and ‘tween son Ronny (Cameron Bright) learn valuable life lessons from Sasha each and every week? Tune in to this hilarious life-affirming comedy and find out!

8:30 – SPACE HAREM. In this sexy sci-fi romp, Tia Carrere plays Jixy, the smart and sassy head of an intergalactic sultan’s outer-space harem. Cavorting, conniving, and cat-fighting is the order of the day as Jixy rules her roost. Featuring Lisa Jakub as the mercurial youngest member, Solara; Michele Lintel as a sizzling Saturnian named Mazzy; Joy Bryant as the Venusian vixen Tora; Eva Mendes as the nubile Neptunian Osha; Paige Peterson as Temptra of Planet X; and Rubén Blades as Sultan Zandak the Magnificent. In the premiere episode, the girls conspire with the befuddled vizier Nuff (Max Gail) and the harem’s no-nonsense guard Zolt (Ron Canada) to meet the visiting Queen of the Galaxy (special guest Julie Strain).

9:00 – SAYONARA YAKUZA. Thrill to the explosive exploits of Mei, a beautiful ninja assassin, played by Tamlyn Tomita, who tries to flee her life of crime by moving to Seattle. Unfortunately, the cold-hearted crime boss Mr. Honda (George Takei) won’t let her go, and sends his father-daughter hit squad (Ken Watanabe and Chiaki Kuriyama) to track her down and kill her. While trying to protect herself and her gruff, elderly father (Sonny Chiba), Mei falls in love with a brash martial arts instructor, Jeff (Jason Scott Lee) and befriends his older sister Pam (Rosalind Chao). Things go from bad to worse when Mei’s frequent battles with a bounty hunter called Spades (Regina King) attracts the attention of a dogged police detective (Brian Wimmer) and his harried supervisor (Peter Gerety). There’s action galore in this high-energy drama!

10:00 – BIZARRE FANTASY. The year is 1952 and Katie, a struggling young actress played by Alison Lohman, becomes involved in the kinky world of the small-time fetish magazine Bizarre Fantasy, run by the disreputable Irwin Clodhopper (Pruitt Taylor Vince) and his harridan mother Glynis (Cloris Leachman). Befriending two of the other models, the streetwise Amanda (Tiffany Shepis) and the withdrawn Sally (Heather McComb), Katie tries to navigate the bewildering universe she has stumbled into. Featuring Maury Chaykin as chief photographer Elwyn Clodhopper; Elina Löwensohn as Tasha, the magazine’s imperious production manager and bondage expert; Michael Dorn as the sympathetic maintenance man Paul; Natasha Gregson Wagner as the strung-out model Madeline; Stacy Haiduk as Katie’s nemesis, the magazine’s sharp-tongued top model Betty Sue; Bo Svenson as nightclub owner Gareth Swain, Katie’s “guardian angel;” and Masuimi Max as the mysterious model known only as Mojo.

The Tony Television Network – Resistance is Useless!!!

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The Doctor's Companions

From 1963 until 1989, the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who featured the exciting exploits of the alien time-traveler known as the Doctor, who usually had one or more traveling companions to share in his adventures. Most came from Earth, either from the past, the present, or the future, and were often whisked off through time and space without so much as a by-your-leave. They all eventually parted company with the Doctor, through various circumstances, which leaves a question worth considering:

Did the Doctor’s traveling companions make it back to their proper place and time?

Susan Foreman: No. The Doctor’s original companion, she left their home planet of Gallifrey with him and later adopted the name “Susan Foreman” during an extended stay on 20th-century Earth. Susan and the Doctor parted company after stopping a Dalek invasion of 22nd-century Earth, where she remained to marry the human resistance fighter David Campbell.

Ian Chesterton & Barbara Wright: Yes. Schoolteachers Ian and Barbara were able use an abandoned Dalek time machine to return home to London, England. However, they arrived a full two years after having gone off aboard the TARDIS, and would have quite a bit of explaining to do. Close enough.

Vicki: No. The hapless orphan known only as Vicki remained behind after the Doctor and company witnessed the end of the Trojan War. She was clearly headed for trouble, though, for she had adopted the name “Cressida” and fallen in love with the Trojan warrior Troilus. At least she will never be forgotten.

