The curious incident of Elementary, Left Behind, and the paradox of ‘Bible prophecy’

I’m enjoying Elementary, the new detective show on CBS featuring Sherlock Holmes in contemporary New York City.

The cast and the writing are quite fun so far. The creators of the medical drama House have said that the show was conceived as Sherlock Holmes in the medical profession, and there’s a bit of Hugh Laurie’s House in Jonny Lee Miller’s Holmes (which I see as a good thing).

Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson and Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes is a larger-than-life character, but compared to some other successful TV detective series — like CBS’ CSI franchise — Elementary seems almost realistic. Holmes’ super-human powers of observation and deduction may not be strictly realistic, but I’m happy to embrace that as just part of Arthur Conan Doyle’s original premise. But there is one recurring aspect of the show that seems wholly unreal and that can be jarring every time it comes up. Elementary, it turns out, is not really set in contemporary New York City, but rather in some parallel-universe version of contemporary New York in which no one has ever heard of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

The setting is not really New York in 2012, but New York in 2012 as if Conan Doyle’s iconic stories had never existed.

That’s not a huge difference, but we’re constantly reminded of it when watching Elementary. Every time Sherlock Holmes is introduced as “Sherlock Holmes” and people respond without a hint of recognition, we’re confronted with the difference between the world of the show and our own world. Here in our world — the real world — everyone knows that name. Sherlock Holmes is not merely famous, he’s proverbial. “No [kidding], Sherlock,” we say, sarcastically invoking the fictional detective as the universally recognized epitome of deductive brilliance.

That’s the paradoxical problem in all stories like this. In order to present a setting in which Sherlock Homes can seem real, that setting cannot allow for the existence of the fictional Holmes. And a world without the fictional Holmes can never seem wholly familiar or real.

This paradox is not an insurmountable problem for Elementary which is, again, quite fun and entertaining.

But a variation of that same paradox is a far greater problem for stories like the one Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins tell in their best-selling “End Times” thriller Left Behind and its sequels. That story, LaHaye and Jenkins insist, is more than simply a diverting bit of entertainment. It is, they say, a depiction of “Bible prophecy” — an attempt to portray real events that really will, and must, occur here in the real world in which we now live.

I suppose such a claim was more plausible back in the early 20th century, when Cyrus Scofield was first madly scribbling the footnotes of his “prophetic” reference Bible. Back then, one could have read those footnotes in the first editions of Scofield’s annotated Bible and imagined that his “prophecies” might come true. The deceptive rise of the Antichrist’s rule over an unsuspecting world might have at least seemed theoretically possible.

But that deception and that unsuspecting world are necessary ingredients in Scofield’s story — and in the same story as later repackaged and re-sold by popularizers like Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye. But due to the enormous storytelling success of Scofield, Lindsey and LaHaye, this blissfully unsuspecting world no longer exists. The deception integral to their story could no longer occur as they “prophesy” it must.

Just as Elementary requires the conceit of a world in which the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle never existed, so too the fulfillment of these “Bible prophecies” would require a world in which the Scofield Bible, The Late Great Planet Earth, and Left Behind never existed.

That’s not a big problem for Elementary, since enjoying that show does not require one to believe it’s a true story. But since the central claim of Left Behind, et. al., is that these are — or will be — true stories, this paradox is a much bigger problem for them.

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  • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

    That’s totally not true, because shut up.

  • Jurgan

    Darths and Droids has dealt with this problem.  The premise of the comic is that people are playing an RPG that turns into Star Wars, in a world where Star Wars never existed.  They tackle what that would mean for the world if there were no Star Wars here: http://darthsanddroids.net/episodes/0050.html      Read the text at the bottom, then click the link and keep following it- it just keeps getting funnier.

  • Fusina

     You…you utterly heartless bastard…like I didn’t have enough time sinks in my life…

  • Baby_Raptor

    One can never have enough time sinks.

  • Fusina

     Could be the key we need to stop people starting wars. Who knows? ;-)

  • Kirala

     Darths and Droids is quite interestingly realistic in that link, but less and less plausible (and IMHO less and less clever) the further back one follows the linkage – which doesn’t stop me in the least from counting down the D&D comics till the next divisible-by-50 triggers another layer of silliness.

  • Sniffnoy

     Note that Darths and Droids is inspired by DM of the Rings (see the FAQ).

  • Bificommander

    I was recently wondering if the Rapture-stories are well known enough and/or PMD Christians have visited Jewish settlers enough, that the leadership of Israel would automatically reject any treaty that comes with a seven year expiration date. If they really like the treaty, they might send it back with a note saying  “How about we make that 8 years?”

  • Evan

    … Which will pose no problem for the real antichrist, who’s anti-keeping-treaties and all that, when he proposes a Treaty of Eternal Peace and Friendship and keeps quite quiet on his plans to break it in 3.5 or 7 years.  (Bwa-ha-ha!)

  • D9000

    But, but, only Real True Christians know about Jesus!!!! Jack Chick told us!!!

  • Tricksterson

    Haw! Haw! Haw!

  • MaryKaye

    There is a beautiful throwaway detail in Sean Stewart’s _Resurrection Man_ (spoilers ahead, though not plot spoilers):

    The book is set in a modern-day Awakening world–that is, magic has recently returned.  The protagonist and family are chatting over breakfast and talk turns to _Star Wars_.  One character comments that it’s the perfect example of a movie that could not have been made without the Awakening:  that its tone and themes are perfectly reflections of the changes in the world.  

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Sean Stewart wrote one of the greatest works of fiction I’ve ever experienced — The Beast — and it’s kind of a shame it’s more or less impossible to effectively reproduce in some form. I still remember a lot of those storylines, and I’ll try to explain them, and get about a quarter of the way in and realize I’m sounding completely mad. 

  • Pa1morecast

    No one on TV shows ever refers to other TV shows they might have watched. A CSI character never says “Did you see the Colombo rerun last night?”. And hardly any TV scenes ever show characters watching TV.

  • cjmr

    Cheers used to have the characters watching TV in the bar.  Sometimes what they were watching even drove the plot.

    Law and Order and Numb3rs and other of that type of show sometimes have victims watching TV when they are killed (or whatever).  At least two of the episodes of Numb3rs had watching live-streaming video of a crime in progress as a plot element.

    In general they don’t show the screen of the TV, though, unless the show being shown on the TV during the show is from the same network/production house.

  • Steve Morrison

     There was one All in the Family episode where someone mentioned Minneapolis and Edith said, “Oh, where Mary Tyler Moore loses her hat”.

  • AnonymousSam

    Distantly related, but I swear this is why whenever there’s a movie about zombies, vampires, werewolves or any other kind of mythological creature appearing in modern day Earth, there will inevitably be a terrified argument about “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT THING?!” in which the relevant word is never uttered.

    TVTropes calls this GenreBlindness.

  • Münchner Kindl

     I too get annoyed when a character in a TV show is too genre-blind.

    But on the other hand, I would not accept meeting a zombie or a werewolf or a vampire (sparkling or standard) in real life – because they can’t exist. They violate physics or biology or medicine or common sense. It’s an actor dressed up or somebody playing a trick.

    For the same reason, the Rapture and TurboJesus can’t exist, because theology (from the Bible) tells us that Jesus isn’t returning as TurboJesus to kill and torture people, and that even if a Rapture took place, God wouldn’t be such a sadist to allow plane crashes etc.

    So despite having read enough typically stories of this genre, I would refuse to believe this happen in real life, and wait for Amazing Randi or Mythbusters to tell us what’s really going on.

  • Baby_Raptor

    God allows people to rape children, doctors to let women die from miscarriage because they refuse to perform abortions, and other such “innocents suffering” incidents, so why would he blink at a plane crash?

  • Münchner Kindl

     Because these things happen by God not interfering; plane crashes after the pilots has been raptured happen because God did interfere by the Rapture.

  • Persia

    The Teen Wolf show actually did this quite well: The lead gets bitten by a werewolf, the best friend realizes this, and they spend a good amount of time arguing with each other about whether or not werewolves actually exist.

    Buffy went around it by basically having characters mostly-aware that magic existed but not really willing to face it until they had no other choice. Oz’s “Actually, that explains a lot” was a great line.

  • Becca Stareyes

     To be fair, if my friends came up against a zombie/vampire/werecritter/etc. there’d probably be an argument about ‘okay what sort of undead monster was it’/’virus zombies or supernatural zombies’/’which vampire rules is this playing by’?  The problem with pop culture monster identification is that everyone wants to put their own spin on the classic until you get creatures like the Twilight vampires (which, importantly, seem to be immune to most of the normal vampire killing tricks, and have a lot of Obvious Signs that no other vampire has). 

    Once we got past the THOSE AREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE REAL discussion, of course. 

  • AnonymousSam

    Yeah, that’s actually an example of comical GenreSavvy, not what I’m thinking of. I’ve seen a lot of movies where the characters aren’t just disbelieving about vampires/zombies (usually zombies), they’re completely ignorant. Apparently they dwell within worlds where supernatural creatures aren’t just mythological, but the myths themselves don’t exist.

    Two big scenes are typical, depending on the particular beastie-

    Vampires: The hunted survivors are gathered around a fire and someone utters the words “nosferatu.” No one appears to recognize the word. Someone inevitably asks how you kill them. Cue stunned looks of disbelief as the grizzled veteran/visiting archeologist suggests a stake through the heart or sunlight. None of this will appear to be a familiar idea to them, and they will inevitably die trying to kill the vampire in a different manner, usually involving their bare hands or something as bad.

    Zombies: People eating breakfast with the television on in the background. The talking heads make vague references to the spread of a mysterious disease and a rise in cannibalism-related incidents. Someone switches off the television without even looking at the screen. Later, this same person will empty their gun into the chest and shoulders of a person who is very obviously a walking cadaver and will then utter the words “That’s impossible. What are you?!” before being eaten alive. People will later talk about this incident as when “one of those… things” killed him.

    In both cases, expect at least one person to be killed in front of everyone and then to rise from the dead again, and for only one person in the room to understand that the disorganized shuffling, groaning, “hungrrrry glarrrggh” person is not miraculously alive and well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    [ the disorganized shuffling, groaning, “hungrrrry glarrrggh” person is not miraculously alive and well. ]
    Well, said shuffler could also have just come from the dentist. Novocaine does do that to you, sometimes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=30319652 Tim Lehnerer

    There’s a nice wink to this kind of thing in DIARY OF THE DEAD; in a world without zombie movies as cheap horror flicks with occasional social commentary, there is instead an apparent boom in mummy movies.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Hmmm… Mummy movies could provide some much needed social commentary for which zombies aren’t very well suited. I mean, zombies are good for your “mindless hordes of X” commentary where X = communism, consumerism, 9/11 jingoism, etc., but mummies could well represent the 1% whose immortal capital gets passed down generation to generation compounding interest in hoary Swiss vaults, but don’t you dare touch it, ye 99%, lest you awaken the Curse of the Job Creators!

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    but mummies could well represent the 1% whose immortal capital gets passed down generation to generation compounding interest in hoary Swiss vaults, but don’t you dare touch it, ye 99%, lest you awaken the Curse of the Job Creators!

    OMG. I missed the word “Job” in your last sentence, causing my brain to superimpose “Intellectual Property” over “Curse of the Mummy.” I think this is a metaphor with legs and someone who’s got less on their plate right now than I do should get on that, pronto.

  • fraser

    Funny, I see plenty of vampire movies where people are familiar about vampires, even if they don’t believe in them.

  • AnonymousSam

    Clearly you have spent less time on the Syfy channel than me and are to be lauded for that fact.

  • fraser

     But I agree it’s annoying when it happens. There’s an old comics series, “War That Time Forgot”—US Soldiers run into dinosaurs—and every issue we go through the same “No, it’s impossible!” routine as the previous story.

