In the post from earlier today, I gave this description of what UNreel does:
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 that heroes 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. It's 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 which were further distanced from reality by the editor, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.)
UNreel is my own creation as a fix-it measure for the Toobworld Dynamic. Too many Zonks have been created by mentions of these Men from UNCLE, the Doctor and James Bond etc which can't be splained away as references to the "real" people. Even worse, too many writers don't trust the audience to understand the reference and so they have to lay the splainins on thick with mentions of the actors involved, or the movies, TV shows, and books from which they came.
Here's a good example from Laura Holt, the owner of the 'Remington Steele' Detective Agency:
Columbo... Peter Falk... Universal Studios... 1975!
In an episode entitled "Playback", Oscar Werner kills his mother-in-law. He seems to have the perfect alibi until Columbo discovers he used a video tape to alter the apparent time of the murder.
Now all we need to do is find that tape. If Columbo can do it so can we!
It's because of such Zonks that I had to come up with a splainin: Lt. Columbo became so famous during his career for nabbing high-profile murderers - a Senate candidate, a symphony conductor, a famous country singer, movie stars and directors, that he finally wrote a book about his cases. (This is something he said he might do to publisher Riley Greenleaf. In the end I don't think Greenleaf would have been too keen on the project, considering.... But there are plenty of other publishers to be found in Toobworld.) And then a TV series was commissioned which starred Peter Falk, who bore an amazing resemblance to the rumpled detective.
In the example cited by Ms. Holt, Oskar Werner was hired to play the real murderer, Harold Van Wyck. (What we saw on our screens was the actual case played out. Who knows how the televersion of that case looked to Laura Holt.)
Lt. Columbo had no need for UNreel. He created that scenario - that other TV characters might think he was actually fictional - himself, by publishing his book and having actual producers take in interest in it. Besides, his work isn't the type that needed to be kept top secret.
But Illya Kuryakin's work for U.N.C.L.E. needed deep cover, and so UNreel was called in.
Even today the ruse is maintained.....
- Brenda Lee
- Eric Burdon & The Animals
- The Beau Brummels
- Peter & Gordon