For some odd reason here it is the day before Christmas and I am obsessing on my latest pet peeve: FCINO, or Famous Characters In Name Only. FCINO is the latest fad sweeping through Hollywood, mostly in TV but also in the movies. In fact, one FCINO is in both. Let's start there.
Robert Downey Jr. is a wonderful actor of incredible talent and more charm than any two men deserve to possess, but he is part of a FCINO franchise that just drives me up the wall. This would be his series of supposedly Sherlock Holmes movies. Sherlock Holmes never was and never will be an action star and yet, there he is as one in Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. I am not saying these aren't fun films to watch, just that these are not Sherlock Holmes films.
Neither is Elementary a TV show about Sherlock Holmes. Now I am not saying this is not an entertaining show or that Jonny Lee Miler is not excellent as the protagonist, I'm just saying that that protagonist, despite his name, is not Sherlock Holmes. And it has nothing to do with the show being set in modern times, Sherlock on PBS is a wonderful show set in modern times and Benedict Cumberbatch plays a character not only named Sherlock Holmes but who, in fact, is Sherlock Holmes. And do not get me started on Lucy Liu not being Watson.
But the phenomenon of FCINO is not limited to bright-minded detectives. There is a TV show called Sleepy Hollow which features a character named Ichabod Crane, who is not, in any way, Ichabod Crane. Now the producers of this show were not the first to bastardize the Legend of Sleepy Hollow; Tim Burton beat them to it by over a decade, but at least the story in that Sleepy Hollow retained some semblance of Washington Irving's plot-points and characters. TV's Sleepy Hollow is about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Entertaining? Perhaps, but Ichabod Crane in name only.
This past summer one of the biggest box office bombs was a FCINO entitled The Lone Ranger. It probably did not help that the main character in the movie was Tonto, not the buy pretending to be The Lone Ranger.
The latest FCINO occurrence is on NBC and it is entitled Dracula. Not saying this is a bad show, but Jonathan Rhys Meyers is playing a famous character in name only. I loved Meyers in The Tudors, but that is not enough to keep me watching a title character that is not, well, the title character we all know.