For 2017, the Television Crossover Hall of Fame will be inducting characters each month who were played by actors who passed away in the last year or so. As everybody knows, 2016 was one hell of a year for the Grim Reaper and so we want to honor those actors who deserved to be in the Hall of Fame on their own merits but who may not have been on the fast track for induction previously.
Traditionally, January has been the month in which we induct someone from classic TV. And there were several candidates this year who passed away last year, two of whom will be inducted together during my birth month – two characters who have nothing in common but the fact they were played by the same late actor.
Our latest – as well as late – classic TV character passed away this past fall. (And yes, I believe that when a character is so indelibly connected to the actor who played him, then we must consider that the character died around the same time as the actor.)
However, this character is best known as being paired with another classic TV character, and that actor is still alive. But it would not be right for one to be inducted without the other. So I have chosen to bring them both into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame at the same time.
(By the way, this will not be the only time this happens for this year.)
For January, I'm speaking about the two most famous agents in the spy agency known as the United Network Command for Law Enforcement... otherwise known by its acronym U.N.C.L.E:
NAPOLEON SOLO & ILLYA KURYAKIN
It was Robert Vaughn who passed away on November 11, Memorial Day. And this is our memorial to his memory, bringing his character of Napoleon Solo into the fold. Despite having been reactivated for duty back in the mid-1980s, I don't think Solo was still working for U.N.C.L.E. by the time he died as well, soon after the death of Robert Vaughn in the real world. (Vaughn's televersion should also be considered as having died, but he would have had no effect on the life of Solo.)
As such, I don't think he died in the line of duty; after all, he was just over a week away from his 84th birthday. I'm sure it was more likely old age rather than THRUSH which was responsible for his death.
His partner in espionage was a Russian agent by the name of Illya Kuryakin who became a successful fashion designer after receiving his burn notice which forced him out of the spy game. Illya is still alive and once again no longer a spy, leading a highly publicized life splayed across the gossip columns. Ironically this keeps him safe from any sanctioned assassination attempts by one side or the other. His fame is such, mostly from his life in high fashion, that regular people could mention him by name and the people with whom they're talking understand the reference.
As mentioned above, Solo and Kuryakin were brought back into the business, now answering to Sir John Raleigh as the Section Head after the death of Alexander Waverly.
(Sir John Raleigh was his real name, but he used to be a spy himself, using the alias of "John Steed".)
During that case, Solo had his biscuits rescued by a fellow agent who used to work for MI6....
(The splainins behind all of the recastaways is too complex to go into here. But if you search Inner Toob, I'm sure you'll find the many articles I wrote about the televersion of Bond. James Bond.)
You'll have noticed that "JB" was a practicing Serlinguist - somebody who knows there is another universe out there in constant surveillance of Toobworld and who then regularly "converses" with the Trueniverse audience. At least in Toobworld this may be a requirement for spies because we saw Illya and Napoleon do the same thing at one point:
If you're new to the Television Crossover Hall of Fame, you should know that a candidate for membership requires three appearances in different TV shows, movies, and/or commercials in order to qualify. So a TV series and a TV movie sequel make up 2/3rds of their requirements. What other action/adventure series did they show up in to complete the trifecta.....?
There's no shame in that. Sitcoms and dramas coexist in Toobworld.
Both Napoleon and Illya have entries separate from each other to embellish their resumes. And Solo even dragged an entire movie out of the Cineverse and into Earth Prime-Time on the strength of a five second cameo!
Solo also gave another U.N.C.L.E. agent, the second April Dancer, a hand on her own TV series when they tangled with nefarious Mother Muffin, one of the ugliest women in the world at that time.
As for Kuryakin, he didn't even have to show up in another TV series to make a connection. All he needed was somebody who looked just like him.....
That's what I mean by Illya Kuryakin being so famous that people know who he is when he's mentioned.
Illya worked on a case not only for U.N.C.L.E., but for UNreel* as well when he hosted the televersion of the real world variety show 'Hullabaloo' in 1965. Employing fake THRUSH agents attempting to kill him, Illya and UNreel created a fiction that Kuryakin was just a character on TV. Should anybody come forward and claim that a blonde moptop with a Russian accent was involved in shoot-outs, kidnappings, and explosions, that person would be discredited as confusing fantasy with reality.
I'll have more about this strange blend of a spy series with a variety show over the weekend.
Gentlemen, welcome to the club. You will find that the original April Dancer has already preceded you into the ranks of our membership. And Mr. Waverly should be along soon....
* UNreel was a shadow organization dedicated to fooling the public into thinking that some of the most famous heroes of Toobworld were fictional. In this way, those heroes could continue their work unimpeded by the notoriety that might otherwise have accompanied it. Unreel accomplishes this through the use of movies, TV shows, books - anything that might convince people like the Time Lord known only as the Doctor, the immortal Tarzan, the aforementioned 007, and the possible future caused by Skynet and its Terminators are really fictional. You know, a more complicated riff on the old "swamp gas and weather balloons" splainin for UFOs. (The idea began in the Victorian Age with the stories about Sherlock Holmes by Dr. Watson.)