Sunday, April 3, 2016

THE HAT SQUAD - DOUGLAS WILMER AS SHERLOCK HOLMES


From BBC News:


Sherlock Holmes actor Douglas Wilmer has died at the age of 96.

He donned the famous deerstalker in the mid-1960s to play Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's character in a BBC series.

Wilmer died in hospital in Ipswich on Thursday after suffering from pneumonia, Roger Johnson, spokesman for the Sherlock Holmes Society Of London, confirmed.

"He was a great actor, he was a gentleman, he had a long and distinguished career," Mr Johnson said.

Wilmer first appeared as Sherlock Holmes in 1964, with Nigel Stock as his Watson.

After he left the show he was replaced by Peter Cushing - but he retained his affection for the character throughout his career.


Wilmer played the role of Sherlock Holmes two more times in the greater fictional multiverse.  Most obituaries will only mention his appearance in 1975's film comedy "The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother".


But there is another......

In Roman Catholic theology, Limbo is a realm on the borders between Heaven and Hell.  There the souls of unbaptized infants and those who led good lives but who died before the coming of The Christ reside for eternity.  I'm sure it's supposed to be a very nice place... so long as you don't know about Heaven and what that place offers.....

For the Toobworld Dynamic, Limbo exists.  But there are more residents there than suggested by that description above.  For Toobworld, Limbo is the realm where souls go to be prepared for their eventual transition... elsewhere.  Could be Heaven, could be Hell, or it could lead to reincarnation.


We have seen Limbo portrayed on the small screen in several TV series.  The finale of 'Lost' could be the most recent example.  The series 'Life On Mars' (the original UK version, that is) and its sequel 'Ashes To Ashes' took place in Limbo. 
There was a TV adaptation of the movie "Madigan" with Richard Widmark reprising his role as the police detective.  Most people would consider the show to be a prequel as SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!! Madigan died at the end of the movie.  But for me, it's a sequel.  The series is about the soul of Detective Daniel Madigan after he died in the movie.  (This of course means that the 1968 film has to be absorbed into the Toobworld Dynamic.)

There is another TV show which I consider to be taking place in Limbo as well, and that is where we will find Douglas Wilmer's other portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.....

Currently, there are two versions of the Sherlock Holmes mythos being played out on our television screens in which the Great Detective and his companion Dr. Watson - along with many of the supporting players from the Conan Doyle version to be found in BookWorld - are to be found in the modern world: 'Sherlock' and 'Elementary'.  'Elementary' takes place in the same TV dimension as 'Sleepy Hollow'.  I have dubbed this world "Lit-Less Toobworld" - it is the TV dimension in which the original source material for their main subject matter never existed and yet the characters came to life there anyway... eventually.

But with 'Sherlock', we have something else entirely in mind for that show.  And the premise and events of 'Ashes To Ashes' play into my theory.  In that sequel to 'Life On Mars', we learned that Gene Hunt was the soul of a young constable from the 1950s who died on the job.  His soul seems to be a permanent tenant of Limbo, where he serves as a "training officer" for other British cops who died on the job; he prepares them through recreations of historical events as well as realistic simulations of crime scenarios for their eventual transition to What Lies Beyond.

And we also learned during the course of 'Ashes To Ashes' that the original Gene Hunt looked nothing like the representation of his soul in Limbo:


So....  The game's afoot!

It's my theory that the Sherlock Holmes we see in 'Sherlock' is in fact the soul of the official Sherlock Holmes of Earth Prime-Time, the one played by Jeremy Brett in several series and TV movies through the 1980s and into the 1990s.  His performance hewed the closest to the original source material and came so very close to completing the entire canon.  (If my memory serves, which it doesn't usually, I think Brett was four stories shy of completion.  But I'm too tired now to check.)

Yes, Douglas Wilmer, Peter Cushing, and Ronald Howard played Holmes on TV long before Brett came along.  But many of their cases were not based on the original stories.  Therefore I feel compelled to place them in alternate TV dimensions.  (This holds true for the many one-shot portrayals from TV movies and foreign productions - their placement in other dimensions are probably the easiest of all.)

For Toobworld purposes, Benedict Cumberbatch is playing the soul of Jeremy Brett's Holmes.  Cumberbatch looks nothing like Brett, but as I pointed out with the two Gene Hunts, there is obviously some kind of transfiguration of the body to the soul.  They may not look the same, but they are the same nevertheless.

