Episode 262 of the Letters Page: Writers’ Room: Tome of the Bizarre Vol. 2 #310

Rambler or Robert Johnson faces off with the headless horseman

For those who stuck around to the very end, why is it always Star Trek and Reading Rainbow and nothing else when people talk about LeVar Burton? Yeah, he was on them forever, but how has his role as Kunta Kinte fallen out of memory? Roots may have had some issues with historical accuracy but it was and is a tremendously import piece of work that he did an outstanding job on, and it was definitely Burton’s breakout moment. Impressive performance for a 20 year old who’d only had a few minor film roles before then.

Certainly more memorable than his brief appearance in Looking For Mister Goodbar, which came out in theaters the same year.

He also voiced Kwame on all 113 episodes of Captain Planet. “Power of Earth” indeed. :slight_smile:


Because those are more well known in general and LeVar himself still actively promotes Reading Rainbow. Along with making a lot of public appearances at cons in relation to Star Trek.


Okay, got to say, describing Rambler as a “mystic Columbo” does more to make me like the character than most prior work with the character…

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A-Damned Re-Boo-taro, fantastic, October off to a perfect start.

This really does feel like the third episode in a row already. XD

Mystical Columbo! Brilliant!

Imagine Adam never hitting anything with a hammer before.

Obsessed with horse classes now.

So if people are suddenly taking on roles in a story, that means this is all a Grimm plot, right…?

Love the Ghostbusters bit :slight_smile:

Yay, I called it! And so we’ve got a confirmed nemesis relationship here now, yes? Right? RIGHT??

All these letters where their first response is, “Eesh, weeeell…” XD

That letter about Haze was pretty darn cool.

“The Court requests that the defense cease meowing after every sentence.”

ChristoFEAR BadHELL, with apologies to The Simpsons who did everything first.

Zoom filter stuck on human face
“I’m here, your honor. I’m not a human.”


I was figuring the way to put Grim in a bind with Sleepy Hollow is that he takes on the Ichabod role, and then Rambler binds him to it even more – the old “You want this? Then TAKE it!” Because the end of Sleepy Hollow is that Ichabod was never heard from again. He didn’t die – dying is easy to get past, but the threat is that the story doesn’t ever quite end and Grim is forever stuck never being heard from. So his choices are to either play out the story, which is functionally banishment, or rescind his claim on the story so it can’t hurt him.

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That’s not really how the story goes, but you’d never know it from reading the horribly truncated modern versions. To quote Irving’s original (which is up on Project Gutenberg, among other places):

It is true, an old farmer, who had been down to New York on a visit several years after, and from whom this account of the ghostly adventure was received, brought home the intelligence that Ichabod Crane was still alive; that he had left the neighborhood partly through fear of the goblin and Hans Van Ripper, and partly in mortification at having been suddenly dismissed by the heiress; that he had changed his quarters to a distant part of the country; had kept school and studied law at the same time; had been admitted to the bar; turned politician; electioneered; written for the newspapers; and finally had been made a justice of the Ten Pound Court. Brom Bones, too, who, shortly after his rival’s disappearance conducted the blooming Katrina in triumph to the altar, was observed to look exceedingly knowing whenever the story of Ichabod was related, and always burst into a hearty laugh at the mention of the pumpkin; which led some to suspect that he knew more about the matter than he chose to tell.

So Ichabod is alive and doing fine, and Brom (who often gets accused of murder) is a rather rough practical joker, but no killer. The final paragraph of the story proper establishes that the local gossips refuse to believe the farmer’s testimony and instead form a new piece of folklore around Ichabod being carried off.

All of which ties into the overall theme of believing too much in fantasy leading to bad results. Ichabod not only believes implicitly in the Horseman superstition, he also dreams of marrying a wealthy young heiress in defiance of all reason. He only gets a good ending when he leaves Sleepy Hollow (and his fantasies) behind for good. Brom never buys into any of this guff and has more realistic expectations about getting hitched, and he’s very definitely the winner of the story.

There’s also a postscript conversation between the storyteller and a listener who has his doubts about the tale’s veracity and the storyteller subtly mocking him for taking everything too seriously, then admitting he doesn’t believe half of it himself. It’s pretty funny in a wry way, and hardly ever gets printed any more.

Whether Grimm would be bound by the original or mutilated version of the story is up for debate, but just the fact that the “carried off ending” is merely an edited variant probably gives him an easy out - assuming he doesn’t mind playing at being a schoolteacher, lawyer, politician, newswriter and judge for however long it takes to wriggle free. Wouldn’t make Grimm like Rambler any better though. :slight_smile:

Headless Horseman Rambler Variant confirmed?

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here is a video explaining the complex mess of Death’s Head Liz C mentioned
and the less seen Circuit Breaker
I had been thinking about posting the Death’s Head video a while ago because of the complex comic publication history aspect.


Yeah Adam was a little reversed on why Circuit Breaker never made it into actual Marvel comics; she was a human, but was too tied origin-wise to the Transformers to be of much use anywhere else.

