Thursday, January 10, 2019

Yet another universe's chronology

My paper in the Fall 2018 issue of The Watsonian, entitled "Conan Doyle's Curious Collection of Continuitites" put forth my multiverse theory of Watson's dates in the Sherlockian Canon. Why does Watson have Holmes investigating "Wisteria Lodge" in 1892 when he was supposed to be thought dead and on hiatus? Simple -- that was a Watson whom Conan Doyle channelled from a parallel Earth to the one which held the Reichenbach Falls moment.

So you will understand one of the reasons I found the movie Holmes and Watson to be a Sherlockian treat: It gave me dates and another parallel Earth to chart in my multiverse theory of Sherlock Holmes's lives.

The movie begins with young Sherlock starting school in 1867. He meets young Watson in that same year (at least in the American release of the film -- which might indicate a second universe for the other version) and goes on to solve his first crime, which is reported in a newspaper dated November 24, 1867.

How old is Sherlock Holmes during that formative year? Well, there we find another indicator that this is a universe quite alien to our own, where humans not only have the ability to "uncry" . . . they also look what we would see as ten or twelve years old when they are twenty-one years old. That is the case, at least, unless this Sherlock Holmes played by Will Ferrell lies about his age in his moment of revelation:

"Watson! I've discovered my emotions! And I'm only 46!"

He makes that statement in 1892, which means he would have been 21 when he started school. Given, however, that almost immediately started solving crimes, perhaps that was also the year this Sherlock started lying about his age to get into crime scenes, making him almost ten years younger than his declared 46.

Want some more cross-universe chronology fun? Not only did this Sherlock's Moriarty escape to America in 1892, his universe's RMS Titanic also set sail for America in that year, which it did about twenty years later in our universe. Of course, their Mahatma Gandhi was a shave-headed, newspaper-quote-worthy older man in their 1892 as well, when in our world he was only a newly-minted lawyer headed back to India at age 23.

Getting into the respective ages of Mrs. Hudson's many lovers -- Einstein, Houdini, Mark Twain, and Charlie Chaplin -- is a whole 'nother kettle of fish pie and swamp. Our Chaplin would have been only three years old when hanging out with Hudson.  Twain, in his late fifties, might be close enough, but Harry Houdini would have been only eighteen when Hudson is calling him "dollface" and he is starting the gears that she hoped would crush Watson's head. Albert Einstein would have been thirteen when his full shock of white hair came in, but being a lover of that particular Mrs. Hudson might just age a man severely, given her seeming desire to bed all of those gentlemen simultaneously.

Before anyone complains that I'm spending far too much time considering the ramifications of utter nonsense, I would make one simple statement: Welcome to the world of Sherlockian chronology!

Our Watson(s) may have not gone quite so far astray with is dates as Holmes and Watson's newspapers and title cards, but trying to get those dates to line up requires exactly the same amount of imagination and parallel universe theory as making sense from this particular non-sense. Being a Sherlockian chronologist does a lot to mentally prepare one for a movie like this one, given that both Sherlockian chronology and comedies this wacky should have the same motto written over their doors:

"Abandon hope all ye who enter here."

Because that's definitely where the fun starts.

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