Sunday, March 22, 2009

If *I* Had Written TLALOASD

Aaah. Much cooler. OK, long story short. The Lives and Loves of a She Devil is a Fey Wheldon miniseries from the early eighties my parents taped for the simple reason Tom Baker was in it (he's little more than a cameo, but it goes to show even Channel 7 knew how to make it appeal to Aussies, huh?) and he's not bad either. It's easy to point at any performance he does and say it's Dr Who sans scarf - check out his Puddleglum for example, wherein even when he sticks absolutely to the script you expect his last scene to involve a police box - but here he manages to at several points totally divorce himself from my childhood hero. In his final scene, he asks a character quietly "What are you going to do now?" and it blew me away. I know that sounds pathetic, but it's a lot more impressive in person.

Anyway, She Devil is about an ugly, scorned woman who takes revenge and self-motivation to new heights by screwing up her ex-husband's life to the point she sure earns her demonic moniker. My issue with it - bar the fact you simply couldn't tell that story nowadays, since her new identities wouldn't fool a google cache - is we see her evil plan about to reach fruition... and then a montage showing it worked. Perhaps they wanted the final confrontation between her and Dennis Waterman to be left in the imagination.

Well, that's going to be a big mistake...

(Outside a prison. A haggard Dennis Waterman (Bobo) is thrown out of said jail.)

GUARD: Ooooh, I could be so good for you...

BOBO: Oh, nice one. Didn't hear that one at all during the last seven years of total misery!

GUARD: Well, you're out now. Sling your bleeding hook.

BOBO: But I've got nowhere to go! My family have abandoned me, my lover is dead, my business is ruined, my reputation in tatters! I'm a totally unemployable wretch with nothing and nobody!

GUARD: Yeah. That is THIS (holds finger and thumb apart) interesting. Get going.

BOBO: Oh, life is harsh and cruel is it not?!

(The guard throws his shoe at Bobo's head.)

BOBO: Well. I think I just proved my point. Good for me.

(Bobo is run over by a limousine. An incredibly smug swarthy bloke in a white chauffer suit gets out.)

BOBO: Argh! If I could swear in this I'd be turning the air blue!

GARCIA: Ah. As ineffective as always, eh, senor?

BOBO: Garcia! You total creep! What are you doing here?

GARCIA: I have been sent to collect you, senor, but unfortunately you tried to ram your shin bones into my bumber bar. I am not offended. It is a very nice bumper bar.

BOBO: You're deliberately trying to provoke me, aren't you?

GARCIA: I don't try anything, senor. (pelvic thrust) Oh yeaaaaaah!

BOBO: Dear god, I'm in hell, aren't I?

GARCIA: Oh no, senor. Hell is where you get upgraded to from here.

BOBO: Very philosophical.

GARCIA: Am I a-using too long a words for you, senor?

BOBO: Why do you hate me so, Garcia?

GARCIA: That is a long list, senor. Perhaps it would be best if you heard it in the car.

BOBO: Why? Who sent you anyway?

GARCIA: My employer, senor.

BOBO: Oh? Found another ditzy blonde slut with more money than sense and an insane desire to climb inside your slimy boxer shorts?

GARCIA: Funny you should say that...

(The limosuine drives through the countryside.)

GARCIA: ...and then, of course, it was the way-a you always called me "him" in that ugly accent of yours. "Wart abart him, izzee rilly nezasary?" That really rubbed my genitals up the wrong way with lots of friction.

BOBO: Garcia, I wasn't serious when I asked you why you hated me.

GARCIA: Ah. That will be your English sense of humor, is it, senor?

BOBO: Yes.

GARCIA: Of course, now I have started, I should-a finish. And then there was the way you always used to slurp the soup from the front of the spoon. It was disgusting. I might have forgiven you sexing my mistress with increasing selfishness to the point you were finishing hours before she started, but the soup slurping, well, senor, I have killed men for less. And there are no lesser men than you...

BOBO: Can I go back to prison yet?

GARCIA: I had to clean the sheets too, you know. That was really cruel. You should see a doctor about your bottom, it leaks everywhere...

(The limousine pulls up on a mansion-like lighthouse on the edge of a cliff.)

BOBO: What? But this is Mary Fisher's house!

GARCIA: You not worthy to speak her name, senor.

BOBO: At least I can pronounce it, you filthy wop.

GARCIA: Hahaha. Oh, senor, how I have missed your mindless prejudice.

BOBO: No you haven't.

GARCIA: A clue: yes. But Miss Fisher, she died two years ago.

BOBO: Yes, I am aware of that, Garcia. They let me out for the funeral.

GARCIA: And then they took you back.

BOBO: Well, it was day-release.

GARCIA: Uh-huh.

BOBO: It had absolutely nothing to do with me seeing the ghost of Mary Fisher in a limousine at the graveyard.