  • Steve Condrey

    The Twilight series being a key example (in fact, that’s one of the few good things about it–the Cullens are able to use the fictional portrayal of vampires to draw attention from them, because that’s what everyone’s expecting).

  • El Durazno de la Muerte

     Also, Not Using the Zed Word.  (I won’t link it because one black hole in the comment thread is enough.)

  • Paul Durant

    Distantly related, but I swear this is why whenever there’s a movie about zombies, vampires, werewolves or any other kind of mythological creature appearing in modern day Earth, there will inevitably be a terrified argument about “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT THING?!” in which the relevant word is never uttered.

    Zombies, yes. Vampires and werewolves, no. Vampires and werewolves have been folklore creatures for centuries, and in most vampire and werewolf movies, set in the modern day, the characters realize that “vampires/werewolves are real”. There may be mention of how this movie’s vampires are “not like the ones you see in the movies” but specific movies usually are not referenced. They almost always know what vampires or werewolves are and the common folklore strengths and weaknesses. (Vampire and werewolf movies set in Ye Olden Tymes have characters who know vampires and werewolves are real, but then again so does every other movie in the same period whether or not there’s any vampires and werewolves around.)
    Zombie movies are the ones where the characters don’t know what the hell these creatures are, except for comedies like Shaun of The Dead and (if memory serves) Return of the Living Dead. And it’s for the same reason you don’t see characters in a slasher movie (except a comedy/deconstruction like Scream), getting picked off one by one by some superhuman monster mutant man, saying “Holy shit, this dude is just like Michael Meyers in Halloween!” Vampires and werewolves exist in folktales. Characters in a movie about them can realize their lives have become like those folk tales. Zombies and slashers only exist in movies, and to have prior knowledge of what they are, characters in the movie would have to acknowledge their lives have become a movie. And that’s just way too self-referential to do unless you are making a comedy or genre sendup.

  • AnonymousSam

    I’m given to understand that there’s a description of what vampires are in both the first Twilight book and the movie and at no point is there any indication given that the female protagonist even recognizes the concept from folklore. I haven’t been able to find an excerpt to confirm this, but the sheer amount of self-indulgence ladled into describing the vampires’ nature that I am finding is indicative of the author filling in what is perceived to be a complete void of information — something which shouldn’t exist in a modern setting.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I blame the 1998 british miniseries ‘Ultraviolet’, a story about vampires that avoided ever calling them by name. Fans lauded it for being “realistic” because of this, on the assumption that people would not call an immortal creature that feeds on the blood of humans, casts no reflection, has no vital signs andcan be killed only by a stake through the heart a “vampire” since “vampires are myth; these are real”. 

    Ever since then, it’s been increasingly  the gold standard to claim that it’s “more realistic” to have people avoid calling classic monsters by their traditional names.

    To me, it’s just like the thing with the air force not wanting to call their starship the “USS Enterprise”: if a shambling, revivified corpse comes looking to eat my brain, I’m gonna call it a zombie, and so is everyone else

  • Paul Durant

    It’s not a realism thing, it’s a fourth wall thing. Characters in a zombie movie can’t call the undead “zombies” because that meas they are acknowledging they are in a movie

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667708632 Kenneth Raymond

    Honestly that sounds more artificial than using the name, by this point. It’s not like George Romero invented the term, it’s something from an actual religious tradition that entered the Western pop cultural lexicon because it was found to be evocative and useful in stories, just like other creatures from folklore. If they cropped up in the real world, people would use the actual term and “acknowledging they are in a movie” be damned. Avoiding its use is far more unrealistic and forgets that, like vampires and werewolves, it came from somewhere independent of modern cinema.

  • Paul Durant

    The word “zombi” existed, but zombies as we know them were created by modern cinema. The word “Zombi” was unknown outside of the Carribean until around the 30s, and even then it was obscure, and meant “people enslaved by a magic voodoo man”. The dead rising from the grave to feast on the flesh of the living and convert them to zombies as well, in and endless tide of rotting flesh that represents our fear of loss of identity and that those around us are secretly monsters — that’s Romero. He took inspiration from I Am Legend, but even that book was only from 1954, not classic folklore and legends.

    If they cropped up in reality, we would call them zombies. But the people in zombie movies aren’t in reality. They are in a movie we are watching, for which we have to suspend disbelief, and things that remind us of its movieness hurt that. If you were being chased by an unkillable mutant slasher who killed anyone who had sex and was always just right behind his victims even though they were sprinting and he was just lumbering, you would almost certainly comment that he was just like Jason Voorhees or Michael Meyers. But doing that in a slasher movie is just dumb, for the same reason people in non-comedy zombie movies don’t know what zombies are.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667708632 Kenneth Raymond

    If they cropped up in reality, we would call them zombies. But the people in zombie movies aren’t in reality. They are in a movie we are watching, for which we have to suspend disbelief, and things that remind us of its movieness hurt that.

    I’m sorry, but that seems really internally inconsistent to me. The suspension of disbelief is based on making it seem like the fictional world as depicted could actually be the (or a) real world. Removing a piece of common knowledge from the world is going to mess with its verisimilitude unless you acknowledge it in some way other than “the characters just don’t know.”

    Superhero comics can get away with a lack of superhero comics in-universe because they’ve come to explicitly acknowledge that they’re in an alternate universe and there are parallel universes where such comics do exist and supers don’t. Sci-fi stories may not have much current SF in their universe but generally still recognize it as something that has happened in the pre-translunar-spaceflight Earth of the 20th Century. But zombie movies generally operate under the pretense of being the world we are in now, that the first bite could be taking place right as we speak (or type). Removing the ability for characters to acknowledge zombies, and not even giving it the slightest patch, is a big hole that can wreck people’s suspension of disbelief, as others have chimed in here already.

    I’d say check out World War Z and Feed. They’re serious novels in the zombie apocalypse genre that take advantage of zombie pop culture in the world and they don’t suffer for it. They feel more like they’re actually happening in the real world and I find them far and away more engaging than anything that tries to act like Next Tuesday’s Zombie Uprising is the first time anyone’s ever heard of them.

    (If this posts twice it’s because Disqus acted like it didn’t see me hit the post button at all. *fistshake*)

    ETA: “people enslaved by a magic voodoo man”

    The pre-Hollywood conception of the zombie is still that the enslaved person is an enslaved dead person. You’re confusing mechanism (a living person confused/drugged/hypnotized/whatever) with belief, which is that people really did die or were killed, and were then reanimated.

    Even just getting past reliance on the world “zombie,” the complete blindness to even the concept of their existence is still ridiculous because it’s not like the idea of reanimated dead who transmit via a bite belong to zombies entirely anyway. The modern cinema zombie owes its existence to vampires as much as Vodou. If you just don’t want to use the Z-word, the reanimated dead have appeared in other cultures and there’s always cross-pollination by which you could get another name. The complete ignorance of the idea is silly.

  • fraser

     Actually both the Marvel and DCU have comics–in fact, they both have DC and Marvel comics though very different (Marvel in the MU does licensing deals with super-heroes to fictionalize their adventures).
    One genre which has no problem referencing itself is detective stories. I’ve seen stories where someone calls everyone together to explain the murder precisely because he wants to do it just like in an old-school mystery, for instance.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    There’s an amusing bit in Queen of Air and Darkness where the detective who has set up shop on the colony planet explains, as he smokes his pipe and shows off his deductive skills, that there are certain cultural myths that have enough power that it’s useful to align oneself with them.

    There’s also an H Beam Piper short story where a postapocalyptic group of survivors have constructed a religious cult and an associated lifestyle around The Books which tell of the one who died and returned: the Collected Stories of Sherlock Holmes, who go around being deductively clever as a matter of religious practice.

  • Steve Condrey

    TVTropes also has an entry relating to Fred’s original topic: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CelebrityParadox

    A lot of works get around it by having in-universe works of fiction with similar themes but completely different characters.  If, for example, you have a world in which the original Star Trek as we know it was never made, but there was a science fiction show that took place on a starship with a lothario captain, a blue-skinned alien who fell back on logic,  a snarky doctor with a New England accent, and no-named characters in green shirts who got killed in the first 15 minutes or so, you’d have a show similar enough to fill the role in that universe, and be familiar to us, but yet not quite like the Star Trek we know.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    For what it’s worth, in the Colbert Report universe, where The Rev. Sir Dr. Stephen T. Mos Def Colbert, DFA, Heavyweight Champion of the World** is a pundit and not a comedian, all the film roles which in our reality are played by Stephen Colbert are played instead by Kevin Spacey.

    And there’s reason to suspect that the guy who played the Doctor on Star Trek Voyager in the Stargate-universe actualyl did bear a striking resemblance to Richard Wolsey.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    No one on TV shows ever refers to other TV shows they might have watched.

    One notable exception is an episode of the Sopranos where Uncle Junior, suffering from dementia, sees Larry David and Jeff Garlin on Curb Your Enthusiasm and thinks he is watching himself and Bobby Baccala.

    Also, the characters on NBC’s Thursday night comedies seem partial to Mad Men, The Wire and Game of Thrones.

  • D9000

    Is The Big Bang Theory one of those Thursday night shows, as the characters in that reference other TV shows all the time. Sheldon is notorious for hating Babylon 5, the tasteless git.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    I was actually thinking of Ben and Leslie on Parks and Recreation, Liz Lemon on 30 Rock and Michael Scott on The Office, not to mention everyone on Community, but you’re right about Big Bang Theory. Though I’ve noticed that as the show has gotten more popular, the characters have become more indiscriminate in their tastes, especially when it comes to DVDs and video games that coincidentally have recently been released. They get a lot of mileage out of Wil Wheaton’s appearances as well.

  • James Simmons

     On The Big Bang Theory the characters constantly refer to other TV shows.  Castle sometimes refers to “Firefly” (“that Joss Wheden show”)  Castle wore his old Browncoat outfit as a Halloween costume.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Leonard: I know what’ll cheer you up; let’s play one of your driving games.

    Sheldon: All right. This game is called ‘Traitors’. I will name three historical figures; you put them in order of the heinousness of their betrayal. Benedict Arnold, Judas, Doctor Leonard Hofstadter.

    Leonard: You really think I belong with Benedict Arnold and Judas?

    Sheldon: You’re right; Judas had the decency to hang himself after what he did.

    Sheldon: Round two: Leonard Hofstadter, Darth Vader, Rupert Murdoch.

    Leonard: Rupert Murdoch?

    Sheldon: He owns Fox and they cancelled Firefly. Hint: he and Darth Vader are tied for number two.

  • Matri

    And then there was the time Booth started hallucinating Stewie Griffin smack talking him on Bones.

  • Magic_Cracker

    While I very much enjoy the character of Sherlock Holmes, I’m not the biggest fan of the updates, reinventions, and rip-offs of the character, whether they go by the name “Sherlock Holmes” or not (i.e., Greg House, Gil Grissom, Bruce Wayne, etc.)  I much prefer detectives like Colombo or Barbara Havers (from Elizabeth’s George’s “Lynley” novels) who doggedly pursue a case, even when others tell them the case is solved (I’m looking at you DCI Lynley), tallying what suspects say against what the evidence suggests until the guilty party is exposed by their own lies.

  • Tricksterson

    Batman isn’t an expy of Sherlock HOlmes.  he was deliberately modeled on Zorro and The Shadow.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Yes and fine, but being a master sleuth (“World’s Greatest Detective” ring any bells?) is as much a part of the Batman’s character as are his aesthetics, and the comparison of the Batman to Holmes has been explicitly made within the pages of many a Bat-title over the past 73 years.

    Per Batman co-creator, Bill Finger:

    Robin was an outgrowth of a conversation I had with Bob [Kane]. As I said, Batman was a combination of Douglas Fairbanks and Sherlock Holmes. Holmes had his Watson. The thing that bothered me was that Batman didn’t have anyone to talk to, and it got a little tiresome always having him thinking. I found that as I went along Batman needed a Watson to talk to. That’s how Robin came to be. Bob called me over and said he was going to put a boy in the strip to identify with Batman. I thought it was a great idea”.

