Saturday, July 21, 2018

VIDEO SATURDAY - ANGELS WISH-CRAFT


There may not be any footage available for the pilot of 'Charlie's Angels '88', but that didn't stop one YouTuber from coming up with his own vision of a late 80s iteration of Charlie Townsend's team of female investigators.  


Even better, he included Demi Moore as Madison Lee, her character from the second movie - "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle".


Friday, July 20, 2018

TVXOHOF (07/20/18) - CHARLIE TOWNSEND


With these Friday inductions of new members into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame will focus mainly on the more trivial nominees or those who had some glitch in their qualifications.  And today we have a character who spans both Earth Prime-Time and the Cineverse.....

CHARLIE TOWNSEND

'Charlie's Angels'
Show all 109 episodes

Included in that total of episodes was "Love Boat Angels" in which 'Charlie's Angels' crossed over with 'The Love Boat':


From the IMDb:
New Angel Tiffany Welles joins Kris, Kelly, and Bosley. Tiffany is distinct because she is from Boston. Soon after her arrival the Angels are all aboard on the Love Boat. This episode features cast members from the classic Aaron Spelling series. In another plot arc the Angels must act fast and hunt for stolen treasure. This is actress Shelley Hack's first episode as a series regular. 

The series was adapted for the Cineverse by Drew Barrymore as one of the producers and who appeared as a latter-day Angel along with Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu.  And even though Bosley was recast (first with Bill Murray and then with Bernie Mac*), I maintain that these movies actually belong in Earth Prime-Time as a sequel to the series.  And that's all due to the participation once again of John Forsythe as the voice of Charlie Townsend.

"Charlie's Angels"

"Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle"

I don't know if any footage still exists of the abandoned pilot for 'Charlie's Angels '88' (then '89), but if so, it should be counted in the mix.

There was a short-lived TV series which technically was a remake and not a continuation since it had Victor Garber as the voice of Charlie Townsend instead of John Forsythe.  But a theory of relateeveety can fix that - Garber's Charlie was Charlie Jr., the son of the mysterious Charlie Senior.

There is another reason I wanted to honor Charlie Townsend.  Back in January, the 100th anniversary of John Forsythe's birth was marked.  I may be O'Bviously late for that, but at least he's finally in the TVXOHOF.

So welcome to the Hall, Mr. Townsend!

* Theories of relateeveety serve the recastaways for Bosley.  He may have looked like a nebbish, but David Doyle's Bosley was a Lothario who sired both of the next generation of Bosleys.  (And the young Hispanic hacker who was in the remake could have been Charlie Senior's grandson by Bill Murray's Bosley.)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

THURSDAY'S THEORY OF RELATEEVEETY - TONG & LING




I was going to post this next year for Chinese New Year, but I’m stuck for a Thursday Theory of Relateeveety for tomorrow.  And since this will have a tangential connection to Friday’s new member in the Television Crossover Hall of Fame…..

Sammee Tong was best known for playing two roles in Toobworld…..

Bachelor Father 
Peter Tong
157 episodes


From the IMDb:
The misadventures of a single adopted father raising a teenage niece with the help of his manservant.

Never-married attorney Bentley Gregg took on the task (with help from his "houseboy", Peter) of raising his young niece Kelly, after her parents died in an accident. The job was easier when Kelly was a little girl, but now she's in her teens, and beginning to date and venture into the adult world, while Bentley continues to juggle his career, looking after Kelly, and his own romantic life. 


Mickey

Sammy Ling
4 episodes



From the IMDb:
Mickey Grady leaves the Coast Guard to manage a ritzy beach hotel with his wife Nora plus boys Timmy and Buddy. But former supervisor Sammy has left problems that creates crazy situations for the by the book Mickey.

I’ve done plenty of theories of relateeveety for Toobworld which were based on nothing more than the fact that both roles were played by the same actor.  I even argued the case for triplets with three characters played by Honor Blackman!



But this is a case in which we have further proof that Peter Tong and Sammy Ling are identical cousins than just the fact that they resemble each other:

'BACHELOR FATHER'
"BENTLEY AND GRANDPA LING"



From the IMDb:
Peter introduces Kelly and Uncle Bentley to the inimitable Grandpa Ling. If he sees something he likes, he takes it and leaves an item that he thinks is of equal value in its place.

So Grandpa Ling must have had two children, a boy and a girl.  And when they married, they had children as well.  The son was the father of Sammy Ling, while Grandpa Ling’s daughter married a man named Tong and she gave birth to Peter.

‘Mickey’ only had Sammee Tong for four episodes before his untimely death.  But Ye Old Curator of Toobworld Televisiology found one more role for him as Sammy Ling.  Since he was no longer the supervisor of that resort, Sammy needed a new job.  

And so he went back to a job he had over twenty years earlier, where he met Jack Benny and Dennis Day….

The Jack Benny Program
- How Jack Found Dennis
 (1964) 
... Maitre d' of Lotus Blosom Inn




No name was listed for the character so I see no reason why this Game of the Name shouldn’t make the claim that Sammy went to work at the Lotus Blossom Inn back in the thirties.

Another three pieces joined together in the Great Mosaic of Toobworld!

BCnU!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

OUR WEEKLY "ENDEAVOUR" - "COLOURS"


'ENDEAVOUR'
"COLOURS"


From the IMDb:
A photo-shoot on an army base turns sinister when one of the models is found dead. But the investigation is complicated when Sam Thursday is revealed to be involved.



After a fashion shoot at an army base where Thursday's son Sam is stationed, model Jean Ward is murdered, clutching a cap badge, apparently belonging to Private Oswald, who, as a black man, was Jean's type, according to her estranged stepmother, Lady Bayswater, a former Nazi sympathizer. Jean had flirted with Oswald and Sam and was once engaged to visiting military historian Rex Laidlaw. Believing Oswald was framed, Morse does some private sleuthing and gets attacked by Colonel McDuff, a former war hero, now an unpredictable drunk. Following a second murder Morse suspects that one of the officers had a link to Jean's past but discovers that 'the army looks after its own' before cracking the case. 

