You heard me.
This solves the issue of the appearance changes, which are the main problem confronting anyone who wishes to make sense of Bond. But that's not all - one has to do some shuffling and some between-movie assumptions for this to fit.
Let's go chronologically, shall we?
We begin with Dr. No, where we're introduced to the early form of a Bond movie, complete with many of the tropes that would come to define the series in popular culture. From Russia With Love is its sort-of sequel, where SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion) and its recurring villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld are introduced, complete with white cat.
Goldfinger takes a break from Bond battling SPECTRE, but it returns with Largo's nuclear hijack in Thunderball. Blofeld's face is revealed for the first time at the climax of You Only Live Twice, but he escapes to fight another day and SPECTRE is far from over.
This is where it gets interesting. Sean Connery did not want to return to the role of Bond, so the producers cast George Lazenby and made On Her Majesty's Secret Service, a movie that I don't care for and don't understand why others do. (Maybe I'll eventually understand what all the fuss is about, but in my opinion Lazenby does not play Bond, but instead plays a cardboard cutout of a Sean Connery lookalike.)
But the existence of this movie becomes a problem for my pet theory. If the series had gone straight to Roger Moore as Bond, it wouldn't be a problem, but Sean Connery returned for Diamonds Are Forever, the next film.
Instead of saying that Lazenby was the same "incarnation" of Bond as Connery, he was a different character. Plus, the aftermath of the death of Tracy Bond in OHMSS would have certainly had an effect on Bond in the next film ... right?
Well, no. She isn't even alluded to until a conversation in The Spy Who Loved Me, three films into Moore's run. We also see her grave in the pre-credits sequence of For Your Eyes Only, and is referenced in conversations in Licence to Kill and The World is Not Enough. Instead of ignoring OHMSS (and those great moments for continuity in the other films), it makes sense to instead move the events of the film after Diamonds Are Forever, between Connery's Bond and Moore's Bond. Connery regenerates into Lazenby, and the events of OHMSS occur afterwards, accounting for Lazenby's stiffness. Grief-stricken afterwards, he regenerates again into Moore's Bond.
Moore lasts for seven films, some good, some completely and utterly ridiculous. (Read: Moonraker.) Between the events of A View to A Kill and The Living Daylights, Moore regenerates into Timothy Dalton.
But there's a catch here: unofficial Bond film Never Say Never Again was released the same year as the official Octopussy, which performed slightly better at the box office. If NSNA is counted, this would throw a serious wrench into the Time Lord 007 theory - unless we move the movie in time to occur between DaF and OHMSS in our new, slightly scrambled version of events. Sean Connery is still Bond, but concerns are being raised about his age in the film. It's a remake of Thunderball, but Bond doesn't reference those events, even with the same-name bad guy and same plot. The only way this fits into the canon is if Maximilian Largo of NSNA is the son of Emilio Largo from Thunderball, and no one referenced the events of Thunderball.
(Or we can just ignore that one. Like I said, it wasn't even official (though some of the better elements of that film got used again in Skyfall to great effect.)
Anyway, after two films, a long hiatus occurs. Presumably Bond, inspired by License to Kill, goes rogue, gets caught up in the Time War, and becomes Rassilon before being time-locked again by the Doctor. Somehow he escapes, atones for the error of his ways, regenerates into Pierce Brosnan and beats up bad guys for another four films before becoming Daniel Craig.
Now, this is where the Time Lord 007 theory becomes really interesting, and fits in well with the ongoing continuity: Craig's first Bond film is also his first mission after not acquiring, but re-aquiring his license to kill. M is portrayed by Judi Dench, as she did at the start of Brosnan's tenure. Bond is reveal to be from Scotland in Skyfall, which accounts for Connery, who was born is Scotland in real life. It also accounts for the reappearance of the classic Aston Martin in the film, and the many callbacks to previous movies that wouldn't be possible if Casino Royale had been a true reboot.
Let's not just continue this logic with Bond. M and Q are different characters, but there is another recurring character in the films that is supposed to be the same person: Bond's CIA counterpart Felix Leiter, who has been played by seven actors. David Hedison played the role in Live and Let Die and Licence to Kill, which were some 16 years apart. Instead of making it too timey-wimey, let's suppose that these are two distinct characters, which means there have been eight Leiters to the six Bonds.
The fridge logic here is that, offscreen, Leiter gets in more inescapable, dangerous situations than Bond does - though he doesn't have the Bond magic of escaping those situations. It also accounts for Leiter's friendship with Bond, which was never explained in the films.
NEXT TIME: SUMIKI IS BEATEN UP BY RABID GEORGE LAZENBY FANS.