Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The methodology of the Television Crossover Universe

THE TELEVISION CROSSOVER CROSSOVER UNIVERSE  LAUNCHED JANUARY 10, 2011 CELEBRATING FOUR YEARS

This is the final of the anniversary postings, and my favorite of the most recent era of posts.  This was originally written for the Horror Crossover Encyclopedia introduction, but I modified it as an expansion on the methodology that I also talk about in the TVCU's first blog post from January 10, 2011, THE SECRET ORIGIN OF THE TELEVISION CROSSOVER UNIVERSE:  WHAT IT IS AND HOW IT CAME TO BE.  You should read that post, and read this post, as requirements before being able to talk about the TVCU.

I hope you enjoyed revisiting with me my favorite posts, our readers' favorites, our oldest, and our newest, with new added reflective introductions.  Now back to writing the books. I promise, though, starting next week, you will start seeing new TVCU Crew Reviews, Quickies, and new full chronologies and updates of older posts.  You can help me out by letting me know what subjects from film and television, live action or animated, that you would like to see covered that hasn't been tackled yet, and what older posts you want to see updated. (Also, if you have crossover finds for the TVCU, or for the Cartoon Crossover Encyclopedia, feel free to send them my way.  It's always appreciated.)

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Connecting the Dots


The Television Crossover Universe exists on the premise that many television and other fictional series coexist within the same shared reality because of valid crossover connections. A series can only be brought in by being connected to something already in. But to do so, I had to start with a center. For this project , I chose I Love Lucy because that series was the first television series that would have crossovers. So with that series being the center, the dot connecting begins. Since that series is in automatically, anything that crosses with the series is then brought into the Television Crossover Universe. Then, everything that crosses with that next group is brought in. And so on and so forth.


Objectivity of Inclusion and Exclusion


My rules for inclusion and exclusion are not based on my likes and dislikes. It is based on whether the dots can be connected back to the center point, I Love Lucy, via valid crosses. I love Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but I have not yet found a valid cross to bring Brooklyn Nine-Nine into the Television Crossover Universe. On the other hand, I am not a fan of Boy Meets World, but I had to mention that Boy Meets World has crosses that bring it in.


Theories


This project’s goal is observe and report. Every story happens the way we read or see it. But sometimes more than one story that have valid crosses can contradict each other. For that reason, theories are needed to reconcile those contradictions. To keep to the project goal, most theories are created only using in-story information that can support that theory. However, sometimes I will really stretch things in the blog, such as the Zed Anomaly. I'm considering revising that blog and others to incorporate a stricter set of guidelines as employed in my books, the Horror Crossover Encyclopedia (on sale soon from 18th Wall Productions) and the Cartoon Crossover Encyclopedia (in progress).


Draculas: Soul Clones and Sons of the Dragon


When it comes to Dracula, I do not count every version of Dracula as being part of the same series stemming from Bram Stoker’s novel. There are so many different and contrary versions of Dracula out there. The way I divide up Dracula into series is by the author or the particular film or television series he comes from. Thus, Dracula (novel) refers to the character from Stoker’s novel, and he is different than Dracula (Universal), Tomb of Dracula (Marvel Comics), or the Dracula from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Live Action Television Series). Because they are all separate series, the inclusion of one version of Dracula does not imply the inclusion of all versions of Dracula. Each series has to find its way in separately through valid crosses.


There are two theories based on in-story references from series that have been crossed in that support the idea that each of the Dracula series is not the same character. The first is the soul clone theory. This is a theory I first learned from Chuck Loridans which is utilized in his MONSTAAH website. In the blog post for Dracula, the soul clone theory is discussed in great detail, but essentially, it involves vampires that had been turned by the real Dracula, and also hypnotized and possessed by Dracula, so that they become an amalgamation of their own personality and Dracula’s.


The second theory involved the Sons of the Dragon, a theory of my own, also based on in-story information. In this theory, Satan created emissaries on Earth. These would be vampires, turned directly by Satan rather than another vampire. The word “dracula“ means “son of the dragon” and Satan has often been represented by a dragon. In a way, this would make Draculas the anti-popes. Combining the two theories, Bram Stoker’s Dracula would be a Son of the Dragon, who then went on to create soul clones.


