You'd better sit down for this one.
You're speeding along through Netflix's newest original series Orange Is the New Black. You're really investing in the ups and downs of anti-heroine Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), a white collar criminal adjusting to life in a New York prison. By now, despite all her flaws, you've come to love Piper. You wonder if she'll turn it all around and abandon her proclivity for bad choices. You wonder if she'll earn the trust and friendship of her fellow inmates, many of whom have not taken kindly to her uppity sensibilities. But you also wonder, on the other hand, if the prison will take her down, bury her beneath the dark rubble that exists within her. Well, wonder no further; it doesn't matter. Because she doesn't exist.
If you've made it to the 11th episode of Orange Is the New Black, you might have taken note of a gift bequeathed upon a group of downtrodden inmates by one Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley): a bag of Let's Potato Chips. An innocuous sight to many. But to Community fans, the Let's brand will jog a few memories.
Memories of Leonard "The Human Raisin" Rodriguez (Richard Erdman) proclaiming his delight with the snack food on his YouTube channel. Of Dean Craig Pelton (Jim Rash) paying an unannounced visit to students Troy Barnes (Donald Glover) and Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi), munchies in tow. Of Troy and girlfriend Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs) squabbling over the quality of the product... although that was a Season 4 episode, so we don't have to talk about it. Yes, while Let's may not be a real potato chip syndicate, it exists with quite a fervor in the Community universe. And, apparently, in the Orange Is the New Black universe. Which means, quite inarguably, that these two shows exist in the same universe.
And, of course, it doesn't stop there. Not even close.
If you're an Orange Is the New Black watcher, then we must assume you are a subscriber to Netflix. And if you are a living human, then we must assume that you're a fan of Arrested Development. In said case, you might have caught a glimpse of GOB munching a few Let's Potato Chips while chumming around with his newly acquired entourage. Does this mean there are three shows that fall into the mix? Hell no. It means there are about a thousand.
Back in the days of Arrested yore, fans were treated to a scrapbooking seminar taught by undercover detective John Munch — Richard Belzer's character in the Law & Order franchise. Belzer, as Munch, had a series of other one-off cameos (The X-Files, The Wire, Sesame Street, 30 Rock) and appeared on Homicide: Life on the Street... a show linked by the Alfre Woodard character Roxanne Turner to none other than St. Elsewhere. St. Elsewhere famously concluded by revealing (spoilers!) that the entire six-season reality existed inside the mind of an autistic child named Tommy Westphall. And with this reveal, it would be only logical to conclude that Homicide (due to the Turner connection) was also concocted by young Tommy. As well as every show linked to that one by John Munch... and every show linked to every one of those shows. It gets pretty extensive.
This is old news, of course. Many have spent years calculating the mass of victims of Tommy Westphall's insatiable imagination. And now, we can welcome Orange Is the New Black into this community. Also Community.
So next time you're watching Litchfield's psychotic world unravel around the hapless (or nefarious?) Piper Chapman, fearing you might no longer be able to bear the treacherous events crafted by Weeds creator Jenji Kohan, take relief in the simple fact that it's all just the daydreams of some kid staring into space in 1988.
But take heed: the Tommy Westphall universe is forever growing, striking down the veritability of people and places everywhere. You might be next.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter | Follow hollywood.com on Twitter @hollywood_com
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For those of us who are single this Valentine's Day, Community's second episode of its fourth season was a welcome respite from all the candy hearts, balloons, and ubiquitous red/pink/fuschia clothing. Thanks to a little thing called postponement, Community's Halloween episode shifted from the original October airdate right on down to Feb. 14. And for a Halloween episode, this week's journey to Greendale is gooeier than a Russell Stover's mystery truffle.
The study group gathers to go to Vicki's halloween party, but there's a problem: Pierce locked himself in his panic room and he needs help. Jeff is back on the "at-odds-with-Pierce-train" and he's convinced that Pierce is lying because he doesn't want everyone to go to the party without him. When the Dean comes in, dressed as boxing ring girl to Jeff's shirtless boxer, he changes his tune and they head off to save Pierce.
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Once they enter Pierce's palacial home, decked out like the 1980s in space, they speak to Pierce via the security system and embark on a hunt through the house to find the code to let him out, which he has conveniently forgotten on account of all the old. Jeff and Britta break off, allowing the human ham bone (Halloween!) to psychoanalyze Jeff and get to the root of his daddy issues. Jeff belittles Pierce as they explore the house and find various pieces of the senior Hawthorne's wardrobe. It's clear Jeff is rejecting Pierce's continuing obsession with his father's approval, even after his death, because he's afraid to want his father back in his life. "Remember when this show used to be about a community college?" But we know it's true. The harder Jeff insists that he doesn't need his father, the more we know it's true. Especially when he hides from Britta after revealing he has his dad's phone number and has yet to use it. And even more especially when he sits down and actually calls the number at the end of the episode. Could Jeff really be growing?