Not as many connections as last week, but even so there is plenty to work with!

These are the items of interest from the IMDb's trivia page:

When DI Thursday is interviewing Lady Bayswater he says that her husband should have been been hanged, along with various other Nazi sympathisers. One of those mentioned was Spode, a reference to Roderick Spode the rather ridiculous Black Short leader created by P G Wodehouse.

Wodehouse is well-represented in Toobworld with adaptations of his works from BookWorld, especially with the stories of Jeeves & Wooster.  And in the second adaptation of the books, Roderick Spode was portrayed.

From Wikipedia:
In the 1990–1993 television series Jeeves and Wooster, Spode was portrayed by John Turner.  In this series, the Black Shorts are portrayed as a tiny group of around a dozen men and teenage boys dressed in uniforms similar to those of the Sturmabteilung. They also have the same flag colour scheme as the National Socialists. They comprise the small, but enthusiastic, audience to whom Spode makes loud, dramatic Hitler-like speeches in which he announces bizarre statements of policy, such as giving each citizen at birth a British–made bicycle and umbrella. In the original stories, none of Spode's speeches are depicted, and no other members of his group make an appearance. Another difference is that only in the television series, Spode has a secret recorded in the Junior Ganymede club book involving a kangaroo named Celia.

Unfortunately, ‘Jeeves & Wooster’ is a TV remake of the Wodehouse material.  This places it into the Land O’ Remakes, Toobworld 2.  ‘Endeavour’ is in Earth Prime-Time, the main Toobworld.

The original adaptation of the Wodehouse stories was ‘The World Of Wooster’ which was broadcast from 1965 to 1967 and starred Dennis Price as Jeeves and Ian Carmichael as Bertie Wooster.  That belongs in Earth Prime-Time.

I’ve checked the full cast list at the IMDb but there’s no listing for Roderick Spode.  It may have been the stories about him were too controversial for those times since England was going through anti-immigration backlash protests in the mid-60s. 

Still, Thursday's mention of Spode means he's out there somewhere since ‘The World Of Wooster’ opened the entire Wodehouse world to Earth Prime-Time; we just haven't seen him.

Could Private Collier have been one Terence Collier who was seen joining the army on 23rd July 1966 in the final episode of "The Likely Lads"?

Sorry.  I'm putting the kibosh to this connection.  "Collier" is a fairly common name.  I’ve looked through the script of this episode and Private Collier was never unidentified by his first name.  And more importantly, this Private Collier looked nothing like James Bolam, who played Terry in ‘The Likely Lads’. 



But to help expand the TV Universe, I could see this as a theory of relateeveety in which Private Collier was Terry’s cousin.  And both of them joined the Army around 1966, two years before the episode.

This episode contains yet another ("in-joke") reference to an ITV owned intellectual property - Creighton-Ward happens to be the surname of Lady Penelope in "Thunderbirds", by  icoincidence originally made by ATV, whom also made the TV Series "Crossroads" aka "King's Oak", referenced in an earlier episode. ATV happened to be the company re-structured as Central TV, which later started "Morse".


I'm afraid this can be chalked up to the demi-god of Coincidence.  They may share a common name, but there can be no familial connection between humans and the puppet people.  And their world is so extensive, I think all of those superanimation marionettes live in a different TV dimension like the animated characters.  They are considered fictional by Toobworld characters as was seen in the anesthesia dream experienced by Edina Moon in ‘Absolutely Fabulous’. 


"Stuart Hargreaves" may well be another playful in-joke reference to the BBC TV series "Hi De Hi", which was also set in the 1960s in a fictional holiday camp called "Maplins". In "Trove", the holiday camp featured had a near identical name, and the staff wore Yellowcoats. In "Hi De Hi", the two ballroom dancing instructors were Yvonne and Barry Stuart-Hargreaves.


Finally!  A link that works!  I accept that Yvonne and Barry had a chain of dance schools in the same vein as Arthur Murray.

From the IMDb's Connections page:

Blackadder Goes Forth (1989)
The Battle of Mboto Gorge (from "Plan F: Goodbyeee") referenced.



While going up the stairs, Morse stopped to look at a painting which focused on the regimental drummer….

Dr. Laidlaw:
Drummer Hawkins, the boy that saved the colours at Mboto Gorge.  That's his actual drum. Victoria Cross, posthumous. 

DS Morse:
Oh, his parents' pride, I'm sure. 

Dr. Laidlaw:
Well, the regiment's, certainly.


The Battle of Mboto Gorge is fictional; it only happened in the TV Universe. Here are the original references to Mboto Gorge from 'Blackadder Goes Forth'….


1]
Melchett: 
Don't be ridiculous, Darling. The Hero of Mboto Gorge, mad? Well, you've only got to look at him to see he's as sane as I am! Beeaaah!

2]
Darling: 
Would that be the Mboto Gorge where we massacred the peace-loving pygmies of the Upper Volta and stole all their fruit?

3]
Edmund: 
Well, you see, George, I did like it, back in the old days when the prerequisite of a British campaign was that the enemy should under no circumstances carry guns -- even spears made us think twice. The kind of people we liked to fight were two feet tall and armed with dry grass.

George: 
Now, come off it, sir -- what about Mboto Gorge, for heaven's sake?

Edmund: 
Yes, that was a bit of a nasty one -- ten thousand Watusi warriors armed to the teeth with kiwi fruit and guava halves. After the battle, instead of taking prisoners, we simply made a huge fruit salad. 

4]
Haig: 
I haven't seen you since... 
Edmund: 
'92, sir -- Mboto Gorge.

Haig: 
By jingo, yes. We sure gave those pygmies a good squashing.

