Thursday, March 24, 2016

No ghosts need apply here, either.

Sometimes an insight comes to us that we should have seen all along, and embarassingly realize that everybody else had probably already figured out. One such moment came to me this morning as I was listening to the latest Longbox Heroes podcast as Todd was explaining Dr. Who to Leonard.

Like many fans of both Dr. Who and Sherlock Holmes, I have always felt a kinship between the two, but outside of sharing a writer on two of their more recent runs on British television, it was hard to put that kinship into words.

About forty-two minutes into their latest episode, the discussion is on a recent comic book featuring the Tom Baker incarnation, who is mentioned as wearing his "Sherlock Holmes hat" from the Dr. Who episode "The Talons of Weng Chiang." But that silly hat is just superficial Sherlock. The thing I really connect to Sherlock Holmes with was Todd's statement of a Dr. Who tradition:

"It's never magic. Or anything like that. It's always an alien, and scientifically explained," he begins, going on to explain that point at length.

"The Doctor is always like, 'There's no such thing as magic, there's no such thing as this, these things happen, and there's always a scientific explanation for it . . . it's going to be a garbage scientific reason, like gobbledeegook, but it'll be that, if that makes any sense.'"

And it does make sense, especially if you've ever watched a show like Star Trek: The Next Generation, which lives and breathes on pseudo-science concepts like "Heisenberg compensators." Once you cross a certain line, you either have to make up fake future science or just allow the supernatural . . . even Conan Doyle pulled it once or twice with Sherlock Holmes.

But the point is, that Dr. Who, like Sherlock Holmes, even upon actually seeing what surely has to be a ghost, goes "No ghosts need apply!" and looks for what is looking so ghost-like. And keeps looking until he finds what that thing is. Both have dealt with ghosts, vampires, and demons . . . and found no ghosts, vampires, or demons. Just residents of their own particular universe.

I had never really stopped to think about Dr. Who in those particular Sherlockian terms until today, and a late epiphany is, at least, better than none. It also explains why a certain writer has shown such a deft hand with both Holmes and Who.

A pity about those poor jobless ghosts, though. I guess they'll always have their believers out there.

Just not in a Tardis. And not in 221B Baker Street.

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