We recently wrote about an odd phenomenon that connects the universe of 1980s hospital drama St. Elsewhere to just about every TV show that has ever aired. The Tommy Westphall theory is a fun diversion, but there are other tangled knots that result in seemingly unrelated shows being connected. One of the easiest ways to see amusing relationships between shows is to take a look at the creative forces behind them.
Hollywood is a lot smaller than you may think, and many talented people behind the camera have extensive and, possibly, confounding resumes. Hypothetically speaking, the director of your favorite primetime, family-friendly series may have also at one time served as a writer on one of the edgiest crime dramas ever aired. Let’s take a look at how a few programs from recent memory have somewhat surprising relationships.
From the Twisted Minds That Brought You Glee…
Glee! The name says it all. This comedy-drama (or, com/dram for those with better things to do than say the full name of a genre) on the Fox network is just about as happy-go-lucky as it gets. Just a fun bunch of high school misfits singin’ today’s hottest tunes, falling in love, and learning about their place in an ever-changing world. This undeniably sweet show’s creators couldn’t possibly have anything but visions of puppies and unicorns prancing through their minds all day, right?
Well, it turns out this might not be true for two thirds of the team. Co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk are also the guys behind FX’s incredibly dark, inescapably bleak American Horror Story. That’s right, the same show that features an expectant mother (possibly carrying the child of a demon) eating the brain of a… come to think of it, did they ever say where that brain came from?
So next time those kids from Glee burst out into one of your favorite pop songs, just remember that all of those fun characters were conceptualized in the same minds that American Horror Story’s immensely disturbing “Rubber Man” crawled out of.
Corrupt Politicians, Crime Solving Dolphins, and Unsolved (Cosby) Mysteries
HBO’s Boardwalk Empire is one of the most critically acclaimed shows on television. Steve Buscemi seems to have been born for the role of Nucky Thompson, a corrupt, New Jersey treasurer (based on the real life Enoch L. Johnson) who does whatever it takes to keep profits from illegal hooch flowing as American prohibition runs its course.
But before series creator Terence Winter told heady tales of corrupt politicians striking lucrative deals with mobsters, he wrote for several programs that are a far dry from his present work. Remember the mid ‘90s revival of the dolphin-centric drama (or, dolp/dram for those with better things to do than say the full name of a genre) Flipper? Neither do we. But Winter was an integral part of the series’ first season. But perhaps the (sadly) ill-fated Cosby Mysteries are a bit more memorable, and Winter crafted two of the 20 cases solved by titular detective and outstanding comedian Bill Cosby.
Heroes: Super Powered, Internal Combustion Powered and Full Moon Powered
There’s no denying that NBC’s Heroes was a non-stop thrill ride… at least for one and a half of the show’s four seasons. Still, viewers loved that creator and executive producer Tim Kring (also responsible for Fox’s current supernatural hit Touch) showed us a vision of super humans in a world that seemed more realistic than that depicted in Marvel or DC comics.
But Kring also lent his talents to another great American hero when he wrote a 1985 episode of Knight Rider entitled “Voo Doo Knight.” Knight Rider, for those who don’t know, was about a crime fighting team comprised David Hasselhoff and a car that had been programmed to think like a human… or maybe it had a human brain inside of it. Look, the show was cancelled a year after I was born, and if I learn the story behind the show, there’s a good chance I’ll forget something important, like long division. You should be impressed that I’ve actually heard of it.
It’s also worth noting that Kring co-wrote the smash hit film Teen Wolf Too, a classic piece of cinema about a werewolf who plays high school basketball. The movie has yet to make its way onto the American Film Institute’s list of top 100 movies, but it’s only a matter of time until it knocks The Maltese Falcon off the list permanently.