The trouble is, because of the drastic alterations to historical events that happened in all of the ‘Blackadder’ series, I had to remove them all from Earth Prime-Time.  Since historical figures in those shows, especially Queen Elizabeth I and Samuel Johnson, I’ve placed the show in Doofus Toobworld along with ‘The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer’ and ‘That’s My Bush!’.

So the Battle of Mboto Gorge may been fought in both Toobworlds, and perhaps others as well, but unless the official record was covered up in the main Toobworld, they each had a different history.  So it’s just an interesting example of the changes wrought on history by the different worlds.  But the basis remained the same – both shows had a Battle of Mboto Gorge.

But I'll give it a theory of relateeveety - Drummer Hawkins was descended from Jim Hawkins as seen in the first TV adaptation of 'Treasure Island'.

So that about wraps it up for this episode.  There were references to other TV shows, but only three to shows set in Earth Prime-Time.  And even then, two are mostly hypothetical. (I’m taking the Stuart-Hargreaves Dance School reference as being an official link to ‘Hi De Hi’.)

As for the others, the ‘Thunderbirds’ and ‘Blackadder’ references belong to other TV dimensions which may have commonalities with Earth Prime-Time but are not the same dimension.

Still three more references to link ‘Endeavour’, as well as the other two shows in the franchise, to help expand the TV Universe. 

‘Endeavour’ – Britain’s own ‘St. Elsewhere’.  There just better not be a snow globe in the final episode!


O'Bservation:
For fans of the world of ‘Morse’ and its sequel ‘Inspector Lewis’ and ‘Endeavour’ the prequel, you may be interested in visiting the web site “Morse, Lewis, and Endeavour” for an in-depth analysis of this episode and all the others.  You’ll find the link to the left in my blogroll, Mateys!

BCnU!

 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

THE MYTHOGRAPHY OF GILES FRENCH





As noted in the previous post, our latest honorary inductee into the TVXOHOF is Giles French of ‘Family Affair,’ to mark the centenary of Sebastian Cabot.

We offered up all the official qualifications for his membership.  Now we get to the fun stuff - the hypothetical connections to other shows for Giles French!




What kind of man is Mr. French?”
Cissy Davis
‘Family Affair’

From Wikipedia:
When Sebastian Cabot unexpectedly became ill during the first season, he was replaced by John Williams. It was explained that Giles French was summoned to England by the Queen, and his brother Niles filled in at the Davis' doorstep.

(O'Bservation: The IMDb lists John Williams' character of the brother as Nigel "Niles" French.)

There were hundreds of valets in Great Britain back in 1967, maybe more.  There must have been at least a hundred members of the royal retinue of butlers, valets, footmen, etc. serving the House of Windsor spread out among the various castles around the country.  So why would the Queen have needed the service of one particular butler who was now ensconced in New York City?  

Maybe she didn't need the service of French the butler.  Perhaps it was a request for Mr. French to be on Her Majesty’s Secret Service?

To me, it makes sense.  But we all know about my tenuous grasp of Reality......

In order to honor the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sebastian Cabot, I’m going to come up with theoretical links to other TV shows for French, Master of Espionage.  

My lawyer reminds me that I should mention that this is all conjecture. of course, of course. 



THE FRENCH FAMILY HOUSE
ON BATTLE STREET, SILVERHILL
NOW ABANDONED
[Giles French was born in here, 1918]

In Silverhill, just to the north of Hastings, Giles French was born in 1918, just before the end of the Great War.  (It would not be known as World War One until it became necessary to number them.)  

Several of his uncles on both sides of his family died in battle – as a matter of fact, one was shot in the back the minute after the Christmas truce ended.  Giles' own father, Nigel French, left his family behind in order to avenge their loss.  But early in 1917, he lost his arm at the Battle of Poictesme and was shipped home to his family in Silverhill, after a period of convalescence in Yorkshire.  


NIGEL FRENCH, SR. @ DOWNTON ABBEY

When it was time to be discharged both from that convalescence and from military service, Nigel French's wife and young children traveled up to the village of Downton in order to escort him from the local manor house which had been turned into a military hospital for the duration of the war.


It was during this brief sojourn before their return to the Hastings area that Mrs. French became pregnant with Giles.  This was unplanned, a late-in-life baby; they already had two children, a boy and a girl.  The eldest son of the Frenches, born in 1903, was named after his father, Nigel, but everyone called him “Niles” as a diminutive nickname.  (When Niles turned fifteen, just before the birth of his brother, he ran away from home to join the war effort.  He lied about his age in order to enlist, only to be thwarted by the declaration of armistice on November 11th.)

Mrs. French was insistent that her new son should be named “Giles” after her brother who perished in 1914 at the battle of Ypres.  (She also thought it was cute to have sons known as “Niles” and “Giles”.)


Giles showed great promise at school and was offered the opportunity to attend Eton College in Berkshire.  However, his parents did not have the means to afford such a privileged education and so they refused the invitation, especially not after scraping all they could spare to send Niles to Brendan.  However, a mysterious but affable - if mildly distracted - stranger (Giles’s sister considered him “tweedy”), who introduced himself to them as “The Professor”, revealed to them that his life had been saved at Ypres by the sacrifice of Mrs. French’s brother, a chaplain known to the squad as “Padre”.  When asked his name, the Professor deflected the question by revealing that the Padre knew him as “Kipper”.


YPRES 1914

From a position he now held in London, the Professor had been able to observe the life of Giles French from afar and as a gesture of respect to the family of the man who saved his life, he offered to at least pay the tuition and living expenses for the lad at Devington, a minor public school In Midsomer Parva.  Devington was of some repute as a training ground for those with a future in the diplomatic service.  That it would not be as toney as Eton at least smoothed the ruffled dignity of French, Senior, and so he allowed Giles to enroll at the age of thirteen.  (That would be in 1931.)