Katarina: No. The simple-minded Trojan slave girl died when she was taken hostage by a desperate criminal. To prevent the criminal from hijacking the spaceship they were on, Katarina opened an airlock door, sweeping both her and her captor into the vacuum of space.

Sara Kingdom: No. Sexy Space Security Agent Sara Kingdom was rapidly aged to death when she was caught in the warp field of the Dalek’s Time Destructor device. In seconds, her bones crumbled to dust and blew away on the wind.

Steven Taylor: No. This former astronaut left the TARDIS crew when he was asked to become the leader of a group of technologically-advanced “Elders” and primitive “Savages” from an unnamed planet, to help the two groups finally learn to live together as equals.

Dodo Chaplet: Yes. The sprightly Cockney girl had a whirlwind tour with the Doctor, but slipped off home when the TARDIS happened to return to 1960s London. Her life seemed to be ruled by coincidences.

Polly Wright & Ben Jackson: Yes. The swinging dolly-bird and the able seaman came in together, and later went out together when they realized the TARDIS had returned to the very same day on which they had left. The opportunity to resume their regular lives without interruption was too good to pass up.

Victoria Waterfield: No. Orphaned by the Daleks in her native Victorian era, this teenaged girl found a new home with Frank and Maggie Harris at the North Sea Gas Refinery some hundred years later.

Jamie McCrimmon: Yes. After numerous adventures with the Doctor, Jamie was returned to his point of departure in 18th-century Scotland by the Time Lord Tribunal, who also erased his memories of his time aboard the TARDIS.

Zoe Heriot: Yes. Twenty-first century girl Zoe Heriot was also returned to her point of departure, an orbiting space station, by the Time Lord Tribunal, with no memory of her adventures with the Doctor.

Dr. Elizabeth Shaw: Yes. Distinguished as the only companion never to leave Earth, Liz Shaw worked with the Doctor during his exile, when the TARDIS was non-operational. After a while, she became bored acting as the Doctor’s lab assistant and left her post at U.N.I.T. to return to her research at Cambridge University.

Jo Grant: Yes. Jo made only a few trips aboard the TARDIS after the Doctor’s exile was remanded, but then resigned from U.N.I.T. in order to marry the ecologist Clifford Jones and accompany him on an expedition to the Amazon rainforest.

Harry Sullivan: Yes. After assisting U.N.I.T. in defeating the Zygon menace in Scotland, Harry wisely chose to return to London with the Brigadier’s men, rather than taking the “shortcut” offered by the Doctor.

Sarah Jane Smith: Yes. When the Doctor received an urgent summons to return to Gallifrey, he determined he must proceed alone, and attempted to drop Sarah Jane off near her home in Croydon, but actually left her in the wrong city. Close enough.

Leela: No. The savage warrior found an unlikely new home on the Doctor’s home planet of Gallifrey, when she fell in love with Andred, commander of the Chancellery Guard.

Romana: No. Inspired by the Doctor’s example, the “Time Lady” Romana elected to remain in the extradimensional universe of E-Space to build her own time machine and help free the Tharil race from slavery.

Adric: No. After accompanying the Doctor out of his native E-Space, Adric sacrificed himself to save his friends from the merciless Cybermen, becoming trapped on a space freighter as it crashed into prehistoric Earth, wiping out the dinosaurs as well.

Nyssa: No. Her home planet of Traken destroyed by the Master, Nyssa eventually found a higher calling, choosing to remain on the space station Terminus to help cure the unfortunates suffering from Lazar’s disease.

Tegan Jovanka: Yes. Tegan actually parted company with the Doctor twice. The first time, she was accidentally left behind at Heathrow Airport when the TARDIS dematerialized, and she went on with her life. A while later, she ran into the Doctor again and continued her travels with him until she became sickened by the carnage wrought during a battle with the Daleks in mid-1980s London. Tearfully, she said goodbye to the Doctor and fled the scene.

Vislor Turlough: Yes. Escaping his own exile on Earth aboard the TARDIS, the Trion-born Turlough was eventually reunited with his people on the doomed planet Sarn, where he learned that Trion’s political prisoners had all been released during the time he was traveling with the Doctor. He returned to his home planet a free man.

