Grand Disunification

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Title: Grand Disunification
Creator: quoted anonymously with permission
Date(s): Feb 7, 1995
Medium: mailing list
Fandom: The Professionals
External Links:
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Grand Disunification is a 1995 Professionals essay posted to Virgule-L. It is excerpted here anonymously with permission.

Some Topics Discussed

  • The Professionals and lack of canon continuity
  • fans fudging timelines, fans being very forgiving
  • why continuity matters to fans


Recently, I strove to impose order on a show which appeared, at first glance, to be in a state of randomness. It would have gladdened my heart to be able to map out the development of Bodie and Doyle's relationship as friends and partners, as well as their relationship to Cowley and CI5, from the time they were first teamed up through "No Stone" (last aired ep), in great and chronologically accurate detail.

The producers were obviously not in tune with my wishes. Sometimes they filmed things one season, and actually aired them that year. But sometimes they filmed things one season, and aired them the next. Tricky bastards. They paid no attention to what the weather was doing, deciding to air an ep in which the roses are blooming like mad under a hot sun followed immediately by an ep in which the trees are leafless and people's breath is visible in the daytime followed immediately by another summer-filled blooming ep...ahem. It does drive one to distraction in one's pursuit of an anal timeline.

Then there are the continuity glitches. Now, you have to have an underlying assumption regarding time of some sort to do this properly. The logical starting point is to assume that Season One (actually, they call them "series" over there, but I don't care, 'cause I'm not *that* anal) is more or less equivalent to one year in real time, thus, five seasons of Pros, five years. Works great in theory. In practice, it sucks.

So, I concluded that it was hopeless to try to form a strict Pros chronology which stuck to what was said in the episodes and followed their original aired order. It depressed me. And I told people about it.

Why, oh, why, I heard many Pros fans ask when I told them my troubles, does it matter? Most fans, they told me, have never watched the show in its aired order, don't even know the original aired order, couldn't care less about the aired order, wouldn't know which season a particular ep was from unless they had memorized them by Doyle's hair styles, and wouldn't give a rat's fart if a story you were writing stuck to the bloody stupid aired chronology or lack thereof because they wouldn't know the bloody stupid difference. So there.

That cheered me up no end.

Eventually I decided that the little glitchy details about this year or

that year didn't matter, what really mattered was to follow the pattern of relationships throughout the show as a whole. But...I still ran into this problem where nobody seemed to think it was important to pay attention to the original aired order of the episodes. Except one or two other anal types like me.

For the most part, though, fans don't seem to care. I keep running into fanfic where reference is made to a second-season episode event, followed instantly by a reference to a fourth-season episode event, as if the latter were following the former in like, a week's time. Or worse, going in reverse--4th season event, followed by 2nd season event. And then there's the entire 26-story "Party Spirit" series, allegedly following the development of B&D's sexual/romantic relationship through the show, basing each story on a particular episode--except that they're done out of order.

There *is* development of the characters from season to season, and I want to track those changes. The Bodie in "Cry Wolf" (5th season) is not the same Bodie as in "Female Factor" (1st season), nor is the Doyle of "Discovered in a Graveyard" the same Doyle as the one in "Private Madness, Public Danger". I'm certainly more interested in characters who go through changes rather than remain static. It seems to me that if I completely ignored the general chronology and development, and paid no attention to the way the characters changed from season to season, I'd be left with rather repetitive stories. I'd be using the same paper-doll cut-out characters over and over, picking out one or two easily identifiable traits to focus on and nothing else. I want more depth than that, in both writing and reading fanfic. And it irks me that fans don't seem to bother about this. When I was first converted to Pros,

I was told it didn't matter which order I watched the eps in because of the lack of continuity/sensible chronology. I used to tell new fans that myself later on. But now I no longer believe that--I think it *is* important to at least *know* the original aired order, and be cognizant of the ways in which the characters *do* develop and change over time. Otherwise you've got stew when you could be having an eight-course meal.

Fan Comments

I second that! YES it matters.

Can you imagine, if you had never seen the show, watching first "Operation Susie" and "No Stone" then "Private Madness" and "Stakeout"? The differences between Bodie & Doyle, between the Lads & Cowley, between the Lads and their jobs are just enormous. Bodie and Doyle as just so *young* in the first series. It's more than just the passing of years that greys Doyle's sideburns and turns Bodie more sombre. It's 5 years of getting shot at, shot up, and betrayed - whether perceived or actual.

The characters were not static - that's what makes it so interesting. Bodie and Doyle grow over the show's time. I like Alex's analogy of paper doll cutouts. Bodie is more than a cold ex-merc and Doyle more than an ill-tempered sensitive artist-type. Perhaps if you watched the episodes in a helter skelter order, then you wouldn't realize the changes and growth of the characters and you would tend to think of them very one-dimensionally

"Party Spirit" was great, but it just about killed me to have the stories not jive with the shown order. I even watched the eps in the order as given in PS it bothered me because of the differences in Bodie and Doyle's characters from one series to the next.

And yes, I am one of those anal types. To maintain sanity, I've decided that shown order would be my canon - I know that some of the eps were filmed then not shown until a year later and that in one ep it's summer then the next is fall. I've had to turn a blind eye to things like Bodie saying he's been out of the SAS for a couple of years - maybe he's like me and time just gets away from him and it was really fours years or so. Time flies when you're having fun and all that. At least the shown order displays the maturity of the characters and *that* is what is important - at least to me. [1]


  1. ^ quoted anonymously from Virgule-L (February 8, 1995)