GARCIA: Uh-huh.

BOBO: And even if it DID, I'm entirely off the anti-insanity drugs. I'm completely sane. Mary Fisher is dead.

GARCIA: I'm glad you are so certain. You did dump her before the end.

BOBO: Well, she was going through the menopause.

GARCIA: Your loyalty overwhelms me, senor.

BOBO: She starting going on about god and religion and crap like that. Those visits were getting worse than being in jail! And those hats she wore - what the hell was going on in there? Only she would have evening wear to attend prison. What happened to her after that?

GARCIA: Oh, you are interested NOW, senor?

BOBO: No, I just like asking questions in the hope I get a sarcastic rejoinder.

GARCIA: My employer wishes to see you.

BOBO: So not only have you landed on your feet and got a high-paying job, they also buy the location of your old job and send you after one of your old pay masters. Doesn't that sound rather suspicious?

GARCIA: You have no idea.

(The fabulously-luxurious interior of the lighthouse building. An attractive blonde woman stands looking out the window, holding a glass of wine. She is dubbed with less care and attention than a bit-part character in Godzilla vs. Megalon. Garcia and Bobo enter.)

GARCIA: Senorita, I bring you the walking vomit stain the world knows as Bobo.

RUTH: Thank you, Garcia.


RUTH: Hello, Bobo.

BOBO: But you're dead! You stupidly dived out a window and fell ninety metres onto the shore when the tide was out, was washed out to sea and your body eventually found partially-digested in a shark! Oh, don't tell me. You faked your death as some kind of publicity stunt, is that it? It is, isn't it. Go on, you can tell me. Go on. Tell me. Tell me. You can. You can tell me. That was it, wasn't it? Wasn't it? Huh? It was. Wasn't it?


BOBO: Oh. OK, I'm totally out of ideas.

RUTH: You don't recognize the voice, then?

BOBO: ...manifestly not.

RUTH: What? Not at ALL?

BOBO: (shakes head) Is it down to all those cigarettes you smoked?

RUTH: It's me! Ruth! Remember?

BOBO: can't be. There aren't enough warts. And what happened to your unsightly facial hair problem?

RUTH: It's amazing how much plastic surgery can do nowadays, given enough time and money.

BOBO: You... turned yourself... into an exact copy of the woman I ditched you for?

RUTH: Yes. I even had large lumps cut out of my leg bones so I'm the right size.

BOBO: That must have hurt.

RUTH: Mmmm. I'm in constant danger of blood clotting, but there are compensations.

BOBO: Like?

RUTH: Well, no idea, to be honest but it stands to reason that there will be some. It's all about being an absolute recreation of Mary Fisher.

BOBO: Well. Um. Good for you. Hang about, you've spent the last nine years turning yourself into a clone of Mary?

RUTH: No. I've spent the last five years turning myself into a clone of Mary.

BOBO: Oh, well, that's all right then. Anything more than five years would have been stupid, wouldn't it?

RUTH: You haven't asked me how I afforded it?

BOBO: Dear God, don't tell me you slept with the surgeon?


BOBO: Well?

RUTH: If you really want to know, then I shall tell you.

BOBO: Go on then.

RUTH: You remember Elsie Flowers, the temp that you seduced, discarded and who then disappeared with the entire liquid cash of your once-so-reputable agency? Well, she gave it to me.

BOBO: ...that was billions! Billions of billions! Why the hell did she give it you?

RUTH: I asked her. She wasn't exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer.

BOBO: She wasn't even the cleanest knife in the drawer! Were you behind that?

RUTH: Oh yes.

BOBO: I got arrested for that! Then that bastard of a judge gave me seven years!

RUTH: Ooh, I wonder where he got that idea from?

BOBO: YOU got me seven years?

RUTH: Believe me, Bobo, I could have got you executed.

BOBO: What else have you done, you evil harlot?

RUTH: Quite a lot. I was the one that got Mary's sweet, incontinent, alcoholic bitch of a mother round her on a permanent basis. I knew that would kill the passion even more than dumping you with the kids. Then I did some creative accounting with your office - you forgot to collect your spare key - and used the cash to set up the Vista Rose agency. That gave me Elsie Flowers and a way to frame you for the loss of money. Once I nobbled the judge, and you were on ice, I had an... ecumenical discussion with Mary Fisher's priest.

BOBO: I'm surprised you didn't throw her off the cliff!

RUTH: I have a cast-iron alibi, Bobo. I was busy being made beautiful.

BOBO: Oh, fantastic! You're wearing a dead woman's face, living in a dead woman's home, with a dead woman's chauffer and private sex toy, and now you've got her common law husband! Why don't you dig her up so you can get the clothes she was buried in?

RUTH: Well, I doubt they'll be in good condition.

BOBO: You've spent a decade ruining my life!

RUTH: You spent a decade ruining mine.