Peri Brown: No. The luckless American girl Peri Brown was abandoned on the planet Thoros-Beta when the Doctor was seized by the Time Lords to be brought to trial. She was last seen in the company of the bellicose King Yrcanos of Krontep, who was intent on marrying her.

Melanie Bush: No. Mel hooked up with the intergalactic highwayman Sabalom Glitz and joined the crew of his new ship, Nosferatu II. Apparently, life with the Doctor was not exciting enough for this perky redhead.

“Ace”: Unknown. Although “Ace” was at home in Perivale at the conclusion of the final episode, she and the Doctor were heading back to the TARDIS to continue their travels.

It’s about evenly split between those who did and those who did not return to their proper place and time: 13 yes, 12 no, and 1 unknown. Some ended up better off than they were, some ended up dead, and many were left to uncertain fates. After all, as Doctor Who consistently showed, it is a vast and dangerous universe.

The story of many of the Doctor’s companions, particularly that of “Ace,” were continued in the various novels, audio recordings, and other spin-offs, all of which I consider to be non-canonical. The above is based, therefore, solely on the episodes of the original television series.

Next: Continuity Notes


Tony Television Triumphs

Nobody does it better than the Tony Television Network –- as our triumphant Tuesday night schedule proves beyond a reasonable doubt! Four all-new, all-different, can’t-be-missed shows that will change the face of entertainment for all time! Comedy, action, excitement, and drama await you every Tuesday night on TTN! You’ll kill yourself if you miss it!

8:00 -- RECIPE FOR DISASTER. Robert Wuhl stars as Julian Cooke, the host of a TV cooking show whose hilariously disastrous private life contrasts with his sophisticated on-air persona. Co-starring Steve Guttenberg as his long-suffering producer/director and best friend Jared Bigelow. The pair is frequently harried by Cooke’s elegant wife Cecilia (Kim Myers) and her hell-raising sister Greer (Lolita Davidovich), as well as their bumbling production manager Alfie (Brent Hinkley). Rounding out the crackerjack cast are Dana Ashbrook and Daphne Ashbrook as Cooke’s bickering newlywed neighbors, the Prescotts.

8:30 -- SAME OLD KRAPP. In this knee-slapping comedy, Ray Wise stars as crusty antiques dealer Ed Krapp, whose quest for peace and quiet is continually derailed by his wife Claire (Jane Krakowski), a psychic who gets uproarious “readings” from the items in their shop, as well as by his persnickety chief buyer Hugh Huffley (Christian Clemenson) and his philosophical, ever-present plumber Ernie (Ernie Hudson). In the premiere, Krapp’s attempt to take a mid-afternoon nap is frustrated when Claire “reads” a disco ball that once belonged to Huffley’s high-school sweetheart and threatens to reveal embarrassing details about his past.

9:00 -- RELUCTANT HERO. Neil Patrick Harris plays Adam Arkon, a mild-mannered philosophy professor who discovers he is a genetically-engineered superman when his creator, Dr. Isaac Weaver (Hector Elizondo), escapes from a scientific-research-slave-labor-camp run by evil extraterrestrials. The cruel alien leaders, Xotran (Michael Ironside) and Krylla (Frances Fisher), have unleashed their army of shape-shifting clones to conquer the earth, and only Adam’s superhuman skills can find them and stop them. But can he leave behind his beautiful wife Ellie (Jennifer Blanc), his adoptive father Joseph (John Savage), and his life in academia? No, and that’s where the excitement begins! Co-starring Richard Beymer as the chair of Adam’s philosophy department and Wes Studi as his merciless nemesis Zoktorr the Mercenary.

10:00 -- SAND TRAPS. In this exciting drama, Valarie Rae Miller plays Janet Sand, an ATF agent who goes undercover as a golf pro at an exclusive golf course run by mobster Frank Fellini, played by David Marciano. As Agent Sand tries to get the goods on Fellini without blowing her cover, she must deal with the mobster’s scheming wife Felicia (Callie Thorne), his chief enforcer “Steel-Eyes” Stryker (Jeff Kober) and suspicious rival golf pro Teddy Buckley (Tim Ryan). Her life is further complicated by her terminally-ill sister Georgia (Lisa Nicole Carson) and a dangerous love affair with local police detective Ben Warfield (James Marshall).

The Tony Television Network –- Ask For It By Name!!!

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