Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Sometimes I envy my counterparts who study the shared universe known as the Wold Newton Universe.  The concept was created by author Philip Jose Farmer, in which many works of literature (with perhaps an accent on pulp fiction) were connected through a shared genealogy stemming from a group of travelers and their chance encounter with a meteorite that had just crashed near the Wold Newton area in the late 18th Century.  They were bathed in the radiation of the meteorite which affected their genetic make-up, so that their descendants would be more than human - possessing talents physical, mental, and creative which surpassed the rest of the population.  Among the members of this "Wold Newton Family" are Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, Doc Savage, Fu Manchu, Bulldog Drummond, and many others.

As it is geared more towards the written word (although comics and movies and television have been enfolded into the greater universe), the "WNU" can easily conflate different characters into the same person and blend alternate stories into the same timeline.  It is a world of the mind in which the characters, based on descriptions provided by the original authors, can look differently to the individual reader.

The Toobworld Dynamic doesn't have that luxury.  Based on television, a few movies, and certain online content, the "TwD" is a fictional universe that is locked into those portrayals of characters.  For example, Clark Kent/Superman must always look like the actor George Reeves and any other portrayal on TV (Dean Cain, Tom Welling, etc.) must be relegated to an alternate TV dimension.

I bring this up because of the adaptation of P.D. James' book "Death Comes To Pemberley" which was recently seen on 'Masterpiece Mystery!'.  In just dealing with the book, which continues the story of Jane Austen's characters in "Pride And Prejudice" with a murder mystery theme, the reader can assume that these are the exact same characters to be found in Ms. Auten's tome.  (And many decades later, the same location would be found in a fun "WNU" novel written by Win Scott Eckert and Mr. Farmer himself, "The Evil Of Pemberley House".  Note to TV producers: that would make for a great TV movie itself!) 

However, that is not the case for Earth Prime-Time, the main TV dimension.  There have been several adaptations of "Pride And Prejudice" on TV over the years, and based on the rule of "First Come, First Served", only the first adaptation is eligible to be part of the main Toobworld.  All of the rest must be packed up and shipped to any number of alternate dimensions.  (And unfortunately that usually means a better, more elaborate later production suffers the same fate even if it is leagues ahead of that first one in production values.)

In this case, though, I may skip that rule.  The first production from 1938 in the UK was presented live and is lost to the ages.  It was also boiled down to a 55 minute episode and thus much of the meat of the story was already lost.  The same holds true for the American version in 1949 with John Baragrey and Madge Evans in the title roles.  Instead, a six part series (I always lean toward series) with Peter Cushing as Darcy is the official version for Earth Prime-Time.

And so with "Death Comes To Pemberley", it too must be sent off to its own dimension, one in which it has to be assumed that these same characters - looking like the actors who portray them - enacted the events of the original novel but which would never be seen by the audience in the Trueniverse.

Because the late P.D. James continued the story of Darcy and Elizabeth, seen six years after the events of Austen's novel, and wrapped it all up in a murder mystery, I think this would qualify it for inclusion into the TV dimension known as "Evil Toobworld".  "Evil Toobworld" is that TV dimension which is generally a mirror of Earth Prime-Time, but one in which the heroes are usually the bad guys and darkness of the spirit pervades everything.  ("Evil Toobworld" was probably first seen in the "Mirror, Mirror" episode of 'Star Trek' and was examined further in several episodes of the franchise sequel 'Deep Space Nine'.  It has also been seen in 'Hercules: The Legendary Journeys' and characters from that world crossed over in shows like 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'.)

As I write this, I haven't seen the production yet.  (It airs in four days but this article will be set up to post weeks afterward.)  But I will consider this theory to be fact if any of the male characters originally created by Jane Austen is sporting a goatee.  It's become a trope that the evil version of a character should be sporting a goatee.....


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