BOBO: I didn't go out of my way to do so!

RUTH: You didn't need to.

BOBO: Oh no. No, no, no, no, no, no! You don't get to do this to me, Ruth!

RUTH: Don't I? I think I did.

BOBO: Oh, you've wrecked everything I had, no doubt about it. But you don't get to blame me for everything!

RUTH: Bobo, darling... the fact you're here at all proves you're guilty. If you really loved Mary Fisher, I couldn't have drawn you apart. If you hadn't used Elsie for sex, I couldn't have got her to incriminate you. If you hadn't decided to throw me on the scrapheap, I would never have started all this.

BOBO: Oh, that's right. It's all my fault.

RUTH: You really think you behaved reasonably? You abandoned your wife and children. You cheated on your new mistress. You humiliated the girl you were cheating with. There was a reason everyone believed you'd screwed over your clients, Bobo. You screw over everyone else.

BOBO: If I'm so utterly horrible, Ruth, why are you wasting your time with me.

RUTH: You owe me a life.

BOBO: Oh, do I? Do I? And what have you done with your life while I've been trapped in a cell breathing evil fumes and running out people on the outside? What have you been doing that's so great and good that I've been keeping you from? Eh?

RUTH: You know, it's really quite funny... I've actually been helping people. I cured a lonely man's psychosomatic illness, I rescued all those patients from that assassination service disguised as an old people's home, I set up a company that allows women to reach their potential, I gave a spark of truth to a judge with no friends, and, give or take, I made a priest reaffirm his faith. Oh, and lots and lots of sex.

BOBO: Eww.

RUTH: I'll be honest, not all of them were better than you.

BOBO: How gratifying. How can you live with yourself?!

RUTH: I am the She Devil.

BOBO: You what now?

RUTH: Don't you remember that name? You gave it to me.


RUTH: Remember? You shouted at me how awful I was, that I wasn't even a woman, that I was a She Devil. And in that moment self-knowledge and reason coursed through my cold veins. I was reborn anew every day, unable to rest until vengeance was mine and my destiny was cast in the stone of my design.

BOBO: ...let me get this straight. You have spent the last ten years carrying out unmittigated acts of cruelty on the world at large and me in particular because of THREE WORDS I said in an ARGUMENT over a DOG HAIR in the SOUP?! Don't you think that's a little bit spectacular? A bit too much?

RUTH: In long run, yes. But in the long run, we're all dead.

BOBO: So what are you going to do now? Kill me?

RUTH: Oh no, Bobo. That would quick and relatively unenjoyable.

BOBO: Don't make a sex joke.

RUTH: Like you in bed.

BOBO: God damn it.

RUTH: Thanks to your useless, ugly, purposeless wife you have absolutely nothing and nobody in this world.

BOBO: I know, I did a self-pitying monologue earlier.

RUTH: Well then. I'll cut to the chase. You can stay here.

BOBO: Here? With you?

RUTH: I am very, very rich. Feeding and keeping you for the rest of your life will barely scratch my wealth.

BOBO: And then what?

RUTH: What did you do when Mary was offering the same?

BOBO: I'm not having sex with you.

RUTH: Who said I wanted you to? I have others to service my needs. Garcia's been on my side since before I changed my appearance. We've been allies in and out of bed.

BOBO: So you expect me to sit around here, a trophy, watching you having lots of sex with the gardening staff as the years go by?!

RUTH: It's just like how I used to be. A spare part. With my face rubbed into my own irrelevance and pointlessness. Kept in luxurious surroundings and permanent contempt.

BOBO: Well. You've improved your vocab if nothing else.

RUTH: Do you have a better option?

BOBO: You think I'd tell you? You'd probably assassinate them or something.

RUTH: Bobo, when you told me you wanted a divorce, you destroyed me. You were all I had in the world, my foothold into reality. Now the position is reversed. But the difference is: when I fell I bounced back as the She Devil. I had a purpose, a mission in life and everything was but an obstacle for me to conquer. I made a life. More than one. More than you can count.

BOBO: What do you want from me? Applause?

RUTH: You gave me a gift and that's why I'm giving you one. You can go if you want. Go out into the world again. Start afresh. Be a new man. Make friends. Become someone else, someone better. If you really want, you could rebuild everything I tore down.

BOBO: For you to tear it down again?

RUTH: Maybe. But you know I'm out there now. You can protect yourself. You know so many things, so many skills, I could never understand. If I could triumph out in the wide, nasty world, then surely you could too. So, that is your choice. Either stay here and suffer my hospitality, or go out there and take a chance.

BOBO: Well, I might just do that!!

(Some time later. A depressed Bobo sits in a couch before a plate of biscuits and Ruth and Garcia making out on the sofa. He gives both the couple and the biscuits the same lack of interest.)

RUTH: (between kisses) You know what, Garcia? I think I just proved a point.

The end.

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