Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Holy Shit, Tommy Westphall!

Tommy Westphall

What if I told you that almost all of your favorite television shows and most of your least favorite ones take place in the mind of an autistic teenager? I suspect you'd call bullshit and tell me that's just lazy writing. It sort of is, which the "in his head all along" plot twist isn't used very often anymore.

But when St. Elsewhere ended its six year run in 1988, it was groundbreaking. The whole series, as it turned out, was a day dream of Tommy Westphall, the autistic son of one of the main characters. Instead of everything taking place in a hospital, we find out that it was actually in a construction worker's apartment, in his son's mysterious imagination.

Here's where it gets weird. Weirder.

Fourteen years after the series ended, a writer named Dwayne McDuffie publicly wondered what the implications of that bizarro ending where for the greater TV universe. Any show worth its salt, after all, has a crossover with another show worth a comparable amount of salt.

The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones
Ever think about the troubling socioeconomic implications of this?

St. Elsewhere had one of these with Homicide: Life on the Street. Two doctors from the former appeared in episodes of the latter. McDuffie's theory holds that this crossover means both shows are figments of Tommy Westphall's imagination. Do you know what other shows had crossovers with Homicide?

Lots of them.

Law & Order
Like this one.

Homicide turns out to be something of a nexus for little Tommy's mind. Through it, literally hundreds of other television shows are connected in degrees that would make Kevin Bacon blush. According to one of the St. Elsewhere writers, "Someone did the math once... and something like 90 percent of all television took place in Tommy Westphall's mind. God love him."

Here's my personal favorite: through Homicide, Tommy imagined The X-Files, which leads to Veronica Mars, then Lost, Diagnosis: Murder, Mission: Impossible, The Jeffersons, The Fresh Prince of Bel goddamn Air, Diff'rent Strokes, the legendarily bad Hello, Larry, then Hi Honey, I'm Home, The Brady Bunch (!!!), Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, Hogan's Heroes, and finally....

The Bat Symbol
Booya. Or bat-ya. Whatever.

Fucking BATMAN.

That's right. Batman. The Dark Knight was invented by an autistic kid staring at a snow globe.

Holy Shit.

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