And as Jeff finds himself, he also finds the red notebook and Pierce's code. It's the same as the security code as the surveillance system, making this whole search totally pointless, except for the part where Jeff learned something about his feelings about his dad. But whatever. And that's when the real haunting begins. The walls start shaking, and the stucco behind Troy starts to expand as as if a human is crawling out from within. Of course, it turns out that Pierce somehow managed to create the whole haunting himself, including the part where someone who kind of looked like a really tall Mr. Hawthorne Sr. was standing behind Annie in the mirror. It turns out Pierce was upset that he wasn't invited to Vicki's party, but he didn't like Vicki enough to scare her, so he scared the study group instead. It's okay, we can "aww" here.
RELATED: 'Community' Season Premiere Recap: Abed TV
But that's not all, Abed is especially impressed by the shadowy figure Pierce hired to watch him sleep. You know, that thing that paranoid old people totally do all the time. Pierce immediately thinks it's the ghost of his father and relocks the panic room, until an unaccounted for figure approached the door and opens it. It's Gilbert, his half brother and super secret guest star Giancarlo Esposito. The shot as he enters the room is not unlike the toe-to-head shot that revealed the demise of Esposito's character on Breaking Bad, and it's hard to believe that wasn't intentional. Gilbert is back because he came to give Pierce the deed to the house, but found he missed being Mr. Hawthorne's assistant so much that he secretly became Pierce's for the past two weeks until he was discovered.
Pierce, in a rare moment of compassion, says that he doesn't need an assistant but that he'd love for Gilbert to be his roommate, and suddenly, we're treated to the cutest and also most unlikely to be cute scene in the history of television. I may actually miss Pierce when Chevy Chase's final episode airs.
In other news, Troy and Britta's progress is progressing, and Shirley is concerned it's progressing too fast. Being the God-fearing, slut-shaming woman Shirley can sometimes be (in the sweetest possible way), she's concerned that her favorite study group member might be pressured into wild, crazy Britta sex. And when she tells Troy Britta might have a heftier "stuff" (i.e. sexual) appetite than he does, he panics almost as much as he did that time Annie chloroformed the janitor. Luckily, by the end of the night, Britta is prepared to take her tired ham bone home, cuddle with Troy, and watch a few episodes of that show he's been telling her so much about, Inspector Spacetime.
RELATED: Valentine's Day Plans Inspired by 'Community'
For a Halloween episode, this week sure delivered a Valentine's appropriate ending.
Grading on a Curve
Screw it, everyone gets an A (but here's why):
-Shirley is dressed as Princess Leia, her husband is Han Solo, and her kids are Ewoks. +100
-"I have a mask you can wear. One that doesn't zip at the mouth." -Shirley +50
-Annie is Jeff's ring girl so she dresses as the girl from The Ring.+30
-"I'm sure as stuff not your sexy little ring girl." -Annie +70
-Troy and Abed are dressed as Calvin and Hobbes +ALL OF THE POINTS
-"No sweat, Boba Fett" -Troy +10
-"Why does he have so many collars? SECRET DOGS." -Troy in Pierce's special gym +30
-Abed living his dream: watching his friends' drama on the security cameras like they're a TV show. +1000
-"Please Pierce, don't die slightly before your time." -Troy +15
-"We do some things. We do a lot of things. (Shirley gasp) Not all the things. Things." -Troy about him and Britta +20
-Jeff is dressed as a flimsy excuse for shirtlessness. -50
-"If you knew what spooked me, you'd call me crazy and old." -Pierce
"No one's going to call you, Pierce."-Jeff -20
-"I didn't leave my short term memory at Coachella." -Jeff to Britta +40 (for accuracy)
-Jeff skips the party to go home and call his dad.+4000
-Britta is dressed as a ham bone.+200
-"Calling for help, a classic call for help." -Britta +10
-"Holy Helen this place is huge." -Britta +0
-Britta wants to watch Inspector Space Time with Troy.+100
-Pierce has a picture of young Chevy Chase in his bedroom. +80
-"Ghosts cant go through doors stupid, they're not fire." -Pierce +30
-"Vicki didn't invite you, why didnt you scare her?" - Shirley
"I hate her." -Pierce +1000
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
[Photo Credit: NBC]
The former Beverly Hills, 90210 star, who is expecting her third child with husband Dean McDermott, was dropping the couple's four-year-old son Liam off at school in Los Angeles when she noticed a snapper tailing her vehicle.
She tried to dodge the photographer but lost control of her car and rammed into a wall on the school grounds.
But the accident failed to deter the paparazzo from taking pictures, prompting the star to hit out at the snapper on her Twitter.com blog.
She writes, "Paparazzi chased me w/ (with) the kids 2school (sic). I was trying to get away from him and had a pretty big accident... 10 school moms chased him away. Wht (what) will it take? Someone dying for paparazzi to stop?"
Spelling then headed to her doctors' office to make sure her unborn tot was unharmed by the crash.
She adds, "Going to dr (doctor) now to check on baby. I think its (sic) just shock."
The former Beverly Hills, 90210 star met and fell in love with McDermott in 2006 on the set of their TV movie Mind Over Murder.
At the time, both were married to other people - Spelling was wed to actor Charlie Shanian, while McDermott and Mary Jo Eustace were a couple.
