Tommy Westphall is a minor character from the series St. Elsewhere: it is later revealed that the entire series has been taking place in his imagination.
However, St. Elsewhere had links and crossovers with numerous other franchises (up to 90% of all American TV) - allowing for the Tommy Westphall Universe Hypothesis: the claim that all
of these series are taking place in his imagination!
Now there are some problems with the Hypothesis - but none of them apply in the Amberverse, as everywhere is already nested into a deeper reality. So there are some interesting possibilities we can play with:Reality TV
If how real a Shadowdweller is depends on their interactions with Amberites, then the characters and settings in an Amberite's favourite shows are going to be as or more real than any other shadowdweller or Shadow. When characters move series, or make cameos and guest appearances, they would literally be travelling to another show's Shadow and performing there.
And they'd know what they were doing. "I only exist if people are watching me" would be a literal truth, with keeping the Amberite demographic a matter of life and death. (And explaining some truly awful shows - Flora has a lot to answer for!)
Travelling between these Shadows would be fairly straightforward - Oceanic Airlines exists in most TV series. Their airliners would be Artifacts with basic Shadow Movement capabilities. Mapping Shadow
The Grid (https://thetommywestphall.wordpress.com ... ster-list/
) showing the crossovers between series can be used as a map for rapid travel between TV shows. The constant movement means that travel times will be short and comfortable. Even when uninterested in the shows themselves, the wide differences in the shows means that this could be used to cut down travelling time when searching for other things.It's all Corwin's fault
The universe depends on someone out of touch with reality dreaming all of these Shadows into existence (including real world Earth). Given Corwin spent centuries out of his mind, and is on Earth when he regains sanity, it's likely that he is the original Tommy Westphall.
Flora's interest in his imprisonment may have nothing to do with threats or politics, and everything to do with wanting to protect her favourite TV Shows (consider: if you can have anything you can imagine, then the ability to imagine things is the true currency of the realm). Her discomposure when Corwin turns up may be because she knows that his presence means that Star Trek, Firefly etc just got cancelled (yes, they're on the Grid). But now for a gritty reboot....
Of course, Corwin can be replaced - all Flora would need to do is find another Amberite that no one will miss. Possibly there's some sort of Amberite powered Construct involved, allowing the captive to move around, updating the plots, but not directly interfering. It would appear that the replacement prefers to dream in movies, given the number of TV series that have been remade as movies.Would you like to visit?
Rather than holding someone captive, the Grid may have become real enough that Amberites and other travellers can enter the world and further plots, but not break genre. Even if people are held prisoner within the Grid, finding a way to escape may depend on exploiting the local rules. Be entertaining enough, and you are free! (Or more likely, 'escape' into your own min-series). The Artifact running the Grid would need to be quite flexible, so whether you are a prisoner or a tourist may depend more on your outlook than on anything else - very appropriate to Amber.