I'm expecting that in order to cement the time and place of the American version of 'Life On Mars' as 1973, there will be plenty of references to the TV shows of that time. (This is something that happens with 'Mad Men' as well, to the point I'm pretty much resigned to the idea I may have to chuck that show into an alternate TV dimension.)
The series premiere debuted last night with the episode "Out Here In The Fields" (a song lyric reference to The Who - THANK GOD it's not just known as "Pilot"!). And sure enough, there were three "Zonks" we'll have to deal with. Luckily, I think I can disable them all.
Near the end of the episode, the TV was on in Sam's new "flop" and we saw a scene from 'Kojak' with Lt. Theo Kojak talking to some guy. 'Kojak' would be THE New York detective to millions across the country in that time period (as probably Andy Sipowicz of 'NYPD Blue' might be for now....), and the clip served as a nice touchstone to how "real" the detectives of the 125 supposedly were in contrast.
But even so, Theo Kojak should exist in the same TV Universe as Sam Tyler, if not Gene, Ray, Chris, and Annie. (I'm most curious as to how far this version of 'Life On Mars' will take the storyline's similarity to the British original.)
Fortunately, the sound was off for that 'Kojak' clip, so we can pretty much extrapolate any theory we want for why he was on the toob! So I'm going to make a stand for it being the evening news, and Lt. Kojak was being interviewed by a reporter. Usually I don't like to have pre-existing scenes be re-used for other purposes (such as with my "Fanficcer's Friend" feature), but in this case I think it's a necessity.
Then there was this line of dialogue from Annie "No Nuts" Norris:
"I'm about as qualified as Dr. Kildare."
The knee-jerk reaction from those who know their TV history would be that Annie was referring to the 'Dr. Kildare' played by Richard Chamberlain in the early sixties. But again, he should be sharing the same TV Universe as Sam and Kojak.
There was a TV show in 1972, which was videotaped and syndicated called 'Young Dr. Kildare'. In the cosmography of the TV Universe, it's a show that has to be relegated to an alternate TV dimension since Toobworld already has the aforementioned Kildare.
But it could also be that Toobworld had a TV series by that same name in that same time period, but this one was based on the life of the actual Dr. Kildare. And it was a show that Annie was obviously familiar with. She probably considered it popular enough for Sam to pick up the reference, when in fact he was probably thinking she was talking about the real physician.
Finally, there was the Alka-Seltzer blipvert in which we saw Oliver Clark and an unidentified actress, playing husband and wife and singing "Plop plop fizz fizz! Oh, what a relief it is!" (Which I think was meant to act as commentary on what was happening in the episode.)
Alka-Seltzer is an established product in Toobworld (seen in countless series like 'Two And A Half Men', and actually mentioned in a quote from 'My Family', if not in other shows as well). At the same time, it's also part of the TV Universe in that Speedy Alka-Seltzer was some kind of magical being who could appear to people in dire need of gastrointestinal relief (like this mailman played by Buster Keaton).
So this particular Alka-Seltzer commercial was also made in Toobworld, but that doesn't necessarily have to be Oliver Clark; it could be one of his TV characters. And I'd like to think it's John Doe #6 from 'St. Elsewhere' in his previous life before he suffered amnesia. Whoever that previous identity might have been, he could have worked as an actor!
(And it gives me a reason to post a picture of Oliver Clark - seen here as Mr. Herd in 'The Bob Newhart Show' - who is so sorely under-represented in the Google image search!)
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