But as for Holmes' "Boswell", Martin Freeman is NOT playing the soul of the Earth Prime-Time Watson who was portrayed in the Jeremy Brett series first by David Burke and then by Edward Hardwicke.  (No Zonk here.  The Toobworld splainin: Victorian plastic surgery.)



The Dr. John Watson of 'Sherlock' is the soul of a man by that same name who died in combat during the first Persian Gulf war.  Only he doesn't know that he's dead; he thought he was wounded in battle while serving as a medic in Afghanistan.  And so he found himself in Limbo where the soul of the actual Sherlock Holmes takes him under his wing and mentors him in a modern world setting before sending him on his way, "One Step Beyond".  

(As for other characters they meet, I think only his brother Mycroft and his parents are the souls from the originals of Earth Prime-Time.  The rest are other guardian angel souls recruited to act out these scenarios for the benefit of Dr. Watson.  For instance, the soul whom we are led to believe is that of Inspector Greg Lestrade was also the soul we knew as Danny Moore in the second episode of 'Ashes To Ashes'.  


 

As to whom he could have been in "real life"?  One likely candidate could be big game hunter John Riddell, the Lord John Roxton wannabe who knew the Time Lord known as the Doctor... as seen in the 'Doctor Who' episode "Dinosaurs On A Spaceship".  Then again, maybe Riddell is an alias - Riddell/Riddle? - and he really was Lord John Roxton.  Or rather the soul of Lord John Roxton, since the official televersion of Roxton is played by William Snow in the TV series 'The Lost World'.  And since the TARDIS can travel between dimensions, maybe it took the Doctor to Limbo in order to fetch the soul of Roxton/Riddell.  Story for another day, I suspect.)



Freeman's Dr. Watson is not the first soul of a Dr. John Watson who had been shepherded in this way through Limbo by Sherlock Holmes.  I think I might even consider Ronald Howard's Holmes to be yet another modification in the appearance of Holmes' soul, perhaps the first one after his death.  This would mean that the Watson played by Howard Marion Crawford was the embodiment of the soul of a Victorian era doctor by the same name who had passed away around the turn of the century.  



(I don't always hold to the theory that a TV character who dies "off-screen" probably died in the same manner as did the actor who played him.  However, it is tempting in this case, as Crawford passed away from an overdose of sleeping pills.  Perhaps this Dr. Watson was involved in the treatment of the Queen Victoria of Earth Prime-Time?  And when she died on January 22, 1901, he felt responsible, no matter that she was an old woman.  And so he took his own life out of a misplaced sense of guilt, which led him to be taken under the mentorship of Sherlock Holmes' soul in its first incarnation.  But that's just a theory.  I'm not sure either that Dr. Watson or Mr. Crawford would like it.....)



There are many incarnations of Toobworld.  Among those TV dimensions are the heavy-hitters like Skitlandia, Evil Toobworld, ToobStage, the Tooniverse, and the Land O' Remakes.  And then there are the others, like Zombie Toobworld, Fem Toobworld, Black Toobworld, Doofus Toobworld, and the many Toobworlds in which one country or another held sway over the planet to the point where everybody spoke their language, even if they were known to be originally English speakers in the main Toobworld.  (With Sherlock Holmes, he exists in French Toobworld, Spanish Toobworld, and most notably in Russian Toobworld.  Still English, but in a world where the United Kingdom has been under the domination of those other countries.)


But there is only the one Limbo for all of those dimensions.  That would mean various recastaways of certain characters could meet up with each other.  (And characters from vastly different Toobworlds - say Earth Prime-Time and the Tooniverse? - who meet up are probably doing so in Limbo.  If that is the case, when Drew Carey met Daffy Duck in the opening of 'The Drew Carey Show' for only one episode, what we were seeing could have been a vision of Drew Carey's after-life, hopefully far into the Future.  The Drew Carey of Earth Prime-Time would be the comedian, the game-show host, the improvisational impresario.  But after he dies?  You have to admit, working in a soul-crushing job like that office at Winfred-Louder - with a demon like Mimi sitting behind you - would be the perfect embodiment of what awaits him when he exits Limbo.)

