'The Murdoch Myseries' is one of my current favorite TV series, although I hate the fact that it's called 'The Artful Detective' on Ovation. And there was big news the other day when star Yannick Bisson tweeted this:
Still later in the day, a picture was released of William Shatner in make-up to play Mark Twain.
I thought - and actually I was hoping - that maybe this was more than just a behind the scenes picture taken of the show's star and perhaps the most famous guest star the series has ever had. I was hoping that Shatner was not fully in costume yet; that he had yet to don a white wig to complete the resemblance to Samuel L. Clemens as he would have looked in 1903. But alas, it is not to be.
As recounted in The Star, Shatner took a dislike to even sporting the mustache; he was not about to be saddled with a white fright wig as well. I suppose the Grumpy Old Man (TV Edition) is planning to just invoke the spirit of Twain without actually resembling him.
That would be fine in Theater, where an actor without prosthetics or makeup can present himself to be "The Elephant Man" on stage. And over in Skitlandia the Not Ready For Prime Time Players (at least in the beginning) didn't bother going all out with the make-up to impersonate the leading figures of the day who were being lampooned in the sketches. Chevy Chase didn't look like or sound like or even act like Gerald Ford; Dan Ayckroyd played Richard Nixon with a mustache.
And with a shared universe like the Toobworld Dynamic, adherence to authenticity when it comes to the portrayal of historical figures in various TV shows is vital. Granted, they are not always going to resemble each other from show to show because different actors play the role. But they should all at least put the effort in. Who's going to believe some fat bald guy with a soul patch as Abraham Lincoln?
('Jack Of All Trades' presented a midget Napoleon [played by Verne Troyer of Mini-Me fame], but The Toobworld Dynamic take on the adventures of Jack Styles, a Colonial spy in the South Pacific, is that they were a fictionalized version recounted by a syphilitic and delusional Styles at the end of his life.)
There have been so many televersions of Mark Twain* - who was inducted into the Televsion Crossover Hall Of Fame in 2009 - that as Caretaker of the TwD I can afford to pick and choose which ones are allowed to be part of Earth Prime-Time. Straight off I would put each of the one-shot performances into their own TV dimensions. Spread the wealth as it were. O'Bviously the cartoon depictions of Twain in 'Johnny Bravo' and 'The Venture Brothers' would be different aspects of the same man in the Tooniverse. And that would apply as well in sketch comedy shows like 'Drunk History' and musical variety specials like 'Sing Out, Sweet Land' in which Der Bingle played Clemens - characters in Skitlandia are all recastaways.
Earth Prime-Time, on which I am most focused, has had several actors playing Mark Twain over the years on shows in which they interacted with the regular characters. And all of them made the effort to look the part:
- Kevin McCarthy in 'The Rifleman'
- John Cullum in 'Touched By An Angel'
- Jerry Hardin in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' (My personal favorite)
Over the long span of years for 'Bonanza', Mark Twain visited the Cartwrights three times but each time was played by a different actor:
- Howard Duff - "Enter Mark Twain"
- William Challee - "The Emperor Norton"
- Ken Howard - "The Twenty-Sixth Grave"
My claim is that the "View Continuum" forced the Trueniverse audience to witness two different TV dimensions, just as was the case with the three Mr. Freezes from 'Batman'. Because he most closely resembled the Mark Twain image, it is Ken Howard in the episode "The Twenty Sixth Grave" who is the 'Bonanza' contribution for the writer in the main Toobworld - even if he was the last one to assay the role. Especially since his age seemed to regress from the previous two appearances. Howard Duff may have been the first to play the role on 'Bonanza', but it was hard to picture him as Clemens, even with the reddish hair. So it's off to another dimension, perhaps Evil Toobworld, maybe 'West Wing' world, for that one episode.
As for the middle portrayal? William Challee was NOT playing Samuel L. Clemens. He was actually an alien from the future (now "our" past) who fled Earth Prime-Time into its own past using some kind of variation of the atavachron device from the planet Sarpeidon. This faux-Twain was a member of an alien race from some unknown planet but which used Mars as a launching pad to take over the Earth in the 1960s. Their plans went awry, or else they would have been present in all of the TV shows now on the air. (I think the Doctor dispatched them, as he did with so many other alien incursions into Earth Prime-Time. Personally, based on the description of what these aliens really looked like before they took human form, I think they were Krillitane.)
And so we come back to William Shatner in the role of Mark Twain. As he looks nothing like the Twain televersion should, I'm afraid I shall have to cite it as being of someone else claiming to be the author. I won't fall back on the claim that it is Twain in some other TV dimension because I refuse to give up one of my favorite TV shows to some alternate Toobworld, not even one episode.
I will wait until I have actually seen the episode, but I already have a splainin which I think will adequately make this episode pozz'ble, just pozz'ble, in the main Toobworld. And it won't require some alien interference as did the faux Twain in the 'Bonanza' episode.
- 'The Murdoch Mysteries'
- 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'
- 'Touched By An Angel'
- 'Doctor Who'
- 'Star Trek'
- 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents'
- The Rifleman'
- 'Sing Out, Sweet Land'
- 'Drunk History'
- 'Jack Of All Trades'
- 'Saturday Night Live'
- 'Johnny Bravo'
- 'The Venture Brothers'
* For an almost complete list of Mark Twain portrayals on television, click here.)