  • EllieMurasaki

    No one on TV shows ever refers to other TV shows they might have watched.

    Watch a couple episodes of The Big Bang Theory sometime. Or Community. Or Supernatural.

  • Freak

    A “Chicago Hope” character once made a comment along the lines of “but E.R.’s on that night.”

  • Launcifer

    In one episode, they also brought in an image consultant to produce an – I guess it was a sort of infomercial – about the hospital. When the staff finally sat down to watch it, it was basically the opening credits to ER but with the Chicago Hope cast, right down to the theme music. The only person who didn’t hate it was the guy who’d been given George Clooney’s spot.  

    Hell, let’s not even get into Kelly’s other shows. Boston Legal explicitly referenced itself as the only programme on television willing to give centre stage to over-fifties actors during a case about ageism in television. The only reason they didn’t outright name the show was because “that would break the wall”.  The whole series is just full of this kind of thing, though it got really out-there during the final season.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    I think there was an episode of Ally McBeal in which she made a reference to watching Chicago Hope.

  • Tricksterson

    Then there was the line in, I believe, the pilot:  “We never talk about that other hospital.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    There is a surreal bit in Green Acres, the characters talk about “The Beverly Hillbillies” program and actor Buddy Ebsen, yet are nonplussed when the real Clampetts stop by their town.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    It’s rare, but they do; one showrunner (I think it may have been John Rogers from Leverage) complained that he’d wanted to have a character make an offhand reference to a character on another show being related to them, but because that show had someone mention watching his show they were now fictional relative to each other and it wouldn’t work.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Similar to that, the character of  Megan Russert on Homicide: Life on the Streets was mentioned in the show to be related to Tim Russert of Meet the Press. 

    I assume Miles O’Brien of ST:TNG and ST:DS9 is somehow related to the CNN reporter of  the same name, but don’t know if that was ever actually mentioned. 

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    I think it may have been John Rogers from Leverage

    Yep. New post up, where he says “I will say that although the shows are canonically fictional in each others universes, in my mind Shawn Spencer from Psych is Eliot’s cousin.”

  • Andrew

    On “Boston Legal” a witness claimed to have been home watching “Boston Public” when the crime happened; this is an issue because characters from BP had already appeared on BL. My theory was that in the BL universe Boston Public is a documentary series about a real school.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    To add to the list of television references on television, there is the scene in “American Gothic” Lucas Buck walks through the holding cell area whistling the theme from “The Andy Griffith Show.”

    It’s been a long time; is that the first time we see Lucas?

  • Tricksterson

    Unless the shows are by Joss Whedon or J. J. Abrams in which case pop references galore.

  • Steve Condrey

    One of the episodes of the ‘Hawaii Five-0’ remake has McGarrett and Dan-o watching a rerun of ‘CHiPs’ on TV, with dialogue indicating that this was the show to inspire them to pursue law enforcement as kids.  Of course, the original ‘Hawaii-Five-O’ (distinguished officially by the use of the number ‘0’ rather than the letter ‘O’ in the title) didn’t exist in the universe of ‘Hawaii Five-0’, allowing for characters with the same names as the original to exist 40 years later (and in completely different ethnicities).

  • Tricksterson

    and genders.  I always thought it would have been nice for this Steve to have been the original Steve McGarrett’s grandson and named after him  but I’m not sure the numbers would have worked.

  • Steve Condrey

    Jack Lord was born in 1920; Alex O’Loughlin was born in 1976.  The numbers would have worked perfectly for them to be grandfather/grandson (assuming the characters are the same ages as their actors).  Now there’s a missed opportunity!

  • rrhersh

    We have much the same discussion back in college, playing a superheroes role playing game where the players played themselves, but with super-powered alter egos.   Did superhero comics exist in this game universe?  The answer would establish a lot of expectations and reactions from the NPCs.

    In a sense, any extended series set in the present day has the same problem.  James Bond exists in a world with no James Bond books or movies.  For that matter, inasmuch as the world of the more recent films resembles the real world, they exist in a world where the earlier exploits of James Bond never happened.  It is inconceivable that the world of the early 21st century could come out of the world of the earlier Bond films, even if we discreetly overlook Moonraker.

    The same happened with Tom Clancy’s novels (through the point where I stopped reading them).  He started out thirty years ago with a contemporary world, but ended up with an alternate history timeline.  The later books sporadically hit a de facto reset button, pretending that both his alternate history and the real world history had occurred, while avoiding thinking too hard about this.

  • Jenny Islander

    One of those “magic was just shut off  for a while and then it was turned back on” series–like Shadowrun, but lighter and fluffier–features superhero comics almost exclusively written by Jews whose particular denomination forbids magic use.  So you can still read The Adventures of Superman and Detective Comics while you’re locked in your saferoom waiting for the full moon to turn you into a werewolf.

    S.M. Stirling wrote an alternate history novel set in the late 20th century, in which the Earth was struck by an asteroid during the reign of Queen Victoria, ushering in several years of Fimbulwinter in the Northern Hemisphere.  Her Majesty and most of the government fled to India, where they kept the Empire going.  However, people still read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, because A.E. Conan Doyle also escaped and spend the rest of his life writing nostalgic escapist fiction.

  • James Simmons

     I read a biography of James Bond which had the premise that Ian Fleming had written the James Bond novels to convince the KGB that Bond was in fact a fictional character and not a real person.  The novels before Moonraker were based on real events, but Moonraker clearly was not.  It was sort of a flip to the premise of The Man Who Wasn’t There, where a dead soldier was given a fake identity and false papers and parachuted into enemy territory to convince the Nazis that the D-Day invasion was going to happen at a different place than it actually would.

  • Carstonio

    There’s a long tradition of Holmes paraliterature, such as William Baring-Gould’s biography. The conceit is that Doyle’s inconsistencies with details were actually  deliberate obfuscations by Watson, to protect either national security or client privacy or both. Baring-Gould even postulates that the remarried Watson changed the dates of cases during his previous marriage, so as not to remind his wife in print that there had been someone before her.

  • D9000

    Pedantic of North London says: it was The Man Who Never Was, he was washed up on the shores of Spain, not parachuted, and it was the invasion of Sicily, not D-Day, but, yeah.

  • P J Evans

    washed up on the shores of Spain

    Packed into a canister and shipped on a sub, then popped out where the currents would make sure he landed on a beach. (It’s actually an interesting story: they created everything needed for a backstory, including theater ticket stubs and a receipt from a jeweler.)

  • Jurgan

    I’m told that the post 9/11 books were very awkward about this, as they constantly referenced 9/11 as a major event, despite the fact that much larger attacks had already occurred in universe.

  • Steve Condrey

    Clancy has at least three timelines, not counting his nonfiction work: the timeline established by Red Storm Rising, the Jack Ryan timeline (starting with The Hunt For Red October) and the current timeline.  At some point someone’s going to discover a wormhole and link all three (and the real world).  That would be made of awesome!

  • Ross Thompson

    In the BBC series Sherlock (set in modern-day  London), there’s a moment when Sherlock is becoming famous. As he leaves a crime scene, he grabs a deerstalker off a hatstand, to shield himself from the reporters outside. A picture of him in a deerstalker appears on the front page of every newspaper in London.

    He goes on to complain about how everyone always expects him to be wearing a deerstalker now, and Watson points out that “It’s not a deerstalker any more; it’s a Sherlock Holmes hat”.

    Fortunately, they didn’t make the deerstalker a part of his outfit, but it was nice to see it referenced like that.

  • histrogeek

     BBC’s Sherlock does make a lot of winks at the audience regarding Sherlock Holmes’ mythology while pointing out the obvious absurdity of some Holmes conceits in modern London (like nicotine patches instead of pipes, using the word “hound,” and the deerstalker hat).

  • Carstonio

    Oh, wonderful. Another US ripoff from British television. Revenge for Led Zeppelin’s thievery of African-American music?

    I’d rather see the BBC series. More believable to have Holmes and Watson in their home city, although in a different era. Plus, I prefer to have a British creative team in charge of the character. I have not yet seen the Robert Downey versions of the character but I’ve read that they have very little to do with the Doyle stores.

  • Andrew Wyatt

    The RDJr films are good fun, but definitely “Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock” in spirit, with the positives and negatives that implies.  They at least make Holmes physically dangerous again, as he is in the Canon: a talented boxer and singlestick fighter.

  • Tricksterson

    Curious, was the deerstalker in the original stories or something the Basil Rathbone movies made up?  I don’t recall.

  • Matri

    Somewhat. Check the wiki.

  • D9000

    I’ve heard two stories, 1) that it was taken from illustrations in the Strand magazine, and 2) it was first used in a theatre production. Certainly never referenced in the books. It would have been a bit of a social faux pas to wear country gear in London.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    I’ve heard two stories, 1) that it was taken from illustrations in the
    Strand magazine, and 2) it was first used in a theatre production.
    Certainly never referenced in the books. It would have been a bit of a
    social faux pas to wear country gear in London.

    All correct, more or less. It first appeared in an illustration. Gillette used the illustration for reference when he costumed the stage play. And it would be a faux pas to wear country gear in London; The illustration was of Holmes and Watson going out to the country. Gillette is responsible for there being an idea of a “Sherlock Holmes Costume” at all, rather than just “Holmes wears the appropriate dress for what he’s doing at the time.”

  • fraser

     It appears in a couple of the original illustrations but yes, became canon more for other media.
    The curved pipe was introduced by William Gillette, who did a successful Holmes stage play–he found it easier to speak and keep the pipe in his mouth. Apparently the pipes described in the stories don’t fit.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Kinda-sorta-not-exactly. Doyle wouldn’t have gone into that kind of detail about what Sherlock was wearing himself. But when the stories were originally published, they ran with illustrations by Sydney Paget which are widely considered to be a canonical supplement to the text. Sherlock wears a deerstalker in one of the illustrations accompanying ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’. Paget’s brief was presumably something like “Holmes and Watson are going out to the country” and drew them in the appropriate attire for such an outing.

    (The hat and the pipe were both popularized by Willaim Gillette, who played Holmes on the stage, and who was the source for a lot of Rathbone’s affectations. I have always been fond of this quote from Orson Welles: “It is not enough to say that William Gillette looked like Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes looks exactly like William Gillette.”)

  • arcseconds

     There are mention in the *Hound of the Baskervilles*  of a cap with cloth ears or something and, I think, a coat, which *could* describe the famous-but-not-really-attested-to Holmes attire.

    I think it’s fun to interpret this as actually referring to a deerstalker, so I’m happy to imagine it as such, and I’d be keen on seeing it portrayed as such in a screen adaptation, although less keen if the adaptation was only of the *Hound of the Bakservilles* and nothing else.

    There’s no suggestion that Holmes *habitually* wears such clothing, and there’s more than one occasion where Watson comments on Holmes being a creature of habit, where you’d expect mention of continually wearing that damned deerstalker to be listed if Holmes did continually wear such a thing.

    So I’d also be keen on having the scene in *Hound* as the *only* occasion when Holmes is depicted as wearing a deerstalker.

    He’s often depicted as smoking a calabash (a pipe made of a calabash gourd).  He certainly smokes pipes rather a lot (another habit Watson seems to find excessive), but I understand this is anachronistic, and the calabash pipe didn’t become popular until Edwardian times.

  • GeniusLemur

    Or it could actually make things easier, when the horseman rides forth and the PMDers and uninformed people get behind him, because everybody knows the antichrist will talk about unity and peace and stuff, so this “conquerer, bent on conquest” can’t be the antichrist, right?

    (This, of course, assumes that there’s anything Biblical at all to antichrist lore, which is rubbish.)