While he was away at school, his older sister believed that she had brought shame upon the family.  She had been working as a server at the Royal Oak in Hastings since before Giles left home.  But during his first term, she met Emile, a foreign seaman who originally hailed from the Duchy of Trent.  Something about his brooding demeanor appealed to her and she soon gave in to temptation.  But while it was rapturous love for Miss French, it had only been a passing fancy in another port for the sailor.  His ship embarked before the break of day and she never saw him again. 

But he did leave her with a memento of their night together….


Realizing she was pregnant with his child, Miss French quickly packed her things and took her savings in order to book passage to America.  There she would give birth to her child in anonymity to spare her family’s honour.

In the tenements of New York City she gave birth to a son whom she named Andrew.  She had already disguised her origins at Ellis Island by proclaiming that her surname was “Paris” – a private little game of the name to remind her of who she really was. 


Andrew Paris would grow up to become not only a master illusionist, but also an operative for a government agency under the purview of the Secretary of State.  He would one day get to impersonate his own father during a mission in the Duchy of Trent, with neither being the wiser as to their blood relation to each other.

Having shown excellence in all subjects while at Devington, Giles was offered a full scholarship to Oxford.  As he felt that he gained that honour on his own merits without any intervention by “Tweedy” AKA ‘The Professor, Giles accepted the scholarship and enrolled in Lonsdale College. 


One late evening in the spring of 1940, with his country at war with Germany since the Nazi invasion of Poland the previous September, Giles was stumbling back to his room after a night at the Eagle and Child.  Hearing a strange scraping of an engine, he espied a police box at the far end of the Lonsdale College commons.  There must have been mist that night, he thought, for Giles could have sworn the police box wasn’t there but a moment before.  Its door opened and a small man stepped out and began crossing the commons toward Giles.  Two other people stood in the doorway and watched him as he left their company.  One was a man dressed in Victorian garb as though he was going to a fancy dress party, while the other was a young woman of chestnut hair and a sweet comeliness highlighted by the bright idealism enlarging her eyes.  Her clothes were just as foreign to Giles, even shocking as her dress ended high up her thigh and the wild pattern seemed almost futuristic to him.

Satisfied that their friend was safely on his way, they reentered the police box and closed the door.

As the man got closer, Giles recognized him as his mysterious benefactor, the man whom he only knew as “the Professor”.  But he remembered his older sister’s cheeky nickname for the old duffer.

“Professor Kipper,” he called out.  “Is that you?”

“You remember!” smiled the older man cheerfully.  “Although 'Kipper' was just a nickname by which your uncle once knew me,”

“I know you never did tell my parents your real name….”

The prompting by Giles was recognized by the Professor.

With a nod of acquiescence, he replied, “Safer for them that they didn’t know it.  And my current position in the war effort precludes me from revealing my name to you.  But I’m hoping there will be a long association between the two of us, Master French; therefore, you may address me as Mr. W., but I would prefer if you continue addressing me as the Professor.”


Mr. W. quickly mapped out his plans for Giles’ future: as he was in his final weeks at Oxford, the Professor was giving him the opportunity to serve King and Country against “the Hun”.  At first Giles demurred, fearing that it would be some desk-bound service of a type in which the Professor himself looked to be proficient.  Probably some dusty archive, at best trying to crack codes, if not toiling away in some underground archives, filing.  Giles would rather be in the thick of it as his brother Niles was – even if Niles was stationed so far away from the action with his regiment near Mayapore, India.


That is what you are supposed to think, the Professor confided to Giles.  The King’s Own South Oxfordshire Infantry was currently advancing on the village of Villenueve in hopes of taking it as their stronghold in the heart of German-occupied France.  That was the type of thing Giles longed for, but he was afraid his schooling at Devington had doomed him to a career in the diplomatic corps. 

Mr. W. clasped his hand on Giles’ back and urged him to return to the police box with him.  “I’d like you to meet a friend of mine.  He’s known as the Doctor….”

French scoffed at that.  “Of course.  The Doctor.  The Professor.  And who was that fetching young woman with the Doctor?  What do you call her?  Matron?”


“Miss Johnson is a teacher.  But currently she is on hiatus from a Los Angeles high school where she is employed so that she might travel with the Doctor.”

Getting closer to the police box, Giles whispered confidentially, “Are they a couple, Mr. W.?  Would I have any chance should I ask her -#”

“I’m not sure you could handle the age difference, French.”

“She doesn’t look too much older than me, Sir.  I believe I would be able to acquit myself with an older woman….”

“Older?” the Professor chuckled.  “My dear boy, you’re looking at it from the wrong perspective!  She’s younger than you!  As a matter of fact, Alice won’t even be born until 1947!”

The door of the police box opened and W. gestured for French to enter.  “I’ll explain all once you join us inside.  We have a small wager on what you’ll say once you enter, and I’d like to see if I won….”

After Giles finished his schooling, the Professor mentored him through training to join the war effort via the Double-Cross System as utilized by the espionage branch known as M9.  But he was eager to do more and pestered the Professor to be sent on undercover missions.



Although the Professor resisted, the matter was taken out of his hands when it was discovered that French bore an uncanny resemblance to a Moroccan sheikh known as the Caid.  As they needed someone to get into Casablanca to contact some members of the French Resistance at the Blue Parrot Cafe, French was finally able to undertake a mission and all because he had an evil twin.

His support team, including a young man named Phelps, abducted the Caid to keep him hidden away until the mission was completed.  (You can imagine the sheikh's surprise when he was confronted with his "identical cousin"!)




But before French could extricate himself from Casablanca, the Caid escaped and raised the alarm.  Needing to get quickly out of Morocco but now saddled with a disguise that no longer protected him, French did some quick thinking - he rifled the office of the Blue Parrot's owner and stole his identification papers.  Armed with a letter of transit procured by Phelps, French slipped out of the country while passing himself off as Signor Ferrari.....



(That resemblance to the Caid would lead to an awkward encounter years later once he was living in New York.  While at the business office of a New York paper to place an ad for his employer, he ran into the newspaper's proof-reader.  His name was Holliday and as with many newspaper employees of that time, he was mild-mannered. Back in the mid-1950s,  had once tangled with the Caid himself.)


