Got this off Atrios. When I saw this, I was first struck speechless and then a stood up and applauded.
Tom Fontana is a fucking genius.
This is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Okay, it was compiled by a Fontana fenboi with waaaaay too much time on his hands, but maaaaaann. This is impressive.
As for Fonatana? The man needs to be crowned the Evil Overlord of Television. He's been doing this for how long and people are only noticing now?
What am I talking about?
Thanks to the intersection of Homcide: Life on the Street and St. Elsewhere, there are more than 160 television shows ranging from Hogan's Heroes to The X-Files that are all a figment of Tommy Westphall's imagination.
For those of you young 'uns, Tommy was a character on St. Elsewhere. He was the autistic grandson(?) or son(?) [got to get clear on that] of Dr. Westphall (played by the late Ed Flanders), one of the physicians. In fact, Westphall and his wife are raising Tommy
Or is it all a dream?
In the very last episode of the series it's revealed that every single frame of St. Elsewhere was nothing more than a figment of Tommy's imagination. Tommy is really the son of a construction worker (played by David Morse, who also played Dr. Morrison in the hospital environment), and is usually cared for by his grandfather (also played Flanders). It turns out that Tommy is fascinated by a snowglobe replica of...you guessed it...St. Elsewhere. We find out that he spends all day and every day simply shaking the globe and watching the water and flakes swirl around the plastic building inside.
This series ending caused howls of outrage. You thought outrage was bad for the last episode of Quantum Leap? You thought it was raging over the last episode of Forever Knight? You thought people were throwing things at the television screen at the last episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You thought people were ready to hang Chris Carter in effigy over the last episode of X-Files?
Oh, baby, you ain't seen nothin'.
Multiply all the combined outrage over those shows by a hundred. Remember: St. Elsewhere wasn't just a mainstream, top-rated show on NBC, it was a cultural phenomenon. Cable was nowhere near as big as it is today, other shows made sly pop cult references to it (even Red Dwarf had a St. Elsewhere joke), and people were still watching mostly broadcast television. That should give you an idea of the outrage.
Now, at the time, the writers of St. Elsewhere, of which Tom Fontana was one, said they ended the series the way they did to kill any and all hope (or temptation) to do a reunion show.
Fontana went on to create other shows. As he did so, it seemed as if the Evil Overlord of Television had a plan: if St. Elsewhere is a figment of Tommy Westphall's imagination, how hard is it to make all of television into a figment of Tommy Westphall's imagination?
The basic premise is child's play for any fanfic writer who has ever written a cross-over: if character A from series A crosses over to series B, that means series B takes place in the same universe as series A.
Or, to put it in Fontana-terms:
If I take Dr. Turner, a character from St. Elsewhere, and put her on Homicide: Life on the Street, where she's questioned for murder by Pembleton and Bayliss, that means Homicide takes place in the same universe as St. Elsewhere, the same St. Elsewhere that's a figment of Tommy's imagination.
Now, if Fontana was simply crossing over all his own shows ranging from St. Elsewhere, to Homicide, to Oz (which he has done, I understand), this would be merely interesting instead of the Evil Overlord Genius Plan it is today.
See, something very funny happened on the way to your television screen:
Homicide crossed with Law & Order.
And you know what THAT means.
Law & Order and allllllllll its spin-offs happen in the same universe as Homicide, which happen in the same universe as St. Elsewhere, which is all a figment of Tommy's imagination.
This was true even before Det. Munch transfered from Homicide to Law & Order: SVU. Heeeee!
And don't forget: Det. Munch also made an appearnce on The X-Files.
You know what THAT means, right?
The ripples ring out from there.
Here the Evil Overlord of Television announces his long-range mission to make all of television a figment of Tommy Westphall's imagination.
Metafilter also has the sitch and a discussion.
Here is the actual page: Homicide: Life on the Street Crossovers & a Multiverse Explored
Here is the crossover grid showing "the imaginary world of Tommy Westphall" in all its sprawling, graphic glory.
Oh, you might need the Crossover Key so you know what character crossed over to which show, thereby linking them to Tommy's imaginary world.
Anyway, to get a fun recap of the page, check out August J. Pollak's page.
All hail Fontana! Evil Overlord of Television!
*giggles her way back to work*
ETA: Anyone interested in playing a six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon thing? I mean, seriously. Check out the rules on the above links, and try to link your target show to the Tommy-verse!
The key rule is this: character or entity must be mentioned by name or appear on another television show. It does not count if you have a Tommy-verse actor playing a different character, ergo Vernica Mars does not count as part of Tommy-verse. Unless Jake Kane (Kyle Secor's character) announces that his cousin Tim Bayliss is serving time for murder, Veronica Mars remains oustide the Tommy-verse.
AETA: My bad. I now remember that Tommy was the son or grandson to Dr. Westphall, not Dr. Morrison as I thought. Ergo, the last name is correct as it stands. Poooo. It's been awhile since I've seen the series [still not available on DVD] and for some bizarre reason I thought Dr. Morrison was raising Tommy.