  • Albanaeon

    If I were a plotting evil semi-demon, I would go forward with the Apocalypse According to Frank*.  Something no one’s heard of and relying on the general populace to assume that John’s is the script. 

    *or something.  There were a number of Apocalypses written.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Another thing: Enough of the “Mark of the Beast” paramoia has circulated into the mainstream that a dead giveaway for an Antichrist, if Revelation is to be interpreted for our times and not for ancient Rome’s, would be to demand that something on the forehead or the right hand become necessary to continue to use the world financial system.

    The very “revelation” of the way Biblical Prophecy folks think has, in a sense, invalidated their predictions because even non-believers would, by sheer weight of the evidence mounting up, find themselves startng to believe that the Bible is true and by extension, that the God and Jesus of that Bible are real.

  • Solmead

    One thing I always say when someone tells me “I’m not voting for X / Supporting Y / Doing Z, because that is / leads into the mark of the beast and the anti christ” is this:
    So you are refusing to allow jesus to start the tribulation and bring about his second coming then? If you really wanted Jesus to come back and really believed that the Left Behind stories have it correct, wouldn’t you be in support and trying to push anything that looked like the Anti Christ / MArk of the Beast? I remember back in 1988 or so (I was 13) going to see a preacher who had written a book named Doug Clark. He want on and on about chip in the hand technology, mark of the beast 666 and how we need to stop the chip in the hand technologies. At the time I bought it hook line and sinker, it took 20 years for it to break apart, and my first question to him now would be “Why not support the chip technologies, help get the end times ushered in, but not get the chip implanted in yourself since you know it to be the mark of the beast?”

  • scifantasy

    Fringe went (appropriately) off the walls with this one. On the one hand, there were episodes of The X-Files on TV screens (and also references to The West Wing, which is more impressive because that’s cross-network). On the other, there have been a few references to “X-designation” FBI files, suggesting that the X-Files exist in the universe.

    (Of course, Fringe also has the benefit of featuring three alternate timelines, at least.)

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    The reference to West Wing was for a season that never aired in our universe! Same ep has some nice easter eggs in Peter’s comic collection: alt-Justice League, etc. IFAIK one detail was that in the alt-universe there was no Batman or something. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/kathy.mcclurken.hanson Kathy McClurken Hanson

    Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) pulled off a subtle reference to Joss Whedon’s Sci Fi portfolio in a recent episode without looking too smug :)

  • John

     There have been numerous winks and nods to “Firefly” on “Castle.”

  • fraser

    I don’t think it’s as bit a problem for Elementary as The Return of Sherlock Holmes, a TV pilot (failed) of about 20 years ago. Here we have Sherlock Holmes himself thawed out of suspended animation but he fails to recognize the mystery he’s involved with is The Sign of the Four reworked.
    As far as TV goes, Stargate kept referring to a show based on the Stargate program called “Wormhole Extreme” or the like.
    Generally, though, I think “But X isn’t in our world because the TV show X itself doesn’t exist in that TV show!” is kind of a pointless observation.
    Elementary is fun, but it’s as much Monk (mentally troubled but brilliant detective) as it is Arthur Conan Doyle (which is not something I saw about Sherlock).

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    I don’t think it’s as bit a problem for Elementary as The Return of
    Sherlock Holmes, a TV pilot (failed) of about 20 years ago. Here we have
    Sherlock Holmes himself thawed out of suspended animation but he fails
    to recognize the mystery he’s involved with is The Sign of the Four
    reworked.

    Wooh! I’m not the only one who saw that! Rewatched that as a kid so many times that the betamax tape wore out.

    The animated series ‘Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century’ had the same issue — for all his genius, Holmes never noticed that every adventure he ever went on was just a reprise of something from The Canon, only IN SPACE.  Heck, the fight at Reichenbach falls explicitly happened (They find the original Moriarty’s body there), and no one points out the similarity to the time Holmes and Moriarty’s clone seemingly fell to their deaths in the Reichenbach matter dematerialization grid (Really nice touch in that one. When Holmes reappears, he explains that he caught himself on a ledge on the way down, and kicked some debris over so that onlookers would see an explosion and assume Holmes had died. But he realizes that Moriarty must have done the same thing, since Watson reported exactly simultaneous explosions — since they’d fallen at the same time, Moriarty must have stopped in the middle just like Holmes had.)

  • fraser

     Darn, I was going to mention the ‘toon series as another example. I still greatly enjoyed it.

  • P J Evans

     I heard there was a Stargate episode where they referred to something being ‘MacGyvered’.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, there was. I don’t know which, but it was Sam Carter said it. MacGyver must’ve been played by somebody else, though, else one would think somebody’d have commented on the similarity in appearance between MacGyver and O’Neill.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Yeah, there was. I don’t know which, but it was Sam Carter said it.
    MacGyver must’ve been played by somebody else, though, else one would
    think somebody’d have commented on the similarity in appearance between
    MacGyver and O’Neill.

    Eh. O’Neill doesn’t look _that_ much like MacGyver. I mean, O’Neill’s *really really old* and *doesn’t have a mullet*.

    (Also, there’s that thing where O’Neill looked exactly like Kurt Russell until he was in his late forties.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    And spelled his name differently and had a differently named son? Far’s I’m concerned, show canon trumps movie canon.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Ever notice how often Jack makes a big production out of reminding people that it’s O’Neill with two Ls?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, but even if we assume that whatever certificate it was with his kid’s name on had misspelled the surname, the certificate still gives the kid’s name as Tyler, not Charlie.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    …else one would think somebody’d have commented on the similarity in appearance between MacGyver and O’Neill.

    Last week, on Castle, Castle said he was a fan of good science fiction, like Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and “that Joss Whedon show.”

    *fangirlish squeeing*

    Ahem, anyway…

    Given that comment (and Castle’s favorite Halloween costume), I can only assume that Firefly exists in the Castleverse, though with someone else playing Captain Mal Reynolds.  (And, presumable, someone else playing Jayne, unless Castle didn’t notice the striking resemblance between the character and Detective Slaughter.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    I actually kind of suspect that Mal Reynolds was played by an actor who looks a lot like Rick Castle and that that is part of why Castle likes the character so.

  • P J Evans

     I heard he did react.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    First episode, first time Sam sees a DHD and realizes it does the same as the system they “MacGuyvered”.

    But this scene’s even better: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J847OF_jZ20

  • EllieMurasaki

    What is that, gag reel?

    …the hell did I do with the Stargate DVDs, anyway?

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Yes. The scripted scene is Sam frustrated because she & Jack are trapped on an arctic planet with a DHD that doesn’t work (or so they think); the perfect set up for an entirely different frustrated rant/prank.

  • fraser

     I think that may have been an outtake–they’re stuck in some trap and Sam starts yelling at him to “macGyver something … oh, god, I’m in here with macGyver and he can’t save us!” before collapsing in giggles. But I may be conflating two separate references.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     It was indeed an outtake. But a funny one.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    There’s a scripted MacGuyver reference in the pilot – the writers basically tipping a wink at the viewers. The clip was from a prank Amanda Tapping played on Richard Dean Anderson in a later episode. Sam and Mac are technical geniuses; Jack, not so much.

  • Münchner Kindl

     The pilot of the series, Sam casually mentions MacGyvering up the computer system to replace the DHD (the mushroom thingie to dial gates with) that SGC at that time lacked.

  • Ross Thompson

    I heard there was a Stargate episode where they referred to something being ‘MacGyvered’.

    The first episode. Carter tells O’Neill that it took three years and five supercomputers to McGuyver a way to control the stargate.

  • Ross Thompson
  • Steve Condrey

    IIRC, Wormhole Extreme was in part sponsored covertly by the Stargate Program as a very genre-savvy cover for their activities…if there were a leak about the Stargate Program, people would immediately think of the TV show and dismiss it as being someone’s imagination getting the better of them.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, but first they’d have to have heard of the show, and I get the impression that Wormhole Xtreme was just not that popular.

  • Paul Durant

    They didn’t start the show with the intention of making it a decoy for Stargate Command — my memory isn’t 100% on how it worked, but there was a guy who was writing the scripts that he thought were fictional, but were actually based on real stuff that he subconsciously knew about because he was… an alien with amnesia, or because he was close to some kind of quantum entangler device that had him linked with Colonel O’Neill, or something along those lines. 

    They originally investigated the show because they thought it was made by some kind of spy or defector, found out the deal with the weenie writer guy, and said “Well, long as it’s here, we might as well try and use it to cover up the real Stargate program.”

    Also, Wormhole X-Treme had to have been pretty popular within the SG-1 universe. It made it to 200 episodes!

  • EllieMurasaki

    Didn’t it get canceled early but they decided to make a movie and that’s why the guy was there for SG-1 ep 200?

  • Paul Durant

    Wait, dang, you might be right. Episode 200 was Mitchell’s 200th trip through the gate, not episode 200 of Wormhole X-Treme. 

    I need to watch that episode again!

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     If my memory serves, it’s all true. It was cancelled almost immediately, but was brought back as a movie, and then on the strength of the movie, got brought back again as a show which ran over 200 episodes

  • xytl

    The mysterious alien wanderer of space and time lands his impossibly powerful vehicle in modern London, where, owing to a minor malfunction in its stealth circuitry, it is disguised as an unremarkable piece of street furniture from some forty or fifty years previously; an article which, nowadays, would attract some comment as a very old fashioned structure that you don’t see many of nowadays.

    Well, it _would_ attract that sort of comment, if it were a universe where _anybody_ in modern London didn’t know the TARDIS when they saw it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    I’ve often thought about this issue a lot over the years a comic book fan.  It springs to mind in particular whenever there’s a relaunch, such as last year’s “New 52” from DC, where iconic characters are just now making their debut in their particular version of reality.  

    In the hands of a skilled writer, it could lead to some interesting plot developments and worldbuilding concepts.  I mean, what was the DC Universe of the New 52 like for the 70+ years in which there was no Superman?  How radically did it diverge from our reality where the character has become deeply embedded in our culture?
    Of course, these are the sort of things I think about when I’m not actually reading and getting engaged by the stories in the comics, so they don’t interfere with my enjoyment. On the contrary, in my post-reading time I find such thought experiments to be an interesting diversion.

    There are times, however, when there can be a sort of jarring reminder of the disconnect between this reality and the alternate reality.  For example, while it was a nice winking nod to the popular culture of the time, there was a period in the 90s in which Jimmy Olsen could be seen in the pages of Superman wearing a Spin Doctors T-shirt.  That sort of made me wonder what the Spin Doctor songs were like in the DCU.  I mean, Superman, Jimmy, and Lois were all relatively famous in-universe, so it’s possible there would be songs about them, but even so, it was something that gave me pause.

    (Sometimes I also wonder about whether or not the song “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” exists at all in the DCU, since it would predate the appearance of Superman by decades, or if it exists in a slightly different form.)

  • Worthless Beast

    I figured that was why Carpathia had magic mind-powers.  Magic like that was necessary for his deception of the masses  – he hyphotizes them with his brain and Satan so that any one of them who’s ever watched Jack Van Impe or one of those guys or culturally absorbed any of the End Times rhetoric would forget it and just follow the magic-man… or something.

  • Ross Thompson

    Actually, we should probably also mention Once Upon A Time, in which the principal characters are refugees from a land of fairy tales (Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, King Midas, Jiminy Cricket…)living in a small town in Maine, but in which these fairy tales are well known, and where understanding someone’s story can be vital to figuring out what they’re up to…

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    Tangentially one amusing thing about Doctor Who is it apparently takes place in a universe where Doctor Who (the tv show) apparently exists (or did at one point) and no one ever notices. At least if we believe the meta reference in Remembrance of the Daleks. It also apparently takes place in the same universe as Quatermass.

    And the Master likes children’s TV. X-D

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    . At least if we believe the meta reference in Remembrance of the Daleks.

