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.
Which contained Captain Kirk (William Shatner)! From Hogan’s Heroes to Star Trek. Cool! What are the odds that the one time I switch to an U.N.C.L.E. episode it has my old friend!
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…
Oh my god! That’s Spock (Leonard Nimoy)!
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!
Each episode involved a clever con job. Many of those episodes were directed by Jonathan Frakes (William Riker from Star Trek: The Next Generation).
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!
March 2nd, 2015 at 9:02 pm
P.S. If you’re wondering, the U.N.C.L.E. episode in question is the ninth one of the first season: The Project Strigas Affair
The first season is fairly serviceable. The series got sillier and sillier in seasons two and three.
March 4th, 2015 at 3:22 pm
I agree, sometimes it’s a case of confirmation bias, but other times, like here, it’s too far-fetched to pin it down to confirmation bias. I love the tribute NASA did to Spock from outer space. Perfect.
I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. should you choose to accept this mission, you’ll find more info over at my place. You could decline, but then you’ll self-destruct alongside this message in 5 seconds..
March 4th, 2015 at 7:11 pm
There have definitely been some “coincidences” in my life that really made me stand up and take notice. Of course, they still could have just been really, really amazing coincidences. Those do occur, and the handful I’ve experienced in nearly six decades… well, the odds alone would seem to make is likely. Regardless, they spice up life!
Thank you for the nomination, and I accept with thanks. But, as I explain in my Disclaimer, I don’t participate in the blog awards thing, so this blog is where awards come to die. 😮
(As an aside, all this award nominating going on, but it seems to escape everyone that none of these nominations lead to votes or elections or actual wins. I guess it just proves the old phrase, “It’s an honor to be nominated!” 😀 )
March 4th, 2015 at 3:52 pm
Oh my goodness! I am so jealous that you happened upon this and it was indeed cool to have seen those lovely Star Trek men with the other lovely U.N.C.L.E. men. In our family we would label this ‘happenstance,’ not synchronicity. But your word is so much cooler, W.S.!
I am mad that I sold my special books that my Dad gave me years ago, in which dear Leonard Nimoy wrote poems. I had to make choices when I moved into my one bedroom apt. and left a lot out on the lawn to get some small pittance and hoped people treasured the things, books and furniture, some antiques, as much as I did. I was thinking about you over the weekend, really! He lived a nice long life, so glad William Shatner and he had close off and on relations, since William said kind things about Leonard. I always wondered if the Big Bang Theory writers chose the name “Leonard” in respect for Nimoy. That show is getting too goofy to watch, by the way, in my opinion. It is so hard to find good comedies…
This was a wonderful post and you did this well. I am not sure if I will be able to find a DVD at the library of the series or not.
By the way, I have read three Sunny Randall books. I enjoy them, like the details in his earlier books. Parker makes Sunny a little bit like Susan, which is nice. I always like her ways. The only thing I mentioned to my good friend, Jenny, that I was a little shocked because one of the 3 books had “f—” and was not sure if even Spencer used this word. I am saying this because I just wanted to also add, we felt the Robert Parker books became a little bit less detailed over time, wondered if you felt this, too?
That’s about all on this post, commenting I mean. I really hope to see this 9th episode someday.
March 4th, 2015 at 7:36 pm
“I always wondered if the Big Bang Theory writers chose the name “Leonard” in respect for Nimoy. That show is getting too goofy to watch, by the way, in my opinion.”
I’d bet they did. I’m about the only person I know who never liked and never watched that show. I’m not generally predisposed towards half-hour sitcoms, especially if they’re primarily gag-oriented. The contortions of character and situation necessary to enable the gags are so artificial, and the gags generally aren’t that fresh. And laugh tracks annoy me.
I loved M*A*S*H because that was a situation comedy where the funny lines were organic to the characters. Plus they did away with the laugh track.
“By the way, I have read three Sunny Randall books.”
Yeah, I guess she is a bit like Susan. I have a feeling both Susan and Sunny reflect aspects of Parker’s wife just as Spenser clearly reflects Parker himself. And the Parkers have a dog, named Pearl — she appears with Parker on some of the paperback back covers.
“…we felt the Robert Parker books became a little bit less detailed over time…”
They certainly got thicker, but I can’t say I noticed less, or more, detail. I’ll try to keep it in mind the next time I read the series.