It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? It’s been a year since our last post, and, goodness, do we apologize for that. LuckyLadybug and I have been on several journeys through various fandoms within the last year. My own path took me away from Simon for a while--specifically, first to 221 B Baker Street, and then to the TARDIS. But here I am, back again. There’s no way I could stay away.
One would wonder whether or not my forays into other fandoms would somehow dampen my ability to enjoy Simon and his characters. The answer, of course, is a resounding no. If anything, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who have allowed me to enjoy some of Simon’s roles even more than before.
How? I’m glad you asked…
Let’s start with the example of Simon in Get Smart. That was the first time I was ever introduced to Simon, and one of my favorite roles of his for that reason. Some time ago, I had been rewatching that episode for nostalgia’s sake. Nothing had ever been said about the final fate of Simon’s unnamed cowboy character--all we know is, according to Max, that he missed the truck of mattresses and fell five stories to the ground. No possible way the poor Cowboy could survive a fall like that, right? I assumed so… until I watched the finale of season 2 of BBC’s Sherlock. If I learned anything from that episode, it’s that there’s every chance that the Cowboy could have survived his fall! I’d like to think he did--that there’s a chance the story could continue…
Even more intriguing are the parallels between Simon’s Outer Limits appearance and Doctor Who; both Simon’s Empyrian character and the Doctor have the same basic modus operandi--try to stop an intergalactic cataclysm with the help of human companions. On the surface, it seems that their methods of recruiting human companions are different; the Empyrian merely kidnaps them, while the Doctor invites them. Intriguingly enough, though, if you look back at the First Doctor, before he mellowed out, he, like the Empyrian, kidnapped his first human companions in the very first episode of Doctor Who; even more intriguing is the fact that Simon’s episode of Outer Limits aired three and a half months after the first Doctor Who episode.
But, I digress. Comparisons and parallels aside, the fact of the matter is that the one everlasting reason I keep coming back to Simon’s roles is because of how he breathed life into them--every well-chosen dialogue, every movement, every expression came together into creating unique characters each and every time. No two of Simon’s characters are the same--not even the villains. Even the villains who appeared on the same show were different; William Poole and Mel Barnes, despite being oneshot Bonanza characters, have notable differences. You can feel some amount of sympathy for Poole (assuming you believe the idea that it was his girlfriend’s death that unhinged him), but Barnes gets no pity--nor deserves any.
Even the good guys have their differences. Lieutenant Schrank and Tony Vincenzo are both men who are literally 500% done with the things (more specifically, the people) they have to put up with on a daily basis. But while Schrank comes across as brash and biting, Tony is just a big teddy bear who’s way too nice for his own good.
Character actors play scores of roles in their careers; most of the time, their names are placed behind those of the starring roles, while, sometimes, they’re lucky enough to get a starring role. Regardless of the role, their challenge is to make you remember them, whether they’re onscreen for just one scene or throughout the whole thing. And Simon definitely succeeded; I never forgot that scheming Cowboy in the years between my first seeing him and then later discovering how wonderful Simon was. And there won’t be a role of his that I’ll ever forget.
And that’s what will always keep me coming back. It’s just a bit more obvious today, on what would’ve been his 98th birthday.
Happy Birthday, you wonderful man, you.