    We never actually hear what that new Science Fiction serial that’s coming on later is, just that the name starts with a D- sound.

    Of course, it’s entirely too not-nighttime out for it to be five in the afternoon at the end of november in England, so who knows what was up with that TV?

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    This is absolutely true… obviously the television broadcast slipped through a crack between realities somehow (perfectly feasible in the Doctor Who universe).

  • Matt McIrvin

    Some of the Doctor Who tie-in books have apparently established that the rough equivalent of Doctor Who in the Doctor Who universe is a TV show called “Professor X”. Some fans have decided that the show we hear premiering in “Remembrance of the Daleks” is in fact “Professor X”, though of course there’s no explicit indication of this (the narration cuts out just before the title is announced).

  • flat

    I have said before I am not a gamer and I only follow playthroughs.

    But if there is one videogame that is capable of making me smile watching it: then it would be kid icarus uprising.
    I must admit that playing as an angel fighting against underworld army, the forces of nature, and against his own goddess can be an incredible dark game.
    Yet it is funny in a look at me: I am videogame breaking the fourth wall all the time kind of way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Alexander/502988241 Alan Alexander

    I distinctly remember some sci-fi author suggesting that ultimately all fictional works are works of science fiction, even the most mundane ones, because they all posit a parallel universe which serves as an alternate reality to ours even if the only divergence is that in that parallel universe, the actual book you are reading was never published as a fictional work. I found that mind-blowing at the time. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    In the various books of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, the Vampire Chronicle books actually do exist in-universe, in exactly the same form as they do in ours (they’re all written under the same pseudonym by characters from the books, which is explicitly stated in the books themselves) but most people don’t realize that they’re non-fiction.

  • Revelshade

    Here’s the first thing this post reminded me of:

    http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=612That link is the first episode of a photo-webcomic based on the premise “How would the Lord of the Rings go over with modern day fantasy RPG players if they’d somehow never heard of Tolkien, Middle-Earth, etc. It is insightful and occasionally hilarious, at least to this old DnD player.

    My second thought was of how in Star Trek VI Spock attributes the “When you have eliminated the impossible…” quote to an ancestor, implying that he is descended from Sherlock Holmes, and how that conflicts with the ST:TNG holodeck episodes that clearly establish that Holmes is fictional in the Star Trek universe.

    Sigh.

  • Magic_Cracker

    My second thought was of how in Star Trek VI Spock attributes the “When you have eliminated the impossible…” quote to an ancestor, implying that he is descended from Sherlock Holmes, and how that conflicts with the ST:TNG holodeck episodes that clearly establish that Holmes is fictional in the Star Trek universe.

    Perhaps the ancestor to which Spock is referring is Arthur Conan Doyle, or perhaps Joseph Bell.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Or the ancestor is someone from Vulcan who thought it up independently.

  • Ross Thompson

     Or he was being arch; he did that occasionally.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Good point. After all, Shakespeare is better in the original Klingon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Me, I just took it to mean that Spock considered either Holmes or Doyle sort of a spiritual ancestor, not necessarily by blood (whether red or green).

  • Turcano

    While we’re on the topic of Star Trek, one of the things that always bothered me is that there’s not only no Star Trek in the Star Trek universe, but no television of any kind.  Or cinema, or internet, or anything else.  It’s like there’s a 300-year black hole in the pop culture of this setting, where recreation seems to be limited to the following:

    • Reading,
    • Watching plays,
    • Listening to music (live or recorded), and
    • Holodeck LARPing.  (and holodeck porn, but apparently Roddenberry had do die before anyone was willing to admit that.)

    And for each of these activities, the subject matter is either contemporary or before the 1960s.  I understand that a lot of this was due to saving money on IP rights, but come on.

  • Münchner Kindl

     Well, two aspects make that believable for me:
    1. Idealistic: Humans are supposed to be much more advanced than contempary ones. People no longer work for money (basic income in the Federation apparently, so basic needs are taken care of), but instead to “improve themselves”. (This is also a bit of fridge brilliance: if everybody volunteers according to their talents, Star Fleet would get the best and brightest in every field, as well as the other areas. There should be no disgruntled or stupid employee anywhere.)

    And improving yourself means being active by creating music or writing a holodec story, or reading (and engaging with) a good book.
    Watching TV is more passive. (Esp. if the shows are low quality soaps or similar. Watching high-quality SciFi and discussing it with your friends can be stimulating again).

    Which is why I found it annoying, not amusing, when in the Voyager doubleparter they go back in time to Earth in the 90s and Neelix and the others become addicted to US soaps while monitoring TV shows. Ugh, no.

    2. Realistic: Come on, if all nerds had access to Holodecks, TV shows without interaction would be boring. People are already experimenting with TV shows connected with an Internet site – a detective story recently aired where the clues in the show continued to a website where viewers could figure out the end(ings) of the story.

    There’s also the practical problem that including any TV show in the fictional verse makes the verse immediatly 1. dated once 10 years have passed and 2. limited to the subgroup of viewers who also watch the mentioned show. Esp. outside the US (with licensing) that’s not always given that fans of Star Trek can also watch other shows. Moby Dick, everybody can get a translation at the library since it’s a classic.

    TV tropes (no I’m not linking :-)) * even has an explanation on how in the real world, most fiction is escapist, so seeing a character there escaping instead of acting is not only meta, it doesn’t serve much for the readers. A few dropped references (like Stargate does it) can be nice, but they should never disrupt the flow.

    That’s also why it’s not limited to TV shows – in the Harry Potterverse, people don’t read fiction books, either. There is one reference to in the first book for Dudley throwing tantrums over not watching his favourite TV show or not being able to play on the Video console to take his mind of things, but these are used as characterization for Dudley. Harry and the gang play games, chess, cards and on broomstick, and read non-fiction books for information. Their real adventures are more exciting than most books could be.

    * or maybe it was an essay at HP lexicon?

  • fraser

    On No Star Trek: Well, we’re living in a world with no Eugenics Wars so I think our having a TV show the ST universe does not is a minor glitch by comparison.
    More generally, however, in 100 percent agreement. Ryker likes thirties jazz, Paris likes thirties movie serials, Picard likes hardboiled novels from the 1930s … culture’s stopped dead. I doubt it’s a matter of property rights (if they can make up the Chaotica serials, they can make up other stuff). More likely just laziness. Or a fear of losing the audience.

  • Anne

    Funny, I was pondering this exact point the other day.  I honestly like Elementary better than Sherlock, and I suspect I may come to like it better than House.  While Sherlock still demonstrates the deductive skills we know and love, he’s more human and less overwhelmingly arrogant.  The re-envisioning of Watson is also very well done and leads to a much better (read: less abusive) dynamic than Sherlock and House have with their respective Watson/Wilsons.  The problem with House and Sherlock is that, once you lock the character into being a totally arrogant SOB, you can only humanize him so much without losing the character.  The human drama has to happen with the supporting cast always trying to accommodate the mad genius in their midst.  By presenting Sherlock up-front as an extraordinary (and extraordinarily messed-up) human instead of a psychopath they can do more with the character.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    While Sherlock still demonstrates the deductive skills we know and love,
    he’s more human and less overwhelmingly arrogant.

    Ironically, this is exactly why I don’t like Elementary as much as Sherlock.  Sherlock(E) is a much more human character than Sherlock(S), and that invites me to judge him by normal human standards.

    And by those standards, he is *horrible*. Arrogant, mean-spirited, a real jerk. Sherlock(S) is arrogant and standoffish by any normal human standards, but he is not a normal human; it would be as inappropriate to complain about Sherlock(S) being arrogant as to complain about Spock being unemotional. Sherlock(S)’s unattractive traits are what they are because he is what he is; Sherlock(E) on the other hand *chooses* to be a jackass, so I don’t like him as much.

    (This is similar to how I feel about Sheldon on The Big Bang theory. If they were actually depicting him as an aspie, I would juge him a lot less harshly. But it’s very clear in his depiction that he’s *not*  an aspie; he’s just an asshole.)

    I do agree with you about Jane Watson. She’s a better character than practically any Watson I’ve seen before.

  • Andrew Wyatt

    I’ve always loved the way that Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s great “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” handled this paradox: They just assumed that there is no such thing as a pure work of fiction, and that all literature, comics, films, television shows, and so forth co-exist in the same omni-universe as all the characters and events that they depict. Every work of pop culture from Sharkespeare’s “The Tempest” through the present day is, at minimum, “Based on True Events,” if not an actual documentary record.  (With some hand-waving about “distant future” science-fiction works….) So, for example, Mina Murray of “Dracula” knows Sherlock Holmes partly by his reputation in London as a brilliant consulting detective, but also because she has read the many stories of his escapades as penned by that Doyle fellow.  Which may or may not be that true. (Mine

    This allows Moore and O’Neill have great fun with the gulf between fiction and fact, and the way that expectations do not always match reality. Mina is greatly disillusioned, for example, in Volume 1, when she discovers that her childhood hero Alan Quatermain is a decrepit opium addict. And when Mina finally removes her ever-present scarf to reveal a neck that is a ruin of scar tissue, she concedes how different it is from the discreet pinpricks of Mr. Stoker’s legend.

    So in the “League” universe, there is no “mock” in mockumentary shows such as “The Office.” It’s a reality show, and Jim and Pam Halpert are real people laboring away at white collar jobs in Scranton Pennsylvania. And apparent “narrative fiction” shows like, say, “Breaking Bad,” are just dramatized depictions of true stories that are widely known primarily due to the popularity of said show.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    The most recent book features a poster for a Tracy Jordan movie – “Who Dat Ninja?” – in the background in one panel, and there’s a reference to the American President Bartlett.

  • Andrew Wyatt

    Yep. There are also references to “Lost” and “In the Thick of It” that I caught. I’m sure Jess Nevins’ annotations will reveal about a thousand others I missed. :-)

  • fraser

     That’s one reason I thought Century: 2009 fell flat. The TV didn’t have the punch that the fictional references in earlier stories did. And Moore trying to drive home how he doesn’t like Harry Potter got tired fast too.

  • fraser

     I don’t agree with that LGX assessment. Most of their familiarity with other characters can be explained by news accounts (Hyde, Griffin) or, say, Watson’s accounts of Sherlock Holmes (which were indeed published in the Holmes universe–and presumably LGX too). If you’ve got a specific reference that proves your case, I’ll concede.

  • Andrew Wyatt

    I may be mis-remembering WRT the Holmes stories specifically, but I’m fairly certain that Doyle and Stoker are name-checked as existing within the LXG universe. I’ll have to consult my comics later. 

    I also might be conflating it a bit with the Victorian RPG setting, Masque of the Read Death, which explicitly included both, for example, Dracula and Bram Stoker as NPCs. (I believe that the default assumption of the setting was that all stories, unless specifically dated otherwise, take place in the year of their publication.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    What happens in that setting when presented with two contradictory stories? Like, one Tom Clancy book ends with a plane crashing into the Capitol and killing the President and most of Congress, but any story that postdates that book and isn’t among its sequels is (if the subject comes up) going to talk as though nobody ever assassinated a big chunk of Washington with a plane. Might reference somebody having tried, if it’s a post-9/11 setting, but not anyone having succeeded.

  • Andrew Wyatt

    Ellie: In the LXG-verse, Moore often implies that none of our real-world fictional works are entirely accurate, which is a perfectly reasonable assumption, given how contradictory some of the source material is. Hell, just looking at Jules Verne’s Nemo stories, “20,000 Leagues” and “Mysterious Island,” they’re so full of inconsistencies that there’s no way to resolve them without some serious retconning. So Moore just picked and chose whatever suited the story.

    In the Masque universe, I suspect it would be a similar approach that regarded conflicting stories as half-truths, with reality lying somewhere between them.  Masque was never brought beyond the 1890s in official published materials, so it’s hard to say how the internally contradictory output of prolific fiction authors like Clancy would eventually be resolved.