The Frankenstein Family and Their Monsters


I take a similar methodology with Frankenstein. Just as with Dracula, every version of Frankenstein is a separate series. The theory to support it is a bit simpler. The Television Crossover Universe concept is that Victor was only the first of many of the Frankenstein Family to create monsters. Thus, not all Frankensteins are the same, nor are the monsters. This theory comes from an essay by Mark K. Brown, used on the MONSTAAH website, and supported by in-story information.


Animated Series


Some animated series get brought in. There are certain considerations for cartoons. If it involves a world where most of the population are anthropomorphic talking animals, it can’t fit in the same world as Law and Order or All in the Family. Likewise, any cartoon where characters don’t age doesn’t work. In some cases, if the animated series seems to have a valid cross, but has the problems I mentioned, I have placed them in alternate realities within the larger Televisioin Crossover Multiverse. Other times, in the case of aging, I may break down an animated series into parts and only include the relevant crossover portion.


Comic Books and Super-Heroes


There are a lot of valid crosses that connect to comic books, including those with super-heroes. Those crosses, especially from DC and Marvel, have a number of complications. Besides the aging issues mentioned with animated series, there is the issue that comic book universes are worlds where super-heroes are public, as well as alien invasions, monsters, magic, etc. In most television series, the world appears on the surface to be as mundane as the real world (thought slightly more dramatic or humorous), with most people disbelieving in anything paranormal. Another issue is that with certain companies like DC, there have been multiple reboots creating multiple versions of the characters, and with crosses connected to all versions. When it comes to comics stories connected to the Television Crossover Universe, I’ve had to make some restrictions. First, even if super-heroes existed, they must have worked secretly. Also, to take aging into consideration, they would have only operated for ten to twenty years before retiring. Finally, in the case of characters like Superman and Batman, who have several different versions crossed in, I use the concept that the original heroes had sons who carried on the heroic tradition.


Television Crossover Multiverse


Some stories are specifically stated to be alternate realities. Others just don’t fit in the main Television Crossover Universe for continuity reasons. For that reason, some stories with valid crosses end up as divergent timelines, parallel universes, or pocket dimensions.


Reverse Canon Incorporation


When a series in “crossed in”, the entire canon of that series is incorporated into the Television Crossover Universe. But the reverse is not necessarily true. Though I’ve incorporated Law and Order, I doubt NBC will feel that Phineas and Ferb is part of same universe as SVU.


Not Just the Facts, Ma’am


This blog is filled with factual information. However, having said that, as a former ghostwriter for textbooks, I did not want this to be dry and boring. That’s not my style. So as a warning, occasionally I have thrown in a bad joke or offered my biased opinion on a certain story or series.


The Format of the Posts


All posts are uniformly written for clarity of information. Here is the breakdown of the format.


  • Usually, if I have any announcements, whether about the post being read, the TVCU blog in general, or any other projects of the TVCU, I will put those write at the top of the page. Sometimes in blue, except when I forget.
  • Next I will introduce the post, discussing the subject's brief history and my own thoughts on the subject.
  • Then we get to the chronology. The chronology is written from a fictional historical point of view, as in when the stories took place, rather then when they were produced in the real world. The chronologies not only detail all the crossovers of that subject, but will often tie in other important chronological information about the characters of the series. When I update a post, I don't create a new post, but simply just edit the pre-existing one and then share it on social media to let people know it's been updated. For a while, updates were in blue. But I got lazy. If you see blue, it's now meaningless. Updates may not be in blue. Also, when I remember, apocrypha is in red. There are some entries in the chronology that are regarding fan sites, our own fun attempt to incorporate fictional versions of the TVCU Crew into the TVCU. I try very hard to let readers know what is apocrypha.
  • Following the main chronology for the subject is a list of other realities applicable to that series.
  • Finally, at the bottom, I will throw in my final thoughts or make a final attempt to be funny.













Monday, September 29, 2014

What’s a crossover?

