If all of the Sherlock Holmes similarities in ABC's new drama Forever hadn't struck a chord already, in the show's sixth episode, Dr. Henry Morgan confronts a killer who may be Jack the Ripper.
What makes it interesting is that Morgan was around for the original Jack the Ripper's killing spree . . . just like Sherlock Holmes.
Well, at least, we all tend to believe Sherlock Holmes was around for the original Ripper killings. Both the detective and the slasher were active and becoming famous in the same city at the same time, so it has always seemed impossible that their paths didn't cross. And yet we have no records of that crossing . . . just as we have no records of the end of Jack the Ripper's career.
Which makes the themes touched on in Forever this week a bit resonant for the Sherlockian mind. Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper have both lived on past their proper human lifespans in our minds, just as Henry Morgan of the ABC show lives on in his fictional TV storyline. It's almost like they both exist in some eternal battlefield version of Victorian London like some Norse mythology afterlife.
Vincent Starrett famously wrote in his poem "221B," "Here dwell together still, two men of note, who never lived, and so can never die." Holmes and the Ripper suffer from a similar curse -- since they never truly battled and decided a victor, they can never, ever be done with their fight. Professor Moriarty may be Sherlock Holmes's best known arch-nemesis, but Holmes beat Moriarty. Over, done, beaten. As much as we like to see that replayed in its many forms, we know how it comes out.
Holmes versus the Ripper? On it goes.
Kind of like Forever.