Saturday, October 29, 2005


There have been over a hundred alternate TV dimensions seen, thanks mostly to 'Sliders', but also due to 'Futurama', 'Star Trek', and the various science fiction anthology series.

And each of them is home to Holmes.

Currently there are a handful of "active" dimensions, thanks to the popularity of working the White House into so many different TV series. (All of the other dimensions are still out there, but they're just not being seen at present, much like so many TV characters after their shows have been canceled.)

So after the dimensions of the main Toobworld, the evil mirror version, and Earth Prime-Time Delay, home of the remakes, all of the other dimensions can be summed up pretty much by who's the POTUS for each of them. For each of them, I've assigned a Sherlock Holmes.

First off, a recap of the Big Three dimensions:

Jeremy Brett (Sherlock Holmes)
. . . "Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The" (1984) TV Series
. . . "Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, The" (1990) TV Series
. . . "Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The" (1994) TV Series
. . . "Return of Sherlock Holmes, The" (1986) TV Series
. . . Eligible Bachelor, The (1993) (TV)
. . . Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1988) (TV)
. . . Last Vampyre, The (1993) (TV)
. . . Master Blackmailer, The (1992) (TV)
. . . Sign of Four, The (1987) (TV)

Alan Wheatley (II) (Sherlock Holmes)
. . . "Sherlock Holmes" (1951) (mini) TV Series

Ronald Howard (I) (Sherlock Holmes)
. . . "Sherlock Holmes" (1954) TV Series

And now on to the other dimensions, not only of sight but sound......

Douglas Wilmer (Sherlock Holmes (1965)
. . . "Sherlock Holmes" (1965) TV Series
. . . Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother, The (1975)

Yet another series which debuted on Television nearly twenty years before the Sherlock Holmes chosen to be the official representative for the main Toobworld. So in order to honor Mr. Wilmer's contribution to Sherlockiana, we've assigned his TV series to the dimension which houses the finest show about the ideal of Washington politics.

And don't hold the fact that he portrayed the Great Detective in the Gene Wilder comedy against him. First off, that's a different universe, let alone a dimension, and has no bearing on Toobworld. And secondly, Mr. Wilmer conducted himself with dignity in his portrayal of Holmes while all about him were operating at the same level of Mr. Wilder's manic high.

Peter Cushing (Sherlock Holmes (1968))
. . . "Sherlock Holmes" (1965) TV Series
. . . Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959)
. . . Masks of Death, The (1984) (TV)

For the final year of that 1960s TV series about Sherlock Holmes, the character was portrayed by noted genre actor Peter Cushing. He had earlier assayed the role in a Hammer film about the most famous of Holmes' cases, ("The Hound Of The Baskervilles"), and would return to the role in his penultimate performance ("The Masks Of Death").

In its final year, 'The West Wing' has been joined by a rival show about the White House and its occupants - ABC's 'Commander-In-Chief', starring Geena Davis as the first female President. There have been a lot of articles out there comparing the two shows, weighing their merits and debits, as there might have been when Mr. Cushing took over the role of Holmes from Mr. Wilmer. That's why I've assigned his year of the series to the same dimension as 'Commander-In-Chief'.

[By the way, that's how I got around splainin the recastaway of Holmes in that series. Rather than blather on about Quantum leaps or plastic surgery or alien abductions, the change in appearance was due to the viewpoint coming from an entirely different dimension.]

Matt Frewer (Sherlock Holmes)
. . . Case of the Whitechapel Vampire, The (2002) (TV)
. . . Hound of the Baskervilles, The (2000) (TV)
. . . Royal Scandal, The (2001) (TV)
. . . Sign of Four, The (2001) (TV)

This world, in which a single day is played out over an entire season, always feels a bit off to me. Even with the time constraint of having each hour show be an hour in real time, certain actions are still edited down to go faster than reality and yet the producers still found a need to include certain time-filler/killer subplots to stretch it out to a full 24 hours.

So I can think of no better portrayal of Holmes that conveyed the same sense of being... not-quite-right than Matt Frewer in these four TV movies based on the Conan Doyle novels and short stories.

Geoffrey Whitehead (Sherlock Holmes)
. . . "Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson" (1980) TV Series

It's not because this series was produced in Poland, (which I couldn't resist mentioning however!), but this series wasn't very highly regarded. I'm not saying then that this is the reason it should be set in a world where Patricia Wettig is an evil Vice-President; but Mr. Whitehead's ineffectual performance might have contributed to this dimension being such an overall downer.

Christopher Lee (I) (Sherlock Holmes)
. . . Incident at Victoria Falls (1991) (TV)
. . . Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (1992) (TV)
. . . Sherlock Holmes und das Halsband des Todes (1962)

I designated an alternate dimension for all of those TV movies in which there was a fictional President of the United States rather than the Real World Commander In Chief at the time. And surprisingly, the chronological timeline matched up pretty well - so long as they all served only one term in office. (And some of them had to die in office after the TV movie ended, to be replaced by their Vice President - that was for those TV movies that followed too quickly on the heels of the preceding POTUS.)

So of all the Holmes portrayed in more than one TV movie (my only criteria for consideration), Christopher Lee stands head and shoulders above all the others. And considering the fact that he's about six foot seven, we can take that literally!

The only other actor I seriously considered was Stewart Granger, who portrayed Holmes in a true ABC Movie Of The Week back in the mid-1970s. But the addition of a theatrical appearance as Holmes capped it for Mr. Lee, even though I will always think of him as Sherlock's brother Mycroft in the Billy Wilder film "The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes".


John Cleese (Sherlock Holmes)
. . . Elementary My Dear Watson (1973) (TV)
John Cleese (Arthur Sherlock Holmes)
. . . Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It, The (1977)

This dimension is populated by shows in which several real-world Presidents are portrayed as absolute morons: 'That's My Bush!', and 'The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer'.....(which concerned the presidency of Abraham Lincoln).

It's Cleese's turn as the grandson Arthur Sherlock Holmes that seals the fate of his performances to banishment into this realm.

So that concludes the look at Sherlock Holmes in the POTUS-driven TV dimensions. There are still other actors to consider in future articles.



Anonymous said...

Tom Baker took the role of Holmes in an ITV _Hound of the Baskervilles_ from about 1984. I remember seeing it on A&E in the early days. This was a one-time performance, but it should be noteworthy. For one thing, it means Baker has played both Holmes and Guy of Gisbourne (in The Zany Advs. of Robin Hood), a feat first put together by Basil Rathbone. For another, surely Baker as Holmes might also link to Baker as the Fourth Doctor (remember, he dons deerstalker in Talons of Weng-Chiang). I've always felt the two must have met (and some of the Virgin novels support this), and surely Holmes' keen intellect could make for a good common point. Could it turn out this Holmes was the Doctor living for a brief while in Victorian England?


Toby O'B said...

I don't think so, as Jeremy Brett did his own version of 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'. Had it been a totally fabricated story, I might have thought it possible.

I'm not done with the focus on Holmes. I'll even be doing something about the "Hound of the Baskervilles". And the link between Holmes and another TV detective will come into play, a theory that has been explored and pretty much accepted by Holmesian scholars.

Stay tuned!