Something that always surprises me when I try to discuss what I write about is that a lot of people do not understand what a fictional crossover is. I felt that before reading the Television Crossover Universe, I had best explain what it is.
The term crossover can be used in a very general way, or in a more specific way.
In a broader sense, a crossover can be any combination of two separate series. This can include mashups. An example of this would be a story or even a picture with Dirty Harry Potter, combining the character of Dirty Harry played by Clint Eastwood with the boy wizard from the J.K. Rowling books.
It can also be a story that couldn’t possibly exist within the canon of the series involved. One example was the Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue animated special. This combined many famous cartoon characters, but presented them all as toys brought to life.
For my purposes, what I consider to be a valid crossover is one where two series are combined in a way that demonstrates that both series separately coexist within the same shared reality. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is one great example of this. Several cartoon characters from several different animation studios owned by different companies appeared within the same story, in a manner that did not contradict their individual canons. Thus, we were able to deduce from the evidence of the film that characters like Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny actually existed in the same universe, even if they had seldom crossed paths.
In the live action world of television, crossovers are used often as marketing gimmicks. A great way to get people to watch a new show is to have a character from a more well known series appear. Detective Munch was a character from Homicide, who guested on Law & Order, and then became a regular on Special Victims Unit. He also appeared on X-Files and Arrested Development. Thus, all of those shows coexist in the same reality. The Bluth family lives in a world where Mulder is uncovering conspiracies because of Detective Munch.
Of course, crossovers can be more subtle. Angel is in the same universe as Buckaroo Banzai and the Alien franchise because the fictional companies from those series are clients of the law firm from Angel. Fictional companies and products, such as Oceanic Airlines or Morley Cigarettes, can provide a link to add series to a shared reality.

For more specific examples of what counts and doesn’t count as valid crossovers for the purposes of my writing projects, see tomorrow's post on Television Crossover Universe Rules for Inclusion in the Television Crossover Universe.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Why crossovers?

I first became aware of the fictional crossover/shared reality concept when I was five years old. As my family was about to embark on a drive from Massachusetts to California, my father gave me my first comic book to keep me occupied, and it was an issue of the Marvel Comics adaptation of Scooby’s All-Star Laff-A-Lympics. This is the first time I was able to comprehend what was going on here, on a significant level. All these characters from their own cartoons were appearing together, as part of the same reality, thus placing all their previous cartoons in the same reality.
From that point on, I started becoming more aware. As I started reading more comics, I noticed how all the DC characters lived in one world while the Marvel characters lived on another, and I mostly only bought team and team-up books. Of course, once Superman met Spider-Man, my mind was blown again.
I also started to notice cartoon events like the annual networks previews shows that would combine all their cartoons in the same universe. And I would also notice the live action shows. Facts of Life characters appeared on Diff’rent Strokes. Mork had met the Happy Days gang and Laverne & Shirley. Trapper John M.D. had been on MASH. Maude was related to Edith Bunker and George Jefferson used to be Archie’s neighbor.
Around the age of eight, I started keeping track of these various shared realities, particularly focusing on live action and animated television. I started lumping them into groups based on their crossover connections. When I was 12, I bought my first book about the history of television. It was an encyclopedia style with entries on every television series, and one of the appendixes was a list of crossovers and spin-offs. I was both excited to see crossovers I had previously not known of, but also to find some crossovers I had found were not listed. Inspired by the DC Multiverse, I started to coin the groups together as the Television Crossover Multiverse and started to label them individually as TVCU-1, TVCU-2, etc.
When I grew up and left for the army, I left my notebooks behind, and they were destroyed in a flood. However, I continued to keep track of crossovers and recreated my groupings in a word document.
In 2001, as I was exploring the internet, I came across a few websites that perhaps changed my life. They were all crossover related sites, and for the first time, I discovered that there were other people like me who also kept track of such things. I had thought I was the only one.
Thanks to social networking, I eventually got to be friends with some of these other people who share my hobby, and the sharing of ideas eventually led to the creation of our own discussion group, the Crossovers Forum, on Facebook.
The forum became more popular than I expected, with lots of active discussions, and I was inspired to finally turn my notes into something tangible and public, the Television Crossover Universe blog. I didn’t really expect anyone to read it, and was just trying to get my ideas out there, but to my pleasant surprise, people did read it, and others began contributing to the blog.
Since I was little, I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but fiction was not my strength. Finding that I do have a strength in researching and discussing crossovers, I decided to try my hand as writing a book about fictional crossovers, and should it be successful, continue with a series of books.

