I don’t know that synchronicity plays any greater role in my life than it does for anyone else. I seem to notice it fairly often, and I love when it happens. It’s generally an illusion; coincidences occur all the time. Sometimes they stand out in a way seems like evidence of greater import or design.
But that is usually a matter of selection bias. Coincidence that impresses us is memorable. Cops, as well as doctors and nurses who work ER shifts, often think the full moon brings out the crazies, but the data doesn’t really support that.
Regardless, synchronicity is fun when it happens.
It happened to me last night, and it was a particularly delightful bit of coincidence and timing given my tastes and history.
In light of recent events, it’s not as random as it might initially seem. On the other hand, that I turned to that particular show on that particular channel was rather unusual.
Unusual enough to give events a startling sense of synchronicity.
Let me prime the pump by telling you that I’ve always loved spy stories. One of my favorite TV series was The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (And, obviously, James Bond. Got all the novels and the DVDs.)
I’ve long been a fan of law enforcement (LEO) stories and private detective stories, but the idea of the lone spy operating under cover in dangerous territory has always appealed to me.
(That fascination probably also informs my love of assassin stories. It’s certainly part of why I like private detectives so much.)
So there was some bias that, channel surfing and noticing an episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was playing, I would flip to that channel.
What’s unusual is that I noticed it at all. For no real reason I jumped into a part of the channel lineup I rarely visit. As in almost never.
But being in that part of the lineup is what let me notice the U.N.C.L.E. episode. So that’s first thing that’s a bit unusual.
I also kind of have a general rule about not bothering to watch anything on air if I own the DVD. I apparently have fairly fast visual responses (perhaps due to having such poor hearing), and I notice the compression artifacts of digital cable.
Watching a show I own when it’s broadcast with commercials makes it even less likely I’ll watch it on air. I really hate commercials and watch as much on OnDemand as possible. I even wait a week for the shorter version with fewer commercials (now that many channels have disabled fast forward).
But on a lark I thought I’d watch a bit of U.N.C.L.E.
The first thing I see, tuning in about one-third of the way in, was Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) talking to “Colonel Klink” (Werner Klemperer). That grabbed my attention long enough to get to the next scene.
My memory having much in common with aged Swiss cheese, I’d forgotten something else very important about that episode. As I watched, the back of this one actor’s head looked awfully familiar…
Those two appeared together in a The Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode two years before they starred together on Star Trek.
I’d totally forgotten that.
In fact, I once used a frame-grab of them together in a pre-Trek TV show without even realizing what TV show it was from! In fact, in that same post I used another frame-grab that obviously was from an U.N.C.L.E. episode. Silly me!
(That’s how bad my memory is for this stuff. The upside is that I can enjoy television stories, movies and books again and again.)
Given that Leonard Nimoy died last Friday, it’s not surprising the Me-TV channel (which specializes in airing ancient TV shows) would air that episode.
In the following hour they aired a Mission: Impossible episode that centered on Paris (the role Nimoy took after Star Trek).
I’ve got all those DVDs, too (spies!), so I didn’t watch it. It took me ages to get used to a smiling, joking “Spock” on that show. I’m not sure I ever did during the show’s run.
What’s also a bit synchronous about this episode is that the plot involves a con job on a villain (Klemperer) the U.N.C.L.E. organization wants to utterly discredit with his homeland. That’s kind of a (really) typical Mission: Impossible plot.
Which Nimoy went on to star in.
I realize that’s a bit tenuous, but it’s still fun. It may be one of the only episodes with that kind of plot.
(Of course, Star Trek never had that plot. Or did it!)
If I wanted to be even more tenuous, I could mention that the more modern show, Leverage (which I loved) was extremely reminiscent of Mission: Impossible. There was the mastermind planner of the con, the beautiful female of one-thousand faces, and a muscle guy. It even featured a black tech guy!
Quite a few of them guest starred Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher from the same show) as a wonderfully evil hacker they often opposed but sometimes worked with. The show was also filled with sly references to Trek. The creators obviously adored the show.
So there’s a whole Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, new Star Trek, Leverage thing going on here. (Hey, I said it was tenuous!)
And finally: Requiescat In Pace, Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015). You will be remembered in our hearts forever. Ya done good! Really good. Thanks for the great memories and say “Hi!” to Gene for us!