  • fraser

     Most Holmesian fans consider Doyle exists in the canon, too–Watson’s literary agent and mentor, and the distinguished author of The White Company and Sir Nigel.
    There’s also a Dracula sequel by one of Stoker’s modern-day relatives which explains the book as Van Helsing hiring Stoker to ghost-write his memoirs only to see it turned into a lurid (and inaccurate) thriller.

  • Omnicrom

     That reminds me of what was done in Macross.

    For those who aren’t into anime or giant robot anime Macross is a hugely influential Giant Robot anime from the 80s. It is probably most famous for popularizing transforming Real robots, giant mecha that can convert from Jet fighter mode into humanoid battle mode and a half transformed state in between. If you’ve ever loved Transformers, especially ones like Starscream you owe some thanks to Shoji Kawamori because without Macross we likely wouldn’t have mecha series like the transformers.

    Anyways Macross ran for 36 episodes and included an alternate retelling of some of the later events in the movie Macross: Do You Remember Love. Do You Remember Love was notable for introducing new and revised designs to older giant robots, and it contradicted the ending of the Macross anime series in some ways. Some years later Macross’ sequel, Macross 7, explains that Do You Remember Love is actually a movie in the continuity of Macross itself. However many of the altered plot points from Do You Remember Love are carried over into Macross 7.

    Shoji Kawamori explained that the “Real” version of Macross isn’t actually either the anime series or the movie. In fact NONE of the Macross shows are what “really” happened, every Macross anime and side-story and etc are media from the fictional Macross universe. It’s actually an incredibly clever stance to take, in this way Macross can contradict itself without any problem because inconsistencies in historical fiction can just be chalked up to creative license. It’s actually such a clever turn to take that I’m surprised more long-running franchises don’t follow suit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=30319652 Tim Lehnerer

    There was a rather interesting roleplaying game published in the early 1990s called Castle Falkenstein; it took place in an alternate-history Europe in the 1880s or so and both Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle were characters in it (as were H. G. Wells and the Invisible Man, Dr. Moreau, the Time Traveller and the Martian threat, if I remember correctly). At one point Phileas Fogg complained about all the inaccuracies in the novel “Around the World in 80 Days”.

  • aunursa

    Perhaps the ancestor to which Spock is referring is Arthur Conan Doyle, or perhaps Joseph Bell.

    Spock is, after all, half-human.

  • Andrew Wyatt

    Related to the “Omniversal Meta-Fiction” of “League” is the mind-boggling notion that all fictional television realities ultimately collapse into the child’s snowglobe at the end of “St. Elsewhere.” At minimum, this theory seems to rope in most of Steven Bochco’s shows, David Simon’s shows, Chris Carter’s shows, and the entire Law & Order franchise. And since the “Millennium” episode “Human Essence” bizarrely establishes that “The X-Files” TV show exists within  the “Millennium” universe (and therefore “The X-Files” universe), we’re back to the “League” scenario where characters and works co-exists in the same universe, although in the “TV Omniverse,” this principle is consistently ignore. (e.g., everytime Fox Mulder or Olivia Benson introduces themselves to a new witness, the witness *should* say something like, “Oh, yeah, I’ve seen that show about you…”)

  • fraser

     Well we know Star Trek exists in the Stargate universe because of the one nerd who keeps referring to himself as a red shirt.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    Well we know Star Trek exists in the Stargate universe because of the one nerd who keeps referring to himself as a red shirt.

    And O’Neill wanting to name the X303 after the USS Enterprise.

    (That’s a fun one. Sam just dismisses out of hand the possibility because it’s silly.  Star Trek is a show in their world, but the only reason they can’t name their starship the USS Enterprise is because *They’re a show in our world*. If Stargate were real, there is no way in hell that we’d made it to seven intergalactic battlecruisers without naming at least *one* of them the USS Enterprise. Sure, Daedelus, Prometheus, Odyssey, Koralev, Apollo, Sun Tzu and George Hammond are find names for space ships. But if this were real life, they’d be called, in order, Enterprise, Millennium Falcon, Discovery, Galactica,  Jupiter 2, Heart of Gold, and Red Dwarf. (Serenity omitted as too recent, and also because half the applicants would get confused and call it the ‘Firefly’))

  • EllieMurasaki

    No love for Farscape?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    @EllieMurasaki: Farscape does not exist in the SG-1 universe, and by extension, our universe either.

  • EllieMurasaki

    :p

  • AnonaMiss

    It was implied that Farscape did exist but was unpopular/little known. In the episode 200, when Vala is pitching Stargate-themed retreads of things she’d seen on TV, Farscape is included – and the only one Martin has no idea what she’s cribbing from.

    I suppose you could read that as “This is actually an original idea of hers”, but knowing Vala, I consider it unlikely that she’d veer into original material after offering a string of retreads.

  • Persia

    IDK, I don’t think anyone would want to serve on the Red Dwarf…

  • aunursa

    My understanding is that most Christians who believe in the End Times prophecy also believe that it will happen on God’s timetable.  In other words, it will happen when God decides that it will happen.  Not before, and not later.  Therefore, there is nothing that they can do to hasten the End Times.  While they would dearly love to be living at the very time that Jesus returns, there is nothing preferable about hastening the death and destruction that will precede this glorious moment.  As it were.

  • Ursula L

    If we’re talking television crossovers, then this is an essential reference, because it seems that pretty much everything crosses over and connects to everything, eventually.  http://home.vicnet.net.au/~kwgow/crossovers(full).jpg  http://home.vicnet.net.au/~kwgow/crossovers.html

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Det. Munch appears in Homicide, Law & Order: SVU, the X-files, Arrested Development, and the Wire. Which would imply that all of those take place in the same universe. But given the connection between Homicide and St. Elsewhere, and the series finale of St. Elsewhere…

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    There was another show in which Munch was scheduled to appear in an episode, but the show was cancelled before it aired (or else I missed it when it did).  It was called “The Beat,” and featured Mark Ruffalo.  I remember reading about Munch’s upcoming appearance in a local paper’s TV listings insert* at the time, and it was pointing out that he had, by that time, been on all of the shows you mentioned (except The Wire and Arrested Development, which didn’t exist yet).

    *At the time, I actually composed the TV listings insert at the paper.  I downloaded all of the content from an FTP site, then plugged it all into the template and did all the pre-printing work.

  • Andrew Wyatt

    Here’s an added twist: Munch the character (played by Richard Belzer) is based on a real person, Jay Landsman, who also appears as a *separate* character on “The Wire,” where he is played by Delaney Williams. Since Munch appears briefly in an episode of “The Wire”, both Munch and the real-life persona he’s based on appear as characters in the same fictional universe, making Munch a kind of “two-steps-removed” fictional character.

  • Ima Pseudonym

     Damn.  You got there before I did.  :: shakes teeny tiny internet fist ::

  • Ross Thompson

    If we’re talking television crossovers, then this is an essential
    reference, because it seems that pretty much everything crosses over and
    connects to everything, eventually.

    That chart takes a very loose definition of “connected”; Veronica Mars is connected to Lost because Veronica uses The Numbers to play the lottery.

    Lost connects to the office because both universes have paper factories in Slough.

    Spin City is connected to Sports Night because Sports Night is seen to be playing on TV.

    Battlestar Galactica and Firefly are in the same universe because one of the ships in the Refugee Fleet looks superficially like a Firefly-class ship, despite the fact that if they *are* from the same universe, this would overwhelm everything in Firefly’s background, or the Firefly worlds were colonised by the 13th Fleet, and a similar ship design can’t possibly be anything but a coincidence.

    Red Dwarf and Dr Who are in the same universe because Red Dwarf has a TARDIS in the shuttle dock, which can’t possibly have been a non-functional model built by Lister, Rimmer or Holly, all of whom have stated that they’re fans of the fictional show.

    Several TV shows are connected because they mention a company called Yoyodyne (often working in completely different fields)

    By those standards, the real world is also part of the same meta-fiction because people play those lottery numbers, and the NYPD exists in both the real world and in Law and Order. Oh, and Nancy Reagan appeared on Diff’rent Strokes.

  • Ima Pseudonym

     And let’s not forget that characters from St. Elsewhere have appeared in Homicide:  Life on the Street, Detective Munch from the same show is in Law and Order and Law & Order: SVU, and has appeared in the X-Files, which had characters who appeared in Millennium, The Lone Gunmen, and even the Simpsons, and the Simpsons has crossed with the Critic. 

    So by logical extension, EVERYTHING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED ANYWHERE in this reality or any other is taking place in the mind of an autistic young man named Tommy Westphall, the only completely real entity in all of Creation.  Tommy Westphall, therefore, is God.   

    Roll credits, please :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fce6tlwwjQo

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    The Lone Gunmen were guests at the Mac OS 10 ship party.

    Star Trek:TNG exists in the Leverage universe; Rogers answers the obvious question about Wil Wheaton’s Leverage character:

     “In the leverage-verse, who played Wesley Crusher?”
    Still Wil Wheaton. Cha0s/Colin has mixed feelings when people point out the resemblance. 

  • aunursa

    Spaceballs
    Dark Helmet: When does this happen in the movie?
    Colonel Sandurz: Right now.

  • Kadh2000

     Spaceballs – on the landing pad where our heroes order the Space Soup or the Space Special, one of the other ships on the landing area is the Millennium Falcon.

  • aunursa

    I have not yet seen the Robert Downey versions of the character but I’ve read that they have very little to do with the Doyle stores.

    They combined characters and elements from different stories.  Dr. Watson and Mary Morstan get married in the second movie, which ends with Holmes and Moriarty falling over a ledge into Reichenbach Falls.

  • http://dumas1.livejournal.com/ Winter

    Re: Omniverse ideas

    There is a Robert Heinlein novel by the title of Number of the Beast, which posits that all fiction is a set of parallel universes and the main characters have a vehicle that can travel between them. I remember they went to Barsoom, the Mars from Burroughs’ novels, but that’s the only fictional world I definitely remember. Also, the Number is (6^6)^6, the number of universes the Gay Deceiver (their car) can access or something like that.

    But it’s a Heinlein novel and subject to the usual warnings about his writing.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Jasper Fforde, Thursday Next.

  • D9000

    That’s not quite the same thing, though: the premise of BookWorld is not that various fictions are parallel universes to this one but that Fiction, itself, is a subsidiary universe of ours. Only not quite real. Sort of. It’s complicated.

  • fraser

     God, I hated that one. Marvin Kaye did a novel with a similar concept that worked better.
    Of course, it’s been established since the 1960s that DC’s 1940s comics exist in the Silver Age DCU as fiction (all that changed when they merged universes of course).
    There’s also a Fu Manchu book where he sneeringly refers to the previous book (where the good guys are trying to stop him from killing Hitler, more or less) as propaganda put out by the British government distorting the facts of the case.

  • aunursa

    this blissfully unsuspecting world no longer exists

    Who is this Jesus fellow?  And what role might he have played in the sudden disappearance of every child under eleven, and many people in predominantly Christian countries but very few in countries with low Christian populations?

  • http://twitter.com/upsidedwnworld Rebecca Trotter

    This is going to sound crazy, but a while ago I read a book about a woman in Arizona who had Marian Apparitions (my Catholic mom sent it to me). The woman claimed that she was told that movies and TV were the anti-Christ. In a way it almost makes sense. Jesus can be understood as the real man – a living, breathing picture of what man made in the image of God looks like untainted by sin. TV – particularly in the beginning – presents a false image of what man looks like. It is the opposite of Christ – ie the anti-Christ. It leads us not back to God, but to an ever changing, usually deceptive array of images of ourselves. I don’t know that I buy it, but it sure makes more sense than this nonsense about a powerful man rising up and deceiving us. And it’s got that making a man appear to come back from the dead stuff down. Anyhow, just thought I’d share.