So why crossovers? I can’t really explain why. It seems to be something that you either get or you don’t. For me, it became an obsession from an early age, and one that only grew stronger over time. I hope when you read this blog, you will feel my love for the subject.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Projects: Past, Present, and Future

PAST

I've just submitted my first book, the Horror Crossover Encyclopedia, to the publisher.  It's estimated to be released in early to mid October.  It takes a similar approach to this blog, but is focused only on horror and goes into much greater detail than these blog posts usually do.  If you are a fan of posts on this site covering topics like Scooby-Doo!, H.P. Lovecraft, Zombies, or other horror related material, you just might like the book.

PRESENT

In the next few months, I'll be updating some of the older blog posts here and writing new ones as well.

FUTURE

I'm already working on the next book.  It's similar to the last one, but instead of horror, I will be writing about cartoons.  I'm shooting for a 2016 release.  If you are a fan of posts on this site covering topics like My Little Pony, Offspring of Zed, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or other animation related material, you just might like the book.  (Note that the Zed theory will not be part of the book.  But the shows involved in that blog post will.)

Explaining the Terminology

TVCU?  HCU?  Looniverse?  Cartoon Universe?  What?

To help those who may be new, here is a brief review of some of the terms you may see used to describe shared realities.

Cartoon Universe--This is the reality of my next book, the Cartoon Crossover Encyclopedia.  The Cartoon Universe is not exactly the same as the Looniverse, but it is very similar.  If you see a blog post with an entry that mentions the Cartoon Universe, you should assume in that case that the Cartoon Universe and Looniverse are one and the same.  And if you see an entry that mentions the Cartoon Universe, you are getting a sneak peek at my second book.

Doctor Who Universe--This is the universe that Doctor Who takes place in, and anything connected to Doctor Who.

HCU--Abbreviation for Horror Crossover Universe.

Horror Crossover Universe--This was the name of my first book and the name of the reality described in the book in its early draft.  The finished book is called the Horror Crossover Encyclopedia and the reality is called the Horror Universe.  If you see any entries that mention the Horror Crossover Universe, you should assume for the blog purposes that Horror Crossover Universe and Television Crossover Universe are the same.  In reality, they are not exactly the same, but if I use an entry from my book for the blog, then in that case they are the same.  Incidentally, if you see one of these entries, then you are seeing something from the first stages of my first professional work.

Horror Universe--This is the reality of the Horror Crossover Encyclopedia.  It is not exactly the same as the Television Crossover Universe, but if you see an entry that mentions the Horror Universe, you should assume that Horror Universe is just another term for Television Crossover Universe in that instance.  The Horror Universe is indeed very similar.  If you see Horror Universe in an entry, you are getting a free sneak peek at my first book, the Horror Crossover Encyclopedia.

Looniverse--This is the universe of cartoons that do not fit in the Television Crossover Universe.  The name was first used in the Superman/Bugs Bunny comic book mini-series to describe the reality of Bugs Bunny.  It was also used in an unreleased Tiny Toon Adventures video game.

Television Crossover Universe--This is the name of the blog and the main shared reality discussed within the blog.  Originally called the TV Crossover Universe, I changed it because I thought Television Crossover Universe sounded better.

TV Crossover Universe--This is the name first used for this blog, and the universe this blog describes.  I came up with it when I was a kid.  After the first few posts, I changed it to Television Crossover Universe.  So TV Crossover Universe and Television Crossover Universe are one and the same.

TVCU--Simply an abbreviation for Television Crossover Universe, because writing Television Crossover Universe over and over can be tedious.

Whoniverse--Just a cool alternate name for the Doctor Who Universe.  I first heard it used by my friend in high school, but I'm sure he didn't invent the term.  It's now become widespread in fandom, and I'm sure none of those fans got the term from either me or my friend.