And so, after all of that tele-babble, we come to the other appearance by Douglas Wilmer as Sherlock Holmes.  In the 'Sherlock' episode "The Reichenbach Fall", the soul of Dr. Watson goes to the Limbo version of the Diogenes Club to meet with the soul of Mycroft Holmes.  And there he encounters a rather irritable old club member who shushes him for daring to speak in the common room of the Club.


Douglas Wilmer played that old duffer.  Looking at it from the perspective of a Trueniverse outsider, it was a very nice in-joke, a gesture of affection for the history of Sherlock Holmes as seen on TV.  A tip of the hat to what came before and an acknowledgement of the character's heritage.

But within the reality of the greater Toobworld Dynamic?  Once again, Wilmer was playing Sherlock Holmes.

His portrayal of the Great Detective was to be found in the alternate dimension of Prequel Toobworld.  Although not the first to play the role on the small screen, he did come before Jeremy Brett.   But for the reasons mentioned above, Brett holds sway in Earth Prime-Time, and so Wilmer had to be relegated to Prequel Toobworld. 

As stated above, Ronald Howard's Holmes also can be found in Limbo as a variation of the soul of Jeremy Brett's Holmes.  That left Prequel Toobworld open for Wilmer's televersion.  But he only played the role for thirteen episodes of 'Sherlock Holmes' over two years (1964-65).  With the same actors playing Dr. Watson (Nigel Stock) and Inspector Lestrade (Peter Madden), Peter Cushing assumed the role in 1968.  Now I suppose I could posit the theory that these are two different TV dimensions, perhaps the one housing Cushing's Holmes would be the same in which Roger Davis is Hannibal Heyes/Joshua Smith instead of Pete Duel in 'Alias Smith & Jones'.  But I think I can keep both incarnatisons in the same TV dimension.

SHERLOCK HOLMES
AT HOME IN SUSSEX DOWNS
In Prequel Toobworld, Sherlock Holmes retired early from his consulting detective business and retired to Sussex Downs.  There he kept bees and performed experiments in human longevity using the queen bee's royal jelly.  But England was in dire need of a Sherlock Holmes to at least preserve the illusion that the Empire was safe so long as Holmes was around to solve even the most baffling problem.  So an early incarnation of "UNReality" came up with the idea of substituting another man for Holmes, having him take over the persona of the consulting detective.  The actual Sherlock Holmes probably came up with this plot himself and approved of its undertaking.  He probably even conducted the exams in which a suitable replacement could be found - ideally a man with similar features but more importantly, a man of high intellect.  Holmes participation would probably be the only reason why Watson and Lestrade went along with the scheme.



(As to who that other Sherlock Holmes might have been?  I'm sure there must be a Victorian era TV character played by Peter Cushing who could fit the bill.  But that investigation must wait for another day.  Today we are tipping our deerstalker to Douglas Wilmer.)

Eventually, despite his successful work in extending his own life through royal jelly, the real Sherlock Holmes of Prequel Toobworld eventually died.  (I'd like to think he made it well past the age of 100, perhaps twenty years more - making it sometime in the 1970s when he died.  And it's pozz'ble, just pozz'ble, that he made appearances in other TV shows - but ones which should be found in Prequel Tooboworld - until his death.  One such appearance would be as "The Old Man" in "The Public Duck", an episode of the British anthology series 'Love Story'.)

After death, this Sherlock Holmes found himself in the √¶thereal dimension of Limbo which, as I mentioned earlier, would be common to all dimensions of greater Toobworld.  And I don't think he was happy about it, as seen by his reaction to this new Dr. Watson.


By the way, I would not be surprised to find that the souls of the many other incarnations of Sherlock Holmes were all members of the Diogenes Club in Limbo.  Some might have passed on to their final rewards; others might have reincarnated in their home dimension or elsewhere as new geniuses.  But Wilmer's televersion of Holmes didn't seem inclined to go anywhere else.

Well then.  That post certainly grabbed hold and wouldn't let go until it ran its course.  I hope you enjoyed my tribute to the role for which Douglas Wilmer was best known in the TV Universe... and elsewhere.  In fact, I think his Sherlock Holmes just might be a good candidate for a Birthday Honors list induction next year in the Television Crossover Hall of Fame!

Good night and may God bless, Douglas Wilmer.......




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