I interviewed the Thomas Holbrook (Crossoverguy) who created the Poobala.com’s Crossovers Spin Offs Master Page. I emailed him a couple of months back and he recently answered my questions.
1.What made you interested in crossovers/spin-offs?
Well, growing up in the 70s there were some high profile and cool crossovers and spin offs. The Six Million Dollar Man spinning off The Bionic Woman. And then they did pretty epic crossovers involving Bigfoot, aliens, and the evil Fembots. And where a lot of older TV shows don’t hold up or today seem kitchy, having had a chance to watch these episodes again on the Bionic Woman dvds… while there is some dating they really do hold up. The origin of Jaime Sommers as the Bionic Woman is just solidly done stuff.
Then there is Happy Days and the mess of hit shows it spawned and then continued to crossover with. Laverne And Shirley! Mork & Mindy! Joanie Loves Cha… Well, they couldn’t all be hits. But I would always love when those shows would connect up. And that isn’t even getting into all the All In The Family spin offs.
All of that just got me fascinated with shows being interconnected to the point where one day I started charting out all the connections I knew of. Then after that it became a mental game I could play to kill time when I had to wait for a bus or a class to start and I had nothing else to distract me: how many connections can I remember. I am a nerd.
2.What are your favorite TV Shows?
I am huge TV nerd. I like SO many shows. Huge nerd for stuff like Lost, Twin Peaks, Babylon 5, the original V shows, The Twilight Zone. But I also like shows a lot of people might dismiss now. Like Little House On The Prairie. People think, oh, a family show. But it gets dark and has some solid writing. Also, much fun to poke fun at. A friend and I recently started clocking how many deaths Laura Ingalls ends up connected to. She’s a killing machine. Heheheh.
I’ve probably left out a ton of shows someone will call me out for forgetting. The redo of Battlestar Galactica, most of the big HBO and Showtime shows are amazing. Can’t wait for more Boardwalk Empire. And Louie on FX is just the most amazingly edgy comedy show I may have ever seen.
3. Are you happy with the success of you site?
Oh yeah. I’m an aspiring writer. Part of what inspired me to create the site was to be able to write something and have people actually read it. At the start I kept thinking, “Nobody is going to search out my site for short stories I’ve written or the like. I need a gimmick that will draw people to a site.” Then I thought, ahhhh, crossovers! I can make hay of that! Okay, it’s articles and such rather than stories and I’d kill to have a book or script sell. But, still, the site gives me a forum.
And I have also had several emails arrive because of the site that were entertaining surprises. Someone related to someone on a show, an actual actor. One time I had a producer write saying, “You were right on in what you said about X crossover.” I was surprised because I didn’t think I was overly nice in what I said. I checked the article and, sure enough, I said something like that I thought it was a cynical move that the network had forced on the shows. When I saw that THAT was what the guy was agreeing with it made me laugh.
4. Are you planning to change something about the site in the future? If yes, what?
Well lately I’ve had people asking when I’ll next update the site. It has been awhile. Just lately life has gotten very busy. I also have a friend who insists I need to give the entire site a makeover. And due to some law changes in California I’ll have to be taking down a number of links. Put all that together… sigh… I probably will be slapping a new coat of paint on the site sooner rather than later. And I’ll put up new articles soon, people, I swear!
5. How do you feel about The Tommy Westphall Universe?
I love it. It’s a mind blower. St. Elsewhere is one of the biggest crossover “hubs” ever I think. And making it that all those shows are a dream? Crazy. Then add onto that that one of the shows connected to that is The Bob Newhart Show. And that Bob Newhart’s character on that show dreamed all of the show Newhart. So Tommy dreamed Bob dreaming another show. I’m getting a brain hemmorage just thinking about it.
6. I have to ask since my website is about sitcoms. What is your favorite sitcom? Do you even watch sitcoms?
Of course I watch sitcoms. I love me TV shows of all kinds. I love some of the classics. I Love Lucy. Cheers. I love M*A*S*H for how it ended up being so many kinds of shows as it evolved. I love Red Dwarf for similar reasons. First off, it’s that rare case of a sci-fi comedy that actually works. Then, like M*A*S*H it grew from a straight up sitcom to an adventure comedy. And I’m kind of sorry Family Ties didn’t end up with the sort of syndication legs as some of the classics. That is a show that deserves to still be seen.
7. What would you say is the worst tv show you’ve seen?
I have to go with the show Small Wonder about the family where the dad builds a robot daughter. Just hit me as odd and creepy on so many levels. The writing is like from a simpler cornier time that never actually existed. And the more unfunnier the jokes the bigger the laughs they got. And the robo-girl Vicki’s robot acting… again, just creepy. But I’d end up watching it like a bad car wreck where you cannot look away.
8. What is the worst crossover you’ve seen?
I have to give that honor to the CSI trilogy that went across all three CSI shows. I always thought it would be cool to have a big crime story that went across all sorts of crime shows. Like, it could start on Dexter with a killer who escaped his grasp. Then he could end up on Law & Order, then CSI, maybe even a foreign crime drama. The CSI trilogy seemed as close as we’d get to seeing that happen. But then they just utterly botched it. They needed to set up a serious and real villain to chase or a well developed victim to follow through each show. Instead the first episode killed off the well developed victim and established only a vague, amorphous group of off-screen villains who we never see. The plot also had some logic weirdness going on. Then at the very end they take an annoying, unlikable supporting character and say, okay, this is who we are going to follow. Then the next episode had to take extra time to make us care about that girl. And whereas in the first episode this unseen cabal is all about kidnapping girls for sexual slavery, episode two goes further to saying once done with the girls they sell their organs on the black market. I think they were aiming to make the bad guys scarier. But to me it made them more over the top silly. Like they’re a corporation of evil and they do EVERY evil thing imaginable. Then in part three Off Screen Villains Inc sell this girl to a smaller local evil group so we can see some sort of onscreen bad guy who can be defeated. Then when Huge Evil is defeated it is, again, off screen and we find out via an email saying, “We got them!” Imagine watching Star Wars and never being shown any of the Empire, Luke mainly stays on Tatooine and at the end gets a hologram saying, “We defeated them!”
9. Do you read TV Tropes?
A little. At one point I thought once I got the crossover stuff set I’d do a section of my site for overused plots. But the crossovers took a long long time and, boom, TVTropes already had done it. If I had to outlaw one overused plot it would be the one where there is an illegal underground fighting league. Holy crap, if I see that one more time. It is required on every sci-fi or action show.
10. If you have the time to check it out… how is mywebsite?
I have and I was shocked… SHOCKED… by the nudity and all the dirty goings-on and… oh wait… that was a different site. My bad, my bad! Actually I have checked out your site and I liked it. Looks really nice. Some cool content. I’ll come back for more. :)