I had forgotten it happened.
And then it happened again.
(That’s an enticing opening, isn’t it? You’re right. We’ll see.)
I was watching Maverick the other day on The Westerns Channel, featuring Beau Maverick, who is my third favorite “Maverick.” (Maverick provided a series of leading men during its run, all of them hailing from the same gambler family.
I watch the reruns, hoping for “Bret”, feeling let down when I get “Bart”, and wondering what I’d done to deserve “Beau”. Had they gone one more “Maverick” away from “The good one” – perhaps, Bob Maverick – I might have seriously considered not watching.)
Anyway, I get Beau. (The words, “for my sins” implicitly understood.) I tune in, with the show already in progress. Beau enters his hotel room, cheerfully whistling.
What exactly is he whistling?
It is the theme song to Maverick.
“Bum ba-da bum bum, bum bum bum…”
“Maverick is the name…” he’d continue if he could whistle and sing and the same time. (I believe there was a performer in vaudeville who could do that.)
Think about that. A character on Maverick whistles the theme song to Maverick.
You’re not supposed to be able to do that.
I am reminded of the words of my MTM boss Ed. Weinberger who twinklingly observed,
“The characters on this show – meaning The Mary Tyler Moore Show – are the only people who have never seen ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show.’”
He was exaggerating, of course. Someone was watching the competition. But, even they, at least, knew it existed.
The characters on Mary did not.
That’s a bizarre hole-in-the-universe concept, isn’t it? Even though the Mary show took great pains to hew to “experienced reality” – as compared, say, to a “talking horse” sitcom or a show with a visiting Martian uncle – these are actual shows, kids; you can look it up – “Mary Richards” never watched or even mentioned the highly regarded half-hour comedy.
You would think the show would be right up her alley, being smart and funny, and all about her. Plus, she is often home Saturday nights when it’s broadcast, nine o’clock Eastern Time, eight P.M. in Minneapolis.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show is the one “blind spot” in “Mary’s” televiewing itinerary. She can watch the show before Mary. She can watch the show after it. But she cannot watch Mary. It just can’t be done. Like seeing the back of your head in a mirror.
Yet here’s “third choice” Beau, whistling the theme song to Maverick.
Come on, now. A guy from a show set in the 1870’s whistles a tune written in 1957? Maverick’s an unusual western. But it isn’t The Twilight Zone.
Cut to the final episode of the ‘80’s sitcom Charles In Charge, the other time I saw this unreality-breaking phenomenon.
I was no great enthusiast of Charles in Charge, but my daughter Anna liked it and I liked her, so I watched it. Plus, it was the final episode of the series. Who knows what crazy shenanigans were in store? It seemed worth sticking around to find out.
I do not recall the episode’s story. I assume they were wrapping up loose ends. Okay, I’ll research it.
I didn’t find much. “Charles prepares an interview to get into Princeton.” But it doesn’t matter, because nothing unusual happened.
Until the very end of the episode.
When, heading towards the finale, the fictional characters burst into a spirited version of the Charles In Charge theme song.
You know what?
It was the last episode. What can I tell you?
From an “Artistic Success” standpoint, this musical gambit remains one-for-two – one effort bringing a middle-aged Jewish man to tears, the other, making me wonder if Maverick’s Executive Producer had opted to play golf that day and the unsupervised “children” decided “Let’s have some fun!”
A blast for them. A shameful disgrace to a heartsick viewer with high standards.
“The Rule of Threes” decrees a culminating third example. I seriously hope that’s not true. I no longer watch Law & Order SVU. But if I heard a detective came into the squad room going, “Chung! Chung!”,