Satisfied that French could handle himself in a tight spot, Mr. W. sent him undercover many times during the war.  Although he never actually fought as a soldier, there were times when he was dispatched to the front lines for missiona of the highest secrecy.  During his many missions, Giles French came into contact with other spies like the Fox and the Elephant, otherwise known as Stephen Halliday and Thomas Devon, and with embedded reporters like "Deadline" Norris of the New York Record. 




Norris was going through a mid-life crisis as the editor at the Record and felt like his life needed some kind of a shake-up; something that would make him feel alive again like he did back during Prohibition.  That's why he volunteered to go back to being a reporter on the front lines.


French even met with diplomats of the highest order like Howard Paige (through whom French was reunited with the Detective Chief Superintendent of Hastings.  The detective had once threatened to jail Giles as a boy for nicking an apple when the French family had gone there for a beach day.)  


THE DETECTIVE CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT
[from Giles French's perspective as a boy]


But he also made fast friends among the members of the armed forces, from the foot soldiers to the officers, even American troops.  In fact, it was the King Company's King Two squadron that picked him up outside the village of Villenueve when French parachuted in from a secret flight that began at Archbury Field.


It was a flight of such priority Brigadier General Frank Savage himself flew the plane instead of the previously assigned Major Roger Crittenden.

While there in Villenueve, Giles was reunited with his brother Niles who was the batman for his commanding officer.  It was only a short visit as Giles had to return to England as quickly as possible.  But both of the French brothers were heartened by the reunion during which Niles revealed that once the war was over, he would be seeking a career as a valet, similar to his duties as a batman.

Deadline Norris happened to be in the village that day and wanted to cover their reunion as a human interest story.  The French brothers reluctantly agreed, but forced Norris to give their surname as "Felix" for security sake.

The story was never filed as Norris was shot while trying to make it back to England.  He died in French's arms.....

In the years following World War II,

(O'Bservation: For any who might think that French's WWII exploits sound too far-fetched for a man of his girth, remember "Family Affair" took place twenty years later.  As Giles French once said, back then he was younger and slimmer.)

Giles French played a role in the early days of the "Circus", but soon became disillusioned with the cause as he saw the corruption seeping in.

But it finally came to a head with the murder of a former undercover agent with whom he worked on several missions behind the lines in France.  He only knew her as Aimee and he knew that was an alias, but then again, he also was using an alias - "Mr. Felix".  Nevertheless, he was entranced with her devil-may-care whims. 



However, there was a darkness in her as well, triggered by her capture by the Gestapo who tortured her mercilessly.  (Luckily for her, they never learned that she was Jewish or they would have killed her on the spot.)  ”Aimee” was eventually rescued by some of her friends, albeit with some loss of life and freedom among her rescuers.  Still there were more blows to her spirit – when she returned to England, “Aimee’ found that her mother had committed suicide.



French didn’t begin working with her until after she returned to the fieldwork, although she no longer worked with her associates from before her capture.  She had new associates, like Giles French, and new superiors back home.
“Aimee” confided to French that she believed that she had been betrayed by someone in that first team whom she should have trusted.  She feared that another attempt on her life would occur. 


With a near fatal “accident” during one mission, “Aimee” disappeared and French never learned what happened to her.  That is, not until after he had joined the intelligence community, when she showed up at his London flat with the revelation that she finally discovered who had betrayed her to the Nazis during the war.  French was the only person she felt she could trust anymore and that's why she came to hiim.  It did take a few years however, since she only knew him by his alias "Mr. Felix".

French kept her hidden away at his place while he went on a previously scheduled meeting with his superior George, but when he came back to the flat, she was gone.


The body of “Aimee” was found floating in the Thames the next morning and the agency pulled strings to have it chalked up as a suicide like her mother.  But French knew better and he resigned on the spot.  Luckily for him, everyone knew why he resigned so he wasn’t “vanished” to the sort of place where warders sought information… information… information, and usually got it by hook or by crook.

Despite Control's entreaties for him to reconsider, and refusing the offer of Mr. W.'s invitation to join him at the newly emerging organization at the United Nations dealing with the command of law enforcement, Giles French chose to enter service – butling service, that is, just as his brother Niles did after the war.




Realizing there would be no dissuading him, Mr. W. suggested to French that should he ever seek employ in the United States, he should request the advice of a valet who once had been his compatriot back during the First World War, one Alfred Pennyworth.  Pennyworth was now in service in America, at stately Wayne Manor on the outskirts of Gotham City but had also come to the service of the King during the war with his skills in archery and swordsmanship.


Giles followed his brother’s example by enrolling at The Butler & Gentleman's Gentleman Association as the place to go for training in the art of butling.  (Their motto was "Better, Brighter, More Beautiful Butling.)  Graduating with honors from that school, French was snapped up to be a footman at the great manor on the outskirts of Downton in Yorkshire.


It amused him that he was now employed near the small inn where he had been conceived.  There he began his career in service as second footman and showed such promise that it was suggested he might one day be the personal valet for one of the next generation of the family.  (None of whom would inherit the estate, being the children of their mother’s second marriage.)


At one point, his former skills with that early version of MI5 proved to be still with him as he assisted a renowned Belgian sleuth in the solution of a murder in the library of the Abbey.  (The little detective had been disabled by several strokes and so French had been assigned to be on call for him through his stay.)  That investigation was in January of 1950, one month before the esteemed Belgian detective died.


French's service there at the manor became legen- wait for it -dary, and word soon spread among the wealthy associates of the family regarding his stellar talents as a butler.   It didn't take more than a few years before Giles French was poached by Lord Glenmore to be the head butler of his own household.


Unfortunately, Mr. French left the service of Lord Glenmore only a few years later under a cloud of suspicion.  Rumour had it that he was a married bounder who was hoping to extort money from the Glenmore estate.  However, this was a scheme cooked up by Lord Glenmore and French.

