It’s a tale as old as TV itself — shared universes between different shows crossing over with each other.
“Friends” and “Mad About You”? Same universe. There’s the “Law & Order” universe, which thanks to John Munch (Richard Belzer) also technically includes “Homicide: Life on the Streets,” “The X-Files” and “Arrested Development,” just to name a few. And, of course, there’s the “Arrow”-verse, linking “Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Supergirl” and “Legends of Tomorrow.”
Do you know about the “Dawson’s Creek” shared universe, though? No, this isn’t about the short-lived spinoff “Young Americans,” though that little-show-that-couldn’t should be remembered more fondly. Instead, this is the shared universe that includes “Dawson’s Creek,” “Californication” and — wait for it — The Muppets.
That’s right, based on the laws of TV these all exist in the same universe and we’re better for it. But how, you might ask? The answer to that one is simple, really.
If you’ll remember back to Season 5 of “Dawson’s Creek,” Joey Potter (Katie Holmes) went to college and almost immediately became a cliche. She ended up having a fling with her college professor David Wilder (Ken Marino). It was short-lived but very memorable. Of course, eventually Wilder simply went away.
He didn’t disappear forever, though. Instead he ended up in California. Marino reprised his role as Wilder — albeit with a much louder personality — in the “Californication” Season 3 episode “So Here’s the Thing.” It was a cameo appearance, but one that was very noticeable.
How did Marino come to play his “Dawson’s Creek” role nearly a decade later on “Californication”? It turns out the latter is created by Tom Kapinos, who served as a writer and executive producer on “Dawson’s Creek.”
Where, exactly, do The Muppets fit into this? After all, Kermit and Miss Piggy never vacationed in Capeside on “Dawson’s Creek” and Animal was never drinking buddies with Hank Moody (David Duchovny) on “Californication.” Instead, this one falls squarely on the shoulders of Pacey (Joshua Jackson) and Joey.
In 1999, one year after “Dawson’s Creek” debuted, Jackson and Holmes made uncredited cameos in the movie “Muppets from Space,” reprising their roles from the WB series. In the appearance, Pepe the King Prawn and Clifford both hit on Joey, while Pepe explains to Pacey they’re in a Muppet movie.
It all happens quickly, but it lands “Dawson’s Creek” squarely in Muppet territory.
Crossovers on TV aren’t something that’s going to go away. In fact, if superhero shows have anything to say about it they’re only going to become more common. Wait until The CW launches a fifth “Arrow”-verse show to make the annual crossover event event longer.
That all said, it’s hard to think of a shared universe as bizarre as “Dawson’s Creek,” “Californication” and The Muppets. While they only ever met in cameos, imagining a world that would encompass all three of those entities is hard to do.
Of course, given how the internet works, perhaps the three of them will reunite together for silly sketch or a PSA about voting sometime in the near future. In the meantime, take heart that while Duchovny, Holmes or Fozzie Bear may not realize their shared universe, one very important piece of the puzzle — Marino — might if his Facebook page is any indication.