  • Magic_Cracker

    I do think that the idea that the Anti-Christ is a system or persons who are agents of that system seems to be more in keeping with the spirit of the Book of Revelation, 1 John, and 2 John than the idea that the Anti-Christ is just one and only guy foretold in the Bible* who will be the opposite of Jesus.

    As for the woman in Arizona, sounds like she’s getting messages not from Mary, per se, but from Guy Debord!

    *For certain values of “foretold.”

  • Carstonio

    To address Fred’s specific point, the LB problem is not really the same as the one with Elementary. Ellanjay’s world isn’t quite “blissfully unsuspecting.” The people left behind seem to know the general idea of the prophecies, even if they’ve never heard of people like Scofield. They had simply disregarded or laughed at the idea out of hard-heartedness. Ellanjay and their forebearers are, viewed as a single entity, more like Harold Camping who keeps changing his predictions when these aren’t fulfilled.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Also, and perhaps more importantly, in Elementary, it is a curiosity. If everyone in that world knew of the 19th century stories of Arthur Conan Doyle, then it would be taken as a remarkable coincidence that there’s a clever detective with the unlikely name ‘Sherlock’ who was accompanied by someone named ‘Watson’ and who consulted for a  detective named ‘Gregson’. And Sherlock2012 would have to stop claiming that he’s the world’s first consulting detective.

    But the basic principle of the story isn’t broken in any fundamental way by that.

    Whereas, if all the children and hundreds of thousands of adults suddenly vanished and the secretary general of the UN declared world peace while twirling his moustache and acting cartoonishly evil in this world? Yeah, no. That timeline? Could. Not. Come. To. Pass. 

    The entire narrative of Left Behind collapses if any significant number of non-RTC people are familiar with the tradition of PMD prophesy.

  • AnonymousSam

    I’m pretty sure the entire narrative of Left Behind collapses instantaneously as hundreds of millions of grief-stricken, panicking and enraged ex-parents proceed to throw the planet into nuclear chaos. L&J didn’t exactly factor in people acting like human beings either. I have my doubts that the Earth would last long enough for the UN to bother with rearranging its membership.

  • Carl Muckenhoupt

    Mind you, the original Sherlock Holmes stories themselves had something of the same issue, and dealt with it by positing that the adventures of Sherlock Holmes as we know them were publishes in the world of the stories too — just as factual reports by Watson, rather than as fiction by Arthur Conan Doyle.

    Don Quixote did something similar a couple centuries earlier, allowing characters in volume 2 to be already familiar with Quixote because they had read volume 1.

  • Andrew Wyatt

    David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas” takes an interesting approach to this paradox, by deliberately “breaking” its nested realities, if only to make a point about the role of fiction in shaping history and about how emotional invested we can get in shared figments. The first three stories, A, B, and C, all seem to inhabit the same fictional universe. Robert Frobisher finds Adam Ewing’s journal, and Frobisher’s letters fall into the hands of Luisa Rey. All three appear to inhabit the same universe at different points in history. But Rey’s story is a manuscript for a (presumably fictional) *novel* that has been submitted to Timothy Cavendish (Story D), so the first three protagonists–who the reader has spent so much time with until about the 1/4 mark of “Cloud Atlas”–may not “really” exist in the novel’s later realities at all. And Cavendish himself is a character in a film being watched by Sonmi-451 (Story E), which may or may not be based on a true story. It gets a bit mind-boggling.

  • Turcano

    Maybe it’s just the movie, but I got the impression that the mystery novel was written by that kid and was based on actual events.

  • SDGlyph

    So, shorter Fred: “Evil contains the seeds of its own destruction”, yes?

    (I do like the delicious irony involved in the thought that the massive and very profitable success of Left Behind invalidates its own premise.)

  • Andrew Wyatt

    Here’s another mind-blower: In “Toy Story,” the Buzz Lightyear character around which the film trilogy’s events revolve is an animate version of a mass-produced toy. (Whether all other Buzz Lightyear action figures are also animate and sentient–perhaps with identical personalities–is never elaborated upon.] That toy is part of a larger “Buzz Lighyear” property that exists *within* the TS universe, independent of the TS “Buzz Lightyear” character and merchandise that exists in our world. It’s not clear whether within the TS universe, BLY toys predate the BLY films and television shows, or vice-versa, or whether they were created simultaneously in the days of 1980 television deregulation. We do know that the 2000 DTV film “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins” exists *within* the TS universe, right down to having the exact same DVD package. We know this because the  film actually depicts the TS characters *watching* the DVD in a prologue, leading to a very “Spaceballs” head-scratching moment. (This suggests that Disney and Pixar *also* exist within the TS universe.)

    And it gets even more complicated later because BLoSC (the DTV film and later TV series) depicts the Little Green Men of Pizza Planet as co-existing in the same sub-fictional universe as Buzz, which doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, unless the LGM’s presence within BLoSC constitutes a paid product placement by Pizza Planet. Which is way more meta than I suspect Disney is capable of being.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Here’s a fun one that this reminds me of.

    In the Power Rangers universe, the Japanese show Super Sentai exists, and is based on the exploits of the world-famous superheroes.  Now, in one episode of Power Rangers Dino Thunder, they watch an episode of the Japanese show. And the Japanese show features Triptoids as the mook-class villain. Only in the Power Rangers Dino Thunder continuity, Triptoids are characters from a World of Warcraft-like MMO who were brought into reality by magic science.   Which means that their presence in the Japanese show can only be explained as a form of product placement by the WoW-like.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I was always under the impression that the first Toy Story movie is set in 1957 or thereabouts, since the decline of the western in favor of science fiction coincided with the launch of Sputnik.

  • Vermic

    As I presume nobody ever stops Dr. Joan Watson on the street and says, “Lucy Liu!  I loved you in Rise: Blood Hunter!”, another peculiarity of the Elementary-verse is that Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu do not exist or are not actors.

    In the backstory of Watchmen, it’s mentioned that the Golden Age of Superhero Comics withered and died when real costumed vigilantes became a thing in the 1940’s.  As a result, the prevailing genre of comics in the Watchmen-verse is pirates.

    I’m pretty sure I remember Robert Kirkman (creator of The Walking Dead) mentioning that in his universe, the Romero movies and other forms of zombie pop-culture never happened, which explains why the characters are initially at a loss to understand what’s going on, and why they have to make up nicknames like “walkers” and “geeks” instead of calling them zombies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    Magnum, P.I., Murder, She Wrote, and Simon & Simon all existed in the same universe (MSW and S&S had crossovers with Magnum).  I seem to recall, however, that there was a reference on an episode of Simon & Simon to Magnum as a TV show that existed in their universe.  

    Not sure if that was before or after the crossover, though.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Magnum, P.I., Murder, She Wrote, and Simon & Simon all existed in
    the same universe (MSW and S&S had crossovers with Magnum).  I seem
    to recall, however, that there was a reference on an episode of Simon
    & Simon to Magnum as a TV show that existed in their universe.

    Might be something like what they do in some Japanese Tokusatsu franchises (Such as Super Sentai and Kamen Rider): each season occupies its own universe which is separate from all the other seasons. But there is also a parallel universe (the “versus universe”) *separate from the normal show continuity* where events similar but necessarily the same as each of the televised seasons played out all in one universe. The once-a-year crossover events all take place in that side universe, not in the primary continuity of either the current or the previous season.

    (Except that just to really blow your mind, the 2011 season was explicitly set in the “versus” universe, so that everything from the preceeding 34 years was still in-play)

  • Carstonio

    How about an LB crossover with the Omen or with Heinlein’s Job: A Comedy of Justice?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Job: A Comedy of Justice

    …in what world can Job be a comedy?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     > …in what world can Job be a comedy?

    Well, as it happens, a wide variety of worlds… or, well, at least the story spans a variety of worlds, as its protagonist is universe-hopping.

    It’s been a very long time since i read the book, but I remember not having much of a clue why it was named that. Marketing reasons, I expect.

    The most memorable thing for me about the book was the protagonist commenting, about a world he briefly transits through, that the strangest thing about it was that they had these little colored boxes everywhere, and people allowed the colored boxes to control their movements rather like one might do a police officer. Which was decidedly strange, since they weren’t exceptionally law-abiding or cooperative generally, but they really took those colored boxes seriously.

  • EllieMurasaki

    When’s this book from? Before or after traffic lights?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Well, the book was written in the 80s; the author was well acquainted with traffic lights. The protagonist never mentions traffic lights prior to this point, so it is only here that we learn the world he’s from lacks traffic lights. (How they navigate intersections is not explored.)

  • Münchner Kindl

     I remember that one! I first came across this weird Rapture and RTC belief in there, because Job was that. (And hopping across parallel universes naked in one case).

    To answer the question: technically (in literature analysis) a comedy is anything that ends positive, no matter how much shit the characters go through before. Likewise a drama is anything where people die at the end, no matter how much jokes happened before.
    Because people expect a comedy to be funny all the way and drama to be sad all the way, the term “dramedy” or dramatic comedy/ comic drama was coined for a piece that is serious until the happy end or funny until the sad end.

    It’s also a comedy because “God” (Satan in the original story as accuser) is given license to fuck around with Job, and he does with glee put the protagonist in funny, irritating, embarrassing situations.

    Similar to how God (Fate, Time, Whatever) of Quantum Leap had a weird sense of humor because whenever Sam leaps in, he’s in an awkward situation and says his “Oh boy”.

  • Aiwhelan

    I was befuddled by this very thing when I watched the movie Across the Universe, which is full of Beatles’ songs, Beatles references, and characters from their music, but no Beatles. And I just could not make myself believe in the 60’s without them, so the whole world of the movie felt just too off-kilter for me to relax into the story. I only watched half of the movie.

  • walden

    There was a movie in the late 1970s, I think, which revolved around HG Wells building an actual time machine and pursuing Jack the Ripper to modern day San Francisco.  He was arrested and not wanting to give his real name, thought back to a fictional character he was sure no-one would have heard of.  “I’m Sherlock Holmes,” he said – only to be greeted with derision.  Can’t remember the name of the movie 

  • Andrew Wyatt

    Walden: That would be “Time After Time” with the great Malcolm McDowell as Wells.

  • fraser

     And the superb David Warner as Red Jack (he also did an amazing R’as al Ghul voice in BTAS)

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    @walden: Time after Time.  Has one of the all-time great villain speeches where Wells collapses in horror after watching a montage of violent news and film from the 70s and Jack brags that in his time, he was a monster, but compared to the violence of this age, he’s an amateur.

  • Andrew Wyatt

    Indiana Jones has a different-but-related problem:  Every feature film, he forgets about the existence of the supernatural and “resets” to being a skeptic. In “Raiders,” he really shouldn’t be laughing cynically at descriptions of the Ark of the Covenant’s supposed powers, because JUST LAST YEAR he witnessed pseudo-Hindu death cultists rip people’s still-beating hearts through the power of magic penis-rocks created by Shiva himself. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    I know damn well Raiders was produced & released before Temple.  Was it somehow made apparent that the stories were set the other way around?  Also, Judeo-Christian God being the real deal would specifically exclude the existence of Shiva, so the logic there actually works the opposite from what you suggest.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Wiki assures me Temple is a prequel to Raiders.

  • Andrew Wyatt

    Randy: Temple of Doom (1935) takes place before Raiders (1936).  It’s a prequel. Part of its function is to explain how Indy became less mercenary and more altruistic.