Apparently Glenmore’s daughter Evelyn had come to believe she was in love with him after their long conversations about books.  French agreed that it put him in an untenable position and that he should leave.  But he wanted to make sure that it was a clean break so that Evelyn wouldn’t be left behind, pining for him.  Thus, the story.


However, such news spread quickly in English society, both upstairs and downstairs, and French couldn’t find employ anywhere in the United Kingdom.  So he turned his sights to America.  And with the help of an old friend of his from back in the war, Stephen Halliday, he got a meeting with Halliday’s identical cousin, Bill Davis.


Davis was the president of Davis & Gaynor Construction Company and lived at 600 East 62nd Street in Manhattan, Apartment 27A.  It was a large apartment, perhaps bigger than a single man needed, but French assured Davis that he could handle anything that came his way. 



That would be an assertion which would be eventually put to the test, not that either of them knew that at that moment.

Pressed for time to catch a flight so that he could begin a new construction project in South America, Davis hired French on the spot with no concern about checking his references.  If his cousin Stephen vouched for him, that was good enough

When he returned from his time in Santo Marco, Davis marveled at how spotless the place now looked and since it didn’t appear that anything of value was missing, that was good enough for him.  And that was the beginning of their long association.

During that time while Mr. Davis was away, French didn’t squander his time after cleaning the entire apartment.  He locked in the best estimate for the delivery of the mail and he checked into the background of the paperboy who delivered the New York Chronicle in the morning and the New York Ledger in the afternoon.  And he put his old skills to use by investigating all of Davis’ neighbors to make sure his new master would never be in jeopardy.


A "SAINTLY" NEIGHBOR'S APARTMENT

Only one other resident raised French’s alarms – a man reputed to be a philanthropist but a pirate as well.  His name was known internationally, and being a globe-trotting adventurer was his stock in trade.  French felt confident that -- whether or not he deserved a halo along with accolades - the neighbor wouldn’t be much of a hindrance to the serenity of the Davis household.  (Although there was that one time in 1962 when his apartment was nearly blown up by a crooked union leader.) 



In 1966, Bill Davis’ brother and sister-in-law were killed in a car crash, leaving their three children orphaned: fifteen year old Catherine (known as “Cissy”), and the fraternal twins Buffy and Jody who were were around ten years of age.  The children were shipped off to other relatives but they couldn’t take care of them.  In order to keep the children together, Bill Davis reluctantly agreed to take them in and raise them himself. 


This was a shock to Giles French, of course.  He had seen his life as valet to Bill Davis as being his version of a cloistered life; and this new intrusion of children was something not even all of his training with the Professor could have prepared him for.  It didn’t take long, however, for him to fall under the sway of their charms. 

January of 1967
Several months after the arrival of the children, French’s past reached out for him – he was summoned back to England, commanded by the Queen herself!  So assured were they that he would answer her summons, they sent his brother Niles to replace him in the Davis household, since Niles had already retired from his service.



To his surprise, Giles French found himself sharing Oceanic Airways flight 423 with Alfred Pennyworth.  There were no other passengers and the crew could not (or would not) answer their question.  As there seemed no way to discover the truth, they decided to let the matter rest for the duration of the flight and instead they ordered a round of McCutcheon on ice….

They arrived at Heathrow and were greeted by Scotland Yard Chief Superintendent Durk who quickly hustled them both into a waiting limousine which had a police escort.

The procession brought them out of London, beyond the town of Marbury, to a manor house in the village of Grantleigh.  The owners of the manor and their staff had vacated the premises for its use by the British government.  (Their only request?  That those who would be staying in their manor should refrain from using their towels monogrammed with a florid "ff-H".)



THE SECLUDED TRAINING CENTER

CS Durk led French and Pennyworth inside where a small group of men who had that distinctive bearing of the quintessential valet were already assembled.  At the forefront was a man named Raleigh who identified himself as the top professional in charge of this top secret mission.  French knew who he was, for he made Raleigh’s acquaintance briefly during his short career with the Circus, but he went by a code name back then, something of an equine nature – Colt, perhaps?  Stallion?  French couldn’t remember.



With Raleigh now in control, CS Durk took his leave of his charges and his team of Metro police departed the premises.  But the property was still patrolled by UNIT troops.  (And for that seemingly insignificant service to the Crown, Durk found himself on the fast track for promotion.)

Raleigh introduced the other butlers to each other.  Along with French and Pennyworth, there were several old duffers – one who had to be in his 90s, but still reflecting the tough demeanor he displayed during his service as a batman during the First World War.  Even so, he had cast off many of the formalities of their profession and told the others that they should call him "Buntie".

"BUNTIE" IN HIS GLORY DAYS

The other, in his mid-70s, was unwilling to identify himself and so Raleigh intervened and named him as Thom, no last name offered.  Hidden beneath the many scars on his face, French could tell there had once been quite a handsome visage, almost beautiful.  It wasn’t the only physical damage he had suffered – Thom tried to hide it, but his left hand was gloved as though it might have been damaged in some way.


ONCE UPON A THOM....

Whatever had happened to the older fellow, it had hardened him - Thom was surly and apparently not one to be welcoming the newcomers.  Raleigh apologized for his behaviour, pointing out that Thom had been a guest of Her Majesty’s government since the Second World War, staying in such “resorts” as Farnleigh, Crown Hill, Redford, Slade, and Teddington.

Another valet from the back of the group sniped, “More of a batty man than a batman, more bufter than butler, if you know what I mean, nudge nudge wink wink.”


RAYMOND BERATES HIGGINS

“Stanley!” Another older butler chided the cat-caller before turning back to the new arrivals. “You’ll have to forgive our man Stanley; he’s spent a few years too many working for Americans.”


Thanks to their own ingrained breeding, French and Pennyworth didn’t show umbrage at the unknowing slight.