Spelling and McDermott subsequently divorced their spouses so they could embark on a relationship and they sealed their whirlwind romance by exchanging vows in May, 2006.
But the circumstances surrounding their own nuptials has left Spelling constantly fearing McDermott will leave her.
In her new memoir Uncharted TerriTORI, she writes, "Given our history, I often get worried that Dean is going to cheat on me. If the phone rings and it's a girl's voice I have to ask if he's having an affair.
"Dean has never been anything but devoted, and he tells me over and over again that he would never do that. Deep down I believe him. But I can't stop myself. For some reason I'm compelled to accuse him of cheating."
Rosie O'Donnell reveals in the August issue of her magazine Rosie that she has been depressed for years, according to Entertainment Tonight. She originally resisted taking medication, fearing it was a cowardly way to live, but has now been on antidepressants for two years. The talk show host said she was pushed over the edge by the Columbine shootings and a celebrity benefit she attended, where she found herself sobbing throughout the evening.
Singer Rick Springfield broke his arm during a performance at the MGM Grand hotel-casino in Las Vegas, The Associated Press reports. He treated and released Tuesday at University Medical Center. The singer fell from a 20-foot high beam that is used to lower him on to the stage in the show's last scene. In EFX Alive, Springfield takes the audience on a journey to the worlds of wizard Merlin, showman P.T. Barnum, illusionist Harry Houdini and sci-fi writer H.G. Wells.
A park honoring Theodor Seuss Geisel, a k a Dr.Seuss, will open in Springfield, Mass., on June 1, AP reports. The Seuss Heritage Park and National Memorial will feature 30 bronze statues of Geisel's literary characters including Horton, Thidwick the Moose and Cat in the Hat. Geisel's stepdaughter, Lark Diamod-Kates, designed the sculptures. Geisel died in 1991 at age 87.
To commemorate the comedienne's 90th birthday, the U.S. Postal Service will unveil a stamp honoring Lucille Ball, Reuters reports. The stamp will be the seventh in the Postal Service's Legend of Hollywood Series. Others have included Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, Alfred Hitchcock, James Cagney and Edward G Robinson. Ball, who was best known for her 1950's sitcom I Love Lucy, died in 1989 at the age of 78.
William Dail, the road manager for Insane Clown Posse, has pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for choking an Eminem fan, AP reports. The fan apparently held up an Eminem T-shirt and chucked some M&M candies at two clowned-faced band members following an Insane Clown Posse concert in Omaha, Neb., in May. The 24-year-old man was taken outside where Dail then choked him until he blacked out. Dail agreed to plead guilty of one count of disorderly conduct and pay a $100 fine.
The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin said in two magazine articles that his arrest in April was not due to a chronic drug habit but sporadic use, Reuters reports. Sorkin was arrested at a Burbank airport in April after airport employees found marijuana, crack and hallucinogenic mushrooms in his bag. Sorkin told TV Guide that he has broken his sobriety since 1997 by occasional drug use. He said he would smoke pot from time to time to relax, and likened it to having a martini at the end of a long day. Sorkin also said he used crack less than five times in the last two years. In a September issue of Talk magazine, Sorkin said he would used drugs after work to celebrate the pressure being off. "There's no way I could be writing high and not have people know it,"he said.
Robert Downey Jr. was back at work on Tuesday. Variety reports that the actor filmed a music video for the song I Want Love, the first single from Elton John's new CD Songs From the West Coast. Ed Limato, Downey's agent, said that the actor had received several important offers in film and TV roles.
A new biography of Natalie Wood claims the actress was raped as a teenager by an unnamed actor, the BBC reports. According to author Suzanne Finstad, Woods was 16 when she was raped by a "powerful, married movie star." Finstad chose not to name the actor so that people would focus on Wood's horror and trauma. She also added that Wood's mother conspired to keep the rape a secret. The book also details the events leading up to the actress' drowning in 1981 during a boat trip with actors Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken. Wagner has said there are many errors in the book and is upset that the inaccuracies have been published.
Director Steven Spielberg has decided to scale down his plans for a riding ring complex at his home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, Reuters reports. Neighbors initially objected to the plan, saying the 27,000-square-foot domed monstrosity would clash with the rustic style of the nearby homes. Spielberg reworked the plans and came up with a smaller dome-less version that has met with local approval. The stable will house four or five horses and be surrounded by a 6-foot high gate.
Mick Jagger will release his fourth solo album in November, Virgin Records has announced. According to Reuters, Jagger, 58, has been recording the album with Pete Townshend, Missy Elliott, Lenny Kravitz and Rob Thomas.
Michael Jackson's 30th anniversary all-star concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York sold out in less than five hours, AP reports. Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration, The Solo Years will be Jackson's first with his brothers since the 1994 Victory tour in 1984. Other artists scheduled to appear are Whitney Houston, Gladys Knight, Ray Charles, Britney Spears, Ricky Martin and N 'Sync. Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, William Shatner, Quincy Jones, Kobe Bryant, Willem Dafoe and Macaulay Culkin will also pay tribute to the pop star.