    I suppose that Lucas didn’t know when he plotted out Raiders that it would eventually have a prequel. But it’s still a little odd how it’s never been retconned away, to my knowledge. And the error is repeated (more inexcusably) in Last Crusade, where Indy seems unreasonably awestruck by some of the Grail-related wonders.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I haven’t seen these movies but it’s entirely possible that there isn’t a contradiction here. I’ve never thought it odd that in Supernatural, Dean says in season 2 and again in the beginning of season 4 that he doesn’t think angels are real because nobody’s ever seen one. This is Supernatural, where Dean’s hunting ghosts and werewolves and demons every week. That fact does make him an easier sell on the existence of angels than the typical atheist would be (and I’m pretty sure he’s still an atheist right up to late season four, despite earlier episodes in which he kills gods, though I think he and showverse both consider not-Christian gods a sort of monster, which has been ranted about elsewhere at length), but one still has to walk up to him and show off its wings and unkillability before he buys it.

  • fraser

    Which reminds me (though it’s not equivalent) of the standard complaints against Dr. Thirteen, DC Comics’ “ghost breaker” is that he’s crazy not to believe in the supernatural. But in reality, he’s had consistent experience proving that at least some supernatural forces are phony, so it’s not surprising.
    In a novel I recently finished (now making the rounds), most forms of paranormal power (super-science, psi, magic) work. The hero is agnostic from personal belief and discounts all divine manifestations because it’s so easy to fake them.

  • fraser

     In a DC comics miniseries, Phil Foglio has a character suggest that most of the time they just block that stuff out. Easier than realizing that there are entities and aliens who can squoosh the earth without batting an eye.
    But yeah, Indie should be much more savvy.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Indiana Jones has a different-but-related problem:  Every feature film, he forgets about the existence of the supernatural and “resets” to being a skeptic. In “Raiders,” he really shouldn’t be laughing cynically at descriptions of the Ark of the Covenant’s supposed powers, because JUST LAST YEAR he witnessed pseudo-Hindu death cultists rip people’s still-beating hearts through the power of magic penis-rocks created by Shiva himself.

    Sheriff Carter (Eureka) has this problem. Of course he starts Season 1 Episode 1 in total ignorance, but by the time we get to the “scince fair” episode, he’s dealt with enough of his adopted town’s peculiarities that he really should know better than to scoff at others’ nervousness. His sarcastic quip about “oh, you’re worried someone might have an accident with a vinegar-and-baking-soda volcano?” had me furious. I was all, “Excuse me, dimwit, but who was it had to save people from some other high-schooler’s genius invention last episode? You know, I think it was you?”

    I love Eureka, but it has its moments where its clear “learns from experience” is a trait the writers revoke from certain of their characters when convenient.

  • Münchner Kindl

     Actually, TV tropes has a term for that, too, which makes sense. It’s something like “If Jesus, then dragons” – just because one supernatural event (for Indy Jones) from one religion is true, doesn’t automatically mean that all religions and their claims to supernatural are true.

    That’s how scientist in this reality react to miracolous claims, too (esp. doctors) – a one-time event that can be neither explained nor replicated is shrugged off with “Huh, odd”. They don’t expect them to happen regularly – because if there is any regularity, you can form a hypothesis and start testing and describing a provisional rule for how X reacts with Y to produce effect Z.

    So one guy resurrecting in the morgue because he’s a Highlander/ vampire – eh, things happen. Dozens of guys resurrecting? Lets form a Watchers group to figure out what’s going on with these immortals.

  • Myusefuladdress

    Indiana Jones has a different-but-related problem: Every feature film, he forgets about the existence of the supernatural and “resets” to being a skeptic.

    Not quite. He recognises the Ark of the Covenant when he sees a carving of it in Last Crusade.

  • aunursa

    Plans for the 6th season of Quantum Leap included Sam leaping into the life of Thomas Magnum.  This would have created a paradox, since a character in an earlier QL episode  is seen watching the Magnum P.I. television show.

  • Ygorbla

    In the worldview of Left Behind, remember, there are only three groups of people:

    1.  Real True Christians.  These are the people who read the Bible as a prophetic checklist, felt the divinely-inspired truth within themselves, and accepted it.  They’ll be raptured away, so they’re not around to do anything.

    2.  Evildoers.  People who read the Bible as a prophetic checklist, felt the divinely-inspired truth within themselves, and obstinately decided to reject it.  These people are beyond all help and will deny the truth even when it’s directly in front of them (in fact, you could say that the paradox you see is part of the point to the authors — they’re saying that the people who disagree with them are not just misguided but are deliberately rejecting what they know to be true in their hearts, and will therefore continue to deny and ignore the Prophecy Checklist even when it is happening right in front of them.)

    3.  People who, somehow, have never heard of this whole “Bible” thing before or anything inside it.  (By which they mean the ‘real’ Bible, of course, ie the prophetic checklist.)

    But category 3 isn’t really important, especially not to the authors of Left Behind, except as this vaguely-defined body of people to preach to (obviously, in their worldview, only people in category 3 can be preached to successfully — if you’ve heard of the Real True Bible before, you’re either saved or willfully choosing damnation.)

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Has there really been no reference yet to the fact that Supernatural is a popular fantasy series (of books) within the world of Supernatural, thanks to a Prophet charged with transcribing the Books of Sam and Dean so future generations can read them (and deciding to make a profit from being a prophet)?

    This leads to wonderful moments like the two of them revealing themselves to the president of the Supernatural Fan Club, or participating in a Supernatural LARP at a convention, or (my personal favorite) discovering Supernatural fanfiction on the Internet. (“Don’t they realize we’re brothers?!?” “I don’t think they care.”)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, that would be a fascinating story, wouldn’t it. Shame it never happened.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    > Yeah, that would be a fascinating story, wouldn’t it. Shame it never happened.

    (blink) It didn’t?
    If you’re ever inclined to unpack that, I’d appreciate it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    It doesn’t make sense as portrayed from either a Doylist or a Watsonian perspective. Sam and Dean ought to have been calling Chuck every week to find out what they were up against and how to deal with it, at least until he either told them he wouldn’t know what was going on until they did or he changed to an unlisted number.

    Also, nice to know what the show creators think of their female fans. And as Chuck is fairly obviously a Kripke self-insert, and the S5 finale plays coy about whether Chuck is God…ego much?

  • fraser

    Some female fans were quite annoyed that when in-show fans actually get involved in an adventure, the fandom is presented as mostly male.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, I know. That group includes me.

    (I would have so many fewer gripes with the whole meta storyline if the girl who was LARPing the ghost had said she was there because she was a fan of the series. The wedding ep would still be all kinds of trigger and ick, but Becky would be much more clearly representative of batshit female fans, not female fandom as a whole.)

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Thank you.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    It exists in the same universe as the one where the Highlander movie had sequels, or where there are even-numbered Indiana Jones movies.

  • http://dumas1.livejournal.com/ Winter

     And where there’s a Highlander animated series set in a post-apocalyptic future.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Ah, I see. Thanks for the explanation.

  • AnonymousSam

    Or, for that matter, the episode where Sam and Dean are transported into the bodies of Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, where they are forced to act out the roles of Sam and Dean in a TV show called Supernatural…

  • http://willbikeforchange.wordpress.com/ storiteller

    In terms of Doctor Who, it’s been suggested that everything fictional is also canon and somehow exists in Doctor Who except for one particular series of books.  Like 99% of Doctor Who, the series does not go out of its way to explain how that is possible.  But then, Doctor Who often explicitly works off of narrative logic instead of actual plot logic.  It even suggests that the Doctor himself is an escapee from the Land of Fiction in one of its earliest episodes.  The fact that in the new series he pops in and out of pop culture through showing up in TV shows and movies reinforces that idea.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    In one of the Doctor Who Missing Adventures, Ace meets Sherlock Holmes, who is a real person and a character in Doyle’s stories (I don’t remember the explanation for this). Being Ace, she at one point uses the common expression our host bowdlerized, to Holmes’ bafflement.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    In one of the Doctor Who Missing Adventures, Ace meets Sherlock Holmes,
    who is a real person and a character in Doyle’s stories (I don’t
    remember the explanation for this). Being Ace, she at one point uses the
    common expression our host bowdlerized, to Holmes’ bafflement.

    They fully embrace the literary agent hypothesis. Doyle is a real person (He appears in a fourth doctor Missing Adventure around the same time), so are Holmes and Watson, though those are not their real names (However, the editor has changed them in the scenes written from the TARDIS crew’s POV as well for the sake of consistency.)  Though one gets the impression that their “real” identities were also someone important, since at one point Benny says “Can you believe that Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson were really–” but is cut off before she can reveal their secret.

    (This book also had a weird example of the writers fighting against each other to canonize their own pet theories. There’s a scene where Benny is mistaken for a lesbian, and she reflects that “In my time (the 26th century) bisexuality is the cultural norm, so I was okay with it.”  In the very next book, Benny makes a big deal out of pointing out that she is entirely 100% heterosexual, not that there was anything wrong with that. Neither bit actually adds anything to the story, and the overwhelming impression I got reading those bits is that the only reason they were in there is that the first writer really wanted it to be canonical that everyone would be bi in the future, and the second writer really did not want anyone thinking Benny was anything other than straight)

    —-

    The SciFi series ‘Sanctuary’ proposed that Doyle had based Holmes and Watson on James Watson and John Druitt, a pair of victorian adventurers who, along with Nikola Tesla, the invisible man, and the main character of the series, had gained superpowers from injecting a serum derived from vampire blood. Also, Druitt was Jack-the-Ripper.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    The creators of the medical drama House have said that the show was conceived as Sherlock Holmes in the medical profession, and there’s a bit of Hugh Laurie’s House in Jonny Lee Miller’s Holmes (which I see as a good thing).

    Well, I hate to say, “that’s all I need to know,” but…that’s all I need to know to know that I made the right decision not to bother with this show.

    I can suspend my disbelief for a lot of things: werewolves, vampires, travel throughout the galaxy, etc.

    But I cannot, cannot believe in a world where House is allowed to practice in any hospital.  They would drop that liability risk like the hottest of hot potatoes, and rightly so.

    BBC Sherlock = win

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667708632 Kenneth Raymond

    Warren Ellis’s Planetary comic series was another of those with a weird relationship to the fiction it drew upon. Pretty much every story took inspiration directly from some different kind of 20th Century media, but ultimately to create a world where something very like real-world fiction actually happened across the years – there really were heroes like Doc Savage and the Shadow in the 1930s and 40s, kaiju did appear on an island near Japan in the 1950s, superheroes (and, more importantly, supervillains) started cropping up in the late 50s and early 60s as well. And it’s pretty much stated outright that this has been going on for a long time, as at one point we get a flashback to a character meeting up with Holmes and Dracula after visiting Frankenstein’s labs.

    And yet during one story the bad guys send a ship into a “fictional universe” and bring it back, and its return temporarily forces narrative rules on the immediate vicinity, despite the world of Planetary already being one where our fiction was real. It’s just that these events, often covered up and suppressed, influenced the day-to-day world of the setting in much the way our fiction has influenced ours, mostly because the Big Bad of the series has been intentionally suppressing all these wonders to force the world into a place of grinding mediocrity, preventable death, and stagnation.

  • Beau Quilter

    In the hit sitcom Roseanne, the role of Becky departed the show when actress Lecy Goranson left for school. Three years later, the character of Becky returned, now played by actress Sarah Chalke. 

    At the end of her first show appearance, the family are sitting on the couch watching the old TV show – Bewitched. They complain that the producers must have been stupid to think that no one would notice that the role of Darrin had been replaced by another actor.Becky (Chalke) says, “I like the second Darrin much better!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    There’s an issue of Catwoman in which writer Ed Brubaker has the character of Holly – a redhead – reading a comic book and complaining about how the current, lazy writer brought this redheaded character who had died when the comic was being written by another writer back to life with no explanation.

    It was, on the surface, a reference to Jean Grey in X-Men. but it was more specifically a reference to Holly herself, as Holly had died in the previous Catwoman series, but Brubaker hadn’t been aware of that when he reintroduced her in the new Catwoman series.


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