“I’m rather partial to the prospect of working with Americans,” beamed another butler whom Raleigh had earlier introduced as Lynn Belvedere.  “I assume there would be less stress involved than I had serving Mr. Churchill or even Mr. Gandhi!”


“I still don’t believe that story,” scoffed the other butler. 

“Yeah, you’re full of hot air, Tubby,” sneered the one named Thom as he lit the cigarette in his mysteriously gloved hand.  “Not surprising, I suppose, by the look of you.  Do they float you in their parade come their Day of Thanks?”

“Haven’t we met before?” Pennyworth intruded, puzzled by how familiar the stranger looked. 


“The name is Helmsley.  Raymond Helmsley.  I’m afraid you have the better of me, Sir.  I don’t think we’ve met.”

Realization dawned on Raymond’s face.  “Oh dear.  I’m afraid you may have mistaken me for my brother Maurice Helmsley. He also is in the service as it were; he works for a mystery writer named Wallace.  But while I am addressed as ‘Raymond’ by my employer, Dr. Willis, my brother uses only our family name.”


But Pennyworth shook his head. “I was thinking of one of my employer’s… shall we say, adversaries.  But I think he’s of Canadian descent.  Still, it’s amazing how much you resemble each other.  Quite the puzzler!”

Raleigh finished up the introductions and then led them into the study which had already been swept for surveillance devices.

“Well then!” Raleigh began cheerily.  “I’m sure you all have questions as to why Her Majesty has summoned you here.”

“Who cares?” snarled Thom.  “Got me out of Farnleigh, that’s all I care about!”

Ignoring him, Raleigh continued.  “On February 6th, just a few weeks from now, Soviet  Premier Alexei Kosygin will be arriving in Great Britain for a series of private conferences with our Prime Minister.  Three days later there will be a reception with Her Majesty in his honour at Buckingham Palace.  It will be a relatively small reception, no more than about sixty guests.  And per the Premier, the men will be in business suits and the women in simple dresses and not ballroom gowns or tuxedoes.”

“Why exactly did you need us then?” asked Old Bunter.  “Not that I’m not grateful for getting sprung from the Bayview Retirement Home, mind!  But there are plenty of butlers and footmen at Buckingham Palace!”

“And they’re most certainly younger than we are and with better honed skills,” added Raymond.

“Each of you have skills in your background that will come in handy should a crisis arise.  And the regular staff would be ill-equipped to handle such crises.”

“So why not get M9 or UNIT to work undercover as the butlers?” Higgins demanded.

Raleigh shook his head.  They’d be able to nip any problem should it arise, nip it in the bud.  Unfortunately, they lack the finesse to pass themselves off as seasoned valets.  And with the best butling school in the country shut down due to infiltration by a spy network, there’s no place and indeed, no tie to get them the training they need to avoid being noticed in a moment.  No, they’ll be available should the need arise, but you gentlemen will be the first best line of defense.”

“You really think the Russkie will try to attack the Queen?”

Raleigh shrugged.  “One of our operatives in M9 had been looking into this for us, but for some reason he recently, inexplicably resigned before we could debrief him.  And now he’s disappeared.

“But we have had reports that a third party is planning something devious against both Her Majesty and the Premier.  Such an attack would throw the Free World into chaos, not to mention how the Soviet Union would view the situation!

“So we’ve gathered all of you to be that first line of defense.  Those skills which you excel, in both as operatives and as valets, we know they will come back easily to you.  We’re more concerned in making sure you blend together seamlessly as a team so that it looks as though you’ve been working with each other at Buckingham Palace for years.

“I have it in mind to forge you all into a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’s Gentlemen!”

The situation did seem dire and the butlers accepted the request to serve Queen and Country.

Those last three weeks before Kosygin’s visit went quickly but smoothly as the disparate butlers meshed perfectly as one.  As Raleigh anticipated, they were a team of superlatives. 


February 9th, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’s Gentlemen were on edge but they knew their duty and performed their functions flawlessly.  Among the guests were Prime Minister Wilson, the American Ambassador, several knighted celebrities, and mystery novelist Dame Abigail Austin.  Light entertainment was provided by a wandering ventriloquist and his dummy Maykl the Clown.


As the evening wore on, it became a bit wearing on the older members of the team but still they remained sharp.  In fact, it was 90-year-old Buntie who spotted that not all was in place – he spotted a maid coming down the stairs who should not have been seen by the guests.  But more shocking than that breach of etiquette was the fact that she summoned memories of a maid he once knew and courted decades before.  And yet she had not aged a day from how he remembered her.

“Rose?” he quavered in a whisper as he approached her.  “Rose?  Could it be possible?”

She turned to face him and he noticed right away the lifeless sheen of her eyes and his gasp of alarm caught the attention of Raleigh.  As he had past experience with such cybernauts, Raleigh quickly summoned the team to advance on her before she could attack either Kosygin or the Queen.


Raleigh commanded Buntie and Raymond to take charge of shepherding the guests to safety as the Queen’s security gave her and Kosygin top priority.

“Alicia!” cried the ventriloquist’s dummy.  “Detonate!”

Raleigh turned in time to see the ventriloquist pull a small pistol from his cummerbund; how it got past the security checkpoints would have to be explored later.  The important thing now was to disarm him. 

But before he could engage the anarchist, the ventriloquist was struck in the neck by a spinning serving tray flung by Thom.  As the ventriloquist crumpled to the ground, Pennyworth put his swordsmanship skills to the test with a skewer and swung wide.  The ventriloquist’s head toppled off, accompanied by sparks.  He had been an android just like the maid. 


As the ventriloquist was falling, the dummy leapt out of its arms onto a wheeled serving table which carried him out of the reception hall to make good his escape.  Giles and Lynn gave chase and as they entered the gardens, they were the ones who were apprehended by the UNIT soldiers.  As they struggled with their captors and tried to reason with them, Lynn noticed the blank stare in their eyes.  “French!  They’re androids too!”

