The Crossroads of the Aether
I am afraid that I have to respectfully disagree. If you look in the "Annotated Sherlock Holmes" which is as close to being a definitive examination of the Holmsian 'Canon' that you will find, and cross reference the dates of Holmes' cases with the Ripper murders, you will find that Watson has reasonably concrete alibis for most the events. Granted, Watson is the author of the case accounts, but there is the matter of witnesses, some of whom are members of the police. It's been many years since I've done this research and I have to confess that I don't remember all the details.
You see, more years ago than I care to admit, I was a member of the Baltimore MD scion society of the Baker Street Irregulars, an international society of Holmes enthusiasts (I'm not sure they even exsist any more). Some one in one the other groups published an article in the newsletter (yes, on paper, this was long before the internet--and I am that old) proposing the same theory; that Watson was the Ripper. I became intrigued and wrote an article defending the good Doctor. The more I looked around and cross referenced Ripper lore with Doyle's work, the more it just didn't wash, even if you allow for some flexibility in the dating of the Holmes adventures in the Annotated SH. There were, as I recall, several other issues that tended to exculpate Watson as well. One other very significant factor, of course, is that he was living with Holmes, I believe, during this period, so you have to assume that there was no way that Holmes could be in close quarters with Watson and not instantly have complete knowledge of his guilt. That brings up the thorny question of why Holmes would allow Watson to stay at large when he was guilty of such henious crimes.
The whole theory is really interesting I think, however, for a peripherial reason: assuming that Holmes was one of the greatest detectives who ever lived, was he unable to solve the crime or did he, thus explaining why they stopped? As far as the Canon goes, he was never even consulted by the offical police, but we know enough of his character to know that he would not have allowed the lack of an offical invitation to keep him from the investigation. If he did so, he certainly would have solved it, and if that is true, how do we explain Watson's silence? Many different threads to follow here.
As far as Downey is concerned, I think his characterization was an interesting one and I enjoyed it, but I have to admit to being old school in this matter. Jermey Brett is the definitive Sherlock. Damn, he even looked exactly like Stanley Padget's illustrations in the Strand magazine. Of course it is alot easier to develop a character over hours and hours, but his was a truly nuanced evocation of a tremendously complex character.
Anyway, just my thoughts.
John, it's Sidney Paget. and i only thought of Watson because what better place for the Ripper to hide than right under Holmes's nose? and Jack is a nickname for John. yes, the BSI still exists. don't know about your scion society. and since we've been talking at length about Holmes's drug habits, who better to portray him than Downey? and i'm a 55-year old fart myself. and i prefer Michael Harrison's dating to Baring-Gould's. it's all subjective, of course.
John: Thank you for contributing to this thread. Personally, I don't believe that the way Doyle portrayed Watson that Watson could have been Jack the Ripper. I personally am coming up on 62, so you are in good company on this thread. My comments on Brett (who was a superb actor) are already posted here, and I'm coming around to the idea that the changes the director and Downey made to the Holmes character may be good for this day and age, although I admit to being more comfortable with the Brett interpretation.
i've liked what i've seen of Brett, but Rathbone is still THE MAN. and though he wasn't really the right physical type, Plummer did a good job in "Murder by Decree." and Watson could have been Jack just as neighbors of all the Jeffrey Dahmer types talk about what a quiet person he was, etc. Dual nature.
Maybe an age difference here, but may I suggest you try Brett again? Rathbone was ok by me, but the portrayal of Watson as nothing but, honestly, "comic relief" just didn't sit well with me in those movies. Also the stories are quite far from the Doyle.
I'm very definitely a Brettish Holmsian. He remains for me THE Holmes. If you watched the first episode, it gets better a bit into the season.
PS I also cannot picture Watson as the ripper. As an aside, anyone else here a uge fan of the From Hell comic (not movie)? Alan Moore is so nerdy crammed-full-of-references intellectual it hurts. Actually, now, I shall have to re-read it.