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The Ultimate (obscure) TV Crossover

This was first posted on my "FanboyGeek" blog in 2007. It's a fun post and continued to get feedback for years, so I thought I'd re-post it here for posterity, as the FanboyGeek has now been shut down. Plus, I'll pick up on the story in a future post. I've left it in the present tense, but do check the PS at the foot for an update:

4 June 2017

I love television crossovers.  If you're an obsessive like me you'll know all about the episode of The Love Boat where Charlie's Angels take a trip on the Pacific Princess.  You'll know about the episode of Magnum where Murder She Wrote's Jessica Fletcher turns up at Robin Masters' home in Hawaii.  You'll love the moment on Spin City where Michael J Fox switches on CSC and watches "Sports Night", the self-titled programme being made in Aaron Sorkin's pre-West Wing days.  You'll also know about the episode of Dick Van Dyke's Diagnosis Murder where Cinnamon Carter, Barbara Bain's character in Mission Impossible, checks into Dr Sloan's clinic.

I get a big kick out of these crossovers because it means that these TV shows exist in each other's worlds.  So, when Detective Munch from Homicide: Life on the Street appears in Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, all the characters and everything that ever happened in those programmes exist in the same universe.  And, when said Detective Munch appears in an episode of The X-Files (Richard Belzer being a conspiracy theory buff) that means that Fox Mulder lives in the same universe as everyone in Law and Order.  I could go on...

Last week my wife spotted the ultimate crossover.  It was so subtle that a week's Googling still hasn't uncovered anyone else having made the same connection.  It's a doozy, and frankly I'm incredibly jealous I didn't spot it...

Screen grab from TV show "thirtysomething" of the Durstin Gold advert.
"Who Deserves it More" - Durstin gold advert from "thirtysomething".

In seminal 1980's TV series thirtysomething, the central character Michael Steadman is the Creative Director of advertising agency DAA. In one of the penultimate episodes in 1991 (series 4, episode 21 "A Stop at Willoughby") Michael starts to have a breakdown which causes him to give up his work and return to his life-long desire of being a writer.  He's pushed over the edge by a campaign he's working on that starts to fall apart.  The product he is promoting is a (fictitious) beer called Durstin Gold ("Who Deserves it More?").

Screen grab from the TV show "The OC" showing Seth unload a box of Durstin Gold beer from his truck.
The OC's Seth unloading a box of Durstin Gold from his truck.

Jump to 2004 and series 1, episode 16 of The OC  ("The Links").  Seth is throwing a party at his house, and in preparation unloads a case of beer from his truck.  A case of "Durstin Gold" beer.  The same logo and very prominently placed in the frame.

Normally this kind of thing only happens when the shows share a network or a producer but further hours on the web shows no connection.  Then I read the self-penned IMDB bio of Michael Lange, the OC episode director.  Bingo. 

Picture of director Michael Lange.
Film and TV Director Michael Lange (picture from

Lange spent 8 years in the Advertising business, working for Cunningham and Walsh on Madison Avenue and Creamer Advertising, and among other things produced commercials for Schlitz Light Beer.  My guess is that the irresistible parallels of their backgrounds as young Jewish advertising producers making ads for a beer company drew Lange to be a fan of thirtysomething and he couldn't resist dropping in an in-joke when the opportunity arose.

In a further twist, in 2006/7 Lange directed a 2-part episode of ABC's Brothers and Sisters, which is Executive Produced by Ken Olin (Michael Steadman himself) and stars his real-life wife Patricia Wettig, another of the main stars of thirtysomething.  I wonder if Lange confessed his homage...

By the way, check out Lange's IMDB CV.  It's quite the most impressive FanboyGeek set of credits I've ever seen - among many others The Fall Guy, The Commish, American Gothic, Lois and Clarke, The X-Files, Buffy, Angel, Roswell and of course Diagnosis Murder.

2020 update

On the day of posting the above, I was thrilled to receive this reply from the aforementioned Michael Lange himself (I'm assuming he had a Google Alert activated - maybe he'll get a notification about this one too!). He confirmed that my guess about the deliberate choosing was wrong :-( But I'm pleased that my post amused him!

Michael hosts an amazing behind-the-scenes of TV and the movies radio show called "From the Set" that's well worth checking out, and you can follow him on Twitter.

The story doesn't end here. But that's for another post...

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