Suddenly they heard a loud explosion inside and the androids froze in place as if there was some sort of connection between them and the detonation.  French and Belvedere extricated themselves from the androids’ grip and rushed back inside to find Thom placing royal linen over a body.

“There’s been a death in the family,” Raymond reported with some measure of sorrow. 


Thom grimly nodded.  “It was apparent that Alicia fembot was about to explode, so our man Higgins leapt on her and brought her down.  He took the full brunt of the blast.”


Buntie shook his head.  "The robot's payload was a load of buckshot.  Morbidly fitting, considering the last name of whom I thought she was...."

Despite the loss of their teammate, Raleigh quickly debriefed them.  “The ventriloquist’s dummy had to be a midget.  I think it likely it was the leader of an evil spy organization in the States who calls himself ‘Mr. Big’.”


“I came across reports of him during the War,” French added.  “There were unconfirmed reports that he had been operating since the American Civil War; he claimed to be a doctor back then.”

Thom scoffed at that.  “And he’s still around a century later?  Pull the other one!” 

French shrugged.  He wasn’t about to argue about it. 
Publicly, the assault was covered up with no official coverage in the newspapers, and there was no longer any reason to keep the team together.


The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’s Gentlemen disbanded, their work done.  But they gathered one last time for the internment ceremony with honors for Stanley Higgins.

“Someone will have to tell that family back in the States,” sighed Raymond.  “As I’m going back to Los Angeles, I’ll deliver the news, although I don’t know who he worked for or where he lived.”


“The MacRobertses.”  Raleigh gave him the state and city and the address at Kimberley Terrace Apartments.

As they made their farewells at the gravesite, Raleigh led Thom aside and handed him an envelope sealed in wax with the royal imprint.  “Your pardon, Thom, in thanks for your service.  Your prison record for all these years has been expunged.  And if you can just forbear from – well, the type of behavior that got you in trouble all those years ago, at least until July, then you’ll have no need to fear what people think of your… interests.  At least in England and Wales for the time being.”

“Maybe I won’t want to hang around to wait,” Thom grumbled. “America’s looking good; land of opportunity and all that.”

Raleigh wasn’t so sure.  “I don’t think they’re anywhere as close to recognizing basic private rights,” he warned.  “And I haven’t heard anything encouraging about the way  'Numbers’ are treated in stir.”

“I think I can find some work there, even at my age,” Thom shrugged.  “Isn’t there a family who’ll be needing a new butler over there?”

Raleigh smiled.  After a moment he called over his shoulder, “Mr. Helmsley?  I think Thom here will be making that trip to the Kimberley Terrace Apartments to give the MacRobertses the news…..”
"It will be good to get back to Los Angeles and to my wife Alma," sighed Raymond as they left the cemetery. 

"I suppose the old dear misses you," Buntie mused.

Raymond chuckled.  "Old?  She's 42 years younger than I am!"  He showed them a picture of his wife.  They were all astounded to see the pretty young blonde.

Ever blunt, Thom wanted to know old an old codger like him landed such a young bird, but he waved off the question.  "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

When they continued to pester him, he finally said, "Very well then.  I met a warlock.  And he cast a spell which made me irresistible to her."

"Of course you did.  And why would he do that for you?"

"I think he liked the way I looked." Raymond shrugged.  "I looked exactly like him!  And he had the same name as my brother...."

All but French had departed the gravesite, waiting for his chance to speak to Raleigh alone.  He offered his help in tracking down this “Mr. Big” before he could escape the kingdom.  “I found the archived material about that diabolical dwarf and his attempts to take California for himself back in the last century to be fascinating reading.  I thought it was pure fantasy, but if he really is still around, perhaps I’m now the one man to be able to profile him.”

And so Giles French extended his stay to work with M9 in tracking down “Mr. Big”.  During that time he served as a mentor for a promising and talented amateur named Tara, preparing her for the “Circus” as one of the “friends”.  And by the next year, she was ready to be partnered with Raleigh himself, still working under his equine code name.

Near the end of February 1967, French finally gained his first real lead in tracking down “Mr. Big”.  He was reportedly seen skulking about the ports, making contact with a man named P.N. Gwynne.  French also discovered that he had entered the country under the alias of “Michael Little”.


At the end of February, “Mr. Big” made his attempt to escape via P.N. Gwynne’s experimental submarine which resembled an aquatic bird from the southern hemisphere.


But Mr. French was quick to follow.  On February 25th, French boarded HMS Renown, Britain’s second Polaris submarine, for its maiden voyage, with the mission revised to overtake that other submarine as its priority.

The chase back and forth across the Atlantic brought French back to New York City by early March and both “Mr. Big” and his monocled associate (sometimes known as the Foul-Weathered Fowl) were apprehended.  He took his leave of the Renown and returned to the Davis household to resume his duties.

As usual with the great villains of Toobworld, “Mr. Big” and Gwynne quickly escaped and a year later “Mr. Big” sought revenge of Mr. French by falsifying his records to insinuate that he was an international jewel thief.  This would get French in trouble when he and the twins traveled to Rome, Italy, and he was arrested at the airport.  Luckily a man named Endicott was able to set the record straight.

Life for Giles French otherwise continued without any major incident, working for Bill Davis and helping rear the three children until they became adults and left to lead their own lives.  Once they were no longer living under the same roof, Mr. French decided to invest his time in the restaurant he opened called Our Mister French’s and so gave his notice to Bill Davis.


And finally being his own gentleman, French proposed to Miss Favisham, the nanny who was his constant companion in Central Park all those years.


All three of the Davis children still live in Toobworld, despite the sad events in the Real World for one of the actors.  But both Bill Davis and Giles French have departed the realm of Earth Prime-Time some years ago.

I’d rather not dwell on that and so I’ll bring this mythography of Giles French to a close……

I hope you enjoyed it.


BCnU!