So she got a raw deal compared to Death’s Head, as she’d work so well in various modern Transformers stories but Hasbro/IDW can’t do a thing with her.

The TF Fan Club back in the day got around it all a bit sneakily in their mirror universe by calling her Sephie Beller and Emulator.

In some ways Hedgelord also does nod back to Circuit Breaker as a result, now that I think about it.

(Also Chris McFeely is basically the TF Wiki’s WalkingTarget (or WT is our Chris McFeely?), so his Transformers stuff is absolutely worth a watch/read.)


Indeed. The “Circuit Smasher” thing in Regeneration One was the closest we’ve gotten. There was also the time Spiderman met GI Joe, but that couldn’t be included in the collection.

Much as I didn’t like the direction IDW went, I do like how Hasbro’s been dolling out the licenses as sets. It’s led to some really interesting things like the crossover sourcebook for Renegade’s RPGs (Fun fact: I got books from Renegade in boxes labeled as Flat River Group, which had make me think that we were getting surprises early Disparation, alas).

And I’ll give a second endorsement to Chris McFeely. Awesome deep dives that look at both in-universe lore and real-life publishing/production stories.

Honestly this is all reminding me that I feel a tiny bit sad that Adam’s beholden just to superhero comic artists.

Can you imagine Adam doing a pastiche of Geoff Senior’s work? Guido Guidi? Marcelo Matere? Nick Roche? (Actually I’d probably have a fangirl singularity at that last one.)

(Hilariously Christopher does have his own distinctive writing style the way Furman did, tho, though we don’t quite have Christopherisms going on in the same manner of Furmanisms.)

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Yeah, LeVar is blessed/cursed with having four culturally-defining roles under his belt. The oldest is just a bit older than the millenial generation, so it doesn’t come up as often, and voice acting roles often get dropped when there’s something with a person’s face on it. On the flip side, a lot of people in the generations that play Sentinels grew up on Reading Rainbow, and Star Trek is… well, Star Trek.

Regarding the episode, good all around. When they got into the tangent on Legacy ghost stories, though, I only had one thought:

Who is going to request the Guise & Legacy join forces with the ghost of George Washington Carver to fight the Green Grosser’s Peril Peanuts story?


As someone that didn’t grow up on Reading Rainbow or Star Trek, I mostly know about Reading Rainbow/LeVar because of Community.

Probably worth noting that both Roots and Captain Planet ended before I was born.

Approve. :slight_smile:

Anyone remember the episode of the old Time Patrol cartoon with the Evil Twin of George Washington Carver? Has 101 Evil Uses for Peanuts, flies around in a zeppelin filled with peanut gas. Probably the best gag in the whole series, although there’s a lot to be said for Eli Whitney deciding to skip on the cotton gin in favor of inventing flesh-eating robots.

TNG isn’t just Trek, it’s The Longest Trek and by a huge margin. And he shows up in chronologically-later shows and films, of course. Same effect as Doctor Who, where a surprising number of people still vote Tom Baker as Their Doctor every poll despite how long he’s been off the air. So yeah, I get it, sort of.

Roots was a miniseries, it was over in a week. The book’s still in print, it’s still worth a look as a fairly big step in increasing African-American representation in media. Decent read too, not just a dry historical tome.

Captain Planet is a hilariously terrible show in many ways, but go look at its wiki page and tell me you don’t want to see those goofball villains statted up in the SCRPG or Hoggish Greedly as a Multiverse villain deck.

That was kind of my point. He was only on a couple of episodes of that show, but you know him through that anyway. His filmography is huge, with him making appearances in a few episodes of dozens of popular shows over decades of time, and that’s not counting the voice work, some of which is really recent - he’s Barclay on the Nancy Drew/Tom Swift shows, for ex. But it’s almost always the quite old TNG and/or Reading Rainbow that get mentioned, not his more recent stuff or his (ahem) roots.


Any digging will show you he’s been on various shows and done voice acting. Doesn’t change the fact Reading Rainbow and Star Trek are what he is most known for.

You could equate it to Christopher and Adam. They’ve done other things but they will likely always be first know for Sentinels of the Multiverse.


Plus while Roots is culturally important, so are Trek and Reading Rainbow in their own way. There’s been scientists and astronauts who pointed at Trek as inspiring them, and Reading Rainbow helped a generation of kids get into reading.

I think that’s probably the difference in POV. If you’re coming at this “late” and seeing everything equally you value it differently (so of course Roots is taken as higher quality than a space opera and a kid’s show) than “this is what I grew up with for my childhood (TNG) and young adulthood (Reading Rainbow was around 20 years)”.

(I think with Captain Planet it’s more that Kwame was neither a particularly flawed nor particularly amazing character on that show. I wager if you’re remembering one of the main characters it’s probably Wheeler or Ma-Ti.)

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Yup, this.

Let’s just all agree that Burton is a treasure. I joke that people say my generation (late Gen X) watched too much TV, but we were watching Levar Burton, Fred Rogers, and Sesame Street (and reruns of Mr Wizard). We’re doing okay.


We can throw Bob Ross in there too.